Fun outdoor event to benefit homeless

by Carrie Usher

It may surprise you that homelessness affect more than just those living in urban areas. In fact, there are sixty-one homeless individuals, including children, in Marquette and Alger counties. This number includes those living in shelters, on the streets, domestic violence victims and people who are discharged from institutions who do not have a permanent residence.
To help end homelessness in the U.P., Lutheran Social Services (LSS) is sponsoring a community fundraiser, “Homes for Everyone.” This outdoor skiing and snowshoeing event takes place at the Presque Isle Pavilion on Saturday, March 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Adult tickets are $20 and youths ages six to eighteen are $5 and include a free T-shirt. Youths five and younger can participate free of charge; however, they will not receive a T-shirt. Money raised goes directly to programs across the Upper Peninsula. Additional activities include a silent auction, food and refreshments.
Snowshoes will be available to those who need them on a first-come, first-served basis. Five sets of men’s, women’s and youth’s snowshoes will be rented from Northern Michigan University’s department of health, physical education and recreation.
Sarah Fogaroli is the case manager for substance abuse and homeless prevention at LSS. Fogaroli assists families and individuals who are at risk of being homeless or who have a history of substance abuse.
“We are trying to increase community awareness of the services that LSS provides,” Fogaroli said. “People don’t realize how many homeless people live in the U.P. Due to the cold winters we have in the U.P., people don’t think there are homeless people here—but there are, and we are here to help.
“This will be a great family-friendly activity to participate in.”
A silent auction will begin around noon inside the pavilion. Auction items include gift certificates from area businesses, handmade quilts, parkas, hockey sticks, hair products, canvas artwork, gift baskets and more.
“The community has really gotten behind us for this event,” Fogaroli said. “It’s great to see the businesses really pull together, despite the tougher economic times. Some are donating money, gift certificates, door prizes and additional items. Econo Foods has agreed to donate food for the event and chefs from The Wild Rover will be cooking corn beef hash and cabbage, and hotdogs for the kids.”
Sponsors already committed to the event include Econo Foods, Jimmy Johns, The Wild Rover, N&N Trucking, Morgan Contracting, Villa Capri and Globe Printing.
Lutheran Social Services has been helping individuals for 126 years, and is the largest, nonprofit agency of its kind in Michigan and Wisconsin. Each year, nearly 2,500 staff members work together to help meet the needs of more than 100,000 individuals by bringing compassionate social services to ninety communities.
Programs provided by LSS include Voices for Youth, open adoption, HUD Senior Housing, Welcome Home, counseling services, group homes for developmentally disabled adults and substance abuse homeless prevention.
Voices for Youth provides emergency and long-term services, such as shelter, food, clothing, health care, life-skills training and counseling for homeless or floating youth between the ages of ten and twenty-one.
Open adoption services provide birth parents with counseling and the tools needed to meet and select the adoptive parents of their child. Open adoption helps create a trusting relationship between the birth and adoptive parents.
LSS also works with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide affordable, quality housing for older adults. The Welcome Home program provides transitional housing with rental assistance and support services, giving people access to job assistance, educational programs, money management programs and more. All counseling services are accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children and include grief and loss, alcohol and drug abuse, marriage and divorce, family issues and more.
LLS works closely with Harbor House, Janzen House, The Women’s Center, St. Vincent DePaul and the Salvation Army, as well as local churches that provide free shelters with the “Room at the Inn” program.
For details, call 226-7410.

— Carrie Usher
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