During these chilly winter months, most of us can’t wait to get out of the elements and into the warmth and comfort of our homes. But for those experiencing homelessness in our city, it is not as simple, and that is where the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) steps in. The mission of MSC is to provide safe emergency shelter while working to end homelessness for each man. During the winter of 1980-1981, members of the city’s faith community learned of the passing of three homeless men who had no escape from the harsh weather. In response, they created the Emergency Winter Shelter to provide a place of refuge and led the shelter for its first years. Men’s Shelter of Charlotte was born in 2009 from the merger of the Emergency Winter Shelter and the Uptown Men’s Shelter.
“We never forget our roots or the real responsibility of providing safe shelter from the elements, and yet, we recognize that shelter alone is not sufficient,” says Liz Clasen-Kelly, Executive Director of MSC. In her role, Liz’s foremost responsibility is to protect and pursue the mission of MSC which takes many forms. “I have the opportunity to recruit and nurture an incredible leadership team, set the tone for our organizational culture, invite the wider community to invest in our work, and advocate for societal changes that might eventually put us out of business,” she says. Over the years, MSC has developed a vision to catalyze for systemic change and end homelessness in the city, and created programs to walk with men on their journey out of homelessness. This is summed up in a basic equation: Support + Income + Housing = HOME.
As the Ministry Team Coordinator for MPPC, George Carroll first became involved with Men’s Shelter four years ago after hearing a presentation in his Sunday School class in which they were looking for volunteers to work in the computer room. “I attended the initial training at the Housing and Employment Resource Center (HERC) for MPPC and began to volunteer weekly.” Since then, George now leads the ministry team for MPPC and has served in many roles at MSC, including as a meal coordinator at the Statesville Rd campus, but most of his work is done at the HERC helping clients. “The HERC is on a different level where you get involved with a client one on one,” he says, “whether it’s building a resume, writing a cover letter or finding the right housing opportunity.” He feels inspired by the remarkable faith and resilience of the men he interacts with at MSC and takes away lessons for his faith from them. “I am continually amazed at the number of clients who carry the Bible with them and are always hopeful and positive in their search for a better life, no matter their current circumstances,” he says. “That is inspirational for me.”
MPPC is in need of disciples to fill volunteer slots at MSC on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 4:40-6:30 p.m. and throughout the week where there is a void. “We could use additional volunteers here to assist in writing cover letters and resumes, assisting in employment applications, managing the HERC, and most of all coaching, listening and being supportive,” George says.