A trio of fundraisers will provide a boost to Safe Harbor as the shelter program kicks off a new season helping the area's homeless people.
With Homeless Awareness Week coming Nov. 12-20, a youth sleep-out, knitting project and concert will raise money and support for the Traverse City program.
Safe Harbor features a rotating slate of churches during the cold months offering a bed, evening and morning meal and social time for guests. More than two dozen churches in the community serve as host sites or provide volunteers for the program, which last year served 5,000 bed nights and 10,000 meals.
This figure is a 25 percent increase over the year before, and the coming winter looks to be even tougher.
"The outlook is grim," said Ryan Hannon, a street outreach services coordinator for Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, which provides staff for Safe Harbor. "The state is cutting a lot of programs that help fund people in need."
Faith Reformed Church opened its doors Saturday night to launch Safe Harbor for 2011-2012. Volunteers from there and other churches will run the program throughout the week before it moves to the next church, and so on through April. Between 1,200-1,400 volunteers will help during the next five months.
Safe Harbor provides a crucial safety net for area homeless, said Harry Hubbell, a program founder and current steering committee member. Since it began in January of 2003, the program has provided about 20,000 bed nights.
"It's not the same homeless issues in Traverse City as elsewhere because good people step in to help around the community -- the churches are very involved in this," he said. "Traverse City has a lot more hope because of community involvement."
Peter, Paul & Mary Remembered will present a Safe Harbor benefit concert Sunday afternoon at Central United Methodist Church. The group, which includes a doctor, dentist, business owner and retired special events director from Interlochen, performs three or four fundraising concerts annually.
Last February, the Traverse City-based group presented a "Valentine for the Homeless" concert, with proceeds benefiting the homeless drop-in center at Central United Methodist Church. Mike McDonald, a member of the Safe Harbor team, suggested the upcoming concert as another fundraiser.
The tribute band shares their gifts to help others in honor of Peter, Paul & Mary's tradition of social activism, which flowered during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"We believe that the music of Peter, Paul & Mary was given to us; it is not ours, so we feel a deep calling to use it for the betterment of humankind," said Donna Wilson Probes, manager of Peter, Paul & Mary Remembered.
"We do it for our souls and because we have the gifts to give," she added. "Plus, we find great joy and pleasure in recreating the happy music of Peter, Paul & Mary."
Maggie Quinn is challenging knitters and interested novice knitters to help make neck warmers for area homeless. The interdenominational project, based at St. Francis Catholic Church,will kick off Nov. 8. The neck warmer kits will be distributed then and instruction provided for beginners. Lost Art Yarn Shoppe in Traverse City is providing merino wool at cost.
"We're looking for knitters and also people who might want to sponsor knitters," said Quinn, calling the effort a "hug around the neck" for recipients.
Members of the St. Patrick Catholic Youth Union will hold a Homeless Awareness Sleep-Out, raising both money and awareness. The two dozen youth in the group will be joined by teens from other churches for the all-night sleep-out Nov. 12-13 on the church grounds. The event will conclude with a crockpot soup breakfast on Sunday morning.
The opportunity offers youth a chance to give back while realizing their own blessings.
"It's difficult for teens to get involved in Safe Harbor because they don't really encourage youth help so we asked ourselves how they could reach out to help raise awareness and money," said Stacey Popp, youth ministry coordinator for the church.