SOS: South Oakland Shelter a lifesaver for Detroit's homeless

- Tens of thousands of men, women and children are living on the streets in Metro Detroit. But not all hope is lost; there's a unique program in the Motor City that helps people get back on their feet.

Each day is a celebration for Pleshette Hyde and her son, David. The Oak Park family was homeless not long ago.

"No one expects for life to take you that way," Pleshette said. "I became homeless because I lost my job with the school system and it caused the subsequent loss of our apartment."

When that happened, it put many things that we use every single day, out of reach. Things like using a washer and dryer, a shower, or even a front door were all of a sudden not part of their daily lives.

Meanwhile, school continued for David. He kept going to class every day but made sure his friends didn't know he was homeless.

"Well, I didn't tell them. I just wanted to keep it a secret," David said.

With the help of South Oakland Shelter, Pleshette fought hard to make a positive change for her and David.

"You know, there's always this stigma that's attached to being homeless. We were blessed not to live on the streets," Pleshette said. "From the first day we went to the shelter, there were people there to greet us and let us know everything was going to be okay."

It took her over a month to find steady employment. Now, Pleshette and David are in what they hope is their forever home and the feeling can only be described as liberating.

"It felt like freedom, it felt like listening to a huge orchestra play," Pleshette said.

While Pleshette and David are home, South Oakland Shelter is welcoming people to their temporary home for the night, across town. Pleshette's not alone; there are similar stories with every person in the Farmington shelter. Job loss, lack of affordable housing, even strained relationships could lead to homelessness.

A bed at Narden Park United Methodist Church hold belongings that tell a story of a past life: Slippers waiting by the bed provide a temporary luxury while a silent guitar promises a new song.  When all that you have is stored in one bag, hope can be fleeting.

Jennifer Almond is new to this environment. Recently relocated back home to Michigan, Almond says missed opportunities and no family connections contributed to her homelessness.

Almond is now one of 27,000 homeless people in Detroit each year.

"I'm not comfortable. I'm not content. I'm 50 years old and the world and our nation is in general, things aren't as plentiful as they used to be. It's a lot going on, so I hope to establish myself. I'm very grateful for programs like this," Jennifer said.

Pleshette and David return to the shelter for dinner and to share their experiences with the newcomers.

"There is a huge community out there that has huge hearts and they will reach out and help you," Pleshette said.

And that may be all the encouragement Almond needs.

"All I can think about is hope and grace. It's never too late," Almond said.

South Oakland Shelter has provided more than1 million meals and more than 330,000 nights of shelter for Detroit residents. This Sunday, the shelter is sponsoring a 1 mile and 5k/10k run at St.  David's Episcopal church in Southfield to raise money for their homeless housing projects.

The race starts at 8am. Our own Lori Pinson is the Emcee. To register, CLICK HERE.


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