Lighthouse, South Oakland Shelter merge to fight homelessness and hunger

In Michigan, nearly one in five children live in poverty. Now two places that are available to help are forming one organization.

The South Oakland Shelter and Lighthouse have merged into one organization in the hopes of making dollars go further. That will help people like David Mapley, who's already getting help from Lighthouse.

"I made some mistakes and found myself in a position to try to start all over again," Mapley said. "It got bad, I lost pretty much everything. Everything I had, my home, my car, most of my belongings so I had to pretty much start over. My family was nice enough to store at least some of my stuff, so I didn't have to lose everything, everything. But I lost a lot."

He turned to Lighthouse. Food from the pantry kept him fed while his money was gone. Today, he has food and shelter and now the Lighthouse is helping him find work. The computer center is a vessel of hope, and a job may be around the corner for Mapely.  

Meanwhile, the South Oakland shelter has been providing housing for people who have lost it all. Just over 60,000 people in Michigan have faced homelessness. That includes 2,200 kids in Oakland county.

This week, lighthouse and South Oakland Shelter are merging and the need for volunteers and donations is great, especially as Lighthouse's freezer died.

"Our emergency shelter is volunteer driven, our food pantry is volunteer driven, we have volunteers that support our direct services department and we're always looking for volunteers," said Ryan Hertz with Lighthouse. "Obviously having a freezer on site is really important to us and we have a proximately $8,000 repair that we have to make to our freezer so financial support helps in those areas."

So while the merger of the two groups is exciting, it comes with an ask from the community: time and money from you, to give guys like Mapley a chance to make sure their future never reverts back to what it was.  

"If I don't find a job in the next 30 to 60 days, I may go back to needing help from the food bank," Mapley said.

Lighthouse has a big project coming soon - made possible through your help.

"Together we will be developing a 64-unit apartment complex in Oak Park, 100% affordable housing, we'll have community center on site with some green space. It will be beautiful," said Hertz.