New facility makes access to resources easier for those in need

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MASON COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Groups in Mason County have made it easier and more accessible for those in need to be connected to resources and assistance.

The new facility in Ludington, called the Lakeshore Resource Network, will be the central location for nearly a dozen local non-profits. The doors opened to the facility Sept 5.

“Everybody is pitching in time effort, volunteers and we each can do more and give back to the community because of that,” said Pennies from Heaven Executive Director Monica Shuyler.

Three years ago West Michigan Community Mental Health met with United Way of Mason County about possibly working together to create a centralized food bank.

Pennies from Heaven and United Way of Mason County teamed up to create a plan.

According to Director Shuyler, the building was then purchased by Pennies from Heaven to serve as a food bank and a center to house other community resources.

All of the funding for Pennies from Heaven comes directly from a generous local family.

Half of the center will house the Lakeshore Food Club.

“Our only qualification is that we will self-certify that you are at 200 percent of the federal poverty level or below, and you have to have some kind of connection to Mason County,” Shuyler said.

The food club will be a membership based program and cost $10 a month for those who qualify.

It will be open six days a week, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

“It’s more about looking at the root cause of this rather than using the band aid approach,” said Lynne Russell, director of United Way of Mason County.

According to the director of Pennies from Heaven, 40 percent of people in Mason County struggle to support basic needs. Which is why having resources in one place, to help with things like job searches, housing, utilities and youth services, will help.

“I had someone come in this morning who wanted to get some help with their child but then also had some other needs and it was really nice to walk over to someone in another office and say, 'Hey will you be able to help this person out',” said Cindy Arneson, executive director of Staircase Youth Services. “I think the idea is fantastic and it’s going to increase collaboration among our community members.”

The facility also offers washers and dryers, showers and bathrooms for anyone who has received assistance.

“We’re also trying to help families transition and cross that bridge from poverty into self-sufficiency and do it with a lot of dignity and choice,” Shuyler said.

Many of non-profits are offering services at the new building right now.

The food club will officially open for food access on October 2.

Groups involved in the facility:

  • United Way of Mason County
  • Staircase Youth Services
  • TrueNorth Community Services
  • Lakeshore Food Club
  • American Red Cross
  • Habitat for Humanity of Mason County
  • MiWorks! West Central
  • Lakeshore Food Club
  • Staircase Youth Services
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