MARQUETTE - Room at the Inn, a grassroots community ministry serving the homeless in Marquette and the surrounding area, has received national recognition for its efforts to serve the poor and build faith. Room at the Inn was named one of 12 Lumen Christi Award finalists, thereby earning a $10,000 grant.
Thirty-five years ago, Catholic Extension started the Lumen Christi, or Light of Christ Award. "This award celebrates how the power of faith can transform an entire community," commented Bishop Alexander K. Sample of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette. "Where once there was a void for emergency shelter in the Marquette area, now there is a coordinated ecumenical effort to provide not only food and shelter, but a warm welcome and affirmation of human dignity and worth." Touched by the faith of the volunteers who serve them, guests themselves become the light of Christ.
In support of the nomination, one previous guest of Room at the Inn wrote, "Our humanity was never diminished, our privacy always respected, and we were made to feel worthy when we felt less. We were troublesome at times, yet, still shown love. We were given value again. Hope was renewed, life became possible, and broken spirits began to heal."
Room at the Inn board members, Duane Fowler and Helen McCormick, are shown in the Bishop Baraga Room at the Catholic Diocese of Marquette office building.
The finalist award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant that is shared between the nominee and the nominating diocese.
"We will be passing our share of the award along to Room at the Inn, in gratitude for and in support of this important and much-needed community ministry," said Bishop Sample.
Room at the Inn founder and board member, Helen McCormick, said that the shelter is looking to hire a part-time executive director. "We currently have one paid staff member, a part-time social worker. The demands on her are many, and there is a great need for a second staff member to help direct the work of the shelter," said McCormick. The award money will be used to help fund the new position.
"The real strength of Room at the Inn comes from the cooperation between the 12 churches that rotate hosting the shelter week to week, and the volunteers," said Room at the Inn board member Duane Fowler. "There is probably a minimum of 75 volunteers each week that do laundry, cook meals, move mattresses, and work at the shelter."
Room at the Inn is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization. Catholic Social Services of the Upper Peninsula assisted with startup of the organization in 2007 by providing administrative services, creating a training program for volunteers, stewarding donations, and continues to provide rent-free office space to the organization.
Room at the Inn is governed by an elected board of directors. There is also a coordinators council, with appointed representatives from each of the participating churches, that manages the rotating shelter site schedules and oversees shelter policy and procedures.
For more information about Room at the Inn, visit www.roomattheinn.org.
The next training session for new volunteers is Thursday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. at Faith in Christ Agape Caf located on the corner of Third and Ridge Streets in Marquette.