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No One Freezes on Their Watch

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After weeks of work, a group of local churches got the OK to move forward with their effort to fight a growing problem in the Magic City.  The Minot Community is growing every day.  New businesses and new people are coming to the Magic City because of the strong economy and job opportunities.  But, some people may not realize how hard it can be to establish themselves and start out in Minot.

 "We're finding that people are in tough spots wherever they were.  They see that there's opportunity, they come out, and they don't realize the cost of living is so exorbitant in North Dakota," Jessica Zolondek, Pastor of the Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC).  But, there's still hope.  A group of five Minot Churches lead by the Congregational United Church of Christ and First Lutheran Church have established a new Minot Area Men's Winter Refuge, which officially opened its doors last week.

 "Our primary focus is on the gentleman that has a job and just needs time to save up some paychecks to get that first months security deposit and first and last month's rent just to get into the apartment," stated Vince Grilley, a member of the UCC Congregation and an active volunteer with the Men's Shelter.  After being approved by the City Council, a flood relief home owned by First Lutheran Church was converted into a temporary 12 bed shelter.  It was about a six month effort, but the hard work and long hours of planning have finally paid off.  "I joke all the time it feels like we birthed a baby after everything we had to go through to get all the churches involved.  So there is satisfaction in knowing that it is a resource that's there for people in need," joked Zolondek.

 After a background check and a brief drug screening, men in need can utilize the facility for up to a month.  That's the time the UCC figures it will take for them to save up money to get a permanent residence of their own.  For the Church staff, that's a great feeling, "Like you want to hug them, it's just congratulations.  It just makes you feel good," Grilley said.

 Now that the facility is up and running, the group of Churches has a new need, volunteers.  Every night when men use beds in the Shelter, 3 volunteers must be on duty to watch out for emergencies and keep the residents safe.  The night is broken into two 6 hour shifts.  And, while it can be long hours, the church staff says it's well worth the time.  "I guess I'd remind them of Mathew 25:35, We are to feed, clothe and shelter even the least of these," added Grilley.  Zolondek added, "Just emphasize that people will be spiritually rewarded beyond their wildest dreams.  Just come and try it out, see if it might be for you,"

 Anyone who would like to volunteer to help with the Men's Winter Shelter can call Grilley at 701-833-5085.  And if you'd like to make a donation towards their effort of making sure "No One Freezes on Their Watch", you can stop at any First Western Bank location in Minot, there is a fund set up there under Minot Area Men's Winter Refuge.

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