According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 percent of Meridian Township residents are living below the poverty level.
For those who are struggling, Meridian Township has many resources and programs for families in need. One is Meridian Cares.
Darla Jackson is a human services specialist for the Meridian Cares program. Jackson helps families with finding shelter, covering utilities, rent to avoid eviction and even help with medications and furniture.
“At least 90 percent of the help is either utilities or rent, we try to prevent people from entering the system of being homeless,” Jackson said.
“A lot of the donations that I get for Meridian Cares up until six months ago were from service organizations and churches and a few businesses, it was mostly those kinds of organizations and its all local,” Jackson said.
At the end of June there is an event called Celebrate Meridian. The proceeds from the charity run that their doing will go to Meridian Cares as well as the proceeds from the beer and wine tent.
Robert Richardson is a expert in rural development and sustainability at Michigan State University while researching poverty.
Female-headed households, and families with limited access to education, limited options for employment, and lack of assets tend to face persistent poverty, is a trend Richardson seen within his research.
“Awareness of poverty could be raised through better reporting of the problem in the news media, and in other ways of public communication and engagement. Support for poverty alleviation would require public investment in programs that allow households and individuals to meet their basic needs,” Richardson said.
Another resource is the Okemos Community Church. Carrie Hay volunteers with the food pantry at the church. The food pantry serves about 45 different families. The families range from single families all the way to families of nine, but the majority that comes are single families.
The food pantry has been going on before the early 2000s.
“We have a lot of special need clients that we cater to, if they have diabetes or if they have food allergies we try to help them out with the different food categories,” Hay said.
“The families are allowed to come every 30 days, and what we give them is just suppose to be to help bridge the gap until they can come back,” Hay said.
The church also does weekend survival kits, by providing food for kids that may need some help over the weekends when not in school receiving lunches.
Another resource for Meridian Township residents is Haven House in nearby East Lansing,
which provides emergency housing and support services for one-parent and two-parent families with children. The shelter helps families who are homeless and prepares them for permanent housing by developing and self sufficiency, stability, and financial responsibility.
The shelter support their residents with basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing, and personal needs items. You can donate by mail, phone, or in person.
Lansing’s Homeless Angels is another resource for families in mid-Michigan. With many different housing options the community funded hotel program allows the public to pay for shelter for those in need.
The Homeless Angels, is a street based outreach. In 2014, Homeless Angels formed their first community funded hotel program at the Magnuson Hotel in Lansing.
On Nov. 1 2016 the organization purchased their first hotel.
The Homeless Angels mission statement is, “Rebuild and restore faith in humanity through innovative ideas, programs and events with the main goal of involving the community in REAL change for people that are homeless or at risk of homelessness.”
Besides helping house families Homeless Angels runs, The Ha Street Ministry, Homes of Hope, Hotel program, Little Angels Diaper Bank, and a summer camp.
Those interested in helping with financial support can become a S.O.S Partner which requires a monthly donation of $19, a room sponsorship, or volunteer with serving and providing meals.