City Rescue Mission of Lansing Women and Children’s Center brings hope to the unhoused

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LANSING, Mich.—Lansing City Rescue Mission senior director Laura Grimwood remembers one of the most impactful moments of her career as the day a young mother of two came to the women and children’s center looking for help. Grimwood was in the cafeteria to snap a quick photo of dinner for the mission’s social media. As Laura waited for her photo opportunity, the mother and two children were being shown around the shelter. As the family passed the mission security station, a security guard named Linda asked the mother, “How are you doing?” The mother began crying at the simple gesture of recognition, and Laura looked back at the tray of food, hopeful that the organization could provide the family of three with relief. 

“That’s what that food is; it’s saying to someone that this isn’t the end. This isn’t the bottom. This is just a place that’s going to take care of you and it’s going to be okay,” Grimwood said.

Emma George-Griffin

The City Mission’s Women and Children’s Center is one of many resource locations, but specifically provides housing to women and families in Lansing. To preserve the peace and privacy of the Women and Children’s Center, no guests were photographed.

Grimwood has been helping the City Rescue Mission of Lansing achieve their mission of “Food, shelter and hope,” since 2004. The mission is more than 100 years old, instated in 1911. And in 2023, the Mission served an average of 365 meals per day and gave shelter to an average of 244 people per night.

“We are always looking for where the need is,” said Grimwood.

Not only does the mission and its several locations offer overnight shelter and a community dining room, but they also offer a drop-in center called The Outreach, where anyone can come for a temporary safe and warm space.

“The drop-in center is also ‘no barrier,’ which means you can come in if you’re under the influence, but you can’t do drugs or drink on-property,” Grimwood said.

This allows the Mission to address the multiple needs of the Lansing community, regardless of the issues that brought them through the Mission’s doors. When the Mission isn’t able to provide certain services, it partners with organizations like Lifeboat Recovery Service, Spartan Street Medicine, Community Mental Health and Michigan State University nursing students volunteer program.

“We may not ourselves offer everything, but we try to make sure that we can give information to where those services are located, or those individuals from services are coming here,” Grimwood said. 

Kaitlyn Stanford, a third-year student at MSU, has volunteered at the shelter numerous times with the univeristy nursing program.  

“Being there, it was really cool to see—everyone was like family there. They were all friends, they all made sure that each other had something to eat, and I didn’t really expect that going in,” Stanford said. 

“It’s about the people—not just medicine,” said Stanford. “Everybody has their own story and I think it’s important to let that person share their story”. 

Emma George-Griffin

Day shelter supervisor Christi Parsens reads feedback from new guests during her shift.

Women and children are able to stay overnight at the Mission’s Women and Children’s Center, some staying for months at a time. Bethany Stoner, director of the Women and Children’s Center, has learned to continuously accommodate the shelter’s guests over her 12 years of experience.

“Our main goal is that we are an emergency overnight shelter—everything else is a blessing,” Stoner said.

Although the shelter is able to accommodate guests for longer periods of stay, the mission works with outside organizations to give guests resources for possible housing opportunities outside of the shelter, such as Section 8 housing.

“This year the waitlist is just growing,” she said. “Something we have started doing more recently is agencies will get together on Wednesdays to have a discussion on who are our most vulnerable clients in the area. Making the most vulnerable a priority for housing.” 

Because housing through Section 8 may not be applicable to all unhoused people, organizations like Advent House, Capital Area Housing, and Lansing Housing Commission offer their own housing programs with varying requirements. 

“Some of the housing increases where we see people moving out is because of these programs that are new,” said Stoner.

Stoner said that the mission is good at what it does: providing food, shelter and hope. It is the teamwork of similar programs that helps guests of the Mission achieve a long-term housing solution. While the mission is a 501(c)3 Christian ministry organization, their goal is to support all people in the community that believe in what they do. 

“We know what hope has done in our lives and we want to see souls rescued,” Stoner said. 

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