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The Refuge, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, provides shelter to the homeless in Otsego County. It does so by using hotel rooms until clients can find more permanent housing. It also helps clients to find access to food and other basic services. It has provided over 5500 nights of shelter to more than 500 people.

The Refuge was established in 2013 in response to the closing of Otsego County’s only homeless shelter - Friendship Housing Center. Various church congregations came together to create The Refuge as an all-volunteer emergency shelter program providing overnight housing for men and women as well as hot meals, transportation and fellowship. The Refuge began by “rotating” weekly among area congregational facilities during the cold winter months. More than 400 volunteers and donors sustained the shelter by staying overnight, donating funds and in-kind personal product/services, offering fellowship and preparing/serving meals.

The Refuge is now in its tenth season. To date, 5500 overnight stays have been provided to approximately 500 men, women and children, Today’s Refuge has evolved to provide overnight shelter and access to other services through the use of private facilities and area service providers. The Refuge office is now housed in the Otsego County United Way building. As part of its growth, The Refuge continues to provide financial support for overnight stays but has also become a “navigator” helping hundreds more to access the local social service network in search of vital services to help them end their homelessness.

The Refuge has created strong service relationships in the community: The Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency (NEMCSA), Otsego County United Way, Otsego County Food Pantry, Northern Michigan Opioid Response Consortium, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Adult Protective Services, Otsego County Sheriff’s Department, Northeast Public Health Department, The Caring Closet, Otsego County Commission on Aging Advocacy Office, Northeast Michigan
Community Mental Health, OMH, and more. Together we have provided life-sustaining assistance in our community.

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