JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Steve Castle is the leader of the Jackson Interfaith Shelter. His mission is simple, make sure that people currently without a place to call home know that they are valued and welcome here.
“We want this physical space to communicate that they matter and then even more importantly the staff and volunteers that interact verbally and in every other way show them that they matter,” said Castle.
But updating this new place took almost two years of renovations.
“We’ve updated almost everything. When I first started even the beds didn’t have mattresses, so that was square one,” said Castle.
Today the new space includes everything from an updated dining area to a resource center where people staying here can take classes and get the support they need.
“I know the word that we try to go by is dignity,” said the Director of Shelter Services, Atalie Shwartz. “We want this to feel dignified and based off whether it’s facial expressions or the things that people say I think that they can feel that dignity.”
It’s something volunteers like Harlan McCoy knew he needed to be a part of. Every day he watches some of the kids staying here in the all-new play area. He says it’s given him purpose.
“Being able to give back to my community is really something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always been inspired by all these superhero movies and always wanting to be one myself but don’t have a superpower but I do have the power to come out and volunteer every day,” said McCoy.
Like the words written on the wall, Castle says he wants the message of hope here to be passed on beyond this space.
“There’s no greater joy than passing on things that matter. This building is going to be gone at some point but I think it’s cool to think about the eternal things and how you invest in somebody and then they invest in their kids and so that’s what matters and that’s what motivates me and it’s exciting.”