Life Services

We all hate tax season.

Tax season is always a headache. The forms, the numbers, do you file as a household or individual? Do you qualify for one of the seemingly thousands of different Tax credits? Do you file online or by mail? The forms themselves seem specifically designed to confuse and baffle. They leave you with a sense that maybe you ticked the wrong box, that carries on for weeks after. Some of us forego the stress and pay for others to prepare our taxes for us, buying the peace of mind of knowing if anything goes wrong, it wasn't our fault.

Out goes the old, in goes the new

Thanks to the generosity of the Muskegon Community, Sacred Suds is able to celebrate the practical impact of neighbors helping neighbors with the installation of eight new dryers and three new washing machines at Sacred Suds.

Out goes the old...

Out goes the old...

In order to give a practical demonstration of the power of your gifts consider a simple comparison of the cost of laundry at Sacred Suds vs. the cost of laundry at a community laundromat.

Six loads of laundry for an average family of 4 at a local laundromat, including the cost of soap and other laundry incidents would equal $21.00 per visit. That is $3.50 per load or $1,092.00 annually.

The same 6 loads of laundry washed at Sacred Suds, with our new state-of-the-art high-efficiency machines, and the provision of soap and other laundry essentials provided for free, costs $12.00 per visit. That is $2.00 per load, $624.00 annually, and provides each family a yearly savings of $468.00.

In 2016, while operating at 75% of our capacity due to failing machines, 3,002 loads of laundry were done at Sacred Suds. An average of 250 loads per month. At 6 loads of laundry per family, we assisted at least 42 families each month, providing monthly savings in our community of $19,656 or $235,872 annually.

Your gifts have increased our capacity to 100%, as we move into 2017 and beyond.  Sacred Suds is now able to serve a minimum of 53 families monthly, generating monthly savings of $24,804 or $297,648 annually. In addition, we have a quieter environment, happier neighbors, dependable facilities, and we are already seeing increased usage. goes the new! goes the new!

This would not be possible without the generous support of the individuals and organizations who have provided support for our new washers and dryers, generous on-going gifts of laundry supplies, and enthusiasm for the work we do. Our neighbors would have a much more difficult time addressing this basic need and making use of the limited resources they have.

We are a privileged community, creating a sacred space within our city, with our laundry facilities operating as one of our essential community hubs.  

And we have been equipped by our individual donors who gave generously to support this initiative of Community enCompass; community partners such as Great Lakes Dental, Men Who Care, Mercy Health, The Greater Muskegon Service League, The Muskegon Chamber of Commerce Women’s Division, and many others who have given to this initiative and/or to our ongoing laundry needs by providing soap and other laundry supplies. You have given us the tools to help neighbors in need! Thank you!

We look forward in the upcoming weeks to providing you an opportunity to see the wonderful things that you have helped accomplish. Be watching for an opportunity to tour the updated facilities at Sacred Suds, and hear about the exciting things we have planned as we move forward. You are truly helping us rebuild community among those who have at times felt abandoned by community!

Click here for more pictures of our new machines!

"I Am Neighbor" - Bob

Autumn days are shorter.  Mornings are colder.  Anticipation swells for the colors of the season. It’s a time of plenty: the market is full of produce; stores are full of candy; neighborhood windows are full of cobwebs. Children are looking forward to the holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.

For Bob, the anticipation he feels is more aptly described as fear. For the roughly 2,400 homeless people like Bob in Muskegon County, winter is a time of hardship.

Click the image for more "I Am Neighbor" stories.

Click the image for more "I Am Neighbor" stories.

Bob didn’t always live in his friend's garage. After getting a qualification in accounting in the 80’s the financial market crashed, so Bob moved into Muskegon's busy manufacturing industry. Similar to the financial market, the manufacturing market in the USA also crashed. Like the rest of Michigan, Muskegon's manufacturing started to slow and shut down: Factories were closed; jobs moved overseas; thousands of people were slowly laid off. After 9 years in his position, Bob also was reshuffled, and then, because he cost the company too much money, he also was sacked.

Bob moved on to another manufacturing job through a temporary work service. Despite continually being told that the company would be hiring full permanent positions soon, he was surprised to find himself unemployed again after the company decided to move their business to China.

Again Bob moved on, this time to work at a die cast facility that produced automobile parts.

“It was during that time GM went belly under {sic},” Bob says.  The facility panicked because they had lost major contracts and had to cut costs.  Bob was not an essential employee. “I didn't get my 90 days, so I had to go.”

Bob moved on once more, doing landscaping and working for a cleaning agency until his Landlord decided to sell off the property. “I stayed there for another 3 or 4 months doing odd jobs and helping out with plumbers and stuff, just to be an extra pair of hands,” but when the work was completed, Bob was left with nowhere to go. It was winter and the cold, icy temperatures left Bob with one choice--The Rescue Mission.  

When the cold of winter had passed, Bob moved his life into a storage unit.  “I ended up on the news. ‘Homeless man sleeping in storage unit.’  It was kinda true, kinda not: you gotta do what you gotta do to keep tugging along.” That's exactly what Bob does, despite the circumstances, despite his health, he keeps tugging along.

He currently sleeps in a friend’s garage, moving around every couple of weeks and has his belongings scattered around other friends’ houses. Bob walks everywhere.  He doesn't drive, and couldn't afford the cost even if he wanted to. Finding work has depended on his ability to travel, having to rely on his friends for transport if the work was too far for him to walk.

Earlier this year, Bob was referred to Pathways to Better Health of the Lakeshore, a  Mercy Health Community Benefit Program that helps develop care plans for vulnerable people with two or more chronic diseases. From there he was referred to Community enCompass, where he was connected to Housing Resource Specialists who are helping him navigate towards permanent housing.  Bob is currently waiting for a Section 8 Housing Voucher so that he can get off the streets and back on his feet.  He’s also waiting on a disability claim. On top of Bob’s chronic illnesses, he also has back problems and is blind in one eye. Like 30%* of the homeless population of Muskegon, Bob’s health prevents him from working. Yet like the season, Bob’s still moving on.

Autumn is here and Bob is left waiting. He volunteers at Sacred Suds, a community center and day shelter program of Community enCompass.  He also does occasional yard work for his church. Bob has no certainty in his future: where he will be staying, if he will be working, what will happen with his health.  All Bob knows is that if nothing changes, he'll face no choice but to go back to the Mission for the winter.  

We would like to thank Bob for sharing his story and for agreeing to keep us updated as he progresses. Unfortunately, Bob's story is all too common in Muskegon, but it is integral to changing the narrative and helping the broader society better understand the challenges faced by homeless people

*Data taken from the MHCCN Annual Data Report 2007-2015

"I Am Neighbor" - James Erving Emmendorfer

"I was running out of work so I chose to move up to Newaygo, to be with my girlfriend. Three days after Christmas, three and a half years ago she kicked me out of the house, because I didn't find a job and I didn't get my unemployment and the only place I could find to go at the time was Muskegon Rescue Mission, so that's what brought me to Muskegon.

Click on Jim's portrait for more "I Am Neighbor" stories.

Click on Jim's portrait for more "I Am Neighbor" stories.

I was living in my vehicle in a friend's house across the street and I found out this (Sacred Suds) was a good place I could do laundry and take showers and have coffee and a doughnut and lunch once in awhile. It’s very beneficial so it really helped me out.

I became a volunteer because it helped me and I wanna help other people and pass it along, and it's very beneficial, this place for helping homeless people that's living on the street or may not have water at their house…….I like to help people and pass it along.

I found out about all these other programs I can use to benefit me and other people. It’s been a struggle for three and a half years, but now I’m back on my feet and I just like to volunteer and as I said, pass it on.

I just started so I think I’m gonna be working the front desk once in awhile or whatever they need me to do: cleaning or sweeping, I don’t mind, landscaping, it don’t matter; whatever they want me to do.

Through Sacred Suds I heard about Community enCompass and Section 8 (affordable housing) that helps veterans like me and other people that have been homeless, now I live in Norton Shores in a community complex thanks to Sacred Suds and Community enCompass and section 8 housing. My income? I got disability. I applied for disability and won my disability case.

I’m doing really good. I like volunteering and passing it along so that other people can benefit too."

Jim volunteers at Sacred Suds and can be found getting his hands dirty in the garden or doing odd jobs around the building.