WARSAW — If you asked Marjorie Mullins, employee and past tenant of Fellowship Missions, what residents of Warsaw’s homeless shelter need most this holiday season, her answer may surprise you.
“They need the love of their family. Where are their families?” stated Mullins through tears. “What they really need is love and understanding of why they are here. They just need help.”
Mullins, who is known to be an unassuming and gentle woman to those at the shelter, lived alone in the Warsaw area since 2004. Residing in a home outside of Warsaw, Mullins worked at a local business for many years until her work began to affect her health.
“I had my own trailer and a job. I couldn’t continue my job because I developed breathing problems. That winter I sold all of my belongings just to get by and by the end of the season, had to come stay at the shelter. Everyone thinks people who come to the shelter are lazy and they don’t want to go out and get a job. These people work hard. They have jobs, volunteer in our community and do the program (at Fellowship Missions).”
Mullins, who recently graduated Fellowship Mission’s program to self-sustainability, has taken the lessons she learned at the shelter and turned them into a tool to help other women struggling with the same issues she herself went through. With the help of Fellowship Mission’s Director Eric Lane, many like Mullins are getting a helping hand up and back into the community.
Lane notes in 2014, the shelter offered assistance to 182 individuals, 80 of which were children under 14 years old. This year, Lane notes the newly built shelter will help even more than the year prior. Currently 43 individuals with six children under 15 are residing at the shelter.
Guests to Fellowship Missions will find more than just a warm bed and hot meal. Instead, Lane notes he and shelter staff look to assist guests in a holistic approach, focusing on more than just setting the individual up with a job after leaving. Instead, shelter staff look to break the cycle of poverty from an emotional, mental and physical standpoint.
“This week is homeless and hunger awareness week. We have men, women and children in our community that are hungry,” explained Lane. “We have wonderful agencies in our community to supply them help but hunger should never be an issue — or not having a home. We feel very strong about providing them with a home but also supporting that they can get out on their own.
“People think they just need to go out and get a job but they don’t understand the background or upbringing involved. They may not know a different lifestyle. We hope to mold different lifestyles. We see all situations… from those without good life skills to those experiencing a hiccup in life.”
Lane took a moment to thank the community for their support, without which, he notes the shelter could not operate at the level it currently does. As the holiday season approaches, Lane noted there are numerous ways to offer a helping hand to a neighbor without a home. Coats, outerwear, food, clothing and monetary donations are all welcomed as well as volunteers to the shelter. Lane also noted any employers interested in offering employment options to his residents are encouraged to contact the shelter.