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      Homeless in the U.P. and you can help

      Pioneer Surgical's donation of $3000 to Room at the Inn

      For Facebook Friday , our fans wanted to know more about ways you can help the homeless in the U.P. There are many charitable organizations in Upper Michigan that offer their services to the homeless.

      Voices For Youth in Marquette provides a refuge for young adults in need. It's one program in a greater network called Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Voices For Youth caters to ages 16 to 22, but the LSS helps them make sure no one is turned away.

      "We're a 'never say no' agency. So if we can't provide it, we find someone who can," said Mike Martin, Community Services Specialist and Interim Apartment Program Case Manager.

      Their home is located next to Messiah Luther Church which owns the house. It's a place to live while clients set goals for themselves, work on their education, or get a job. Voices For Youth works to give a hand up, not a hand out.

      "We help build self esteem in young people. We help them feel like they're somebody because some of the young people that come in here have no one else. We are the extent of their family," Martin said.

      Everything in the home was donated. Voices For Youth receives federal and state grants but is highly dependent on the community.

      "A great deal of our support comes from the community. Without the communities that we serve, we just wouldn't be here. That's point blank. Without the help of the community, we're done," Martin said.

      Voices For Youth is always in need of food, clothes, appliances, and everything in between. Donations, like appliances, are used to help clients that have moved on to their Apartment Program.

      On Facebook, Paula Rae said, "My amazing sister decided this year at our family Christmas party, instead of buying each person a Christmas gift...she would take the money she would have spent on those items and purchase groceries for our local food pantry here in Escanaba."

      That's what Pioneer Surgical in Marquette decided to do Thursday when they donated $3000 to Room at the Inn , a service that offers food and shelter to the homeless at a different church in the Marquette area every week. Homeless people can come for shelter between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. If you decide not to work with an organization, then you can also help on your own.

      "If it's cold and weather is terrible and you're near a restaurant, buy them a meal or even a cup of coffee," said Helen McCormick, one of the original founders of Room at the Inn in 2007. "And always be compassionate because anybody can be in that position."

      McCormick recommends not giving a homeless person money as they may spend it on drugs or alcohol.

      To volunteer for Room at the Inn and work with the homeless directly, you must attend a three hour training session. To contact Voices for Youth in Marquette, call (906) 225-5437, or in Escanaba, call 1-888-574-7436 ext. 7701 or 7704. Voices For Youth has a wishlist of items they would appreciate to be donated that includes: furniture, pots and pans, Tupperware, towels, blankets, paint, baby items, and more. Call them to see how you can help.