South Oakland Shelter’s annual meeting honored partners who’ve helped to make an impact while discussing big accomplishments and future plans.
A crowd gathered inside the beautiful Kirk in the Hills church in Bloomfield Hills Thursday night under expansive cathedral ceilings and large stained-glass windows to celebrate another year of service to the community and the positive impact South Oakland Shelter has made on the people it serves. SOS held its 33rd annual meeting to share the organization’s accomplishments and future plans to expand its reach.
In 2017, SOS served 587 people – including 233 children and assisted 388 people to secure or maintain housing. 78% of shelter guests successfully exited the emergency shelter and 97% of follow-up care participants maintained their housing status for a full year of the program. The HandUp program, a social platform that uses crowd-funding technology to help fight homelessnes – met over 1,780 emergency financial needs nationally, including 358 in the metro Detroit area.
These numbers are not only a testament to the growth of our organization, but our outreach as well. Today, more than 60 congregations of various faiths and denominations offer guests a comfortable place to sleep, three meals each day, and access to transportation, showers, laundry, computers, and clothing.
South Oakland Shelter’s president and CEO, Ryan Hertz, talked about our focus – to continue helping at-risk households regain and maintain stability through housing assistance, follow-up care, and a variety of resources aimed at increasing and supplementing income. This includes rental and utility assistance to families and individuals facing housing crisis, short- to medium-term financial assistance for roughly 80% of clients who only need a few months of support, as well as permanent housing assistance paired with in-home supportive services for the 20% who struggle with severe disabilities and have experienced extended periods of homelessness.
“Adequate housing is the building block upon which one has a chance to overcome the most challenging of barriers,” said Hertz. “We plan to focus more and more of our efforts on system changes to move upstream to address the root causes of homelessness and poverty in our community, with a special emphasis on housing affordability – an area where Oakland County is dramatically behind the curve and we need to do so much better.”
Additionally, SOS is focusing on future projects including Coolidge Place – a high-quality, affordable housing development in Oak Park. Coolidge Place is SOS’s first affordable housing development, and was awarded an allocation of federal tax credits to help fund building the complex. Located on 4.5 acres, the development will have 64 unit apartments. During this update, Hertz personally thanked Joe Heaphy of Ethos Development for his work as the driving force on both our tax credit application and the project at large.
The evening ended on a high note, honoring several partners, congregations, foundations, and influential individuals with awards for their dedication.
Corporate Partner of the Year – Epsilon
Congregation Partner of the Year – Hilltop Church of the Nazarene
Community Partner of the Year – Southwest Housing Solutions
Foundation Partner of the Year – PNC Foundation
HandUp Partner of the Year – COTS
Congregation Coordinator of the Year – Pastor Zack and Rachael Dunlap of Berkley First
Volunteer of the Year – Aziza Roosen, Michele Fernandes, and Riley Fernandes
Outstanding Service Award – Judith Webb, aka “Miss Judy”
Mission Possible Award – City of Oak Park
Shelter site coordinators who served ten or more years with SOS were invited to stand for a special round of applause. Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church was also honored for its many years of service before the church closed its doors this year with a special Sunset Award. Mike Moran was thanked for his outstanding service and commitment to ending homelessness as outgoing board chair.
Last, but not least, SOS’s board of directors was thanked for their tireless work and impact on the community. They are Josh Barron, Dennis Blender, Jonathan Burleigh, Jim Ciroli, Rita Fields, John Harvey, Barbara Hertzler, Paddy Lynch, Harry Maisel, Kim Owens, Paul Plante, Sammie Rayner, Rachel Shere, Kirk VanDagens, and Susan Wellman. SOS officers, Chair Michael Moran, Vice Chair William Mott, Treasurer Richard Lewnau, and Secretary Sarah Barlow-Doyle.
“This year’s meeting was a great opportunity to bring the community together to see what we’ve accomplished,” said Hertz. “It is a great privilege for me to serve the SOS community, an organization that brings together so many diverse groups and individuals for a common cause.”
To see more pictures from the evening, visit the Facebook album here .