Originally Published in The Morning Sun
Chantel Wisniewski believes that if it wasn’t for the help she is receiving from Joshua’s House in Clare County, she would not have her 2-month-old daughter, Arial.
Chantel lost custody of her first child and the Traverse City native found hope and more at Joshua’s House Maternity Home, the only homeless shelter in Clare County.
Chantel and Arial have been living at Joshua’s House since April 25.
There, Chantel is taking classes to keep custody of Arial.
“It’s changed my life around,” Chantel said. “It’s made me more mature.
“It’s made me grow up.”
Chantel, 20, is set to graduate from the Joshua House program Oct. 18.
While living there, she does chores and follows the house rules.
“It’s really nice,” she said.
Rene’e Jeffords, executive director of Joshua’s House, said Chantel is the fourth woman to go through the shelter’s program, which is designed to give new mothers guidance, spiritual and emotional support, and instructional opportunities so they can keep their newborn children.
All the other graduates of the Joshua House program are either working or working with Michigan Works to find jobs, Jeffords said.
Having opened its doors March 31, 2010, Joshua’s House International is in an undisclosed location in Clare County, in order to keep residents and staff safe.
Joshua’s House relies on contributions from the public to offer shelter for mothers and their newborns.
Next week, a fundraiser is being held with proceeds going toward the operation of the facility.
Set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Clare Church of the Nazarene, 10160 S. Grant Ave. in Grant Township, the benefit includes dinner, a silent auction, refreshments and a guest speaker.
Dinner will be prepared by Arnie Hiltz and his catering staff, and the silent auction will start at 5:30 p.m., with dinner being served at 6 p.m.
James Muffett, president of Citizens for Traditional Values of Lansing, is the guest speaker.
Kristina Johnson, a senior at Clare High School, will perform a vocal selection.
Jeffords said she hopes to get between $8,000 and $10,000 during the fundraiser.
Although that amount has not been raised in past efforts, it’s always Jeffords’ goal to get as much money as possible for running the facility.
While Jeffords volunteers her time, a secretary must be paid and the Joshua’s House board of directors hopes someday to relocate to a larger, more secure facility that is close to police and a hospital, Jeffords said.
In addition to the fundraiser, the people behind Joshua’s House are working on opening a thrift store that will help both the facility and others in the area, Jeffords said.
A thrift store would both help sustainability of the facility and would be a place for area residents to find good deals on clothing and other items, she said.
“In times like these, people are looking for bargains,” she said.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a table, donating an item for the silent auction or obtaining individual tickets can call 989-339-5374 or 989-424-5434.
Tickets are also available a the Clare Church of the Nazarene.