FLINT, Michigan (WJRT) - (07/13/17) - Buildings that have been vacant for decades are getting new life - and a new use.
A faith based non-profit is restoring old storefronts in Flint to create a safe place for the homeless.
ABC12's Amy Hybels shows us how a local non profit is using help from across Michigan and the Midwest to help offer more services to those in need.
Last year Shammah Outreach purchased three storefronts along MLK Avenue.. A fourth one was donated last July. This summer church youth groups are traveling to Flint to volunteer their time to refurbish these buildings in hopes of offering the homeless a true sense of community in their own backyard.
Nikole Keim from Sugar Creek, Ohio didn't hesitate to volunteer for her youth group's trip to Flint this summer.
"I feel like everyone needs somewhere they can go to call home - they're people just like us, just because they don't have money doesn't mean they're less important," she noted.
"This room right here will end up being our dining room, and about a year after we hope to have a restaurant here," explained Lynette Hartzman, Director of the Shammah Outreach during a tour of the renovations on Thursday afternoon.
Hartzman is daring to dream big, creating an activity center slash job training site for the homeless and addicted, a place where they'll be treated with dignity.
"When we feel hopeless and worthless, we're not going to change," she said.
And Hartzman is all about change.
Beginning with restoring the storefronts - which haven't been in use since the 1970's.
"Most of our time has been spent painting, we have done some concrete work, some dry walling, some trim work," said volunteer Brennen Mullet, also from Ohio.
The volunteers have even painted the house on the corner -- to help eliminate blight in the neighborhood the center will soon call home.
Those they serve will be able to come in for breakfast, take a shower, wash their clothes, and work in the restaurant. Hartzman says it's about empowering individuals.
"So they give back," she explained, "they either help themselves or help others."
Right now Hartzman is getting a lot of help.. A church group from Pigeon, Michigan will be here in Flint next week to help with the project.
No opening date has been set yet.
Carriage Town Ministries, My Brother's Keeper, and the Shelter of Flint offer homeless men shelter. And Miriam's House and the YWCA also offer places for women to sleep.