Berrien County’s only women, family homeless shelter launches fundraiser for repairs

Published 2:26 pm Thursday, February 3, 2022

BERRIEN COUNTY — An area nonprofit organization is raising funds to repair Berrien County’s only women and family homeless shelter.

This week, Emergency Shelter Services, 185 E. Main St. Suite 103, Benton Harbor, launched its Love Your Shelter fundraising campaign. The campaign, which lasts through the month of February, aims to raise $50,000 to cover necessary repairs to the shelter, including foundation work, plumbing, kitchen and bathroom updates and more.

According to Hawkins, the building that houses the shelter, located at 645 Pipestone Street, Benton Harbor, was donated to ESS by the J.N. Klock family in 1979. In 2008, ESS officially became Berrien County’s Housing Assessment and Resource Agency.

After being unable to create a fundraiser in time for the holiday season last year, Hawkins, along with members of her management team, created the Love Your Shelter campaign for the month of February with a Valentine’s Day theme.

“We have been managing that shelter for 43 years, and there is a lot of wear and tear,” said ESS executive director Reshella Hawkins.

In addition to offering its 28-bed facility where women and families receive support to move into stable housing, ESS implements and manages strategic programs to prevent homelessness for women and families in Berrien County while also providing support and resources to help community members become self-sufficient.

ESS works with agencies around the county, including the Ferry Street Resource Center, 620 Ferry St., Niles, the city of Niles and the Southwest Michigan Communication Action Agency.

Readers looking to donate can do so on Emergency Shelter Services’ Facebook page, online at essberrien.org/donate, or by check made out to Emergency Shelter Services, Inc. mailed to 645 Pipestone St. Benton Harbor, MI 49022.

ESS has witnessed first-hand the generosity of the Berrien County community, which donated more than $40,000 to ESS last year to replace a broken sewage line in front of its headquarters. Hawkins is confident that the community will step up once again.

“Hopefully the community can rise to meet this need,” she said. “I want people to know that we love this community and we love the shelter. It has provided a lot of help to this community as it pertains to the homeless population. We can’t do this by ourselves and we’re looking to the community to help us with this fundraiser.”