Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ruth Meiers Hospitality House

While we were in Bismarck, we volunteered at the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House, which serves the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. 

We toured the offices and outreach facility with Julie Huwe, and then helped Dale Romans prepare and serve supper to the residents of the men’s shelter.  The menu was chicken quarters topped with pasta sauce and cheese, bread stuffing, creamed corn, and iced tea.  It was easy to prepare, leaving us time to chat with some of the residents before dinner.  The crowd was small, most watching TV and talking with each other as they enjoyed their dinners.  We served about 15 of the 21 current residents and put a few meals into the refrigerator for late-comers. 

Dale Romans
Ruth Meiers Hospitality House is a homeless shelter.  It has two emergency facilities, one a men’s shelter and one a women and children’s shelter.  Last year, all the beds were full for 276 of the 365 nights, and they housed 131 different men, women and children at different times.  Hospitality House also has several transitional housing facilities for single men and women, with various entry and resident criteria, but all with on-site support staff.  Residents are expected to progress toward permanent housing and to work towards gaining employment and/or income.  Staff, including case managers, job service representatives, and an addiction/mental health counselor, help residents address their needs. 

But Ruth Meiers Hospitality House is much more than just a shelter. 
  • It is the “24/7 Single Point of Entry” to services for those that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the Bismarck area.  Here, clients in need can come to one place for all services rather than being referred to a number of different agencies. 
  • It’s a place to obtain food.  They house a food pantry, open 5 days/week.  Like many other food pantries, it often suffers from a lack of some of the products they want to distribute.  The food pantry has a refrigerator for storing perishables (when we visited, it contained only eggs, donated by a local farmer) and a freezer which held frozen meat, mostly donated by Walmart and other local supermarkets.  They also sometimes receive meat from Sportsmen Against Hunger.  Other protein sources and fast meals were in very short supply – see the empty shelves in this photo.  Clients may use the food pantry once/month, and get about 20 lbs of food.  There is also a “bread shelf” in the lobby, where anyone can come and pick up three packages of bread and rolls, collected daily from local bakeries and supermarkets by volunteers. 
  • Julie Huwe showing us the food pantry at the
    Ruth Meiers Hospitality House
  • The Stone Soup Kitchen, in existence since 1994, provides a free noon meal to homeless and low-income individuals in the community on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.  The meals are prepared and served by volunteers, and they have a waiting list for people who want to help!
This little shelter, run by compassionate people and home to so many other services, seemed to us uniquely fitted to meeting the needs of homeless and struggling people in Bismarck.  We’re glad to have helped out in 1 small way.

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