Local volunteers team up to ride for teen shelter Barnabas House
By MEGAN SCHMIDT
The Holland Sentinel
Posted Sep 24, 2011
Holland — Gretchen Meyer’s bicycle takes her to and from work at the Good Earth Cafe each day.
On Saturday, it took her quite a bit farther — and helped raise awareness of teen homelessness in Ottawa County.
Dozens of cyclists showed up to Dunton Park on Saturday morning to join the Barnabas Ride.
Each cyclist embarked on a 12-, 25- or 50-mile ride for Barnabas House, a youth shelter project slated to break ground in 2012.
Meyer opted for the 25-mile route.
“The 50-mile, I’m not quite sure I’m there yet,” said Meyer, of Holland. “But I didn’t want to do the shortest one, because then it’s like you’re just getting warmed up, and you’re done.”
Money raised by the bicyclists will go to the privately funded shelter, set to be built on a 25-acre lot at 112th Avenue and Quincy Street in Holland Township.
Once complete, it will be Ottawa County’s only shelter designated for teens.
Before the riders took off down Howard Avenue, Barnabas Ministries’ Executive Director LoriJo Schepers led a prayer.
She said fundraising for the $2.5 million project is going well, with the organization recently accepting $5,000 from three donors.
“I know our kids would thank you very much for being here,” she said to the cyclists. “And it’s an absolutely beautiful morning for a ride.”
In 2009, 115 Ottawa County teens surveyed reported they had been homeless at some point in the past year, according to the county’s 2009 Youth Assessment Survey.
“People don’t realize homelessness is here. It’s among us,” said Don Van Singel, a Zeeland resident and Barnabas supporter who rode the 50-mile route Saturday. “I think a lot of people would be shocked to know what’s really going on.”
Although none of her family members have experienced homelessness, Meyer said she knew of several students who didn’t have permanent shelter when she was attending Allegan High School.
“The shelter is something we need,” she said. “Every county needs it.”
Copyright 2011 The Holland Sentinel
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