New Calvary House helps young women
By MEGAN SCHMIDT
The Holland Sentinel
Posted Feb 03, 2012
Holland — When a girl turns 18 years old, she is an adult — according to the law.
Yet some teens and even young women aren’t ready to survive on their own, but they’re forced to try.
“There are young people that, for whatever reason, do not have family around to support them,” said LoriJo Schepers, director for Barnabas Ministries. “They’re old enough to technically be on their own, but they don’t have the life skills to survive on their own.”
Schepers hopes Calvary House — Barnabas Ministries’ new transitional shelter for girls and young women — will help some of them find their way.
Calvary House will not only be a place females in their late teens and early 20s can stay, Schepers said. The four-bedroom home will also be a place to learn skills necessary for independent living, from cooking to managing money. Barnabas Ministries opened the house to the public to view for the first time on Friday.
Ottawa County does not have any youth homeless shelters, and adult shelters such as the Holland Rescue Mission will not take in unaccompanied minors.
The residents may include girls whose parents are incarcerated, who have been in foster care or who have been emancipated. It’s not a place to reform young women or girls who have been in trouble with the law.
“With these kids, if they’re connected to the system, it’s because they are the victims,” Schepers said.
Schepers did not want the Holland Township home’s address to be published for safety reasons.
Barnabas Ministries rents the house from Calvary Reformed Church; donors have already paid the first year’s rent, Schepers said.
Two Hope College students will live in an apartment connected to the house. However they will be supervising — not parenting, Schepers said.
“The idea is to have them learning life skills and building a bridge to get them on their feet.”
Most Calvary House residents will stay less than six months and will contribute a percent of the rent — if they’re able to pay, Schepers said.
“If you’re working 20 hours a week at Burger King, you can’t really get an apartment on that kind of salary.”
Schepers anticipates move-in day to be later this month, though Barnabas Ministries hasn’t chosen residents yet.
Calvary House will be Barnabas Ministries’ second shelter in the Holland area. Another, in the city, also houses up to four girls at a time.
The ministry is also working on Barnabas House, a 12-bed home that will be used as emergency shelter for youth who need a place to stay immediately.
Barnabas House, set for construction at 112th Avenue and Quincy Street, is tentatively scheduled to open around Christmas.
Copyright 2012 The Holland Sentinel