"I don't know what I'm gonna do without this place," the
That's the sentiment of clients, volunteers and employees at Hope Center Macomb --
The nonprofit's board of directors announced plans
"None of us are excited about it. It's disappointing," he said. "It's always a constant priority to try to get that funding. It's very competitive out there. ... We still had some great vision for the place. Again, economics are the big issue."
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She said she received a phone call in the evening about the proposed financial move to close the center and was "dumbfounded." She said she was told she would receive an e-mail the next day.
"This has been very, very hard. I know what a difference we can make in people's lives," she said, adding that she was proud that services were "provided on a shoestring. Now what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?"
She added "now what we're praying for is another
"So where are we supposed to go now for food?" asked
"They gave me a list," LaDuke said, as she was loading her shopping cart.
"They've been really great. They really have," said Dougherty, who has used the pantry for three years, allowing her to save money for bills and clothes for her children. She sipped a coffee, which she received for free at a café set up inside the pantry -- a treat she said she hasn't had in "a long time."
The café and a salon -- both run by volunteers and offering free services -- were more recent additions to the center, which has always focused on protecting the dignity of the clients it serves. The pantry itself underwent renovations a few years ago, with new displays built by volunteers.
It isn't a traditional food pantry. It was set up so clients -- who come by appointment -- could shop like they would at a grocery store for food they need, want and can eat. There are breads from local bakeries and other stores, fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen meats and canned items in addition to other necessities, such as infant formula.
LaDuke said many stores aren't doubling coupons anymore, which helped her save money to buy soap and other necessities.
"Our dollar for a can of corn is no longer is what it used to be," she said.
"I'm heartbroken. This can't be true. This just can't be true," said
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Pantry representatives said the building on Groesbeck that houses the center is up for sale. The nonprofit, which leases the space, cannot afford to buy the building, Gibson said.
Pantry officials were working on moving to a location around 12 Mile and Groesbeck in
"Until now, this has been one of the most forward-facing nonprofits I've ever been associated with," said Moore, who added that he has worked 35 years with nonprofits in the area.
"Things were coming together. That's why this is heartbreaking," Blanchard said.
Gibson said there are more nonprofits vying for the same amount of funding. Also, he said, "priorities shift and change." He said that in the economic crash years ago, food was the greatest need. Now, he said, the bigger needs are utility bill assistance, transportation and employment.
Food pantries remain among the top five requests coming into
The nation has made progress in reducing food hardships since the height of the recession in 2008 and through 2013, with the rate falling from nearly 19% in 2013 to 16% in 2015, according to the
Gibson said the group is working to help clients with referrals to other food pantries, many of which are smaller and based out of churches, and to other area services.
"We really love and care for our clients. We're saddened by this. This isn't an easy decision," Gibson said. "We are serving clients as best as we can before we shut down. It is a good service for human dignity and humanity. It's not just a box. It's really touching people at the core of who they are."
"It's gonna be a loss to us," she said.
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