Hispanic Service Center thanks volunteers for kindness, support

IMLAY CITY — In December, Hispanic Services Center (HSC) Director Lourdes Emke was lamenting the extensive damage at the agency’s homeless shelter perpetrated by the rejected boyfriend of a former tenant.
Today, Emke is expressing appreciation to the community for its generous support of the Center and shelter since the destructive incident, which required costly repairs.
Emke pointed out that the Imlay City shelter is the only facility in Lapeer County that provides rent-free, temporary housing to families experiencing an emergency or financial hardship.
Families may stay at the shelter rent-free for up to 30 days, after which they must find alternative housing.
She further noted that the shelter is open to all families, regardless of ethnicity, race, color or religion.
Gateway steps up
Among those recently offering support to the HSC are members of Imlay City’s Gateway Assembly, whose volunteers are currently helping to make much-needed physical improvements at the shelter.
The ongoing upgrades include tearing off and replacing the shelter’s deteriorating back porch, repairing a portion of the roof, and replacing kitchen floors, drywall, windows, doors and cupboards.
Emke said the physical improvements being made by Gateway volunteers are the most extensive to have taken place at the shelter.
“We’ve had a lot of nice people come forward to help us out,” Emke said, noting donations from Heritage Church, local organizations and individual donors have helped support the Hispanic Service Center’s mission.
“But these people (Gateway volunteers) are actually doing the work of remodeling the shelter to make it nice for our tenants,” she said. “They are professionals who are giving of their time and effort. This is the first time that has happened since I’ve been here.”
Gateway Assembly members are also planning to donate a new stove and refrigerator to the shelter.
“To receive this kind of support is amazing and heart-warming,” Emke said. “Sometimes, there are really no words to thank people enough for what they do. Hopefully, someday will be able to reciprocate the kindness and what they are doing for us now.”

Gateway volunteer Terry Thomas works with painstaking accuracy while cutting another 2×8 board for the shelter’s new back porch.

Emke said the two-family duplex has three bedrooms on each floor with individual kitchens and dining rooms. Each unit is capable of housing families with as many as five or six children.
A non-profit organization, HSC is eligible to apply for and receive grant funding from entities such as the Salvation Army and MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority).
“We do seek out grant funds to help us pay the electric and water bills at the shelter,” Emke said. “But we’re always especially thankful to volunteers, and for donations from the community.”
Gateway Assembly’s efforts on behalf of the Hispanic Service Center and family shelter coincide with the church’s ongoing “This Heart Loves” activities.
Pastor Paul Wampler said the repairs and donations to the shelter are consistent with Gateway’s vision of “reaching out” and “giving back” to the community.
“To be able to do something tangible, and to make things better for the people who need and use the shelter allows us to serve our community,” said Wampler. “It’s really to show that God is always here with us, and that we can all share in his love.”
Other scheduled “This Heart Loves” activities include a “grocery giveaway” at the Belle Valley Plaza from 9 a.m.-noon on Thursday, Aug. 1; and a “Community Giveback” day at at the Gateway campus on Saturday, Aug. 3.
For details, visit: www.thisheartloves.com or call 810-724-8110.
History of HSC
The Hispanic Service Center was founded in 1972, for the purpose of providing social services to Spanish-speaking/Latino migrant and seasonal farm workers.
The Center has since evolved from an agency helping only Hispanic people to an agency that provides help to the entire community.
Today, the Hispanic Service Center welcomes everyone, regardless of one’s race or ethnicity. HSC is multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-lingual, and multi-generational; with a focus on serving the needs of vulnerable members of the local population.
The Center provides a broad range of programs, events and services to contribute to an active, inclusive and informed community center that reaches outside the Imlay City community to serve all Lapeer County residents in need of services.
In addition to HSC Director Lourdes Emke, Board members include: Mary Jones, Chairperson; Margaret Guererro DeLuca, Vice-chairperson; Angie McCoy, treasurer; Benita Rendon, secretary; Rosa Mendez, Senior Coordinator; along with Board members: Abel Pena, Paul Bermudez, Angeline Ochoa, Bonnie Collady, Pastor Alan Casillas; Norma Wiggins, Joe DeLuca, and Dora Shagena.
The Hispanic Service Center is located at 113 N. Almont Ave. in downtown Imlay City. Donations may be made to P.O. Box 284. For questions or further information, call the Center at 810-724-3665.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.