December 05, 2018IMLAY CITY — When Lourdes Emke got the phone call from police last Monday, her heart sank to her knees.
Imlay City's finest had some bad news for the director of the Hispanic Service Center.
The shelter—Lapeer County's only home for the homeless on North Almont Avenue—had been trashed.
The family who'd been living there had to leave because of the destruction. The woman, who had three young kids, called the police when her boyfriend allegedly went ballistic and destroyed just about everything in sight.
"He destroyed the whole shelter, furniture, bed, refrigerator, walls, it's a mess," Emke says.
The man was arrested, and the woman and her kids packed up and left. Now, the county's only shelter for those who need a boost to get back on their feet is completely uninhabitable.
Hispanic Service Director Lourdes Emke looks for ray of hope after destructive incident at Lapeer County's only homeless shelter. photo by Catherine Minolli.
Emke says she's particularly distraught because she and other Hispanic Service Center employees and volunteers began working on that shelter when she was first hired as director in June of 2016.
"I worked many weekends, painting and stripping the floors," she says.
One community volunteer put in about 300 hours patching walls and installing drywall. Others donated beds, couches, a table and chairs, two television sets, a refrigerator and the like.
"When I saw all the holes in the wall and the closets destroyed, the tvs broken, I felt like crying," Emke says. "And I actually did cry.
"This is not just the Hispanic Service Center shelter, it's the community shelter," she continued. "Why would somebody destroy it like that. It's really upsetting."
As upsetting as the situation is, Emke has hope that the people of Imlay City and surrounding area will again demonstrate their generosity by helping fix the shelter.
Groups or individuals wishing to volunteer to help clean up, fix, paint and haul things out would be most appreciated.
She would also welcome donations of household furniture—beds, table and chairs, sofa, tv sets—and household goods—a refrigerator and microwave, which were both destroyed.
A thick piece of carpet propped up by a board covers broken window in bedroom; furniture destroyed and debris strewn about after pre-Thanksgiving incident at shelter in Imlay City. photo by Catherine Minolli.
To volunteer or make a donation call the Hispanic Service Center at 810-724-3664; email info@ImlayHSC.org, or visit the website www.imlaycityhsc.org.
The HSC shelter is designed to boost families in need of temporary housing as they actively seek permanent housing. Residents are generally allowed to live there for 30 days.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.