In the News part 2

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Record setting day for the Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless

Story by Dani Molnar

This Story appeared in the Nappanee Advance News on March 6 2014

Nappanee-  Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless, Inc have been visiting Chicago every two weeks for months now. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed by the homeless in need of assistance, the public looking to help or other local groups encouraged by the actions of the Michiana natives, as is evident by the food, clothing and monetary donations provided to the group for Chicagoans.

But last weekend’s trip to Chicago may have been one of the biggest beacons of the Nappanee-stationed nonprofit organization’s success in the homeless community since last summer.

“We’d been seeing another ministry come every third week of the month”, John Shafer of the Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless explained.

While the Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless had provided meals previously, weather and funding has made it difficult in recent months for them to do so. The last hot meal they offered was over the summer. Normally the group will venture to Chicago twice a month to visit the homeless, providing care packages one week and a hot meal the other.

At Pritzker Park, at the intersection of Van Buren Street and State Street in downtown Chicago, As the Harold Washington Library Center closes every Saturday at 5pm, and the safety of the educational building is lost to them, they seek refuge in the cold of the park. On Feb. 22 they found additional refuge in the kindness of the Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless and the Street Angels of Hope providing a warm meal and supplies.

“All the homeless come out, and they see us setting up and they start to form a line” Shafer said.

In almost no time, the line ventured all the way to the street corner.

Two people from Chicago had filled a vehicle with clothing, coats and warm blankets which were passed out while individuals and families waited in line for a warm meal.

“It was great to have people in Chicago joining usto make a difference”, Shafer said.”When you see a large line and the faces of the people in that line, we were very grateful we received so many hugs and appreciation and thanks from the people we helped.

By the end of the night, the groups had fed about 130 people thanks to donations of baked items, pastas and other food from members of the Nappanee area and Chicago friends.

“We had just enough to cover to the very last person.”

Since that night, the Chicago and Michiana Five has teamed up with the Street Angels of Hope to ensure they can host events like these for Chicago’s homeless population every month.

Local food banks donated drinks for the event, and there was so much food that they were able to give a meal to go for those in attendance equipped with sandwiches, chips, yogurt and a snack bar.

For Shafer and the groups he supports, the struggle of being homeless is all to real. He learns about the people he helps and hopes for their continued growth, and that’s not just the homeless of Chicago.

Every week the Chicago Five for the Homeless is collecting donations from Michiana residents to deliver to local homeless shelters, along the streets and to preventative programs such as The Window in Goshen and the Shepherd’s Cove in Elkhart.

He explained that many homeless women and children are taken in by churches during the colder months, however men are left out on the streets without proper provisions in Elkhart County, the only homeless shelter for men is Faith Mission of Elkhart but there is hope for more.

This week, Shafer will be donating a truckload of blankets and pillows donated by an employee of the Holiday Inn Express in Warsaw to Faith Misson.

“We continue to look for more friends to join us and appreciate all of the support we’re given.

It is estimated since the beginning days of the Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless in Oct 2012, the group has touched the lives of around 1,100 individuals and has been on television and in the media at least eight times.

“It’s because of the work we do”, Shafer explained. “We feel blessed and fortunate.”

On March 8, the organization will venture to Chicago once again to donate care packages to those who live on the streets. March 22 will be the next hot meal event, and it will be hosted by the Street Angels of Hope.

For more information on the Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless, visit them on Facebook at Chicagofiveforthehomeless.

To make a clothing, supply, food, or monetary donation or find out what’s need to join the fight, contact John Shafer at 574-383-8428 or 574-607-3483


Two local non-profits team up this Christmas to help the community


Nappanee man forms group to help homeless in Michiana and downtown Chicago

Updated: Mon 6:55 PM, Jul 08, 2013

By: Stephanie Stang

After retiring a Nappanee man is taking on a full time job of helping the homeless.

More than a year ago, John Shafer started a non-for-profit called the “Chicago Five for the Homeless.” The group distributes donations to six local homeless shelters, like Faith Mission in Elkhart.

They have made several trips to Chicago to help people living on the streets. The group has handed out blankets, toiletries and food.

“So where the need is greatest we want to focus certainly on those individuals that seem to be forgotten and invisible and give them clothing and basic needs,” says Shafer.

The next trip the group will make to Chicago is on July 20th when they plan to serve a meal for a couple hundred people. (Original article)


A Michiana activist for the homeless wants vacant homes put to use
Posted: Jan 07, 2015 6:20 PM EST Updated: Jan 07, 2015 6:23 PM EST
By Andreina Centlivre

ELKHART, Ind. – A Michiana activist for the homeless is asking city officials to turn vacant homes and buildings into shelters on brutal winter days.
John Shafer who runs the nonprofit Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless is known for collecting blankets for the homeless. Today he is asking for more – he wants more shelters.
“Find a vacant building, a vacant apartment house, an office building – someplace where they can house the homeless. Get them out of this weather,” said Shafer.
Ronald Dove who visits Faith Mission’s warming center and homeless shelter says “In this area, this is the only one. The only other one in the area is in South Bend. So yea, they are few and far.”
Shafer says he is petitioning for city officials to follow suit of other cities who have used vacant homes to reduce the cost that come with housing the homeless.
“The cost can typically be $31,000 per person, per year. The studies show that it can be reduced almost to $10,000 per person, per year just giving them a warm place, a warm building,” explains Shafer.
In Elkhart there are homeless who could benefit from more shelter options.
Ross Swihart, the Executive Director of Faith Mission of Elkhart says, “Well typically the reason for not being able to take a person would be like on our family side for the most part because we are filled up.”
Having to turn away the homeless in need is exactly why Shafer is asking the city to take action.
“Begin to house our homeless and get them off the streets,” demands Shafer.
Shafer is looking for support and asking people to write their city officials to support his cause. He says with a bigger community response the more likely his plan will be heard. (original article)