Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kalamazoo group plans to house the unhoused for Christmas

A Volunteer with the Kalamazoo Together Volunteers for the Unhoused hands out food and medical items to unhoused individuals. They stand on the black driveway of a small avocado green house. Snow blankets the yard behind the house, everyone is thoroughly wrapped in layers of thick clothing to fight back against the afternoon's cold wind.
Michael Symonds
In addition to food, the volunteers handed hand sanitizer, toiletries, and medical items that can go a long way in helping the unhoused make it through harsh winter nights.

Volunteers in Kalamazoo hope to put 100 unhoused people up in hotels during the Christmas holiday.

Monday afternoon I went to a food handout in Kalamazoo’s Eastwood neighborhood. The temperature was around 30 degrees, but with the wind, it felt far colder.

It didn’t take long before my unprotected fingers started to feel numb.
Thankfully, volunteers were nearby to lend me a hand, or rather, a hand warmer.

Members of the group Kalamazoo Together Volunteers for the Unhoused set up the afternoon’s food handout. On the menu: chicken, stuffing, fresh vegetables, and other goodies, all handed out for free to those in need.

Heads on a Bed

The group’s Heads on a Bed for Christmas project aims to house 100 individuals at hotels for up to four nights.

So far it’s raised enough money to house 65 people.

Judy Lowery founded the group.

“To be unhoused, in a tent on the park bench, or wherever it may be outside on Christmas is just really gets me down. It's really sad,” Lowery said.

Jamie Bigham said the project helped her stay in a hotel last year as a blizzard hit Kalamazoo.

She said it not only gets people out of the cold, it gives them a chance to mentally regroup.

“There's a lot of people that are depressed at this time and it pulls them out that depression,” Bigham said.

The group will provide transportation, food, and laundry service for those who participate.

In-person sign up will be held Friday near the Ministry with Community building on Edwards Street.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.