As snow fell lightly on an open field by Seventh Street in Muskegon’s Nelson neighborhood, a group of people representing wide swaths of the county—including nonprofits, government, healthcare, churches, and law enforcement—celebrated the groundbreaking of a $4.5 million facility from Catholic Charities West Michigan, including a 14-bed detox center, Thursday afternoon.
The facility will provide a range of services, including a drug and alcohol detox center that’s expected to serve hundreds of people annually, counseling, foster care and adoption services, programs for seniors, a baby and toddler pantry, and more.
“We’re really excited about this,” Catholic Charities West Michigan CEO Chris Slater said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “These are services that are needed in the community.”
The 4,700-square-foot detox center is slated to open around August or September of this year, and the second portion of the facility, a 21,000-square-foot building that will house about 80 Catholic Charities employees and provide a variety of services, from counseling to the baby and toddler pantry, is expected to debut in 2021. The detox center and administrative building will be separate from one another, but will be located on the same property.
The detox center will offer three- to five-night stays for clients and is expected to serve at least 700 people each year, according to Catholic Charities West Michigan.
“People are dying every day from it, and it’s destroying families,” Slater said, referring to drug and alcohol addictions. “We’re all aware of the opioid crisis and what that has been doing to communities in this country, but the alcohol in the community is just as devastating. It’s destroying families; it’s putting children in foster care. We’re seeing it every day.”
Catholic Charities West Michigan has operated at 1095 Third St. in the Nelson neighborhood’s Midtown corridor since the mid-1980s, and the organization needed a new space to accommodate a growing demand for services, Slater said. After ruling out the possibility of remodeling their current Third Street location, the nonprofit turned to the city. The two groups—Catholic Charities and the city—ultimately agreed to a land swap that was approved by the Muskegon City Commission this past October and resulted in the nonprofit receiving the Seventh Street parcel and the city taking over Catholic Charities’ current home on Third Street.
“We sat down with the city, and, as soon as we saw this piece of property, we made the decision this was going to be it,” Slater said. “It’s close to downtown; it’s in an area where we need to be to serve the community. It made perfect sense for us.”
City of Muskegon Mayor Stephen Gawron said he is thrilled to welcome the new facility and emphasized the benefits of the land swap.
“It helps solidify and strengthen Catholic Charities West Michigan and their ability to provide these essential services to the community,” Gawron said at the groundbreaking. “There’s many of us in need of this type of outreach and service. As we address the needs of our community, we all become stronger.”
Catholic Charities’ office will remain on Third Street until their new facility is completed. After the organization leaves the Third Street space, the city is slated to rehabilitate the building and prepare it for redevelopment in the growing Midtown area that includes such venues as Hamburger Mikey, The Griffin’s Rest, Curry Kitchen, Third Street Vinyl, and Valy Vietnamese Oriental Food, Gifts & Market. The Only Cannoli too will soon open on Third Street.
“Through this creative land transfer, both entities will be able to move forward,” Gawron said in reference to the city and Catholic Charities.
With the new venue, Catholic Charities said it will be able to expand its services to Muskegon residents. Currently, in Muskegon, the nonprofit provides baby clothes and supplies to 1,500 families, food assistance to 4,961 families, foster care in almost 50 homes, counseling to 803 clients, and senior support programs to 450 individuals.
Located by the Muskegon Rescue Mission, the new Catholic Charities facility will include a store-like baby and toddler pantry that will provide free resources for parents, conference rooms for group and individual counseling sessions, green space, and more.
In order to not duplicate services already provided by the Muskegon Rescue Mission, Catholic Charities said it will not have a separate food pantry at the new facility. It will, however, implement “several new initiatives to address food insecurity throughout Muskegon,” according to a press release. The “God’s Roamin’ Kitchen food truck,” for example, will provide free hot meals to anyone who needs them.
Catholic Charities’ current food pantry at its Third Street location will operate through Sept. 30.
The detox center will be supervised by a medical doctor, and Catholic Charities plans to hire eight to 12 new employees to staff the stand-alone facility. The center plans to work with all insurance payers, including those accessing Medicaid.
“We’re super excited,” Slater said. “If anybody has any questions, reach out to the agency and we’d be happy to talk about the project.”