The Men’s Winter Refuge provides many year-round services for individuals in need in addition to our winter shelter, which is open from Nov. 1 to April 30.
Our Mission Statement
"To offer shelter from the cold and to provide assistance referrals to men coming to our area."
My name is Wayne. I consider myself a typical, self-sufficient person. I had a medical problem in Nov 2017 in Oregon and it required me to travel to Ohio to have a heart procedure done and recuperate. I gave the mother of my unborn baby my money because I was told by the doctors in Oregon that is be out of commission for 6 months.
To my surprise, when I got ok'd to travel at the 3 month mark, I went home only to find someone else had taken my place there and I had nowhere to stay, no money, no anything. So I drove back to Minot where I knew I could find work. This was in late Feb. I was struggling. Sleeping in a cold truck. No showers. I was looking for work.
But without rest, regular showers, and a way to clean my clothes, it was looking like an uphill battle. I was in a bad place.
That's when I found the mens winter refuge. I was nervous about asking for help and the whole thought of being in a homeless shelter. But I was desperate. So after putting it off for a few days, I went to the shelter. I AM GLAD I DID!
It was nothing like I envisioned a shelter being. The program there is great. It addresses the very basic needs of warm rest, showers, laundry and even a hot meal every evening. I was there about 6 weeks til I got enough pay to get out on my own.
I really don't know where I'd be if it wasn't for mike and the shelter. It was a hand up when I needed it. Life sometimes knocks you down and that program in particular is a good example of a helping hand. Not enabling folks to not help themselves. Mike has ideas that will help people in even more ways.
For me, it was a blessing at a time when I was really low on all levels. Now I'm employed with a great job that I enjoy and I'm roommating in a nice quiet apt.
I hope this testimonial helps the shelter in some way. I hope they can continue to be there in their current form or even an improved program. This coming winter, I look forward to helping repay some of the kindness that was granted to me by the Men’s Winter Refuge.
My name is Joel. I experienced a medical crisis that required me to leave my healthcare job in Kalispell Montana. By the time I recovered, we had gone through our savings, while the bills went to collection and our two cars where close to being repossessed. Once I recovered it was not enough to just get a new local job as a nurse and catch up on bills. Travel nurses make very good money.
I knew this was an opportunity to reacquire financial stability so I became a travel nurse and landed a three month contract at a local hospital in Minot North Dakota. I would not have even made the trip if not for the Men’s Winter Refuge (MWR). By the time I arrived, I spent two nights in my truck and had less than $300 (an advance from my travel agency). When I contacted the Executive Director, Mike Zimmer, he explained the services provided and the responsibilities of the homeless person sharing a house and being provided with meals.
When I arrived in Minot I had just enough to store my truck which was close to breaking down (a faithful but old truck on a 860+ mile trip), which ironically, did break down in the parking garage when the radiator finally failed.
Thanks to MWR I was able to acquire ‘three hots and a cot’. If I was living on the street I simply would not have been able to work in an out-patient clinic. Here is a fundamental great strength of MWR that makes it a proactive force of community health: They have a systemic approach to gaining job employment. The great tragedy of homelessness is often the ‘bridge too far’ for people who have fallen into a deep hole and cannot see a way out. It is a drain physically, mentally, and spiritually.
More than just the requisite folder on the dining room table with current job openings, the staff are part of the community with deep ties. I observed most of the guys obtained jobs by word-of-mouth.
With a much disciplined schedule, the shuttle would drop each of us off to where we needed to be. In my case, it was the hospital which allowed me to maintain my 40 hour 8 am to 5 pm weekly schedule. Here is an integral and extremely important point: If I was staying in a rental, I could never have saved up the money to get my family and I out of the financial trouble we were in. Because of MWR, that burden was removed which allowed me to spend the next three months of my contract, earning enough money, to keep our two family vehicles, get ahead on our rent, fix my truck and most importantly, rebuild savings to prevent a paycheck-to- paycheck scenario in the future.
Out of all the guys I saw come and go through the shelter, the three months I was there, just about all of them obtained employment- as that was the original goal when they arrived. One was a young man who came up from Texas who dreamed of working for the railroad. Being an honest, all around great guy, he went to the hiring event and landed one that day. Another gentleman at the shelter was already an engineer for 25+ years and needed temporary shelter while waiting for the position to open for him (which it did). Many came through getting local jobs- some very physical and demanding for middle age men- and toughing it out to save the money so they could get their own place before the shelter closed at the end of the spring. A few were roughnecks waiting for the cold weather to clear before going out into the field. One gentleman acquired a job in landscaping while another housemate landed a job in a factory. What was really amazing was how we encouraged each other with some, going out of their way to give time and assistance to help someone fix a car or gain a job.
The structure and atmosphere of the shelter created this environment. Very strict but compassionate. That is what makes MWR a proactive force for community health. They believe in what they are doing. The results speak for themselves, and I will never forget the journey I had there.
From both the objective evidence of studies and my own subjective experience, I am certain MWR acts as a proactive force in helping men get back on their feet or transitioning from one geographical area to another. Sure, there are some who lack the behavioral requirements needed to be self-sufficient or those who simply lack the motivation to improve themselves. But in my time there, this appeared to be the rare exception rather than the rule.
I observed a clear pattern of men who were in need of a supportive community to improve their lives with MWR providing the economic support, thus allowing them to successfully make an upward transition. I also noticed those, who lacked the necessary discipline and motivation to succeed, simply moved on (Getting up at 0545 every morning with a strict prohibition of drugs and alcohol- along with the expectation of eventual employment- tended to weed out those who simply wished to take advantage of MWR services). Of course, half-way houses providing services for those struggling with addictions or behavioral problems are important but I perceived the MWR as a refuge, a temporary “shelter or protection from danger or distress” (dictionary.com). There was one individual who was not actively seeking a job but even then, he just began collecting retirement social security and living at the MWR allowed him the space and time to save up for an apartment.
Most instructive and inspirational for me personally was how we encouraged one another while congratulating those who improved their lives. Friendships were made. Pride, responsibility, and ownership were encouraged and developed. It was the staff who helped to create and maintain this environment. Many of us will carry this experience as a time when trouble was upon us, while those who cared, served and shared the resources needed to overcome. This is why MWR is a proactive force for community wellness.
My name is Daniel. Two years ago, I was not only one of the current 542 reported homeless reported in North Dakota today, but also one of the estimated 1-in-6 unsheltered men who suffer from severe mental illness at the same time.
Homelessness alone is hard for anyone to overcome, let alone the major traumatic event or physical/mental disability that puts you there. I'm not sure that telling you about a tattered past, later identified as symptoms; or how I ended up homeless in Minot is all too important. What I think matters the most is telling you how much the right resources and needed support meant to me, beginning with Mike Zimmer and his staff of volunteers at the Men’s Winter Refuge.
It was never about getting the job, or the relationship, or even the place to live; it was keeping it. All of the above came and went as I dealt with mental illness, and homelessness was the inevitable result.
Eventually, this repetition can tear anyone down; frighteningly, even unexplainably. You can be stuck homeless without ever knowing why you're stuck. You might even battle legal problems or manifest an outcome incidentally from unknowingly alienating those around you because of oblivious trauma. The homeless need help and support more than you'll ever know. Often more than they know themselves. Support and resources aren't a question, it's our compassionate human duty.
As for me, I consider myself extremely blessed. Today, I enjoy my old truck and live in a cozy well-decorated apartment with my girlfriend of two years. As for employment, I recently sent in two college admission packets to two different universities in North Dakota. In the meantime, I am working with my local state-sponsored vocational rehabilitation for the best fit.
This was all possible because I got help from the incredible people at the Men’s Winter Refuge. I write this in hopes of generating awareness and support for all those who need it and may not know to ask. I am asking you for help on their behalf.