The Minot Area Men’s Winter Refuge helps men who want to get back on their feet but don’t have a place to start.

They are open from November to April and provide everything – food, clothing, housing, and transportation – free of charge to the men who stay with them. During the months they are closed, they offer assistance by covering some transportation and short-term living costs to men in need. The Men’s Winter Refuge (MWR) helps men who need clothing year-round.

“Our shelter is only open six months, but we help people every day of the year,” says Mike Zimmer, Executive Director of the Minot Area Men’s Winter Refuge.

“We don’t want people sleeping outside. That’s the bottom line.” 

Filling a gap in Minot

A designated shelter for struggling men is relatively new to the Minot community.

“There’s always been great women’s and domestic violence shelters here, but until 2014 there had never been a place for men,” says Mike. “Adding support for men makes Minot feel more whole.”

And with Minot’s generous support in the form of volunteers and donations, the MWR has been able to make a difference in the community.

Back on their feet 

“We have some amazing success stories. We’re not just a place for guys who don’t want to get a job or don’t mind being down and out and just want a free place to stay. We’re really putting guys back on their feet and back into the workforce. We’re putting them in a position where they can reconnect with family and get back on their way, which is what 99 percent of the guys that come here want to do. They just need a starting point,” says Mike.

One man the MWR was able to support is named William.

“The Men’s Winter Refuge was nothing like I envisioned a shelter. The program there is great. It addresses the very basic needs of warm rest, showers, laundry, and even a hot meal every evening,” says William.

“It was a hand when I needed it. Life sometimes knocks you down, and that program, in particular, is a good example of a helping hand.” 

Support to success

“It’s such a cool feeling to see a guy progress from the first night he gets here to talking to him about what he wants to do and how we can help him get there and then seeing him literally do that,” says Mike.

“I really don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Mike and the shelter,” says William. “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 living in a nice quiet apartment.” 

Stay tuned for another nonprofit story next week and remember to live with purpose!

Derek Hatzenbuhler

Author Derek Hatzenbuhler

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