A recent bout of severe cold weather exposed some weaknesses in Graham. Numerous water lines expanded and broke, many stray animals either suffered through the cold or bloated the already strained resources of the Young County Humane Society, and Fort Belknap stared down the possibility of implementing rotating blackouts due to overexertion of the energy grid.
But the cold also exposed a need for more human shelter in the city, and a local contingent of concerned citizens is currently undergoing its third attempt at restarting a men’s shelter in Graham.
The first attempt began in 2005 when Second Chance Ministries provided a place for those struggling with addiction. That lasted until 2008 when the ministry disbanded. Dr. Jeff Gilberston of Faith Family Practice and Sidney Paulson, former director of Second Chance Ministries, formed G2 (God and Graham) Ministries and started a men’s shelter that operated out of a house on Plum and Cherry Streets for one year.
“It was an umbrella titlement to encompass basically anything God wanted to do in Graham,” Gilberston said. “We didn’t want to limit ourselves to one denomination or church, so we felt like all the churches could come together under common goals.”
G2 Ministries led operations for the shelter from 2009 to 2010 before running out of funding through anonymous donors. During the year that they ran the shelter, as many as five homeless people lived there at any given time.
“Since 2010, it’s kind of operated off and on in a very low key fashion but with no official ministry,” Gilberston said.
According to Gilberston, homeless men in Graham are usually struggling with drug addiction or previous trouble with the law.
“Typically you have a person that has been in the local jail and just gotten out, or basically their family or wife says ‘You’ve got to go, you’ve got problems and I want you out of the house,’ and they have nowhere to go,” he said. “Sometimes they live with their mom and their family for a few years, but those situations are (often wrought) with difficulty.”
He said that an unfortunate consequence of being homeless often involves having to choose shelter that comes with an added cost.
Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.