Michigan on the Move

Located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is Berrien County, Michigan. Berrien County is just north of the Indiana state line, so it is as far southeast as you can be in Michigan. 

Berrien County has the cities of Benton Harbor, St.Joseph and a few small townships. St. Joseph and Benton Harbor are separated by the St. Joe River. But the divide is far greater than that.  Benton Harbor has been in decline since the 1960s. 

St. Joseph is the home of choice to most people who have a choice. Whirlpool’s corporate headquarters is located in Benton Harbor. Years ago all the manufacturing for Whirlpool was shut down and out sourced to other states.  

Many community groups, including Habitat, work exclusively in Benton Harbor. Unfortunately the city of Benton Harbor is still in decline with many abandoned homes and has a failing school system’ and was actually taken over by the state since it is in serious financial trouble.

The tax base is eroded and many homes are in bad need of repair. The Fuller Center of Berrien County will be working to help those in all areas of the county.

The Fuller Center in Berrien County was started by Philip Grogan (fire fighter locally) who had wanted to do something for low-income housing. Philip realized that Fuller Center had the solutions he needed. Phil started to engage his church and learned of Dan Teich another member of his church and together they are heading up Berrien County Fuller Center.  

Being a Florida boy, I was not excited about driving in Michigan January weather. I was so happy when Dan and Phil picked us up in Chicago for our board training session. I have never been in a "white out.” I was a little nervous as we drove to Berrien County but to our host it was nothing out of the ordinary. But the Lord kept us safe on the roads and allowed us to do be with this wonderful group. 

It was good to work with such great folks and see how they serve their community in many ways. The excitement and passion of the Berrien County Fuller Center board more than made up for the bad weather. 

I believe by early spring, Berrien County will be buzzing about as a new Fuller Center with the good work being done by the wonderful folks we met. 

As with almost all my blogs, if you read this and don’t have a Fuller Center in your community call Kirk Lyman-Barner at 229 924 2900 or email me at gbarton@fullercenter.org. We would love to help you get started doing God’s work. 

Submitted by:
Glen Barton
Vice President, US Field Operations
Fuller Center for Housing


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