Rebuilding Lives of the Poor: How Ministry with Community Drop-In Center Cultivates Self-Sufficiency and Dependency
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According to C.L. Caton, each year between two to three million people in the United States experience an episode of homelessness. Ministry with Community is a daytime shelter for the working poor and homeless in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which provides access to an array of social services, communicative technology, and personal hygiene accommodations. Through a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods (surveys and interviews), this study samples 106 members of the shelter and explores the role of the shelter in the lives of the members and specifically whether the shelter cultivates self-sufficiency or dependency of its members. My research indicates a strong reliance on the center as a place for those homeless and working poor to use to socialize and relax. Likewise, data reveals daily attendance for nearly all members and a substantial dependency on the two daily meals provided. Members further predict themselves to continue to utilize the shelters' resources, despite possible changes or advancements in their lifestyles. What members gain from the center then is a sense of community with the others and staff rather than motivation to change their own situations. Linking these findings with Judith Butler's theories of regulatory regimes and subjection relates these themes with power dynamics. and an overall interdependency between the institution and the individual members. In this way, with the relationship between the regime and its subjects, an identity of the individual forms. So while this social support at the shelter is extremely valuable, future research should examine how this support can be used to foster change for homeless and working poor in addition to a detailed examination of the various populations it serves.