LOVE MI: A lighthouse for the women of Craig
February 27, 2015
Craig — God's vision was for Yvette Davis to open a shelter and empower women. She thought she would open a shelter in the Bahamas, but a stroke of fate changed everything.
Davis met her husband, Dr. Wayne Davis of Craig Veterinary Hospital, nearly three years ago while Dr. Davis was taking a continuous class in the Bahamas.
"We just felt through prayer and everything that God put us together," Davis said.
She moved to Craig to be with Dr. Davis and said though God had given her the vision to open a shelter years ago, she didn't feel the timing was right for it until she arrived in Craig, when "all of it fell into place."
The couple funded the opening of both the LOVE MI shelter and thrift store last year. The shop opened on Jan. 8 and the shelter opened on May 4. The proceeds from the store fund the maintenance and living costs such as laundry at the shelter.
Davis said she also tries to provide gas money to help women travel to job interviews and celebrates residents' birthdays to reinforce a homey feeling at the shelter.
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The name of the shelter and shop is an acronym representing the mission of her organization, Loyal Outreach Voluntary Evangelistic Ministries International, Inc.
Currently, Davis said two women and three children are staying at the shelter located at 820 Russell St. It can hold up to 11 women and their children. Last year between May and November, the shelter helped 14 women by being a temporary source of stability.
Secretary for LOVE MI's board Paula Misenhelter said the service provided by LOVE MI was much needed in Craig. She said she's most enjoyed meeting different people through her job.
"If at the end of the day I've helped somebody, it makes me feel good," Misenhelter said.
Misenhelter moved to Craig from Maybell in 2012. She lived in Maybell for about six years before coming to Craig. She started working at the shelter in February of last year and usually stops in at least once a day to help Davis.
"Some have come and left, but she has stayed," Davis said of Misenhelter. Both women agreed the operation would be difficult to maintain without the support of each other.
Even if women are just passing through and can't afford a hotel, Davis said the shelter "can be that lighthouse." Women and their children are welcomed but the shelter does not accept male children older than 13 years old. Women who live in the shelter are given a month to get back on their feet, but Davis said it's not always a firm deadline.
"After that we may extend it for another two weeks, it depends on the person," Davis said.
The main goal of the shelter is to help women feel better walking out of the shelter doors than they felt walking in. Davis and other volunteers sometimes work well into the night to make sure women have a chance at succeeding outside of the shelter.
"We help them get set up in their new place," she said. "We're open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but we go beyond just the hours here."
All of the time Davis spends on the shelter and shop are volunteer hours. She said she would like to write for some grants this year so she can hire employees.
"We've just been breaking even, so we really could use some financial support," Davis said. She's planning for another fundraiser this summer, similar to the fashion show fundraiser LOVE MI hosted last year.
But, all of the volunteer hours are worth it when she's out in the community and hears the feedback.
"Sometimes when I'm at the grocery store someone tells me I'm doing a great thing and that drives me," Davis said. "I couldn't do it without the support of the Craig community."