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Group seeks to open shelter for less fortunate in the Sault

The founder of Yooper Do-Gooders hopes to launch Family Living Center by Spring 2024
Emil Mattson - vice president of Yooper Do-Gooders (left) is seen with Dean Obrien - president of Yooper Do-Gooders

Dean Obrien moved to St. Ignace two decades ago after living in the Detroit area his whole life. 

He is in the construction business. 

Just before the pandemic hit, Obrien started up the Yooper Do-Gooders Facebook page and organization.

It's a positive page to help each other out in a time of need, whether it's prayer, physical items, or services.

In just three short years, the page has nearly 8,000 members. 

Some of the many accomplishments of the Yooper Do-Gooder's Facebook page include making and delivering over 800 Easter Baskets to those in nursing or assisted living homes. Also, nearly 100 gifts were delivered to families last year. 

But there is more.

The group also has purchased bus tickets for people who have been stranded and gas cards to assist in emergency situations. 

The list is almost endless in what the group has done.

But perhaps the biggest thing right now for Obrien and the Yooper Do-Gooder members is that they want to open up a Family Living Center for homeless men, women, and parents with children in Sault Ste. Marie.

"I have seen the homeless situation continue to grow over the years. Whether it's St. Ignace, Sault Ste. Marie, Newberry or even Cheboygan, it's everywhere. Three years ago, we were just building this organization and the idea of opening up a homeless shelter of sorts was put on the back burner," Obrien said.

"But about six months ago, it really came back to me to get the ball rolling; it's time to get on this. We have done a lot in the past six months. We just started a GoFundMe page for those who would like to help that way," added Obrien.

While it might be ideal to rent a building, Obrien wants to purchase a building outright, so it's theirs. 

"We just really want to get the building for ourselves. We are looking at grants to help out with operation fees and construction fees, but we really want the building to be ours," said Obrien.

While there are several vacant buildings in the city, Obrien does have one in mind, but he is not going to mention where it is. At least not until the building is secured in their name.

Obrien says this will be much more than just a homeless shelter. It will be a place to truly help people get back on their feet.

"We have discussed 30-day programs and 90-day programs so we can help these people get out, get with DHS, get a job, get all the things they need to get back into a house, a home, or apartment where they can live," Obrien said. 

"We are going to have a coat closet, food pantry, daycare, classes of how-to such as minor maintenance repair, parenting classes, and volunteers will come in to help them find jobs," Obrien said.

Obrien will be living on-site at the to-be-determined location. Even though he will be in charge of the living center, he will also use his talents to teach cooking classes and home repair classes.

Obrien hopes to get the center up at going by Spring 2024.