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The Refuge moves to industrial park site

The Refuge, a Christian outreach and resource center in Detroit Lakes, has moved from its former location on Washington Avenue to a new home at 921 Eighth Street.

The building formerly housed the Anishinaabe Center, which has relocated to Callaway.

"We really appreciate how they worked with us to (help) purchase the building," said Mel Manning, who along with his wife, Shirl, established The Refuge last year. "They really got behind us and wanted to see this type of outreach to the community continue.

"We're hoping to continue doing some of the same kind of work they did (at the Anishinaabe Center)," he added

Though their former location in downtown Detroit Lakes was a little bit more visible, Manning says they simply outgrew the space.

"We didn't really want to move, but we just needed more room," Manning explained.

With their expanded location, Manning hopes The Refuge will be able to expand its programming as well.

"We're starting out with Friday and Saturday nights, but we're hoping to expand that little by little, to include Monday through Thursday," he said.

Eventually, Manning noted, he would like to work out a schedule with some of the local churches, to have volunteers from those churches come in and serve meals, coordinate activities, etc. on specified nights of the week.

Currently, The Refuge serves meals every Friday and Saturday night, starting at 5:30 p.m.

On Fridays, they serve a light supper from 5:30 to 7 p.m., followed by a Bible study or activities.

On Saturdays, they will serve a full meal, such as turkey "with all the trimmings," to be followed at 7 p.m. by a gospel concert featuring some of the area's most talented Christian artists.

"The musicians who come in are mostly local, but we do have some from Park Rapids and Fargo-Moorhead," Manning said.

The suppers and activities are open to anyone, he added.

In addition to these scheduled weekly events, The Refuge also ministers to the homeless and those struggling with addictions. Manning said that while the staff members are not trained counselors, they are there to listen and minister.

"Sometimes people just need someone to talk to... to know that they're loved, and that Jesus loves them," he explained.

Manning said that this past weekend -- their first at their new location -- The Refuge had a crowd of about 60 people on Friday night, and 100 people on Saturday.

"We ran out of food on Saturday," he said, adding that next time they'd be better prepared.

One of the nicest things about their new location, Manning added, is that it has a certified kitchen.

Though The Refuge will be serving meals, Manning said their intent is not to compete with other organizations offering similar services, but to work with them.

"We would like to work with the different programs in town that are serving meals ... to expand on what's already here," he explained.

For more information about the services offered at The Refuge, please call 218-847-1982. The Refuge is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday through Thursday, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until the conclusion of evening activities.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454