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Harbor House meeting need for more beds

Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs broke ground Wednesday on an expansion that will get the mattresses off of the floors by more than doubling the number of sleeping rooms and adding exam and work spaces.

The shelter at 720 W. Fifth St. in Appleton kicked off the public phase of its Building Hope Campaign.

Harbor House staff and its capital campaign leadership cabinet have spent the last year planning and fundraising to expand and improve the facility. In August, Harbor House reached its capital campaign goal of $4 million, but fundraising continues to cover operating costs. Retired Appleton teacher and coach Mary Beth Nienhaus has pledged a matching gift of $150,000 during the public phase of the campaign, which will bring life to the expansion by supporting Harbor House’s programs and services.

Eleven Community Foundation funds have contributed $240,760 to the building campaign in 2017.

Since first opening as an eight-bed shelter in Appleton 33 years ago, Harbor House has been the singular organization in Outagamie and Calumet counties committed to understanding the breadth of domestic abuse and victims’ evolving needs. For the last several years, the shelter and programs are seeing higher demands than ever before, housing more people than the number of beds it can provide. That has led to families doubling up or sleeping on mattresses on the floor of rooms not designed to be bedrooms.

The building expansion will include an increase in capacity from 55 beds in 13 rooms to 68 beds in 32 rooms, the addition of quiet waiting rooms for clients who arrive a in crisis and an exam room where nurses, chiropractors and doctors can visit with clients. An advocacy center will allow workers from outside organizations to have a better place to work with clients.

Learn more about the shelter expansion at

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