With the snip of a blue ribbon, a new Day Resource Center for the homeless officially opened Monday afternoon. The center is at the site of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on Mason Street in Appleton, in the rooms formerly used for classrooms. The school closed several years ago and the classrooms were not being used.
Jerome Martin, executive director of Homeless Connections, told the crowd the ultimate vision is for the Day Resource Center to serve as the hub of all homeless services in the area.
“We intend to make this an extension of our street outreach program for our homeless connections so people who aren’t currently connected to case management services or some of the supporting services will engage with our staff who can can help them overcome some of their challenges. This is a place for them to come, feel welcomed, and ideally get back on their feet,” Martin said.
The crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony and brief remarks from Martin, Betsy Borns from Project RUSH (Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness), Pastor Jon Kuski from St. Matthew Lutheran and Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas.
A dire need
Up to 180 people sleep in local shelters each night, and many have limited options on where to go during the day – not only to get out of the elements, but also to help with programming and recovery.
“It was evident that finding a place for people struggling with homelessness to go during the day was a huge need,” said Borns. “The Appleton Public Library has always welcomed everyone and our local coffee shops let people sit at tables (especially on cold days). Sadly, there was no structured place designed specifically for people experiencing homelessness.”
Funding for the Day Resource Center is provided in part from the Foundation by grants from the Robert Dohr and Lilas Dohr Current Community Needs Fund and the Basic Needs Giving Partnership Fund supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, the J. J. Keller Foundation and other community partners.
Martin hinted that even bigger news about Homeless Connections and the Day Resource Center would be announced next week. “Stay tuned,” he told the audience with a wink.
We’ll announce that news here at The Loop, so check back for updates.