SAM 25, an emergency homeless shelter in Shawano County, recently purchased a “forever home,” a new location with double the space to meet their growing need. A capital campaign kicked off last weekend to fund the renovations, which are expected to be completed by November 2020. The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, the Shawano Area Community Foundation, and several other generous donors helped SAM25 start nearly five years ago to provide shelter, meals and personal care items, as well as life skills resources. Funding for the project is coming from many sources, including the Shawano Homeless Shelter Fund, the Tony and Betty Piantek Family Fund and Matty’s Fund, all within the Community Foundation. The group needs additional help reaching its $410,000 renovation funding goal.
By Jennifer Laude Bisterfeldt, executive director, Shawano Area Matthew 25, Inc.
It is incredible what can happen when a community comes together! On Saturday, June 22, people in the Shawano area gathered to celebrate the purchase of a permanent location for SAM25 in Shawano.
SAM25 (Shawano Area Matthew 25, Inc.), is a non-profit organization which operates SAM’s House Emergency Homeless Shelter in Shawano. The organization is in its fifth year of operations and has been renting its current space from the City of Shawano since its inception.
We are really grateful to the City of Shawano for allowing us to use this space, but it was never intended to be a permanent location. SAM’s House operates out of the former Shawano City Hall and the City offered the building, which was vacant for several years, to SAM25 in 2015 on a five- to ten-year lease.
When SAM25 became aware of a local residential facility on Richmond Street that was for sale, we began discussions with its owner about a possible purchase. The owner of the building wanted to retire and liked the idea of SAM25 purchasing the space, so she gave us a deal we couldn’t refuse.
When the SAM25 Board toured the building, it was obvious the space was a perfect fit for all that the organization had hoped to accomplish.
The new space, which requires significant renovations, has just the right amount of space for SAM25’s goals. It offers almost double the square footage and a footprint that allows SAM25 to expand to accomplish all that was intended by its founders. Those foundational goals included providing a safe place to sleep and basic needs for those who are homeless, a resource center available for those who are struggling to get help, and a community clinic staffed by volunteer physicians and nurses to provide healthcare to the uninsured and underinsured.
The space was purchased in April by the organization, with savings. Now, SAM25 has embarked upon a capital campaign to raise $410,000 for the building’s renovations. In just a few short months, it has already raised almost 70 percent of its goal.
“We are grateful to our community and all of those who have donated to help make this dream a reality,” says Maureen “Muffy” Culhane, SAM25 Board President and founder.
Since inception, SAM25 has provided more than 300 people with shelter at SAM’s House and offers on average of five to six households resource assistance each week. Ultimately, it is our goal to see our resource assistance sessions increase and our shelter numbers decline.
SAM25 staff and volunteers have found that by providing education and fostering empowerment within the guests it serves, it often decreases the amount of time people are in shelter and, for many, helps to prevent homelessness altogether.
As a result of its resource programs, SAM’s House has been able to discharge an average of more than 40 percent of its shelter guests to permanent, positive housing destinations. Extra time and energy put into our guests really is effective. We all need others to rally around us when we are struggling. That’s what SAM25 is all about.