May 23, 2017
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Shalom extolls shelter progress

Faith leaders pledge support as fundraising continues



The Shalom Center is reaching out to some of its most loyal supporters for help financing their new homeless shelter.

The local nonprofit updated dozens of local faith leaders about progress being made on the proposed shelter site, 4314 39th Ave., on Thursday evening at the Kenosha Transit Center.

“I am really overwhelmed with the group that showed up tonight — we had 28 churches represented tonight,” said executive director Lynn Biese-Carroll.

“The faith communities have been the stronghold of the Shalom Center, both in financial support and volunteers. We want to go forward knowing that it is an important part of our history and an important part of our future. We can’t do this without faith communities.”

Donations pour in

Earlier this month, the Shalom Center received another $100,000 match pledge from an anonymous donor after his first $100,000 pledge was matched in less than two weeks last month. The anonymous donor said “my love of God and my desire to serve him” inspired his donation.

Members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church read about his generosity and offered Biese-Carrol a $10,000 check at the meeting Thursday night.

“That’s amazing, because they are regular donors to us,” Biese-Carrol said. “They really took the faith challenge seriously.”

The center has raised well over $600,000 since being denied an Affordable Housing Program grant of $850,000 on Dec. 7. The center needs to pay for renovation of the proposed shelter site at 4314 39th Ave. The organization hopes to be open by mid-summer.

“We were watching when the large grant was not forthcoming, so as a faith community we talked about ways in which we could help,” said St. Mary’s deacon Wilson Shierk.

The new site

On Jan. 24, the center’s board of directors approved the start of renovation construction after receiving a report from its finance committee that sufficient funds were available.

For construction, the nonprofit has raised almost $1 million from donations — the recent $600,000 plus previous restricted donations — along with a recently received $1 million construction loan commitment from First Business Bank.

However, the center doesn’t want to rely on a loan. Fundraising efforts will continue throughout the construction period and beyond. Some $800,000 is still needed.

“It’s long overdue and I think it’s really excited,” said Pastor Stacy Seger of Lord of Life Lutheran Church.

“It makes my heart kind of sad knowing that there is such a need in the community, but then it’s also exciting to see the people stepping up to make this happen.” Lord of Life partners with the center to provide temporary shelter to families.

The upcoming 24-hour shelter will include nine bedrooms and 50 spaces. It will also include a large commons area capable of accommodating 20 bunk beds, 15 of which are designated for men and five for women. A large partition wall will separate the areas.

The facility is expected to house a maximum of 75 to 80 people. It will be staffed by 14 full-time employees and 17 part-time workers.

The center purchased its new property in December 2015 for $340,000, $250,000 of which came from Kenosha County.

Moving forward

Last month, the Kenosha City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the new shelter, which has been cleared out for renovation.

The soup kitchen and the Shalom Center’s office, currently housed at 1713 62nd St., will move to the new location once it is operational. The building also contains an emergency shelter. The organization’s food pantry and warehouse, 8043 Sheridan Road, will not relocate.

The Shalom Center currently provides temporary shelter for the homeless through the Interfaith Nightly Network Shelter program, housed at various churches.

There are also plans to develop a traveling soup kitchen that would bring meal service into neighborhoods.

“This is going to be a good thing for the community,” said Pastor Ron Auch Jr. of Prayer House Assembly of God, one of the churches that volunteers in the soup kitchen. “This new building is going to restore a lot of humanity. If we don’t take care of our poor and disenfranchised we’re really doing ourselves a disservice.”

Shalom Center Servies:

— The food pantry has provided perishable and non-perishable groceries to 1,200 unduplicated low-income Kenosha families per month, for a total of 1.1 million pounds in 2015.

— The center’s nightly soup kitchen has provided hot meals to 90 to 170 people each night, without missing a meal since 1983. More than 60,000 meals were served last year, including breakfast and lunch provided to those in the Emergency Family Shelter and Interfaith Nightly Network Shelter program.

— The Interfaith Nightly Network Shelter program is located in the basement of eight different churches on a rotating basis each night. The INNS program provides temporary emergency shelter for 600 to 700 people each year. In 2015, 116 children have had to take shelter in the church basements until space was available in the Emergency Family Shelter.

— The Emergency Family Shelter provides emergency shelter to 145 unduplicated people (including 95 children) experiencing homelessness each year. The current 24-hour EFS shelter has a capacity of 35. Budgeting, parenting and nutrition classes are also offered.


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