Our church, Grace United Church of Christ, is located directly opposite the proposed new Catholic Charities site on Third Avenue in Wausau. Grace has been a part of this neighborhood for more than 120 years and has witnessed its "transition" several times. Indeed, the faces of the congregation have changed along with the neighborhood.
We happily welcome Catholic Charities, including the homeless warming center it administers, as our new neighbor. Grace UCC is not a social service agency, yet we have tried to meet some of the many needs in our neighborhood. Because our administrative and financial resources are limited, we have always believed that the presence of a social service agency in this part of Wausau would be a true blessing. The Third Avenue location puts them right where they need to be. We anticipate the arrival of Catholic Charities with rejoicing and with hopeful anticipation.
We hear and understand some of the concerns that have been expressed, but we welcome the use of our property by those who may be waiting to enter the warming center. Many clients of Catholic Charities are people already in this neighborhood. These same folks come to us looking for many things that we cannot provide and may amble past the church, often pausing to use our picnic tables and benches. This has not caused any serious problems.
Recently, we have learned that there have been few if any problems for the neighbors in the current location of the warming center, which is surrounded by more businesses and churches than those that exist on Third Avenue.
Staff members at Catholic Charities have reached out to Grace UCC and other neighbors in the area beyond what they are required to do. They have assured us that they will monitor the situation and make changes in their schedules and procedures as necessary, working with neighbors to address any concerns. Catholic Charities has already held two open houses and we are confident there will be more opportunities for questions and answers as this move progresses.
Grace UCC is blessed to have all our neighbors, and we willingly cooperate with them in any way we can. We are confident that Catholic Charities will be a good neighbor. Our shared beliefs and the faith we confess demands nothing less.