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Ellis: Help Warming Center eradicate homelessness in Marathon County (column)

1:17 PM, Jul. 8, 2013  |  Comments
Christine Ellis
Christine Ellis
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The Wausau Community Warming Center began as an initiative of the United Way's Housing and Homelessness Coalition in 2012. Last season, the Wausau Community Warming Center was successful in hosting 754 overnight stays to 59 individuals between Feb. 1 and April 15.

In addition, 248 volunteers received training and donated 2,200 hours of service staffing the warming center from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.

In 2012, Catholic Charities operated the Center and has been one of 23 agency partners comprising the Housing and Homelessness Coalition. Its involvement speaks to an investment in addressing housing and homelessness challenges in the Wausau area. During the first season, the Center provided a valuable service to people in need of shelter during the difficult winter months.

The Housing and Homelessness Coalition's vision is to collaborative raise awareness, define needs and eradicate homeless. We feel we've started to make this vision a reality, but there is much more to do.

Catholic Charities seeks to grow its organization to build capacity to meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. We in the coalition's leadership subcommittee of support Catholic Charities moving its offices and the warming center to a location large enough for expansion of services to meet community needs. They have committed to collaborating with other like-minded organizations in a concerted coalition effort with the goal of transforming housing challenges into housing solutions.

The reality is that housing challenges and homelessness do exist here. Catholic Charities and the Housing and Homelessness Coalition are committed to developing relevant solutions.

No one person, one neighbor or one neighborhood need to face housing challenges alone. There is value in understanding the multifaceted nature of what "housing challenges" are. If we come together to understand all vantage points, then we have opportunities to address truths and myths, share facts, reduce assumptions and deepen our understanding.

Then we can find relevant solutions that maintain safety, security and dignity for all community members - housed or not.

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