St. Vincent de Paul and Solutions Center Announce Plans for a New Homeless Shelter for Fond du Lac County.
St. Katharine Drexel Shelter
After two years of planning, a new homeless shelter project is underway for Fond du Lac County. Through the collaborative efforts of St. Vincent de Paul and Solutions Center, the two primary agencies that serve those experiencing homelessness, came together to address unmet needs related to homelessness both equitably and effectively.
Solutions Center Board President, Kristina Meilahn shared her support of the project by saying, “After years of searching for the right property, partners in this project and building design, I am ecstatic that the St. Katharine Drexel Shelter, will finally be built. This is a blessing for our community, and its residents. I cannot think of a better partnership in this venture, than Solutions Center and St. Vincent de Paul, and I am so grateful for Drexel Building Supply being our Cornerstone Sponsor. Joel Fleischman, and the Drexel team, were called to help their community when the shelter project needed them most. My heart is full at this moment.”
Currently, Fond du Lac’s homeless shelter has capacity for 5 families at a time. The demand for services continues to trend upwards in the county with an average of 150 people experiencing homelessness a month.
Bob Ramstack, St. Vincent de Paul’s Vice President (of Fond du Lac County) was quoted saying “I believe we have a great presentation to clergy and community leaders explaining the need in the Fond du lac area. SVDP had 47 calls to find shelter for clients last month alone.”
On September 21st, the City of Fond du Lac’s planning commission approved the shelter plans, which were presented jointly by both agencies and issued a special use permit.
Dyann Benson; Community Development Director for the City of Fond du Lac says, “Homelessness can happen to any one of us, at any time. All it takes is a life altering change, such as a loss of a job or a significant illness. The ability to not only provide shelter, but supportive services, is critical to helping those in need get back on their feet. The partnership between St Vincent De Paul and Solution Center is an amazing commitment to serving our community now and into the future.”
The new shelter is slated to be built on the north end of the property currently owned by St. Vincent de Paul, located at 330 N. Peters Ave and is being designed to accommodate up to 100 clients and provide a warm, safe place for families with children, and single men and women that are facing homelessness; while respecting privacy and needs of all clients through use of separate wings for each population.
Each agency in this collaboration play a vital role in this project and ongoing partnership. While St. Vincent de Paul will own the building, both agencies will share operational, financial, and programmatic responsibilities.
Partnerships with other community agencies will continue to be integral to meeting the client outcomes of self-sufficiency and securing permanent housing. Lu Sheer, ADVOCAP’s Affordable Housing Director said, “Solutions Center and St. Vincent de Paul are strong members in the local Continuum of Care who deal with homeless persons, and affordable
housing in the greater area. ADVOCAP is very excited about having a new shelter to assist with both families and singles in the area, year-round. Having a shelter what will provide a safe place, staff that will provide individualized programming and help their guest make connections with other service providers, help the entire community.”
Both agencies share fundraising responsibilities for the estimated 3.5-million-dollar cost associated with this project and intend to kick off a capital campaign to attract donors. Donors will have naming rights dependent on the amount of the donation that is pledged. Currently the project has a cornerstone donor that has pledged just shy of 1/3 of the total building cost of the project. We are proud to announce Joel Fleischman Drexel President and Solution Provider and Drexel Building Supply in Campbellsport, WI as our cornerstone donor for this new shelter project.
Amber Kilawee of The United Way said, “One of the most important considerations for any new community project or initiative should always be collaboration and shared resources. Our community residents as well as businesses are incredibly generous; so many projects would simply not happen without their support, but it is our responsibility as a united not for profit sector to ensure that we steward those dollars efficiently and collaboration is an essential way for that to happen. The partnership between SVDP and the Solutions Center is an excellent example of how an effective shared vision can lead to a positive outcome.”
Amy Loof; Director of Homeless Services for Solutions Center states “This is a very exciting venture for all involved. Our already existing partnership with St. Vincent de Paul makes this project extra special that we can join forces and truly meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness in our community. With this joint approach we will have the ability to take what we do best and do it better without duplicating services that are provided by our partners. Our goal for the clients that are in shelter is that they leave into permanent housing, self-sufficient knowing the resources they may need to remain in their own home”.
A community forum was held with local business leaders and agency partners to overview the new shelter plans. Robert Hartzheim, President of St. Vincent’s Council (of Fond du Lac County) stated, “I am pleased with the turnout for our meeting. We are going to make a difference in people’s lives, helping them to be more secure and safe. We are following the gospel values and I am happy.”
The project is estimated to be completed in fall of 2021 and David Schneider, Chairman of the Development Committee stated, “Our homeless shelter project has been in the talking stages for several years. It is gratifying to see this project moving forward. It will only become reality with the support of the community. We have a need…We have a plan…Are you with us?”