Shelter ready to help homeless
By Scott Bellile
Mission of Hope House leaders say public support helped make possible this month’s grand opening of the homeless shelter.
The public is invited to the facility’s ribbon cutting Thursday, Aug. 23 at 4 p.m. at 520 N. Shawano St., New London. Visitors will hear how the shelter came together and take part in tours.
Attendees will include area business leaders, politicians and leaders of New London’s, Clintonville’s and Waupaca’s chambers of commerce.
“It’s a celebration,” MOHH co-founder Lori Prahl said. “We’re celebrating community and what the community has done.”
“[MOHH] was really conceived by the community, and it wouldn’t be here without all the support we had from the community,” added Dick Gamble, vice president of the MOHH Board of Directors.
In development for over four years, the MOHH is a nonprofit entity that will serve homeless families countywide. All the dollars, items and labor that went into converting a former counseling center building into MOHH were provided by donors and volunteers.
MOHH will offer classes to people in poverty beginning in September, Gamble said. The bedrooms will open to overnight guests around December when the weather gets colder.
In the meantime, the plan is to hire a social worker and continue fundraising. MOHH is estimated to cost $250,000 per year to operate, Gamble said, so it has to remain sustainable.
“Getting ready for the open house is a big project,” Gamble said. “Essentially what this is is a $250,000 enterprise that has a lot of activity and moving parts.”
Accommodations will include 21 beds spread throughout six bedrooms, a kitchen, classroom, sunroom and backyard garden. MOHH is a short walk away from Pfeifer Park, area businesses and MOHH’s The Bridge Thrift Store.
“The homeless experience is really hard on people, so to have a place that’s not an institutional feel but more a friendly environment with nice surroundings is really important,” Gamble said.
Gamble said MOHH is finalizing its mission statement now, but the essence will be to promote self-sufficiency to improve the lives of people affected by poverty and homelessness.
For MOHH, that will mean not just putting a roof over people’s heads short-term, but also educating and training them. Clients will learn skills such as budgeting, cooking, grocery shopping and obtaining jobs.
“Often it’s that situational poverty that’s coming into play, and sometimes it’s just those classes and that other kind of support that’s going to keep them either being a renter or in their home, versus coming in here to stay,” Prahl said.
The shelter will partner with agencies such as CAP Services, Goodwill Industries’ Financial Information and Service Center, Fox Valley Technical College, local school districts and Waupaca County to serve clients.
Prahl said she hopes some of those who attend the Aug. 23 grand opening will be inspired to become MOHH volunteers.
Kim Juve, volunteer coordinator for MOHH, said she seeks help with staffing the shelter, maintenance, yardwork, teaching classes, driving clients to appointments, fundraising and staffing The Bridge Thrift Store across the street.
“Without the volunteers, we really couldn’t function,” Juve said. “They’re a huge part of everything we’re doing here at the mission and the shelter as well as across the street at The Bridge.”