We can’t move people forward without your support. Please partner with us and help change a life today! Your gift will help provide housing to those without a home or help keep someone in their home during this difficult time.

Over the last five years, our Community Homeless Facilities, Beyond Shelter Programs, and St. Lawrence Community Services Programs have worked together to house or keep housed over 3,000 individuals and families across the 19 Wisconsin counties we serve. Some of their stories are below! Your partnering with us can definitely changes a life!

Jen came through our doors frustrated and losing hope. She was a single working mother but barely making enough to keep a roof over their heads. She felt like she was doing everything right but getting nowhere! She was a hard worker and was doing her best to increase her skill set with the hope of receiving employee recognition and earning an increase in salary. She worked long hours but was still having to rely on food pantries to put food on her table. She met with a Catholic Charities St. Lawrence staff member. She learned about budgeting and skills to negotiate a raise. She was encouraged to request a raise, which she received! She continues to work with Catholic Charities staff to increase her credit score and establish a savings account!

“By modeling good behaviors and acknowledging the efforts of our clients, we build trust! Whether it is a single mother receiving a housing voucher, a client not relapsing after the loss of a job, or a young woman increasing guaranteed employment hours, we celebrate victories big and small. We work with our warming center, beyond shelter program, and individuals and families who come through our doors to surround them with care”.
~ Shannon Parker, St. Lawrence Community Services

In 2019, just as the pandemic hit, Steve found a home in Beyond Shelter. He has lived there for three years and has worked with staff to identify and overcome barriers that kept him homeless. Staff assisted him in obtaining an I.D., a social security card, and clothes. Beyond Shelter provided him with an address to open his world to so many possibilities. He applied for and received his disability benefits. Eventually, Steve began looking and applying for an apartment. On April 2, after three years of hard work, Steve has found his own place to call home.

“Since 2016, Catholic Charities Beyond Shelter Program has worked hard with our Wausau Warming Center to give 27 men the opportunity to take a step out of homelessness and have a place to call home. With the help of St. Lawrence Community Services Program, we work together to find our Beyond Shelter residents resources to continue moving them forward. This community has been a tremendous support to these programs and have been truly changing lives!”
~ Dan Mills, Beyond Shelter Program Coordinator

Our staff member first met Bob when he began staying at the Sojourner House during COVID-19. He arrived at our IGA location recently evicted and in poor health. Due to his health, he had recently lost his job and was having trouble keeping employed due to his health issues. Bob was also without health insurance. He continued to attempt to find employment, but his health would prevent him from fully performing these jobs when he would find new work.

“We continued to provide Bob with a safe place to stay, and as he shared with us his barriers, we worked with him to provide additional resources. Through a collaboration, we were able to help him get insurance. During this time it was discovered that Bob had a severe medical condition that was not being treated. With obtaining health insurance, Bob was able to get medical treatment. This treatment allowed Bob to become stronger and maintain a job. He continued to stay with us and save funds until he could afford to move into his own place! We continue to provide him with community resources, and we are excited to see Bob employed and living independently in his new apartment!“
~ Hope Elliott, Sojourner House Coordinator

Thomas arrived at our front door in September of 2020 battered, addicted, and broken. Sojourner House welcomed him in with open arms and helped support him through a difficult winter. He faced illness due to COVID-19, the loss of an old friend, and continued struggles with drug addiction. Slowly, Thomas warmed up and began to see the potential that our staff had seen in him all along. He began to get more involved with the services, using his free time to help out around the shelter. Sojourner House staff connected Thomas with our St. Lawrence Service caseworker for employment and rental assistance. Thomas was ready to move into his own place and out of homelessness!

“Despite hardships, our staff never gave up on Thomas. More importantly, we would not allow him to give up on himself. Sometimes with an encouraging word, or just a smile, we let Thomas know that he was wanted and valued. To this day, Thomas remains in his apartment, which he maintains on his own. He has repaired broken relationships and is a highly praised employee at one of the best companies in Eau Claire”.
~ Sojourner House Staff

Keith has been chronically homeless since the age of 17. He has been staying with us at the La Crosse Warming Center for about 4-5 years. Throughout that time, and with little variance, Keith has always maintained employment. Sometimes he has worked two jobs. Last winter, Keith fell and broke his hand and was unable to work. After working with Toni, our Warming Center Coordinator, who helped him make his appointments, Keith was able to get his much-needed surgery. After his hand healed, he started a job at a local motel and has been there for over a year. Keith made enough money to afford a place to call home!

“Even after finding housing, Keith continued to help Catholic Charities. During the summer, he volunteered to help with our Day Services providing laundry and shower services to community members who were homeless. Thanks to our partners in the community for helping MOVE Keith forward”.
~ Toni Van Kirk, Warming Center Coordinator

A young, pregnant mother with four children came to the House of Mercy searching for help. She was fleeing from a dysfunctional home and the effects were showing on her and the children. Immediately the staff went to work to find programs that would help the children. Counseling for the older children and Mom. Speech therapy and Birth to Three for the younger child. Headstart was contacted and the school helped with transportation to the next town. Mom is working with the W-2 program and is learning better ways to work with her children and maintain her home. Because of the support of the community, changes can be seen in the children and in Mom. They are healing, building, and will soon be looking for a more permanent housing solution.

Brian had been homeless since 2017. He sought shelter services since that time, and day center services during the off season. Brian is a 58 year old man who struggles with an alcohol addiction. Earlier this fall, Brian received a letter from the Housing Authority, indicating that his name was selected as next on the housing list. He was issued a Section 8 housing voucher. Brian suffers from a reading disability and struggled to complete the application on his own. Tracy, our Warming Center Director, assisted Brian in filling out the application and finding an apartment. Brian was successfully housed on November 1st.

“Spending his first night in his new home, he realized his home was no longer just shelter. He finally had a home again! Brian remains successfully housed and continues to use Catholic Charities as a support for his on-going needs. Partnering with Catholic Charities will help us give more “Brians” an opportunity to find their homes”.
~ Tracy Rieger, Catholic Charities Community Homeless Facilities Director

Kevin is Moving Forward!

Earlier this week, Nick, a Catholic Charities staff member, was leaving work when a local man rang our doorbell and explained he just bought two small houses in town. He was looking to hire a day laborer to help him out with renovations and to assist the actual contractors. It just so happened that Nick has been working with Kevin, a client in the Rapid Rehousing program. Kevin has been trying to find a job. He does not have service on his phone nor internet and finding a job was becoming very frustrating.

Nick told the potential employer that we had someone perfect in mind, but to give him half an hour to pitch the job to him. Nick met with Kevin, and he wanted the job. Nick took Kevin to the guy’s house, and the property owner gave Kevin a tour. Kevin began working that night and worked there all day yesterday. Overall, there is enough work to be done that he can probably work there through the end of August.

While this job may only be temporary, it will be a perfect stepping stone for Kevin into a more permanent job. He will be able to use his earnings to pay a portion of his rent, buy a bunch of prepaid phone cards, and buy a nice cheap shirt and pants for job interviews.

Kevin kept getting very frustrated with the job market and his difficulty participating in it. This job miraculously fell into his lap. With hard work and a caring community, Kevin is moving forward!

Diane Has Moved Forward-Thanks To Her Hard Work With Project Step Up! 
Project Step Up recently had a family graduate from our program!! When Diane entered the program, she was surviving paycheck to paycheck, living on just enough to cover food expenses and basic costs of living. Diane found herself without savings and no more than $60 to her name after her essential bills were paid. She and her daughter were barely making ends meet. On top of all her financial difficulties during this time, Diane was also dealing with a complicated custody agreement. She became a client of Project Step Up.

Immediately upon entering the program, Diane applied for the Housing Choice Voucher Program Section 8 and began working with Bailey, our program coordinator. With Bailey’s guidance, Diane was able to reassess and reduce some of her monthly bills.

After a few months in the program, Diane received news that she had been granted Section 8 housing. This was a blessing for her family as her current rent was $600 per month and it was reduced to $250 per month. When this happened, Diane was able to pay off her debt, which also reduced her monthly bills. She has opened a savings account and began depositing her extra funds.

Diane just graduated from the Project Step Up Program, but she continues to put money into her savings account. One of her goals is to save enough money to plan a trip to the Wisconsin Dells as a birthday surprise for her daughter. Diane and her daughter have never had a trip that far from home!

Even though Diane has graduated from our Project Step Up program, she continues to work with Bailey and learn additional ways to sustain a more prosperous life for her and her daughter. Diane and her daughter continue to Move Forward!

Maurice wants to Move Forward. He needs our help!
Maurice came to the Sojourner House in Eau Claire requesting assistance to find a place to live. He was directed to stay at the Hobbs Center while he continues to work with our St. Lawrence Wellness Advocate. Maurice has trouble finding affordable housing. He works 5 pm - midnight; 5 days a week and is hoping to find a home soon! He continues to try to move forward!

“When Maurice came to the Sojourner House he approached us with patience, motivation, and kindness. He describes himself as a mama’s boy and says she taught him well. He has a good relationship with her. He feels he is older and now more mature. He wants to keep his word because he appreciates when people do the same for him. He is definitely motivated to find a place to call home”.
~ Kyle Petras, Sojourner House

Mary Moved Forward!
Mary came to the La Crosse Warming Center when we opened the doors on November 1, 2019. She had recently become homeless and had nowhere else to turn. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, she stayed with us at the shelter and worked with staff to overcome barriers that prevented her from housing. After hard work, Mary moved into a new apartment on June 2, 2020. She is excited to have her place to call home!

“I enjoyed working with Mary. It was rewarding to have an opportunity to be part of her journey and watch a community help her move towards her new home. We continue to meet with Mary as she works towards financial stability. Thanks to the partners in the community for helping Move Mary forward!”
~Toni, La Crosse Warming Center Coordinator

Alice is Moving Forward!
Alice moved into the House of Mercy in Loyal on May of 2019. Her children are grown and she had a lot to work on when she first arrived. We coordinated with Workforce and she was placed at the Second Chances Thrift Store. She learned new skills and has recently moved into a wonderful apartment. Alice does not own a car, so we continue to provide service by helping her get her medication and make other appointments, but Alice is moving forward!

“I was desperately in need of help. I lost hope and had no idea what was in store for me. I was referred to the House of Mercy. They found me a great job and a warm place to stay while I was getting back on my feet…I truly appreciate all you did for me!”
~Alice, Former HoM Resident

Chuck Is Continuing to Move Forward!
Chuck came to Catholic Charities Wausau Warming Center in November 2019. He needed a place to stay. He is disabled and was unable to crawl under the bridge to sleep at night. Chuck also suffers from alcoholism, and this addiction has crippled his ability to reason and make sound decisions. As a result of COVID-19 and Chuck utilizing our shelter during the lockdown, he was able to accomplish and maintain sobriety. With the help of our St. Lawrence staff and his new sobriety, we were able to help him get housed. On May 1, he moved into his new home. We continue to offer him support and he continues to move forward!

“Seeing a grown man cry because he was certain that he would never get a chance was a heart-wrenching situation. This sweet man didn’t need to be homeless anymore; he had an income! I knew that we had to help! Seeing a grown man cry because he got the keys to his new apartment was an image that will never escape me. It was like he was renewed! That is priceless”. ~Tracy Rieger, Community Homeless Facilities Director