At the end of my first week as director, our unseasonably "warm" weather was predicted to take the biggest dive, for the longest period of time. This also caused me to receive my first phone calls from people needing shelter from the severe cold. Don't take this wrong. The weather the days before weren't pleasant for those calling. But somehow, they were trying to survive in whatever conditions they came from.
Some people had a little heat, but not enough to keep their space warm in the coming cold snap. Some were trying to live in a camper with no heat, others in a tent, and yet another on our city streets. Our shelters were full, and all we were left with was emergency shelter in local hotels.
This past year we have heard and seen many of our local elected officials make decisions regarding housing in our communities from a place of ignorance or misunderstanding.
Many of our clients and those who call for help have a variety of issues that are contributing to their homelessness and needing shelter from the harsh winter (or any other season). But no one's homelessness is solved by just getting a job.
Homelessness is complicated and nuanced. And oftentimes the ways to tackle the issues within a community is complicated and nuanced. That's where the Lighthouse Shelter comes in to play.
The Lighthouse and many partners working together can try to combat the many reasons why people experience homelessness, by helping them gain emergency shelter and finally obtain permanent housing.
Those partners require resources and a commitment to a mission to housing those in need of shelter.
The Lighthouse operates in the Rural North Coalition, which is under Wisconsin Balance of State Continuum of Care umbrella. The following short video is a good look at some of the issues we are facing as a non-profit with a mission of helping those needing housing. The unhoused is the largest since 2012, and the problem is growing.
With partners like you in our community, we are able to help even more. Over the past several weeks I have witnessed many of you send us packages and deliver donations. THANK YOU! I truly am in awe that so many have answered the call for supplies and household necessities. Things most of us expect and take for granted, others have a hard time providing for themselves at certain points in their lives.
The more we all partner together and the more mental health and addiction services available, the more likely we are able to see lasting positive outcomes with clients at the Rusk County Lighthouse Homeless Shelters. Please watch the video for a glimpse of what the homeless and those trying to house them face in Wisconsin.
Thank you for joining me for this Beacon Minute!
Erin, Executive Director