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Finding Safe Harbor

There is no question that poverty severely impacts a child’s ability to engage in interests and learn. Classroom engagement is not often at the forefront of a child’s mind when they are experiencing the pangs of an empty stomach or preoccupied with the anxieties of a challenging home life. Having a safe, stable place to call home is critical to the development of a child’s life, and ultimately, the development of Wisconsin’s future.

Escaping the cycle of poverty can be very difficult for families lacking proper support, a fact that Denise knew all too well. She founded Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter, Inc. of Reedsburg in 2007 and was devoted to housing women and children who did not otherwise have a place to stay. Safe Harbor provided a sanctuary for low-income families and offered stability as they waited for access to other forms of transitional or affordable permanent housing. The four bedrooms provided capacity for twelve people.

Our mission is to empower Safe Harbor residents to become confident, independent, stable, and productive members of their communities by giving them a hand up with resources.
-Denise, Executive Director of Safe Harbor

In August of 2017, WHEDA provided Safe Harbor with a $7,500 grant through the WHEDA Foundation Housing Grant Program, which allowed the organization to remodel its kitchen and purchase new energy efficient appliances. The upgraded space provided a place where families could gather to partake in normal activities such as cooking, cleaning, and completing homework. Safe Harbor emulated a place where children and women alike could take a deep breath and begin to rebuild their life with the hope of returning to normalcy. The value of this kind of stability is priceless. That year, the shelter served 19 women and 16 children.

Apart from the shelter's Executive Director, Denise, the operations of Safe Harbor depended solely on volunteers and donations. With grants, such as the one provided by the WHEDA Foundation, Safe Harbor could continue its mission of providing transitional housing for women and children in need.

By offering residents the necessities of food, shelter, and transportation, along with access to other critical resources, Denise went above and beyond to ensure that all families were headed in the right direction. No longer caught in the vicious cycle of homelessness, these families could finally experience calm waters through the protection of their Safe Harbor.

The WHEDA Foundation always strives to make a positive impact that complements the work and mission of WHEDA as a whole. Safe Harbor's new kitchen became the heart of the home, which promoted hope, stability, safety, and comfort. This story demonstrates that sometimes seemingly-small transformations can have a big impact.