What is SFTSM?
Shelter From The Storm Ministries, Inc. (SFTSM) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit ministry incorporated in Wisconsin, led by a local volunteer Board of Directors and Executive Team, with no national affiliation. SFTSM is a Christian organization made up of various religious affiliations who have come together to address the problem of homelessness for single moms and their children.
Who qualifies for our program?
SFTSM is not an emergency shelter, but we provide transitional shelter up to 12 months for single mothers and their children experiencing homelessness. We do not have HUD funding, so we do not have to narrow the definition of “homeless” like many other programs do. We require all clients to apply through an application process, which can take up to a week to complete. In addition to an application, background and credit checks are done.
Where do we get our clients?
SFTSM gets referrals from school social workers, the city and shelter social worker, and churches. Sun Prairie residents are our priority, but we will reach out to surrounding communities if we have open rooms. To request a referral form, please e-mail our Case Manager D’Etta Calhoun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are the units furnished? What is provide to the residents?
Each unit is furnished. We provide everything the family needs when they move in: personal care items, bedding, dishes, silverware, pots, pans, new mattresses and all the basic food essentials. The families take all of these items when they move to stock their new apartments. After the family moves a team will clean and restock the apartment for the next family to move in.
How will the shelter operate?
We have an Executive Director, Case Manager, Opportunity Coach, Daytime House Manager, a Nigh time House Manager, overnight staff and several volunteers. We have 24/7 coverage.
Each new resident meets with our Case Manager to do an intake and she familiarizes them with local services to make sure all basic needs are met. Then our Opportunity Coach works with them to find out their goals and assists with employment and any job training or certification to help them learn a living wage that can support a family.
While they are doing this, they are also each working with a volunteer Financial Coach who helps them make a budget, negotiate with creditors and pay down debt. Most of our families come to us with a mountain of debt and a credit score in the 400’s, but after working diligently with our counselors, they are able to leave here with a credit score of 600 or better and most, if not all of their debt resolved.
SFTSM helps with transportation and/or obtaining a driver’s license for the first time, and we offer many optional life skills classes. Some of our life-skills classes include basic car maintenance, healthy cooking, understanding leases and liability, child development, self-defense and self-esteem, and soft employment skills. There is an optional weekly Bible Study that meets through the school year. For the children in our program, we make referrals to partner agencies as needed and optional programming to help with reading, socialization, and support success in school.
Where does building funding come from?
SFTSM has paid for the building with secured loans from FCI and Bank of Sun Prairie totaling $537,000. Volunteers have helped to keep our costs down assisting with the demolition of the building, painting, fence installation, and coordination of work from our sub-contractors. We continue to apply for grants and are so grateful for those individuals and businesses that have committed to a recurring monthly donation.
Where does funding for operating expenses come from?
Monies for funding our operations are made up of donations from our main fund raising events, donations, grants, monthly donations and client program fees. Our major fund raising event includes our Gala for Shelter in February. General donations will come in the form of monthly donations from individuals and churches, miscellaneous fundraising events from community organizations and churches, corporate donations, and private foundations. SFTSM will charge program fees to our clients. A percentage of their monthly income will be charged to pay for services offered at the shelter and to support our theory that offering everything for free does not teach responsibility or replicate the normal expenses of everyday living.