By Chris Mertes firstname.lastname@example.org Dec 9, 2021
It’s been a busy couple of months at Shelter from the Storm Ministries in Sun Prairie, where executive director Tami Fleming has been managing a new “Match the Match” fundraiser in addition to two new grant programs.
Thanks to two new grants received from Dane County this year, SFTSM is able to offer the Employment Opportunity Program and a grant for rapid re-housing.
Employment Opportunity, new grant program
“The Employment Opportunity Program is a version of what we do for the moms at the shelter, where we work with people in the community to help remove any obstacles to sustained long term employment,” Fleming said, describing the program.
For example, if people need to get their cars fixed so that they can continue to get to work, or if they need to get a certification — SFTSM had a couple of people who wanted to be substitute teachers come through and get their certification — the grant program pays for that.
“If they need to get any assistance just putting together a resume and applying for jobs or coaching on interviewing we could do that too,” Fleming said.
“But it’s basically the same kinds of things that we do for moms at the shelter, but . . . the grant that we wrote was written for anybody who is in Dane County, but outside of Madison, who’s at 80% of the median income or lower. They can get the services too. We’ve helped about 55 families in the area so far . . . and most of them have been car repairs, actually. And we work with Christian Brothers on that,” Fleming said, referring to the car repair business located on Sun Prairie’s west side.
The rapid re-housing program will be starting up soon, Fleming said, to help families experiencing homelessness.
“And it can be interpreted to be a single parent family with the rapid rehousing program — it can be any family, even multi generational — to find an apartment. These are people who have been displaced or are newly homeless,” Fleming said.
“We help them find an apartment and we have $7,000 to pay towards their rent, to help them stabilize and get back on their feet,” Fleming said. “And then in the meantime, we will work with them on job training and other things so that the family can kind of take over the rent app after we’re done paying our portion.”
Fleming said SFTSM intends to start with a small number of six to seven families in the Sun Prairie area “because we wanted to try this as a pilot program with our current staff. And we thought we could handle [this program] without increasing staffing,” Fleming said. “And then if we do well with this, then our hope is to be able to apply for more funds in future years.”
The program has enjoyed some success nationally — about 90%, Fleming said. “It’s got a really good success rate for helping people come out of homelessness and stay housed and stabilized. It’s really great for kids too because if they’re staying in the emergency overnight shelter — they have to leave every day and they’re not guaranteed a place every night because often they have more families than they can provide space for.”
This program provides an apartment with a lease in the family’s name, with some supports. “And then we remove our services once they stabilize, and they take it over,” Fleming said, referring to the lease.
“And so for those children in that family that’s been a very stable environment,” Fleming said. “They don’t have to move around.”
Match the Match and volunteers needed
Generous donors have offered $65,000 as a match for SFTSM’s end of the year Match the Match fundraising campaign. That means donations given before Dec. 31 will be matched dollar for dollar by these donors up to $65,000, according to Fleming.
“As the temperatures drop outside, we are reminded that the last thing we want is for children to be forced to live in the cold. Inside our shelter we have a nice, warm place for them to come and get back on their feet,” Fleming said in a recent fundraising appeal.
“Our mission and goal is to provide our families with a safe and stable place to learn the skills that they need to regain their independence and have a place to live,” according to the appeal.
Raising the money will allow SFTSM to address a large chunk of its budget.
“And that’s really important because we have a full house right now, like usual — we have 11 families at the shelter — we increased our room size by one during COVID because we had a playroom that was actually made up like a suite and we changed it back over to a family suite because we had such long waitlists and we wanted to get more people in and through our program,” Fleming said.
SFTSM is planning another fundraiser around the time of the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival, but is relying on other ways like Match the Match to raise money with very little expense outlay by SFTSM. One such example took place last Saturday, Dec. 4, at Felicia’s Donation Closet in Waunakee. Felicia’s Donation Closet raised money to buy a moving truck. SFTSM refers to it as a partner nonprofit because it helps SFTSM families move into permanent housing and furnish their first apartment after shelter.
SFTSM also has a need for volunteers for everything from childcare to snow shoveling. Fleming encouraged volunteers who want to sign up to do so through the SFTSM website, sftsm.org. “I get that registration and I call them within the next 24 hours or the next business day . . .and set up a time to come in and get a tour and do a little training,” Fleming said.
Fleming said she knows demand is high for help for homeless mothers with children.
“Doing street outreach in Madison, I hear it and I also get referrals from the website. I have a website called Mad City Homeless Resource Guide,” Fleming said.
Learn more about SFTSM online at https://sftsm.org