TGB Supports Pathways to Hope Women's Shelter and Inmate Construction Program
By Joe Morey
The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved donating $5,000 to the New Reflections Pathways to Hope Women and Children’s Shelter (formerly the old Sunset Home) on Hwy B in Hayward. The shelter home is operated as a non-profit by the Greater Hayward Area Ministerial Association (GHAMA) through community donations and operation of a thrift store attached to the home.
Pastor Gary Hilgendorf of GHAMA told the TGB at their weekly meeting on Monday, Feb. 24, the home for hope is the only place north of Eau Claire where women can go with their children. He explained how important the home especially with the drug epidemic and addiction in our community.
Hilgendorf said the home is paying $600 per month in storage room bills for all the donated items they have for resale in the thrift store so a community cooperative plan was put in place to build a 28’x40’ storage garage at the home.
A new program aimed at reducing jail recidivism through the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) Correction to Career grant was created where inmates from the Sawyer County Jail would learn job skills in the building trade by constructing the storage garage, explained Diane McNamer, Criminal Justice Coordinator for Sawyer County.
Most of the cost was funded by the WITC grant but Hilgendorf said they are raising an additional $20,000 through donations to fund the expenses of construction, which the TGB made the $5,000 donation towards.
“We have an amazing community when it comes to supporting each other and this shelter rises to the top because it’s the only one of its kind where women can find shelter and have their children with them,” Hilgendorf said. “We all recognize we have a drug and alcohol crisis in our community and northwest Wisconsin is swimming in people who need help to get out of this lifestyle.”
Hilgendorf explained how at Pathways to Hope the women are working or being trained for work.
Although Hilgendorf is a Christian pastor, he wanted the TGB to know that the home for hope respects all religions and they don’t push Christianity on the women in the home.
The jail construction crew also has a supervisor from the WITC Construction Foundations Mobile Lab. Before actual construction began, the crew learned in a classroom about the essentials of construction framing, math and blue print reading and more.
The WITC grant covers all tuition for the inmates attending this training. Completion of the training will give each inmate student nine credits in the Construction Essentials program, which is a two-year technical diploma program for construction and cabinet making.
According to the program brochure, the project goal is to build a storage facility for a local non-profit entity that helps our community in an area that is sorely lacking, that of housing. The program teaches trade skills to inmates which helps start an education that can develop into a career, thus reducing recidivism.
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge said the TGB appreciates what McNamer and Hilgendorf are doing through the program and the Pathways to Hope shelter. “You’re working with our women and children and you’re helping them.”