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Waukesha's Hebron House overflow shelter needs $55,000

Funds lacking once again at Northview location

Oct. 2, 2012

Cathy Malkani knows that cold and homelessness can be a deadly combination.

"There were a couple men who died from being frozen in Waukesha," said Malkani, the director of development for the Hebron House of Hospitality, Inc.

Malkani is also aware of homeless people starting fires in abandoned buildings.

While these are extreme cases, it underscores the need to address the plight of Waukesha's homeless.

That's where the Overflow Shelter for men came in when it first opened in January 2009. Malkani said something had to be done to keep them off the streets during the coldest months of the year.

The major challenge for Malkani and the staff at Hebron House of Hospitality, Inc., an organization that operates four shelters across the City of Waukesha, is getting enough funds to operate all of the shelters.

"It's always a concern," Malkani said. "I don't know what the men would do if we can't raise the money."

Malkani said the shelter, located at the former Northview School, 1721 Northview Road, has to raise $55,000 to operate the shelter from November to April.

As of last week, Malkani said the shelter, which serves 35 men each night and is always full, has only about 10 percent of that raised. Per day, it costs $300 to operate the shelter, Malkani said. She indicated that the shelter is scheduled to open its doors on Nov. 15 and will "operate as many days as possible as we can."

Malkani added that "we have the staff, we just need the funding. But at some point, the board will have to make a decision as far as the operation."

Last year, the Overflow Shelter didn't open its doors until the middle of December because of a lack of funds. And regardless of how long it stays open this year, Malkani noted that this isn't a permanent solution.

She said that the shelter has been bought, but that Hebron House is leasing the property this year.

This, along with the fact that government-supported funds have fallen off dramatically in recent years, has made it a time of uneasiness at the shelters. Malkani didn't have an exact figure but estimates that the Hebron House of Hospitality, as a whole, received $100,000 less in funds last year.

"The last couple of years the funding has been almost 100 percent supported by the community," said Malkani, who added that in the last 12 months the organization has received donations from 1,300 individuals, 99 businesses, 11 foundations and 81 churches. "In the past, we used to see more government money and less individual and business support. But we're starting to see those numbers switch. We're going to lose services if we don't receive more community support."

That's where the Rest Assured? campaign comes in. The campaign was started in August. A donation website has been set up where individuals can pledge different amounts of money. Each pledge indicates what purpose it would serve.

The Rest Assured? campaign shows the need for adequate shelters in Waukesha County.

The Hebron House of Hospitality's website states "while you go to sleep tonight, nearly 2,000 people in Waukesha County won't have a place to rest their head. The Hebron House cannot open the men's Overflow Shelter without your support. Rest assured your contribution can make a difference."

So far, $372 has been raised through the campaign website, razoo.com/story/Winter-Overflow-Shelter.

While getting funds for the Overflow Shelter is a big priority for the staff at Hebron House of Hospitality, Inc., Malkani said it is already seeking donations for the holiday season.

Individuals can adopt a family for the holidays, buy gifts for teens or collect wish list items for the shelter, among others. But if last year was any indication, Malkani knows the community will support this effort.

"Sixty-five percent of our publicly-supported donations from individuals and businesses came in the last three months of the year," Malkani said. "We're just hoping that continues."

Hebron House

Where: Offices located at 111 E. Main St., Waukesha (inside St. Matthias Church)

Contact: (262) 522-1406

Website: www.hebronhouse.org

For more information on how to donate for the holidays or on the Rest Assured? campaign, email cmalkani@hebronhouse.org or call (262) 522-1403.

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