Focus on Life: Homelessness

Did you know that River Falls is home to an award-winning non-profit organization that provides support, shelter, and housing services? Our Neighbors' Place is doing just that, as well as helping to foster self-determination and strengthening families for Pierce and St. Croix Counties in Wisconsin. Read the article below, brought to you by our Social Concerns Ministry Team, and learn about the many ways you can support their efforts.

Our Neighbors’ Place helps people navigate housing insecurity

When we think of homelessness in America, it’s easy to think of it as a problem for large cities and places far away. And to some extent it is.

According to the National Alliance To End Homelessness, the homeless rates per 10,000 residents in San Francisco (78.7), Portland, Oregon (52.2) and New York City (89.6) are much higher than Wisconsin’s rate of 8.7. And a third of Wisconsin’s homeless live in just three cities—Madison, Milwaukee and Racine.

But River Falls has a growing number of people who find themselves homeless or housing insecure. For them, there is Our Neighbors’ Place.

Our Neighbors’ Place offers a range of services to people in Pierce and St. Croix Counties to help them get through difficult circumstances and to find a path back to independent living.

Day Center

The gateway to Our Neighbors’ Place services is the Day Center located in River Falls. It is here that prospective clients can “drop in” to begin navigating the resources to help resolve their issues. The center is staffed by volunteers who can help them connect to resources offered by Our Neighbors’ Place and other community agencies.

The Day Center offers:

  • Food
  • Laundry
  • Mailing address
  • Phone
  • WiFi
  • Public shower
  • Access to a kitchen

The Workforce Resource Center helps clients find work. Guests also have an option to work with a professional case manager to address their individual situation.

Transitional Housing

For those in greatest need, Our Neighbors’ Place offers transitional housing for up to two years in its own four-unit complex in River Falls. Families contribute 30 percent of their income toward rent as they seek a stable job, permanent housing, and other goals. This rent is returned once these goals are achieved. Our Neighbors’ Place also helps to place 30 to 60 families with outside services and facilities.

Backpack Program

Started as a partnership with the River School District and Ezekiel Lutheran Church, Our Neighbors' Place Backpack Program provides food to students on weekends during the school year when other resources, such as free and reduced-price school lunches, are unavailable. Backpacks filled with items from all the food groups, are distributed at the end of each week to approximately 45 children. Call to find out how you can volunteer with this program!

Community Closet

To help guests acquire needed clothing, Our Neighbors’ Place houses the Community Closet. Here guests can find high-quality garments for work or day-to-day use. The center believes that a good wardrobe can help restore self-respect and foster self-determination in addition to providing essential protection in inclement weather.

Did you know you can also shop at the Community Closet to help raise funds? Open to the public on Tuesday & Thursday 10-4 p. Stop in and check it out!

Our Neighbors’ Place
122 West Johnson Street, River Falls, WI
Hours: Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm
(715) 426-9000 | ourneighborsplace.org

What can we do?

  1. We can pray for members of our community who find themselves homeless and for the people and agencies who are working to help them.
  2. We can also volunteer. There are a variety of ways to volunteer. Help is needed to answer phones, welcome guests, process donations, organize the retail space, pick-up and deliver food for the Backpack Program, stock shelves at the Food Pantry and help with a number of fundraising events.
  3. We can make donations directly or by participating in one the several fundraising events that are scheduled throughout the year.

DONATION COLLECTION SCHEDULED FOR Sunday, November 25 at FirstCov

On Sunday, November 25, we will be collecting donations for the most needed items for Our Neighbors' Place.

Please bring:

  • Toiletries: deodorant, shampoo, body wash, soap, toilet paper, feminine products
  • Children’s: diapers and baby wipes
  • Men’s & Women's: NEW socks and underwear
  • Gift cards (gas, grocery, etc.)
  • Monetary donations (tax deductible)

Bring to church on Sunday, November 25! Thank you!

From your FirstCov Social Concerns Ministry Team

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