Hannah Center explores expansion into Wisconsin Rapids
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – A Marshfield center designed to assist women in life crisis is looking into an expansion in the Wisconsin Rapids community.
Though an expansion wasn’t a part of the Hannah Center’s master plan, Director Tricia Fancher said that there is a huge need in the Wisconsin Rapids area, along with an existing facility that could accommodate their program.
The current Hannah Center in Marshfield has been community supported for the past 25 years, and now Fancher and other center facilitators look for similar support in the Rapids community to aid in serving those in need.
What is the Hannah Center
“Back in the late 1980s, there was a crisis happening within the communities where young pregnant women were being kicked out of their homes, or homeless, and really struggling,” said Fancher. “A group of community members had come together and decided that something needed to be done to help this problem that the community was facing.”
The Hannah Center opened its doors in 1993, as a home for pregnant women in crisis.
“We became a hub of referral for the community,” Fancher added. “We would get women calling from all different situations. We would get men and families calling, in need of food or clothing and just different needs. Over time, those phone calls changed in manner.”
In 2011, the center expanded to meet the needs of the community and now serve any woman in crisis, along with their children.
The center assists women through three programs: an individualized goal-based program – a residential program designed to transition the individual into a quality life, the urgent room – a short-term refuge program for those in need, and Hannah’s Caring Closet – a resource that supplies those in need with baby items and children’s clothing.
The need in Wisconsin Rapids
“I myself see the need in Wisconsin Rapids; I live in Wisconsin Rapids,” stated Fancher. “In my position at the Hannah Center, I am involved in different coalitions for the county as a whole and things like that, so I personally see a huge need in Wisconsin Rapids.
“Recently, the annual Point in Time homeless count, which was conducted in July of 2018, indicates a rise in the homeless population in Wisconsin Rapids. Of these, some were families, some were single individuals, and some were single adults with children.
“Studies indicate that in Wisconsin poverty level, two-thirds of all households in poverty are headed by single women.
“They need somewhere they can go to get a hand up in life and to learn the skills that they need in order to not continue to live in this poverty; to teach their children how to break these cycles of poverty as well.”
Fancher added that in July 2018, the Marshfield Hannah Center was full with a waiting list of seven prospects from Wood County.
Making it happen
The Hannah Center was recently approached by leaders in the Wisconsin Rapids community regarding a property at 1010 Airport Avenue, Wisconsin Rapids. The property is county-owned and formerly served as a community-based residential facility for an alcohol and other drug abuse program.
“The Hannah Center had leaders from the Wisconsin Rapids community approach us, and several community members who approached the Hannah Center, stating that they feel this community would greatly benefit from having a location of the Hannah Center in Wisconsin Rapids,” Fancher said.
Fancher said that the Hannah Center is in the process of conducting a feasibility study and exploring what a potential expansion would look like.
While the Hannah Center does serve the entire county and several surrounding counties, Fancher said that adding a second location would enable the center to serve more women in crisis.
“The Hannah Center is a non-profit organization and our financial bench is not deep enough to provide another home; however, we know the needs of this community, and we would like to bring our mission with a home directly to the city of Wisconsin Rapids as requested by community members in Wisconsin Rapids,” Fancher added.
The center is currently seeking input and donations to make this a reality, as well as community commitment to the program.
“We know that this is a big ask, but we also know that there is a big need in Wisconsin Rapids,” Fancher said.
For more information or to contact Fancher, call 715-387-6300, visit hannahcenter.com, or find them on Facebook.