It takes a community: Hannah Center and Three Bridges Recovery work to introduce new facility in Wisconsin Rapids
By Kris Leonhardt
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Marshfield-based Hannah Center and Wisconsin Rapids-based Three Bridges Recovery program have initiated work on a Wisconsin Rapids facility to address community needs.
“The Hannah Center has been approached over this past summer with a need for a second location, an expansion opportunity into the Wisconsin Rapids community,” explained Hannah Center Program Coordinator Tricia Fancher.
“After doing a feasibility study of the Hannah Center and of the need in Wisconsin Rapids it has definitely been clear that the need is huge in the community.”
The Hannah Center is a facility that aids women in crisis and is not a homeless shelter. The center provides needs for individuals and families seeking assistance while teaching life skills, and mainly serves Wood County, with many women coming from the Wisconsin Rapids community.
“The Hannah Center, in July of this year, was full with a waiting list of eight women in need of housing – eight women in crisis and their children in need of housing,” added Fancher. “The Hannah Center is currently full, and we have started a waiting list now as well.
“So, just with those local numbers that shows the need in the community for another home like the Hannah Center.”
Though the need is great, the Hannah Center is solely community-funded and receives no state or federal aid; therefore, providing a facility would be difficult without assistance from the community.
“After doing a feasibility study, we have determined that the Hannah Center would love to expand on our mission in a second location to better serve and support women and children in crisis; however, our financial bench is not deep enough to do that out of the Marshfield location,” Fancher said. “So, in order to make this expansion opportunity a reality we are at the point where we are reaching our hands out to the Wisconsin Rapids community that we are ready to serve in Wisconsin Rapids; we are ready to bring a second location here and continue a program that has been in place for 25 years.”
When the Hannah Center was approached about providing a facility, Wood County was in the process of selling a building on Airport Avenue that would be ideal for the expansion. At the same time, another program was looking at the building.
Enter Three Bridges
Three Bridges Recovery was created to assist individuals that seek treatment for addiction. By providing coaching services, they give support while those wanting help wait to get into treatment programs that could take several weeks in which to gain access. The program also provides “sober housing,” so recoveries can make changes to their living situation, and teach life skills. As the newly-formed Recovery agency developed, they began to seek out expanded facilities.
“As we were looking for a facility that we could move an office into, we saw that the CBRF on Airport Avenue was vacant, and we thought about buying it. During a meeting with a potential partner, the Hannah Center was brought up,” explained Three Bridges co-founder Kasandra Borchardt.
The two agencies talked and found that their organizations were complementary to each other.
“I think the Hannah Center meets all of the three things that Three Bridges wants to work on with individuals, and it gives us an opportunity to expand that and support what they are doing, and leverage staff,” Borchardt added.
Though the Airport Avenue was ultimately sold to another party, the facility brought the two groups together in a capacity to move forward in a natural partnership.
The ideal marriage of the two organizations would produce a duplication of the Hannah Center’s Marshfield facilities and programs, along with office space for Three Bridges. The pair would jointly provide holistic care for women in crisis dealing with homelessness, poverty, addiction, and mental health issues, though the boards would operate independently.
“Another thing that we see a lot is pregnant women that are struggling with substance use, so working together to support them, but we also offer the other components that are peer-based,” added Megan Birginal, Three Bridges program manager and treatment liaison.
Birginal added that many of these women and their families are currently referred to the Hannah Center in Marshfield, while their lives remain in Wisconsin Rapids, adding a logistics issue to their effort to live independently.
Fancher added that having a local system in place also provides close positive relationships for those in crisis. She said that the goal is to provide wrap-around, holistic care and ensure lifelong success.
Borchardt added that the joint programs will do more than help those who seek out assistance; it will generate a new way of life for the families affected.
“If you look at compassion and accountability on a spectrum of compassion on one side and accountability on the other, you often have people that want to lean one way or the other,” she said. “So the compassion folks are very much, ‘I want to love on these people. I want to help fill their needs.’ And then, the accountability people are, ‘But, we don’t want people living off of other people for their entire lifecycle.’ Because, it creates that multi-generational cycle of kind of victimization – they don’t really know how to provide for themselves. They just wait for some sort of organization to take care of them, and that just creates, in my opinion, a hopelessness; there is no purpose, there is no worth.
“The Hannah Center, to me, meets both of those spectrums, because it allows them to care for their needs while they are in crisis so they don’t have to worry about them. But then, at the same time, they are building that person’s accountability and that person’s confidence in themselves, so they don’t have to be on government assistance their whole life, they don’t have to expect handouts or wait for somebody else to care for them or their children. They are learning skills and tools that they maybe didn’t have or the confidence to do those things themselves. So, when they leave they truly are changed members of our community.”
What it will take
The two agencies are currently searching for a home with seven plus bedrooms, four office spaces, three full bathrooms, two-car garage, large storage spaces, and a large basement.
In addition, they will need five years of operating expenses, at approximately $800,000. The purchase of a facility to house the programs, at about $200,000, would bring their need to $1 million.
“That gives us that five years to build relationships in the Wisconsin Rapids community,” Fancher said.
To donate to the initiative, an account has been set up at Valley Communities Credit Union, 400 Eighth St. South, Wisconsin Rapids, or 2011 S. Central Ave., Marshfield, or donate online at www.hannahcenter.com.
For more information, contact Tricia at The Hannah Center, 715-387-6300, or Megan at Three Bridges, 715-424-0403.
“This is going to take every member of our community to make this successful,” explained Fancher. “We are looking for business partnerships; we are looking for individual partnerships; we are looking for partnerships with churches, and schools, and other organizations, because it is going to be a community effort. It’s always going to be a community effort to make change in our community.”