By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The Micah Center, a daytime resource center for adult men currently experiencing homelessness, or at-risk for homelessness, has a new home at 612 Stuart St. in downtown Green Bay.
“We really saw a need to find a bigger space,” Associate Executive Director Matt Kadlec said. “We fell in love with the layout. We really want our guests to know their inherent worth, and feel that respect and dignity, and this space really speaks to that.”
The 12,000-plus-square-foot space features a 20-station computer lab, a medical examination room, a counseling office, multiple programming areas, administrative offices and a cafeteria/kitchen.
“This space will allow us to run programming (simultaneously),” Kadlec said. “So we can have a computer workshop, without clogging up the only program room we have. We can have the computer lab running and have the space to have another program running at the same time.”
An arm of the St. John’s Homeless Shelter, the Micah Center is a 12-month, daytime resource center focused on using its programs and services to move the vulnerable to self-sufficiency.
Executive Director Lexie Wood said the organization is in the best position it has ever been financially is a testament to the community’s support, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From a financial position, it makes a lot of sense,” Wood said. “We are not only able to have more space to better meet our needs and respond more to gender-specific needs, but we are also pulling our staff together for the first time, so that helps from an efficiency standpoint. Because of (all this), we were able to take this step and really respond to a critical need in a huge way.”
The new building, which Wood said costs about $770,000, is just a piece of the organization’s bigger plan, which includes a $7 million capital campaign.
She said the original plan was to remodel the former Micah Center building to make the rooms bigger, but the construction estimate led staff in a different direction, and the Stuart Street building purchase.
“We knew we had to make this move,” Wood said. “One, the timing of this space being available at this price point, and then we had to move our men first to have that space available.”
Wellspring, the daytime resource center for women, currently located at 413 Dousman St., will now move into the 700 E. Walnut St. building.
“That (Dousman Street) building we currently lease, so eventually we will have the cost savings there, too,” she said.
The Wellspring move will also allow for the creation of a 55-bed, women-only overnight shelter in the back half of the Walnut Street property.
Wood said the Wellspring move will be based on donations coming in for the capital campaign.
It will continue to run as usual at its current location until then.
She said staff are in the active planning stages for the capital campaign, with the launch happening in the next couple of months.
“$3 million is for our current programs and operations – the purchase of the Stuart Street property, revamping the former Micah property for the Wellspring move and women’s shelter and then upgrades at the shelter – installing an elevator, putting in basic air conditioning and restoring the bathrooms on the second floor into use,” Wood said. “The remaining $4 million is to introduce social-inclusive housing to get upstream to serve individuals and families to hopefully prevent homelessness, so we can start to trend numbers downward. (We are) looking at what are the systemic issues, what is going on that is creating poverty and housing instability in our community and trying to address that so that we can start reporting lower numbers in our shelters.”
The Micah Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday from May to October and seven days a week from November to April.
Wellspring is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More information can be found online.
“I think you are always going to have the negative stigma associated with homelessness,” Kadlec said. “We are really working on trying to tell that story – these are someone’s brothers, someone’s sisters. So we are really trying to reframe that negative stigma and really humanize this.”