Volunteers at the heart of transitional shelter operations
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — The Frederic Ozanam Transitional Shelter was built to guide individuals and families from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The shelter’s mission is not to provide a home but to give the people it aids the means to access a permanent place in the community.
Opening in 2014 at 505 E. Depot St. in Marshfield, the shelter immediately addressed a need in the area.
“We were full pretty much within a week and a half,” said Director Tammy Schueller, who has been involved with the shelter since its opening.
The shelter has served 400 individuals and 122 families throughout its existence. Residents are administered to by a staff of just six individuals.
“All of our employees right now are case managers,” Schueller said. “They work with families to move them forward.
“The staff is pulled. They multitask. They clean rooms, and they do case management. They address resident concerns. They do a lot. They are very dedicated.”
The shelter is a sister entity of St. Vincent de Paul built on community donations. Its operations depend on community support, and it is currently seeking funding to obtain an additional staff member.
With limited financial resources, the shelter also depends on the help of community volunteers to meet day-to-day needs.
Opportunity Development Centers (ODC) brings in a group of four volunteers weekly to assist at the facility.
“They do cleaning, organizing. Once a month they cook a meal for the residents. They do a lot,” Schueller added. “They love to clean. For some reason they just love to clean, and they are good at it.”
The shelter is just one of multiple local organizations groups for which ODC provides volunteer services, including Marshfield Columbus Catholic, St. Vincent de Paul, Hope Lodge, and the University of Wisconsin.
“We only volunteer at nonprofits,” explained ODC Community Support Specialist Whittney Kaszuba. “It gets our name out there, and it helps a lot with people understanding that this demographic is capable of a lot more than what they are pigeon-holed as.
“It helps us later on with creating job development: making those connections with the community.
“(The volunteers) enjoy feeling like they are helping … and just that self-pride they get from helping others and doing a good job.”
Other frequent volunteers at the shelter include retired teachers Bob and Margie Seitz, who tutor and help resident children with homework and play games with them, and Dale Bohm, who provides weekly maintenance services.
Bob and Margie see great benefit in their time at the shelter as they form relationships with their “adopted grandchildren.”
“Sometimes their self image is a little low, and you have to bring up their self image,” Bob said. “We’ve been blessed, and we feel we have to give back. You can’t just take from the world. You have to give back.”
To volunteer at the Frederic Ozanam Transitional Shelter or to donate, contact Tammy Schueller at 715-397-0395.