Benjamin's House helps homeless citizens get back on their feet - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Benjamin's House helps homeless citizens get back on their feet


Rice Lake (WQOW) - Imagine being stuck outside with nowhere to go and no place to call home. Well, that's the unfortunate reality for all too many in western Wisconsin. 

For people without a job or a place to live in Barron County, Benjamin's House has really become a Godsent in the past few years.

"We just try and help them get back on their feet," said the shelter's executive director, Lori Bowman. "We just don't have a lot of low-income housing."

Nestled in the woods, on the banks of Rice Lake, Benjamin's House is a sanctuary for people who need it the most; so many, that the home has had a waiting list for two years.

"Benjamin's House is a 90-day program shelter," Bowman said. "We're a shelter for those who are homeless from Barron County and other areas as well. The program -- part of it is that we expect people to come in here, and during the time here, we ask that they be looking for employment and then also we help them find a place to live."

Since the facility opened its doors to homeless members of Barron County in 2011, about 150 people a year have found shelter and life resources like employment.

"Actually, it'll be on Labor Day a year ago, I fell into a fire pit, and I burned and I had amputations on my finger tips, so I have been unable to work," resident RaeAnn Meyer said.

So, as the bills kept coming for Meyer and her husband, the income did not, and they found themselves homeless. 

By falling back on Benjamin's House, on Thursday, they became yet another success story.

"I got the job," Meyer's husband, Gary Svendahl, said. "It gives us some sort of security, for me knowing I have some income."

So, without the help and guidance of Benjamin's House to get his new job, what would he and his wife have done?

"I don't know," Svendahl said. "I don't know. It would have been day to day and I'm tired of living like that. It's hard on me and my wife. It's just scary. They've helped us relieve that, and so I am very happy about that. I feel blessed, its a good thing."

The facility is operated exclusively through donations at a cost of about $300,000 a year. The director told News 18 the need for facilities like this is growing, and there are just not enough options for low-income residents of the area.
if you want to donate to the organization, you can do so by clicking here. 

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