At Twin Oaks Shelter, residents gain control of their lives again
DARIEN TOWNSHIP Rachel lost her job, which made it impossible for her and her husband to pay for their apartment. And that meant they and their two grade school-age sons were homeless.
“My husband’s salary just wasn’t enough to pay the rent, utilities and all of the other bills … it was so depressing,” she said. “I talked to the landlord and tried to figure out a payment plan, but he said no because he had other people lined up to move in. So, we put everything into storage and lived with my mother-in-law for two weeks, and a Fontana church put us up for a couple of weeks. Then I called John Hembrook and he got us in right away.”
So, the Walworth County family lived at Twin Oaks Shelter for the Homeless from Nov. 2 through Feb. 2.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
Rick Gleason took over for the retired Hembrook as manager of the facility on Dec. 26. Gleason is spearheading a philosophical shift that started last fall with the agency’s goal of changing the shelter from a place to a program, which helped Rachel’s family and many others reclaim their lives.
Twin Oaks is providing its residents with a host of skills-oriented workshops, including such topics as resume building, nutrition and health, budgeting and parenthood.
Marc Perry has been the director of planning and development at Community Action for nearly seven years. One of the organization’s many social service tasks, which cover Walworth and Rock counties, is running Twin Oaks.
Perry said Community Action has offered programming since taking over the shelter in 1992, but the current strategy provides better and more concentrated efforts.
“We’ve always provided some level of programming in assuring their needs are met and that they’re connected to resources,” he said. “But our current programming is more focused and gets families to set specific goals and strategies. It’s a more direct and hands-on approach. It involves a lot of enrichment and education, focusing on budgeting topics, employment and continuing education. They are required to attend at least two workshops a week. I wouldn’t call this an overhaul as much as it’s more streamlined and more targeted.”
Read the complete story in the March 10 print or e-edition of Walworth County Sunday,