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Grace Place continues expanding mission

Fri, Nov 16th, 2012
Posted in Rushford Arts & Culture

Grace Place, an organization with a 20-year history of serving single women and their families, is announcing plans to develop a future Family Care Center and Transitional Shelter Facility in Rushford, and to continue increasing services into other southeastern communities as financing becomes available.

Grace Place began in Winona as a home for single women and their children, later growing into a life skills education center and thrift store on Second Street in downtown Winona. The organization provides Christian guidance, mentoring, life skills, support and encouragement for women with unplanned pregnancies and families experiencing brokenness and change. On the eve of celebrating its 20th anniversary, it embarked on its newest thrift store and outreach center approximately a year ago in Rushford. The Rushford store has experienced tremendous success in a short time.

According to Carla Burton, Grace Place Executive Director, the organization’s goal is ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ by responding to the increasing need for shelter and other social services. The organization plans to meet these needs by creating a Family Care Center (child care center) and Transitional Shelter Facility in Rushford, which will eventually house three families for extended periods of time until they are ready to move out on their own. If a Rushford homeowner is interested in donating a home for this important cause, area residents may contact Carla Burton at 507-459-5241.

“The Family Care Center will enable at-risk parents who are working to have an opportunity for childcare based on a sliding fee scale. If the parent is not working, the Family Care Center will provide a positive atmosphere where the parent and child may be together. This will promote healthy relationships between parents and children. The Family Care Center will also offer working families who are not at-risk, creating additional revenue for Grace Place to continue its mission,” says Burton.

The vision for the Transitional Shelter Facility goes beyond basic human need for shelter. Carla Burton believes through support and education, mothers to-be and young families will grow from brokenness into renewal, spiritual wholeness and emotional security. The organization will teach life skills to help bring families out of poverty.

Poverty and homelessness is a very real area of concern for the Grace Place’s Burton and its board of directors, whose goal is to help alleviate the hopelessness that comes from the cycle of poverty to help stabilize communities and lives.

According to Winona County statistics, Winona County’s poverty rate ranks 7th out of the 87 counties in the state. Estimates released by the U.S. Census show the number of people living below the poverty level in Winona County grew by at least 34 percent from 2000 to 2009.Nearly 8,000 Winona County residents are poor.

At 16.1 percent of the population, Fillmore County has 10.1 percent with income below poverty level. 4.3 percent of income below the 50 percent level. The poverty status for families in Filmore County is 24.1 percent.

The only current shelter program in Winona County is the Catholic Worker house. These houses provide hospitality for the homeless for a month or less. Most homeless people in Winona do not have the resources to find work and a home in a month, so when the shelter time runs out, they often live with friends. Fillmore Family Resources formerly offered motel vouchers for families in dire situations but was only for a few days. This program has now been discontinued.

“The timing for opening these facilities is based on the need in the surrounding area, and the generosity of area individuals to help us create these most important and basic elements of life,” says Jim Hoiness, of Rushford, who along with his wife, Gayle, serve on the Grace Place Board of Directors with other members from Winona and Houston counties.

Some of the services offered at both Grace Place facilities include: parenting and nutritional classes, basic decision making skills, spiritual development, money management, computer skills and a mentoring program.

Grace Place is in need of gently used furniture, clothing and household articles at its locations on Second Street, downtown Winona and 110 West Jessie Street in Rushford. For more information or to volunteer, contact Carla Burton at 507-452-2283.

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