Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and WPS Foundation representatives on Jan. 5 presented a $10,000 donation to kick off the newly formed Merrill Community Homeless Center Inc.’s capital campaign.

Mike Ravn, President of Merrill Community Homeless Center, stated: “We extend our sincere thanks to the WPS Foundation for its generous grant to this Center. WPS and the WPS Foundation have been long-time, great corporate partners to the Merrill community.  They have supported many other projects and are a real asset.”

The project, doing business as Habitat Home, evolved from having had a warming center for two years for homeless people, which was closed in 2016. The work on this project stemmed from a committee that was encouraged by the Merrill Area United Way to develop a more permanent solution to addressing the homeless needs of the community.

The WPS Foundation donation will allow the Merrill Community Homeless Center to begin renovating the building that will serve as its future home. The Building is located at 407 West Main Street, less than one block from the former Warming Center. The West Main Street location needs some reconstruction.  The formal reconstruction awaits Wisconsin State approval of the building plans. Work is expected to begin immediately upon that approval.

This project will be performed in two phases. The first, the ground level, will be the warming center, while the second phase will transform the second level into shelter housing.  The building will be made handicap accessible. Showers will be added and restroom facilities will be upgraded in both phases.

“There is real need to make certain people, families are not left out in the cold,” Ravn said. “Our homeless count continues to rise, reaching more than 140 in the past year.  In time this facility will provide a safe, secure, warm but temporary site to lift a hand up to the homeless.”

Going forward the organization will seek additional grants and work on additional fund raising efforts.