Cassie Roland (foreground) and Naomi Weideman volunteer at Grace House. Community members and area businesses are helping to restore the house, which will serve as a shelter for families.

A gift of Grace: Shelter from the storm


(11/18/2020)

Grace Place adds new home shelter; you can help by playing Supermarket Sweeps!

 

by ALEXANDRA RETTER

 

Giving the gift of shelter for families struggling without a home can be life-changing. Now, Grace Place has stepped up, purchasing and renovating a home to house families with an aim to help women and children. Community members who’d like to help out have the chance to support the organization’s work by signing up for a chance to win a shopping spree in Grace Place’s Supermarket Sweeps contest.

Local organization Grace Place purchased Grace House earlier this year. The house, which was bought from the Winona Catholic Worker and is located on West Broadway, was formerly known as the Dan Corcoran House.

Grace Place started 28 years ago as a shelter for expectant mothers who were teenagers and single. The organization grew to house single mothers in their 20s and their children as well. For about 10 years, Grace Place did this work at a house on Fifth and Franklin streets. The house was ultimately sold, and the organization moved to its current location on Second Street, where it shifted its focus to mentoring community members. The hope was to provide shelter for those in need again someday.

Grace Place Executive Director and Founder Carla Burton said in January that she felt Grace Place had come full circle after purchasing the house on West Broadway. Currently, restoring the house is going extremely well, Burton shared.

Burton said that when the residence was bought, she envisioned inviting community members into it so they could help with the restoration process. That vision has become a reality, she said, due to community members enthusiastically assisting with restoring the house.

A local organization helped with caulking windows and repainting ceilings, as well as replacing doors and molding. A local company which donated labor completed plumbing work in a bathroom and replaced heating and venting covers throughout the house. Another local company that donated labor worked on the house’s electric system.

Other individuals and local organizations picked a room to sponsor and help renovate. The renovations in the bedrooms are almost complete, Burton said. A local church also raised funds that went toward renovating bathrooms.

Additionally, a group of individuals is repainting kitchen cupboards. People are sponsoring a garden and mowing the lawn as well. They have also shoveled snow during the winter.

“That’s just been fantastic, to see the community come together like that,” Burton shared.

As individuals volunteer, the number of people in the house at one time is kept low, individuals wear masks and sanitizing materials are made available, Burton said.

People may be able to move into the house next spring, Burton noted. They will go through an application process. The goal is to focus on assisting women and children, she shared.

“There is such a severe shortage of that kind of shelter,” Burton said of emergency housing for women and children.

Another goal is to assist those at the house with finding housing and employment within about a year, she noted.

The house will have a boarding and lodging license from the state. With the license, eight people and one staff member will be able to stay at the house overnight.

Burton noted that because of the pandemic, people may need such housing support more than ever before.

Funds raised through an upcoming Supermarket Sweeps event will go toward the house. Those interested in participating in the event may make a donation and receive tickets at Grace Place’s locations in Winona and Rushford. For each dollar donated, one ticket will be received.

At the end of the business day on November 27, the winning ticket will be drawn. The winner will be announced on the morning of November 28 through Facebook. They will also be contacted by phone. If they are not reached by noon, another winning ticket will be drawn.

The winner will then be asked to come to the store at a certain time after the store closes on November 28, and they will have five minutes to make their way through the store and fill a shopping cart with whichever items they wish.

The event will be live streamed via Facebook.

Mark Jacobsen, a cashier at Grace Place’s Winona location who approached Burton with the idea for the event, may don a Buddy the elf costume based off the character Buddy from the movie “Elf” while the winner makes their way through the store.

“It’s a crazy time with this pandemic, and I thought, ‘Why not get a little crazy with it and have some fun?’” Jacobsen said of the event. “And just the Grace House itself, I couldn’t think of a better cause, being able to help out women and children in our community who need the help. It’s what drew me into working with Grace Place to begin with, just being able to help the community.”

Those interested in volunteering at Grace House may email jenny@graceplaceinc.org.

Grace Place in Winona is located at 66 East Second Street. Grace Place in Rushford is located at 110 West Jessie Street.

education@winonapost.com

 

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