Benjamin's House receives donations to stay open

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RICE LAKE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Benjamin's House, the only homeless shelter in Barron County, got some great news.
The shelter announced at the beginning of this month it was running out of funds, and would be forced to close at the end of April.

The shelter announced this week that it's gotten enough money from local businesses and individuals all across Barron County to stay open.

The shelter's director Stephanie Thompson said the shelter, staff and the residents have fought hard to do anything in their power to keep the shelter afloat. And now it's up to their board to decide where to go from here.

“I think we've learned a lot through this, and we know going forward that we need to make some changes. The board is working hard to keep the shelter open,” said Thompson.

Since the end of March, the shelter has received many donations, and even though Thompson didn't disclose the exact amount, she said what the community has donated is enough to keep it open until the end of this year.

“I really thought it was the end, but our community has proven that they do believe that the Benjamin's House needs to be here. They believe in our mission and they want to support us,” said Thompson.

Adventures restaurant in Rice Lake is one of many supporters who heard about the problem at Benjamin’s House and wanted to help.

“We heard the Benjamin's House was closing and I put it out to the staff. We normally close the restaurant on a Sunday night for our employee party, instead if they would give up the party and we'd open the restaurant and whatever we generated in sales, 100 percent of it would go to Benjamin's house,” said Adventures Restaurant Owner, Bruce Goode.

In four hours, and after serving 250 members of community who came to support Benjamin’s House, the fundraiser generated close to 43-hundred dollars.

“Some folks have stepped up, the awareness is greater, and hopefully we shed a little more light on it as well, that they do need continuing financial support,” said Goode.

“What we're working on right now is to get ongoing pledges, so that we can get sustainable income,” added Thompson.

Even with seven out of eight staff laid off, Thompson and a full-time volunteer helped five people to move out since the first of April. And a few more are planning on leaving next week.

The shelter allows people to stay for 90 days and so far has served more than 250 people.

Thompson says a new budget will be finalized next month.

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