EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- A local homeless shelter is celebrating a big milestone. Tuesday night Hope Gospel Mission celebrated its 15th anniversary with a banquet.
According to hope gospel mission's director of business since the organization started 15 years ago more than 1,000 people have stayed at its long-term shelters.
“In the mindset I was in back then it was just like I was choosing my addiction over my family,” Hope Gospel Men’s shelter resident Gabriel coon said.
Eighteen months ago, Coon was out of a job and spending his nights in shelters around Eau Claire.
“If you're in the same position I was last year there is really nothing to lose if you're at the bottom the only way to go is up,” Coon said.
That's when Gabe made the decision to head to a place he'd heard about around town called Hope Gospel Mission.
When Gabe walked through the doors of the Shelter on Farwell Street he says things started to turn around in his life.
“You know how people like to say they turn over a new leaf, I like to say I turned over a whole tree,” Coon said.
It’s that change that Hope Gospel Mission says is what keeps them moving forward to make a difference in the Eau Claire community.
“They get to become productive citizens,” executive director Sandi Polzin explained. “These are people that really want to make that intentional change and we are here for them if they are interested in that.”
Since 1998 Hope Gospel Mission has expanded from just a men’s shelter. They have since opened up a women’s shelter, an education center, and three businesses to help provide most of the funding to help those in need.
“About 80% is funded by our businesses so when people shop they are really helping people in their community,” director of business operations Craig Pedersen said.
“We are just so grateful to the community for allowing us to be part of this community and we pray for 15 more years and another 15 after that,” Polzin said.
Polzin said the organization it's looking to expand its shelters. She says they hope to have a long term women and children's center in the next few years.