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KENOSHA — By sometime this summer, the Shalom Center in Kenosha is going to have quite the new look.

And its Executive Director, Tamarra Coleman, couldn’t be any more excited for the next phase of Kenosha County’s only homeless shelter and largest food pantry.

None of it would have been possible without the most amazing of gifts.

Shalom Center groundbreaking
The ground breaking for the new Shalom Center addition was attended by members of the staff, board of directors, volunteers and representatives from Bane-Nelson and Kueny Architects. – Credit: Shalom Center

Thanks to an anonymous donor, a $2.5 million, 10,500-square-foot addition to the facility at 4314 39th Ave., Kenosha, will be completely underwritten – which means no mortgage moving forward.

And that is quite the blessing, Coleman said by telephone Friday.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It also just helps us be able to serve the community without having that overhead, that extra barrier or worry about how we’re going to pay for it. Now we can just jump right in. We’ll have to operate it, obviously, but we won’t have that mortgage over our heads and trying to figure out how we’re going to pay for the construction. It’s nice to be able to jump right in, focus on operating and helping people right away.

“(The donor) is a person who believes in our mission, vision and goals. We can’t thank that anonymous donor enough. Because of that commitment, we are going to be able to help so many more people.”

Addition allows Shalom Center to expand services

The addition, which broke ground in January, will serve as a community resource center, along with a much-needed warming and cooling shelter, according to a press release. Included in the new space will be washers, dryers, showers, food, and for those in need, professionals who can help connect them with vital services.

Helping make those connections is significant, Coleman said, because so many people don’t know where to turn when they’re in need.

“We’ll have a housing navigator, a case manager, (and) staff who will be able to help you get connected to the services,” Coleman said. “We’re not handing (people off), ‘Like, here’s where you’re going to call.’ It’s sitting down with them and calling with them. … We’re really excited about that, too.”

Coleman said plans are also in the works to expand its tele-psych services. The Shalom Center currently partners with Kenosha Community Health Center. New to those services will be medical, dental and behavioral health, she said.

Tamarra Coleman, Executive Director of the Shalom Center
Tamarra Coleman, Executive Director of the Shalom Center in Kenosha, Wis. – Credit: Shalom Center

Even before the new addition is completed, visitors to the Shalom Center already have been introduced to a big change, Coleman said.

On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, the center had to make several adjustments in order to keep serving the community – and one significant one was an addition to the website that now allows people to order their food online with a specific time for pick up.

“We had never done anything like that before,” Coleman said. “For us, it was still about self-choice, you choosing the kind of food you want as opposed to me just putting canned foods in a box and giving it to you. … We’re very grateful for that. We started that last summer, and it’s been phenomenal.

“We’ve been able to help more people. We’ve been able to serve faster, because now your pre-order is done for you, and you’re just in and out, just pick it up and go.”

Coleman said people can still come to the facility and shop that way, but the addition to the website was just another way to serve the community.

Shalom Center rendering
The new building addition will allow Shalom Center to bring a much needed resource center to the community along with providing space for future growth. – Credit: Kueny Architects

Kueny Architects in Pleasant Prairie designed the addition, which is being built by Bane-Nelson of Kenosha. The completion date tentatively is set for July, followed shortly thereafter by the grand opening.

Everything is moving forward.

“It’s going great,” Coleman said. “The footings are in, the concrete is in. We’re good. We’re moving. We’re hoping by March 13, they’re thinking we’ll have some walls up. As soon as it’s ready, we’re moving and shaking.”

Coleman was recently honored as one of Southeast Wisconsin’s Notable BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People Of Color) Executives for 2023. Read the story here:

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