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Grace Place shelter turns 10 years old

People from all over St. Croix County came to Grace Place Sept. 30 to celebrate the shelter's 10th birthday. According to Grace Place Director Duana Bremer, several former Grace Place residents returned to visit the shelter.1 / 2
Many people came to Grace Place to celebrate the shelter's 10th birthday Sept. 30. Among them were community members from all over St. Croix County as well as representatives of the Salvation Army and some of the foundations that support Grace Place. Pictured (from left) are: Major Robert Thomson; Joe Bilgrien; Father Jim Brinkman; Duana Bremer, director of the Salvation Army Burnett, Polk and St. Croix counties; Brad Kruse, Hugh J Andersen Foundation; and John Coughlin, United Way St. Croix Valley. 2 / 2

For its 10th birthday, Grace Place held a celebration and invited the community to come visit the shelter. Grace Place Director Duana Bremer said around 175 people attended the event. She said many people asked for tours of the shelter.

"It was hugely successful," Bremer said. "In fact, the advisory board would like to have this be an annual event."

Bremer said community members came from all over St. Croix and parts of Pierce County to see Grace Place. Some of the former residents that came to visit shared their stories. Bremer said some came from Osceola, some came from Hudson and some from New Richmond.

Bremer said it was nice for those who had resided in Grace Place in the past to see what it looks like now. The shelter had been trying to obtain sponsors for each of its rooms. Room sponsors take care of the needs of a specific room, making sure the room is kept up. This could mean getting new blankets for the bed or replacing broken window blinds.

Bremer said that, by party day, every room in Grace Place had a sponsor.

When it was formed 10 years ago, Grace Place's rooms all had sponsors, but after some time, Bremer said Grace Place had ended up taking over the care of the rooms. Individually, the upkeep of a room is not much, but Bremer said paying for the upkeep of all the rooms was a strain on Grace Place's budget. Now that the rooms are sponsored, she said Grace Place can devote more money to the various programs it uses to support shelter residents and the community.

Grace Place homeless shelter was begun 10 years ago by a group of people representing area non-profit organizations, calling themselves the Pierce-St. Croix Housing Resource Network. This included individuals like John Coughlin of the United Way, Gail Winship of WestCAP (then of the Salvation Army), Bobbi Jaeger of WestCAP, and Joe Bilgrien, then of Lutheran Social Services.

Bremer said this event was in part, a thank-you to those in the area that helped support Grace Place.

"We want to make it a community event, because without the community support we wouldn't be able to keep our doors open," Bremer said.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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