At the Downtown Madison Rotary meeting on November 9 th , the featured speakers were Jackson Fonder, President and CEO, Catholic Charities Madison, and Bev Thom, Homeless Ministry, Bethel Lutheran Church. Catholic Charities and Bethel Lutheran Church will be working together to provide services for the homeless at Bethel 5 days per week. The collaboration between these two service providers will ensure those most in need have a safe place to go during the day this winter.
You likely already know that Catholic Charities was the service provider chosen in response to a request by Dane County to operate the long anticipated Dane County Day Resource Center. With some renovation of the building at 615 East Washington Avenue, the Center is expected to open in the summer of 2017. At the Rotary meeting, speaking about the services that will be provided at the Day Resource Center, Jackson Fonder said, “We’re going to stuff as much good into the building as we possibly can.”
I welcome hearing from anyone wanting to hear more about this critical Dane County service. I have heard from a few District 1 residents and the following includes information I’ve shared in response to their questions about a religious-affiliated entity providing government contracted services.
Dane County purchasing protocols for human services must be fair and impartial. Dane County cannot discriminate against the choice of a provider because of their religious affiliation. Dane County has previously contracted with religiously affiliated providers for homeless/housing services, including: The Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, YWCA, YMCA, and Bethel Lutheran Church. Catholic Charities, as is the practice with other Dane County contracted service providers who represent religious faiths, will not be able to proselytize. For services not provided by Catholic Charities, staff from Public Health Madison Dane County will be available to assist with referrals regarding individual health care needs including reproductive health.
In addition to the services they will be providing, Catholic Charities is willing to do additional fundraising to ensure the Dane County Day Resource Center is a success. As Jackson Founder also said at the Rotary meeting, “Please join us as a partner.”
Dane County and Madison leaders continue to work together to ensure those most in need get the assistance they need to improve their lives.