Located at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ (426 Washington St, Wausau- across from the Marathon County Jail) is a place for recently released inmates from the County jail or Wisconsin prison system, who are in need of proper seasonal clothing, footwear and toiletries. Those in need may also find service information, help in finding agencies providing aid, help or food, and a place to warm up for a cup of coffee.
On Friday, November 26, 2010, Open Door opened their doors for the first time. It was 5:00 a.m. and we had 3 volunteers. The coffee was on and slowly the guests started trickling in. We were able to offer them weather appropriate clothes, a hot cup of coffee and some conversation.
Fast forward almost 5 years, we still open our doors at 5:00 a.m. Sometimes there are people waiting at the door when our volunteers arrive. Besides clothes, coffee and conversation; we offer hygiene products, use of a computer, use of a telephone, a chance to sign up for a mentoring program or attend life skills classes.
We have gone from serving 400 people our first year to serving over 4000 in 2016, and that number continues to grow. We have become a clearing house of community resources to help the newly released meet their immediate needs and help them achieve their long term goals.
After almost five years, our outreach has broadened, our services have expanded but our focus is still the same. Provide the newly released with a second chance and the tools to be successful.