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The Beacon staff makes impact locally and statewide Print
Guest column
Thursday, Jun. 27, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
Rachel Dietzman and Amy Lachuk

Staff at The Beacon Homeless Day Resource Center are making an impact on the homeless service sector both in Madison and statewide.

In May, The Beacon was awarded a Community Reinvestment Fund grant through the Willy Street Co-op in the amount of $2,500. The funding brings weekly scheduled trauma-informed yoga and art-based support groups for women. This educational project addresses how women experience homelessness differently than men.

The 12-week summer programming will take place Monday through Wednesday afternoons and is hosted by Guest Services Specialist Sarah Marty and other female staff at The Beacon.

Marty says, “Most homeless women we work with are on the streets or in the shelter because of long term stressors related to childhood or adult trauma and abuse. The project is designed to help women learn healthy coping mechanisms and increase peer support among the homeless female population at The Beacon.

“Participants in the program will engage in therapeutic activities related to weekly themes such as self-esteem, stress and self-care, emotional regulation, dealing with change, problem solving, safety, and future planning/goal setting. The use of different approaches allows participants to address and process trauma histories and emotional responses that precede their homelessness but also are re-trigged through the process of being homeless.”

Trauma-informed yoga classes will be hosted by Nikki Cook of Nikki Cook Yoga ( on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Nikki Cook teaches yoga regularly for clients at Hope Haven, a reduced cost substance abuse treatment facility, and Catholic Charities of Madison affiliate.

In June, Joel Girard, lead guest services specialist at The Beacon Homeless Day Resource Center, was elected to serve on the Board of the Housing First Coalition. The Housing First Coalition is a statewide organization committed to ending homelessness in Wisconsin by advocating for and supporting effective policies and practices, and by securing housing for homeless persons and families. Mr. Girard started his service at the board meeting on June 21, 2019.

“I hope that this position enables me to have the most current information about housing options and changes. This will allow us to offer guests critical information about resources and advocacy across Wisconsin. I look forward to having a voice on the policies and practices that impact our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness,” says Mr. Girard.

At The Beacon, Mr. Girard is responsible for managing clients’ access to resources that will help them overcome homelessness.

Located at 615 E. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53703, The Beacon provides a range of services including health care, employment services, housing services, personal care services (like showers and laundry), and warm meals. Approximately 225 homeless persons are served daily, seven days a week from 8 a.m to 5 p.m.

To donate to The Beacon, send a check payable to Catholic Charities, Attn: The Beacon, 702 S. High Point Road, Ste 201, Madison, WI 53719. Online donations are accepted at

Rachel Dietzman and Amy Lachuk are Catholic Charities of Madison staff members.