The Beacon, 'a very special facility,' opens Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
beacon ribbon cutting
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi cuts the ribbon during an October 12 ceremony opening The Beacon, the new homeless day resource center in Madison. With Parisi, are representatives from project partners including Catholic Charities Madison President and CEO Jackson Fonder, Alder Samba Baldeh from the City of Madison, and President and CEO of United Way of Dane County Renee Moe. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photos/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- “This is more than a shelter. This is more than a hangout. This is where people come so that we can help them remove obstacles, get connected to services, and get out of homelessness,” said Jackson Fonder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Madison.

His words came before the ribbon cutting for the new homeless day resource center called The Beacon.

The Beacon is a joint venture between Catholic Charities Madison, Dane County, the City of Madison, and United Way of Dane County.

The ribbon cutting took place on October 12 at The Beacon on Madison’s east side, with representatives from all of the partner organizations, as well as other supporters.

It happened one day before a public open house and three days before the center’s official opening on October 16.

A ‘beacon of hope’ for the homeless

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi also spoke at the event.

“This facility reflects the values of our community,” Parisi said. “The Beacon will be here and as its name implies, it’s a beacon of hope to people. It’s a tangible place where people can stop in [and] as soon as you walk in the door . . . you know that you’re respected. You know that people care about you and are here to help you.”

United Way of Dane County President and CEO Renee Moe reflected on the partnership it’s taking to make The Beacon a reality.

“It takes the power of many, working for all, to build a strong community,” Moe said. It’s “all about coming together to make sure that we’re providing better, stable circumstances for our friends and neighbors to make sure that we have a better quality of life for all.”

Representing the City of Madison, Alder Samba Baldeh called The Beacon a “beautiful place.” He also celebrated the city and county working together, saying “it makes me hopeful that the future is bright for some of the issues that we are faced with.”

Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce -- the former occupants of the building where The Beacon is located -- was proud his organization could continue its more than 100-year long tradition of solving a “community problem,” namely homelessness, recalling the rallying of the community that led to putting up the building back in the 1970s following a fire to the old Chamber building.

Prior to the ribbon cutting, Fonder spoke and thanked the many people involved with the project after it has been in the planning stages for several years.

He complimented the staff of The Beacon, saying “they are ready, they are awesome, they have a lot of experience, and they’re going to make it happen.”

He called The Beacon a “welcoming” place to come to get help.

A look at The Beacon

Guests at The Beacon will walk into a courtyard area before they arrive at the main entrance.

Once inside, they will be greeted by staff or volunteers and asked how they can help them.

Then, they may be directed to one of numerous basic needs services on the first floor.

Private showers and restrooms are available as well as day storage lockers.

Larger items can be kept locked away safely in an outside area.

Laundry services are also available, with the help of volunteers on site.

People at the front desk may also direct the guests to second floor services such as computer access to work on a resume, check email, or search for jobs.

A community room may eventually be used for English as a Second Language courses or other classes for which there may be a demand.

Other partner agencies that help the homeless will also have office space at The Beacon.

Families who arrive as guests have their own separate space to spend time in, complete with children’s toys and games and a homework area, along with their own outside courtyard.

There is also a room for future use by health care professionals such as for blood pressure checks, diabetes checks, or other preventative health care.

Mail slots are also available as The Beacon guests can use its address when submitting job applications or other forms where a mailing address is required.

Meals will be available from groups coming in daily to help provide food already prepared.

A security guard will also be at The Beacon daily to keep the facility safe.

More about The Beacon

The Beacon is open 365 days a year, including holidays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A van service will be available to take guests to night shelters.

All of the services are free of charge to the guests.

Donations are still needed to help the guests get the support they need. More information on helping with monetary support can be found on The Beacon’s website at

Volunteers are also being sought to help, as many as 20 a day.

Tasks include greeting, computer lab assisting, laundry services, repair and maintenance, and more.

More information on being a volunteer can also be found on The Beacon website or by contacting Volunteer Coordinator Tami Fleming at 608-826-8022 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Beacon is located at 615 E. Washington Ave. in Madison

For more information, visit The Beacon website or call 608-826-8000.

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