The Beacon presents community update Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- On April 4, staff members of The Beacon, along with members of the Madison Police Department, presented stories of successes and challenges from its first few months of operation.

A comprehensive day resource center for people experiencing homelessness in Dane County, The Beacon opened in October of 2017. It is a joint venture among Catholic Charities Madison, Dane County, the City of Madison, and United Way of Dane County.

Nearly 100 people attended the first community update held this year.

The Beacon successes

Catholic Charities Madison CEO and President Jackson Fonder spoke on the current status of The Beacon, serving nearly 160 guests per day.

Some services include showers, laundry, and lunches. Fonder noted that 285 guests currently receive their mail at The Beacon, since they don’t have a permanent address yet.

He also highlighted a shuttle service that transports 40 to 50 people from The Beacon to and from their night shelters daily.

Guests Services Specialist Michael Moody shared stories of “all sorts of people coming in the door every day,” including one of a woman who came to The Beacon in November with her possessions, a cat, and no place to live. She is now staying nights at the YWCA in downtown Madison.

Fonder credited volunteers for a lot of the good work being done. Since it opened, more than 260 volunteers have given 30,000 hours of their time. Ten to 12 volunteers are needed every day, seven days a week.

Fonder also acknowledged many partner agencies that help The Beacon guests, including Porchlight, Salvation Army, Second Harvest Foodbank, and Forward Services Corporation, which helps people with jobs, housing, education, and transportation.

Paul Kamps, from Forward Services, shared success stories of Beacon guests who were able to find employment, some with full-time pay and benefits. “We deal in hope,” he said.

Facing challenges

Fonder and officers from the Madison Police Department addressed neighborhood concerns such as reports of fighting, littering, vandalism, trespassing, and noise.

Fonder said The Beacon has taken steps to lessen these occurrences such as implanting a code of conduct for the facility, making changes in who can use the facility’s parking lot, and future improvements to fencing and signage on the property.

Captain Jason Freedman from the Madison Police encouraged communication of reportable activities to officers so the data can be collected and appropriate responses and use of resources can be determined.

Three more community updates will be held this year, with the next on June 27. For more information, go to

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