During the month of March 2018, START partnered with several community based organizations to connect a single mother of 4 with help towards a significantly high past due utility bill. While relying on child support payments to cover the cost of her monthly utility bills, this single mother was unable to provide the full amount owed to the local utility company over the cold winter months due to a reduction in payments received. While understanding that her heat and water could be disconnected within the upcoming month she reached out to START for support and resources to help her pay towards the amount owed. START was able to connect her to the Emergency Assistance Grant which is offered through the Dane County Job Center for families with minor children. In addition to being connected to this grant opportunity START advocated for her through communication with Energy Assistance who would be able to match any amounts paid to the utility company. She continued to meet with these programs separately while providing them with extensive history of her bills paid and income to date including her reasoning for an inability to pay. She was then partnered with Joining Forces for Families in hopes to receive dual case management to better support her in budgeting and maintaining stability going forward. START was able to connect with the local utility company in order to prevent a disconnection on the date scheduled and through STARTS advocating, she was able to receive an extension while working hard towards paying off the amount owed. Her 4 children, 2 who are under the age of 5 will be able to remain warm in their homes without the risk of losing heat during the cold weather ahead.
During the month of February 2018 START was to help a young single adult male work towards his goal of obtaining an HSED/GED through a program that could be successful for him. After meeting with him and discussing his short and long term goals he shared his desire to obtain a more reliable job while having stability for his future in a career that he would be proud to work in. After working several low paying jobs that were temporary and/or part time he has struggled to maintain his independence as single male in his early 20s. He has thought numerous times about the possibility of pursuing his diploma but did not have the ability to make this goal a priority as he had other commitments and responsibilities that required his immediate attention such as paying rent, utilities and other regular monthly bills. After hearing his desire and dedication towards pursuing his diploma or equivalency START began to brainstorm different options with him. He had connected and reached out to several different technical colleges in the surrounding area to understand what the time commitment and expectations of the program would be. He was concerned about his ability to pass tests required without any additional support and was also worried about having his income reduced due to time spent taking these classes rather than working.
The START Program Director listened to his concerns while also hearing his motivation to be able to achieve this goal. START was able to connect him to Operation Fresh Start (OSF) which provides intensive on the job training while also providing education, tutoring, and much more to help young adults obtain their diploma or equivalency. After strong advocating from the START Program with Operation Fresh Start he received several in person interviews for this opportunity. By the end of the month he had been accepted into the program. He will receive a small financial stipend monthly for the training that he will be receiving daily in a work skill that he can take with him after he receives his diploma. The program will provide wrap around services to him including, tutoring, mentoring, coaching, case management and more. Their goal is to help him secure stability in all areas of his life, not just obtaining his diploma. It took him courage and bravery to surpass all of the barriers and worries that came with putting school as a priority vs “just trying to make it each month”. He was his own best advocate, the START Program listened to his goals, concerns and desires and supported him along the first hurdle of his journey. START will maintain a support system to him through intensive case management in collaboration with Operation Fresh Start. The Stoughton Area Resource Team (START) will also be an outlet towards receiving resources and support towards his monthly rental costs while he is enrolled in this program to assist and alleviate any barriers in hopes to help him succeed.
In January 2018 START was able to assist a 30 year old single father. After doubling up, couch surfing and experiencing homelessness while sleeping in his vehicle this single father of 2 was ready to begin taking steps towards gaining his independence back and providing more stability for his children. With little to no support from his immediate family he and his 2 daughters lived day by day struggling to find a place to sleep at night for over 5 years. After becoming connected to Building Bridges which is a 3 month intense case management program offered through the Stoughton Area School District he was connected to the START Program for continued and ongoing case management support. After meeting with him regularly and staying in contact as often as possible START began to create short term goals which were attainable and contributed towards his overall long term goal of securing housing of his own. After meeting with the START Program Director related to these objectives, he began to develop goals of securing employment which would increase his income and ability to find a landlord willing to accept him. While his youngest daughter is under the age of 5 and is unable to attend school, securing and maintaining full time employment was difficult for him as he did not have reliable daycare. After reaching out to several different employers he was able to gain employment with 2 different part time jobs that worked around his needs. With this increased income he advocated for himself to private landlords while explaining his lack of rental history and difficulties in maintaining employment. START was also able to fiercely advocate for this family while staying in connection with potential landlords. After weeks of maintaining stable employment he was able to connect with a local landlord who provided him with a second chance. He now has a move in date for his new found apartment and has stated that he has a new motivation and outlook on life. He expressed his great appreciation for the services that have helped him throughout his journey. He continues to meet with the START Program Director on a weekly basis and continues to work towards building himself back up. He stated he will not stop until he is proud and that this is the first time in 5 years that he feels hopeful about his future and his ability to provide for his family
START was able to assist a single mother of 2 who had been trying for months to catch up on past due bills that she had worked hard to pay off. She had been picking up as many extra shifts as possible at work in hopes to be in good standing again. After losing extra hours at work and spending down her life savings she knew she would not have enough money to cover the cost of rent and utilities in addition to contributing towards a payment arrangement for past debt owed to her landlord. As a single mother of 2 teenagers she had expressed her financial concerns to them and stated that they would not be able to celebrate Christmas with gifts or their favorite foods. Her youngest daughter age 16 was understanding of her mother’s priorities and offered to use money that she had saved from her part time job to help pay towards their bills owed. With still not enough money gathered to pay off a large past due balance owed, the mother contacted the START Program Director for help. After doing an extensive budget, START was confident that she would be able to pay her regular monthly bills once her past due balance was paid in full. While helping her to pay off the amount owed to her landlord she was able to pay the current’s month’s rent on her own. As a proud mother she shared that her oldest son is preparing for college with 2 scholarship opportunities, one being with the University of Wisconsin Madison. While content that she would not be celebrating Christmas with gifts and food, START was grateful to have been able to also provide her with gift cards to Walmart which were donated to our program through a Christmas donation drive. She felt overwhelmed with gratitude that she would be able to surprise her children with Christmas gifts and also said she is grateful to share with them that they would not be losing their housing before the holiday. She was excited to share the relief of having her past due rental debt paid in full while being motivated that she will now be able to get back on her feet. She thanked the START program for being a support to her when she had lost hope.
START assisted a single mother of 3 young boys during the month of November. After having several medical appointments for her youngest son the mother of the family began to miss work and began to fall behind on rent. Her youngest son was struggling with a severe medical need which would require surgery and the need for the mother to be home to care for her son. Thinking about the future and upcoming bills the mother reached out to START to see what resources were available to her during this time. She had been picking up as many hours as possible at work but knew she was not going to be able to cover the cost of her bills. She was able to contribute as much as she could towards her rent but was still past due and knew that she was going to continue to struggle next month as she would be off after her son’s surgery. START helped this woman connect to resources for potential help with rent while also contributing towards her past due amount owed. She had received a 5-day notice and was extremely worried that she and her boys would become homeless during the holiday season. START connected with her landlord while creating a payment arrangement to remedy the remaining amount owed. In addition to contributing towards rental assistance for this family START was able to help this mother receive Christmas gifts for her 3 young children. With limited income to afford her monthly bills she knew she was not going to have enough money to purchase gifts and winter clothing for her children. START was also able to purchase winter boots, hats and mittens for her young boys. With the help of START the mother was able to receive relief in knowing she and her boys would not become homeless.
During the month of October 2017 START reconnected with a single mother of 3 who was relocating to a different housing unit after experiencing a difficult separation from her ex-husband in which she and her children found themselves without a place to sleep permanently. START worked closely with her therapist who served as an advocate for her during this hardship in her life. START provided financial assistance to be used towards her move in costs for an apartment in town while also providing and delivering donated pieces of furniture to make her new apartment a home. She and her children are no longer without housing and have been able to settle into their new apartment without the stress of worrying where they would sleep at night.
After unexpectedly losing her husband to a terminal illness START met with a grieving woman who was adjusting to changes in her household monthly income. She was concerned that her electricity was going to be disconnected after receiving notice from the local utility company that she was behind on her monthly payment. She had reached out to START in previous years but had been able to manage her monthly bills without needing ongoing assistance for the past 12 months. After the death of her husband and with nowhere to turn, she contacted the START Program Director to see if she was still able to receive help with her current utility bill. START met with this woman to discuss her adjusted income and to work on a new household budget and money management. START was able to assist her financially in order to prevent the utility disconnection. After meeting with the START Program Director numerous times throughout the month of September, she developed a list of short and long term goals. After following up with the START Program Director she shared that she had reached one of her large goals of securing more affordable housing. She shared that she was grateful to have been able to work through these difficult life changes while having somewhere to turn. After being accepted and approved for an apartment closer to family which was also less expensive she now feels hopeful that she will be able to have more support during this difficult time in her life.
During the month of August 2017 START was able to help a homeless single adult male secure housing after doubling up and staying temporarily with friends for over 4 months. After experiencing a very traumatic life change in which 2 of his immediate family members passed away, leaving him as the only remaining member of his family unable to afford the cost of rent he became homeless and suffered with severe depression and anxiety. When connecting to START on an intensive case management basis he was provided with education and awareness of services related to his mental health. After meeting numerous times each week he began to work on a housing plan to end his homelessness which included securing stable employment. After reaching his goal of securing employment START was able to connect him to the Folks Wagons program in which he received a reliable vehicle at no cost to him which he was able to use to get to and from work in the Madison area. START continued to support him throughout his journey of securing housing while advocating for him to local landlords and property managers. START was able to provide a professional letter of recommendation related to his previous housing situation which ended and was out of his control. After connecting with a local landlord who was willing to accept him START was able to provide a portion of first month’s rent in order for him to no longer double up with friends. He had worked hard over the past several months to build a savings which he used to contribute towards the majority of the first month’s rent and security deposit. He has now moved out of his temporary housing situation and has signed a lease in his own name. START was able to provide him with donated pieces of furniture for his new apartment as he had lost most of his items during his stage of homelessness. After now residing in his own apartment he has continued to work full time while putting money into a savings account in hopes to have a safety net of his own. START was able to support and advocate for him in order to help end his homelessness.
During the month of July 2017 START connected with a single mother of three who has resided in Stoughton for 1 year. As she and her family are considerably new to the community she was unfamiliar with several resources available to her and her family. She reached out to START for utility assistance and additional funds needed towards her rent after receiving a 5 day written notice. START was able to provide case management services along with rental assistance with the use of SIEMER funds in order to help stabilize this family. START was also able to connect her with a Joining Forces for Families (JFF) case worker to receive dual case management and rental assistance. Through collaboration with several different organizations in Stoughton, this single mother was able to have the total amount owed towards rent paid in full without causing a disruptive move. START also provided her with contact information for 2 food pantries which are available in town along with contact information for the Personal Essentials Pantry (PEP) which she was also unfamiliar with. START and JFF continue to work with this woman on a case management basis to help stabilize the family. One of the children is school aged and is newer to the Stoughton School District since moving to Stoughton 1 year ago and is in middle school. Prior to moving to Stoughton the family was homeless for 2 months while residing temporarily in hotels when they could afford it. When not staying in hotels they were able to double up with family and friends. Maintaining positive grades in school was difficult for her daughter while they were literally homeless. Since connecting to support systems and maintaining housing the daughter stated she is able to enjoy school more without worrying that she will have to move again.
In June 2017 START was able to provide intensive case management services to a single mother of 2 who had been previously homeless prior to connecting to START. She was worried that her family was going to have to relocate out of the City of Stoughton due to receiving an eviction notice from her landlord. She had maintained stable housing for several months but recently had a change in her income after switching employment. She was referred to the START program through the Stoughton Area School District Social Worker to receive help in maintaining her housing. After meeting with the START Program Director she shared several goals that she had hoped to obtain while in connection with our program. One of the larger goals that she was hoping to achieve was securing affordable healthcare for her and her children. Since changing her employment she was unsure as to how and where to receive healthcare going forward as she had not done this on her own in the past. START worked with this woman on a weekly case management basis to help her obtain health insurance for both she and her 2 school aged children. Her oldest child is 17 years old and is in 11th grade and likes to participate in school sports when he is able. Her daughter is 9 years old and is in 3rd grade and enjoys arts and crafts. All three members of the household were without health insurance prior to meeting with the START Program Director and were at risk of losing their housing. Since continuing to meet with the START Program Director on a case management basis they have all secured affordable health care and rental assistance in order to prevent an eviction. The mother stated her appreciation and gratitude to the school social worker for connecting her to the START program in which she was able to achieve some of her short term goals.
During the month of May 2017 START provided intensive case management services to a single adult male who was struggling to secure health insurance after recently losing coverage related to his disability. While not being able to work and having been approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI) he now was adjusting to having a fixed income. He was informed that he was not eligible for health coverage through Medicare for a minimum of 1 year and that he must secure an alternative form of coverage until he is Medicare eligible. This left him in an extremely stressful and worry-some situation as he relies on several different medications every month to regulate his health. The cost of his prescriptions without insurance each month were way out of his budget and were too high for him to afford so he became very concerned as to how he was going to manage his health going forward. He connected with the START Program Director to learn more about what options were available to him. After first providing him with information related to the Stoughton Shalom Free Health Clinic, the Program Director helped him to apply for affordable healthcare through the Marketplace while also connecting him to the WI Department of Health Services. START was able to provide weekly case management to support him through this process. START also helped him to apply for healthcare assistance for his new monthly premium through the United Way of Dane County Health Connect Program in hopes to make this health coverage more affordable. He now has secured reasonably priced health insurance through Group Health Cooperative while being able to afford the cost of the monthly premium. He no longer has to worry about the risks of being uninsured while not taking his medications. START was a resource for him to reach out to while also being an advocate for him through this very important time in his life.
During the month of April 2017, START was able to advocate for a single adult woman who had been homeless for several months after losing her employment and not being able to find a landlord willing to accept her. After being turned down and denied by several different landlords and property managers she lost hope and resulted to sleeping her car while keeping it turned on at night to provide heat during the cold winter months. She had been applying for work daily in hopes to end her homelessness and be able to reside in her own apartment. After finally securing a local full time job, START was confident that she would be able to maintain the cost of rent. After connecting to a landlord who was willing to overlook her unstable rental history, START was able to discuss the landlords concerns along with the client’s goals, in hopes to mediate and support the client’s ability to become more independent while residing in her own home. After meeting with the landlord in person to alleviate any barriers related to housing concerns, the young woman was approved and was able to move into her apartment within days of START making this connection. She benefitted from the START program by having an additional means of support and by having an advocate when needed related to ending her homelessness. She has now been stably housed while maintaining her full time job and slowly regaining her rental history. She thanked the START Program by sharing, “You have given me faith and really made a difference in helping me get back on my feet.”
START was able to connect with a single woman who was struggling for support and was unsure as to where to receive rental assistance in order to prevent her from becoming evicted from her home. She works full time as a daycare provider and typically receives enough income to cover the cost of her rent each month. During March 2017, she was unable to provide daycare to one of her regular families as they no longer needed her help due to a change in their work schedule. With this lack of employment she began to fall behind on her monthly rent. START advocated for this woman to be able to remain housed in her apartment by directly contacting her landlord and securing a payment arrangement. She was able to receive verification in the form of a signed and dated statement indicating that she would not be evicted from her home for at least 30 days with assistance from START. She has a plan for the remaining amount owed which was agreed upon with her landlord and she has begun to work with START on a case management basis to help her reach her goals of maintaining housing and increasing her income.
During the month of February 2017 START was able to be supportive to an individual who recently became homeless due to her family member passing away and no longer being able to afford the cost of rent on her own. She was struggling as to where to turn for help when the household bills began to pile up as she had recently lost her job due to her mental illness while struggling with severe depression. As she had no employment or form of income she attended eviction court and was required to vacate her apartment within 2 weeks. After connecting with START to receive help related to finding a new place to live along with securing employment, START was able to assist her through her job search while helping her to create an updated resume and cover letter. She was able to secure a temporary place to live as START was able to provide assistance in order for her to rent a room from a friend while she actively works with START on a case management basis to secure employment and permanent housing. START has been able to be a support to this woman while she works towards gaining self-support. She continues to meet with START on a weekly basis while staying in connection daily in hopes to achieve independence.
In January 2017, START was grateful to have received a donation as a proud partner through United Way of Dane County in order to provide families with children support during the winter months for basic needs items. START was able to assist and support 7 Stoughton based families with essential items needed to benefit these families with children. START connected with these families through referrals from the Stoughton Area School District Social Worker along with assisting current START case managed clients. START was able to provide 18 different children with new items including: clothes (pajamas, shirts, pants, underwear, socks, winter jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, shoes, slippers, winter boots) a baby crib, pillows, blankets, household items, personal essential items, groceries, cleaning supplies, school supplies, a baby crib, diapers and wipes. All of the families, including the children met with the START Program Director in person and were able to be present when purchasing the items in the store while the children were also able to try on the clothing and be present when purchasing these items to ensure that they fit. The children ranged from infants to senior high school aged students. All of the families shared their feelings of appreciation and gratitude to the START Program Director for the donations that were provided to them. START was able to deliver follow up to United Way explaining how the use of the funds had been dispersed throughout our community. While staying in connection with the families, START was able to create a relationship with several new clients/households on a case management basis.
START funds helped a single mother of four maintain housing stability during the cold winter months in Stoughton Wisconsin. This single mother relies solely on social security disability benefits in order to pay the costs of her monthly bills and provide for her and her family. She has 3 school aged children while also caring for an adult child who recently graduated high school. Two of her children are in grade school while the other is in high school and has hopes to graduate within the next couple of years. The mother had been working with the START Program Director on a case management basis for several months and it was brought to the Program Director’s attention that 2 of the children had been sleeping on the floor without a bed or something suitable to sleep on in order to get a good night’s rest. They had been piling up blankets, pillows and clothing in order to make the nights rest tolerable. START was able to apply for a grant and be approved in order to secure 2 brand new twin size beds including mattresses, box springs and frames from Slumberland Furniture for this family. START was able to physically transport and deliver the beds to the family while also being able to help set them up. The mother’s youngest 9 year old daughter and 11 year old son exclaimed their appreciation and gratitude through numerous hugs and statements of thankfulness while assisting the Program Director in setting them up in their rooms. This family has gained a sense of relief and comfort during the holiday season while also being able to sleep in their very own beds. While being able to rest more comfortably at night the children have all stated that they have more energy while attending and participating in classroom activities at school.
In November 2016 START advocated on behalf of a single parent working female who was at risk of losing her housing. She had worked hard over the past 5 years to create a positive rental history and has never missed a rent payment. After receiving an eviction notice for a past due balance this single mother reached out to START for help regarding an inaccurate balance owed. She had sent payment to her landlord which was never recorded on her balance statement and she now had a court date schedule within just a few days after reaching out to START. She had been in contact with her landlord regarding the inaccurate balance owed but was not making much progress as she did not have proof of the payment being sent. After meeting with START we connected her with a Housing Caseworker regarding her legal rights in order to prevent the family from becoming homeless. START and the Housing Caseworker advocated for this woman with her landlord at her eviction court hearing in Madison. START was also able to help this single working mother with a portion of the rent amount owed in order to prevent the eviction from furthering. After meeting with START, the landlord accepted partial payment for the total amount owed and agreed to a legal payment arrangement that she will be able to comply with as she works full time and has volunteered to work extra shifts in order to accommodate for this discrepancy. She has already been saving rent owed for the month of December and will no longer have to worry about the risk of becoming homeless during the cold winter months. She stated that she was extremely grateful to have had the support of the START Program Director during this very critical time in her life, as she was unsure how to manage the situation legally without an advocate. She stated she plans to keep record of all payments going forward as she does not want to experience the risk of losing her home again. START was also able to help this single mother connect with Christmas gift programs in order to ensure that her children receive presents for the holiday. With the help of START, she and her family will now get to spend the holidays in their own apartment while having the security of knowing they are not at risk of becoming homeless.
START assisted a single mother of 2 who was working hard to gain her independence back after surviving through a time of intense difficulty in which she and her children became homeless. She had been working with START on a case management basis for the past 2 years and reached out to the Program Director for support. While experiencing homelessness and temporarily staying with family she had successfully secured stable employment through her previous employer and had been accepted for an apartment. START advocated for this family to be approved for the apartment while staying in close connection with her landlord. START was also able to secure a payment arrangement with the local utility company and landlord in order for the family to be able to move in as quickly as possible. While in transition she had lost her vehicle and had no way to get to and from work which was critical in her plan of moving back into an apartment and no longer doubling up with family. She had been saving as much money as she could for a vehicle and first month’s rent/security deposit. After connecting her to Folks Wagons Inc. she was able to receive a reliable vehicle at a reasonable price which she could afford. Folks Wagons Inc. educated this young woman on the importance of maintenance that the vehicle will require while also being a resource for minor repairs and oil changes at no cost to her. In conjunction with Folks Wagons and START she was able to receive financial assistance for the vehicle registration, plates and the first month’s car insurance premium. START also provided her with transportation to the Department of Motor Vehicles while advocating for her through the registration process. While experiencing homelessness and leaving behind all of her belongings she was lost as to where to turn for help in receiving furniture for her home. START helped this woman with physically moving into her new apartment while also providing donated pieces of furniture, dishware, and household items.
START also secured a furniture voucher through St. Vincent De Paul while helping her by transporting and moving the items into her home. After meeting with the family multiple times each week it was brought to the Program Directors attention that her 2 young children had been sleeping on the floor and on couches while they no longer had beds or something suitable to sleep on. START was able to apply for a grant and be approved in order to secure 2 brand new twin size beds including mattresses, box springs and frames from Slumberland Furniture for this family. After successfully being able to get to and from work with the mother’s new vehicle the family is now feeling more safe and secure in their apartment while also being able to get a good night’s rest. The woman’s oldest son proclaimed his appreciation through numerous hugs and statements of gratitude. He stated that he did not know the last time that he had his own bed and was able to sleep in his own room. Through multiple venues of donations, compassion, and hard work START was able to help this family gain stability, safety, security, and a feeling of self-sufficiency.
During the month of September 2016 START was able to provide assistance to a family of four who have resided in the Stoughton Area School District for over 20 years. The two parent household relies on the family’s income as a whole in order to pay their monthly expenses. While they both work full time they have two young grade school aged children that have attended schools throughout the Stoughton School District for their entire lives. The family recently encountered two unexpected deaths within the same week to very close family members. These deaths caused unexpected funeral costs and family support costs which caused a great deal of financial strain for the family. They struggled with how they were going to contribute towards all of their monthly bills without becoming evicted from the home so they reached out to START for support. START has worked with this family over the past two years and has been a resource for the family during times of need. Through SIEMER funds donated to START the family was able to receive case management related to budgeting, money management and help with their finances. START was also able to provide this family with direct financial assistance towards an amount owed for rent. They were able to become current with the past due amount owed in order to prevent an eviction and they have both continued to work full time in order to stay current with their monthly bills. The children of the household did not have to relocate to a different school district and have not had their education disrupted related to an unplanned move. The family is connected with their children’s school teachers and social workers in order to receive as much support as possible for their children.
During the month of August 2016 START was able to provide assistance to a single adult female who was struggling to pay her bills after unexpectedly losing her father to a terminal illness. Over the past few months this young woman tried her best to accumulate as many work hours as possible in order to pay her monthly bills and provide support to her family. She had recently received news that her father was dying and only had weeks left to live. She had connected with START in the past related to receiving help creating a resume and securing employment. After working with START on a case management basis she had reached her goal and secured two local part time jobs which were sufficient enough to cover her monthly bills. After receiving news of her father’s illness, she worked hard to secure as many hours at work as possible to ensure that she would have enough funds to cover her rent, utilities and car payment as she was planning to visit her father at the end of the month. Without the ability to accumulate extra hours at work and save funds to visit her father, he passed away within only a few short weeks. She was now in need of assistance, as she had unexpected travel expenses which accrued in order for her to attend the funeral. After paying her rent and utilities, she was unsure as to where she could receive help with her unpaid car payment, so she reached out to START. The Stoughton Area Resource Team was able to provide her with assistance related to her unpaid car payment along with being a listening ear while she grieved the loss of her father. After meeting with START she stated that she was grateful to have been given the opportunity to not worry about the risk of having her vehicle impounded during this very difficult time in her life and was appreciative to have someone she could talk to. Since her father’s death, she has continued to work extra hours in hopes to begin saving money each month in order to visit her mother and siblings out of state for additional support.