Packers Foundation Grant Assists Housing Efforts in West Central Wisconsin

Packers Foundation Grant Assists Housing Efforts in West Central Wisconsin Main Photo

8 Dec 2023


Shelter assistance is an area of desperate need for justice-impacted individuals as they seek to reenter communities throughout the country. In Wisconsin, the growing impact of the opioid crisis is worsening an already difficult situation. In its efforts to improve the quality and equity of the workforce in the state, the West Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (West Central Works) offers numerous programs and services to individuals and employers alike. The organization recently received a $7,000 grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation that will assist its efforts.

Need for shelter assistance

West Central Works seeks to promote a healthy workforce environment by helping individuals and businesses alike. It works with low-income residents, laid-off workers and those seeking re-entry into life with their efforts in obtaining employment while helping businesses find and maintain employees that match their strategic needs. One aspect of their work is to provide counseling, training and re-entry assistance for individuals and families who have experienced drug and substance abuse. 

As a state facing a real worker shortage, Wisconsin cannot afford anything less than full labor force participation. Unfortunately, that shortage is exasperated in Wisconsin due to a rising frequency of individuals impacted by drug and substance abuse. Rural and border counties are exhibiting significantly increased drug usage, specifically opioids and methamphetamine usage, despite a low population density. The ability to secure stable housing is just one of the numerous ways drug usage can impact a person’s life, but there is a direct linkage between it and maintaining stable employment.

“Providing shelter plays a pivotal role in supporting individuals affected by the opioid crisis. A stable and secure housing environment offers more than just a roof overhead; it provides a crucial foundation for recovery. For those battling addiction, a safe and stable living space offers the stability necessary to break free from the cycle of substance abuse. It creates a supportive environment conducive to healing, offering a sanctuary where individuals can access resources, receive counseling, and rebuild their lives,” said Jon Menz, West Central Works CEO. “Moreover, stable housing addresses the vulnerability that often accompanies addiction, reducing the risk of homelessness and exposure to further risks associated with substance abuse. By offering a place of safety and stability, providing shelter becomes a cornerstone in the journey towards rehabilitation, fostering a sense of hope and empowerment crucial for individuals striving to overcome the challenges of opioid addiction.”  

Green Bay Packers Foundation Grant

The Green Bay Packers Foundation has been a significant player in helping Wisconsin communities since 1986. The Foundation supports organizations that focus on one or more of the following goals: perpetuate a community environment that promotes families and the competitive value of athletics; contribute to player and fan welfare; ensure the safety and education of children; and prevent cruelty to animals. The organization took applications in 2023 from organizations specifically focusing on elderly services, homelessness, human services and hunger.

West Central Works is just one of many organizations to receive a grant from the Packers Foundation; see the complete list of 2023 grant recipients here.

Funding future success

The Green Bay Packers Foundation Grant is a welcome addition to other grant opportunities West Central Works utilizes to assist individuals. The Support to Communities (STC) Opioid Recover through Workforce Development Grant provides training, career services and supportive services to individuals impacted by the opioid crisis. Community coalition partners include employers, industry organizations, treatment and recovery centers, educational providers and others. 

The Pathways Home 2 Grant helps provide pre‐release services, like job preparation, individual service plans, career exploration and more, to prepare individuals to return to communities after incarceration.

The Worker Advancement Initiative (WAI) serves those whose employment status was impacted by the pandemic by offering subsidized employment and skills training with local employers.

An example of how West Central Works applies various grants began in February 2023, when the organization started working with a woman named Michelle exiting the all-female Taycheedah Correctional Institution. Significant obstacles in Michelle’s life made securing employment and stable housing difficult. The Pathways and WAI programs helped her obtain her driver’s license, transportation resources, clothing and other community resources. However, housing continued to be an obstacle for Michelle. Stable funding delivered by these grants ensures programming can continue to provide people like Michelle with the opportunity to secure a stable apartment. As a result, Michelle can explore continuing education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire or Chippewa Valley Technical College to gain training in a field that will help her reach her employment goals.

Assistance is always welcome

Building a better quality of life for all individuals and businesses in a community is never-ending. Click here to learn how to help or more about grant funds to benefit workers and businesses in West Central Wisconsin.