History of the Harbor House

In 1996, the community of Superior saw a need for a homeless shelter for homeless families. The parsonage located next to the Faith United Methodist Church was used as an annex to the church facility, so Revs. Larry and Joan Goebel offered the use of this facility to the community as a drop-in homeless shelter. The shelter was called the Emergency Shelter for Women and Children (ESWC); this was a collaborative of many community organizations, such as Catholic Charities Bureau, Northwestern Wisconsin Community Service Agency, Douglas County Human Services, and others. The shelter was operated by volunteers and was open from 9 pm until 7 am (depending on the volunteers schedule) and church activities. While this met some of the need, the shelter struggled with volunteers, no director, and no connection to the faith community.

In May 2000 the shelter facility was closed. There were many reasons; some had to do with the hours of operation, the overall program structure and the need to re-vision this ministry. In June 2000, the Revs. Certa-Werner family moved to Superior.

In November 2000 Rev. Barbara Certa-Werner attended a community meeting and heard about the need for shelter in the Superior Community. At this point, Rev. Barb, Nancy Gotham, Gail Trombley, and Claudia Sweeny began organizing and planning to use the parsonage in South Superior. The parsonage had been painted and furniture donated; a grant was received for beds, washer and dryer, refrigerator, microwave, vacuum cleaner and locks for the bedroom doors; and the parsonage was turned into Harbor House Crisis Shelter (anchored in God's love).

Rev. Barb was chair of the four-member committee, since she had experience working at homeless shelters in Chicago and Green Bay. Rev. Barb's vision was to provide shelter 24/7 for all types of families (mothers/fathers with children, two-parent families, and single women), provide case management towards the goal of attaining housing, seek funds for operations, and hire staff. Furthermore, the mission of this ministry needed to be Christ-centered and faith-based. Therefore, the ministry needed to be an intricate part of Faith United Methodist Church. With this vision in mind, the committee worked in together to come up with the first intake forms and house rules. Harbor House Crisis Shelter opened January 12, 2001.

In April 2001 Rev. Barb became the volunteer director coordinating this ministry. The committee no longer met and became part of the Church Council. The first staff was hired as a volunteer coordinator in August 2001 and HHCS's first intern, Bethany Nelson, came on board in October 2001.

HHCS slowly expanded to a capacity of 20 persons at one time through renovations. Some other renovations occurred to increase its energy efficiency, such as new windows, furnace, and water heater. The program expanded through staff expansion and program development as funding permitted. Our numbers grew: 2001 - 39 persons; 2002 - 111 persons; 2003 - 138 persons; and 2004 - 187 persons.

In 2002, the Outreach Ministries was formed for the Noah's Ark Day Care Centers; Ministry of Meals; Food Pantry, and Harbor House Crisis Shelters. These ministries then report to the Church Council as well as the Church (Annual) Conference Meeting.

In 2003, HHCS won the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation Touchstone Silver Award, for "Excellence in These Times."

In 2004, HHCS became a Wisconsin Conference Health and Welfare Ministry, was recognized at the Wisconsin Annual Conference, and Rev. Barb Certa-Werner was appointed to HHCS as an Extension Ministry.

Also in 2004, HHCS began an intentional search for a second shelter site. In 2004, 243 persons were turned away because of lack of space. A plea went out, and in September 2004 a phone call from Elizabeth and Karl McConnell changed our plea to a reality. The house was approved by the District Committee and the Church Annual Conference. Furthermore, because the house's value was appraised for more than the purchase price and no funding was required for a down payment. On December 31, 2004, HHCS became the owner of a second shelter site. The site opened on February 15, 2005. The second site is able to accommodate three additional families (or 15 persons). This has greatly reduced the number of persons turned away by the shelters. HHCS also received a $35,000 WHEDA Foundation grant to help with the purchase cost of the second shelter site. This was a joyous occasion!

God has blessed this ministry with committed volunteers and donors; a dedicated staff; faith-filled leaders and a strong commitment by Faith United Methodist Church to make this all happen. The homeless families and single women that we serve, thank you and God for this ministry. You have made a difference in their lives! May God continue to guide our work together—reaching out to those in need.

HHCS Organizational Memberships

Harbor House Crisis Shelters

Business Office

1531 Hughitt Avenue ( Map )
Superior, Wisconsin 54880
Phone: 715-394-9608 or 715-392-4157
Email: info@harborhousecs.org

Harbor House Crisis Shelter

Phone: 715-392-4157 or 715-392-3636