The gifts came from the small businesses at 1705 Tower Ave. — Serenity Spa & Salon, Beauty By Jolene, TwinPorts Laser & Cosmetic Services LLC and Superior Salon Suites.
“It’s very beautiful. I was just talking to my staff about it. They were so excited about it,” said Chelsea Branley, Harbor House executive director.
The hygiene supplies were on the nonprofit ministry’s needs list. The beauty products came from the business owners.
“Everyone deserves to feel beautiful,” said Jolene Timmers, owner of the building.
Now is a good time to support local nonprofits that serve the homeless, said Serenity co-owner Raya Horst.
“I’d say firsthand, as a mom, it’s cold and flu season,” she said. “So you’re going to be at home a little bit more, maybe working a little bit less, so the necessities that are needed for this time are important — disinfectants and things like that.”
Branley said many of the clients at Harbor House are single parents juggling one, sometimes two jobs, and going to school. But when their children are sick, they have to stay home, which cuts into their income.
In past years, local nonprofit organizations who serve those struggling with homelessness would join together to host a two-day donation drive in October, “A Night Without a Home.” The annual event raised awareness of local needs at a time when the weather was shifting. The last time the coordinated event took place was in 2019.
The need is still there, however. The temperature dipped low enough for Ruth House in Superior to open its overnight warming center Tuesday, Oct. 19. Two people stayed overnight, according to Pastor Jack Swonger with Walking Victorious Ministries, the umbrella organization for Ruth House. He said the warming center at 632 Grand Ave. will remain open nightly through the winter season.
From left, Harbor House program coordinator Brittany Gauthier and small business owners Raya Horst and Jolene Timmers carry donated items to a van outside 1705 Tower Ave. on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
“The word is getting out,” Swonger said. “I went to a couple homeless camps, let them know that we are officially open. They could check in at 8 o’clock.”
A free community dinner is served at the Ruth House daily at 5 p.m., if people want to come earlier.
Homelessness is not just a big-city issue.
“It’s amazing that it happens here, and it’s so cold here. Of all the places in the world, I’m like, ‘It’s freezing here,’” Timmers said. “Where do they go and then how do you help them find resources?”
The business owner has been supporting Harbor House events since 2010, when she met a 16-year-old girl who was living in her car.
“She came into the salon to get a haircut, and she had been kicked out of her home. She had found out she was pregnant. She had told her parents and they had kicked her out and it was in the dead of winter,” Timmers said.
She helped the girl look for resources, and since then she’s seen a number of people stop by the salon to warm up when the weather gets cold. Now is a good time to raise awareness of homelessness in the community, she said.
Raya Horst, co-owner of Serenity Spa & Salon, sets donated items into a van for transport to Harbor House Crisis Shelters on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. The beauty businesses in the 1705 Tower Ave. building collected boxes full of hair care products and baskets of hygiene supplies for the nonprofit.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
Harbor House has a list of needed items that includes diapers (size 4 and larger), baby wipes, new towels, new pillows, full and twin fitted sheets, laundry soap and Clorox wipes. Items can be dropped off at Faith United Methodist Church, 1531 Hughitt Ave.
The Ruth House is in need of boots, winter outerwear, weekly bus passes, cots and sleeping bags.
“It’s not only a warming center, but we help them move forward. Let us help you find a job, let us help you get your credentials, your Wisconsin ID. We do it 12 months out of the year,” Swonger said.
The Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse just held a fall donation drive at Super One, which helped restock the nonprofit’s closets. Needed items include cleaning supplies, garbage bags, laundry soap, toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap and disinfectant as well as new underwear.
Other nonprofit organizations that took part in past “Night Without a Home” events include the Human Development Center’s Project Reach Out, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army and Northwest Wisconsin Community Service Agency’s Solid Rock Safe Haven.
New socks for all ages are currently being collected for local nonprofits during the Socktoberfest sock drive. Drop off sites include Superior Choice Credit Union’s Tower Avenue location, Superior Impact, Empower Superior, Miracle Ear at 3215 Tower Ave., the Superior-Douglas County Family YMCA, Angie’s Closet, Empire Coffee, Lake Superior Chiropractic, the Salvation Army of Superior and Sutherland CBD.
Winter jackets are being collected for the annual Northland Coats for Kids coat drive, as well. Superior drop off sites include Walmart, Lake Superior Cleaners, Benna Ford, the Salvation Army of Superior, Ruth House and the Superior-Douglas County Family YMCA.
Both donation drives run through the end of the month.