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Security Health Plan invests in Marshfield’s Mary’s Place

“Mary’s Place gave me a new start, a new lease on life. It gave me a positive outlook where I didn’t have one before,” Peter McDonald said.

Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc., will invest $1,000 in Mary’s Place as part of the Employee-Driven Corporate Giving grant program. Each month Security Health Plan awards a different charity or group a $1,000 grant. The groups are nominated by employees at Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Kayleigh Mengel is a health educator at the Marshfield Clinic Health System. She nominated Mary’s Place for the grant. While she is a MCHS employee today, three years ago she was working as the executive director at Mary’s Place. Mary’s Place is a non-profit housing facility. They focus on helping the no- or low-income homeless people in the Marshfield area. She now serves on the board of directors at Mary’s Place. She also continues to volunteer for the organization.

“We are committed to changing lives and making a difference in the community,” Mengel said. “Mary’s place provides restoration and hope to support individuals through the barriers of life to improve the quality of their life.”

McDonald is the night manager at Mary’s Place in Marshfield. But his role at Mary’s Place has morphed drastically over the past few years.

SHP20and20Marys20PlaceMcDonald first came to Mary’s Place three years ago. He was jobless, homeless and living each day just looking for his next drink. He said one day in November of 2015 he found himself in Wisconsin Rapids with no place to live. He said he had made some calls and eventually ended up at Mary’s Place. That is where he met Mengel. She completed McDonald’s intake process at the housing facility. He was set him up in the Genesis Room. The Genesis Room is available for individuals with no income and provides a place for them to stay while they get back on their feet. Mengel said residents in the Genesis Room are required to actively seek employment and are limited to a six-week stay.

After getting a job she said the residents can move into one of the 18 rooms in the facility. Each room rents for under $75 per week. That is where McDonald transitioned to after getting a job shortly after arriving at Mary’s Place. About a year ago he took on the role of night manager at the facility.

“I make sure the place is clean. I make sure people staying here have what they need. I collect their rent. When one of the residents has a concern, they bring it to me and I make sure it gets addressed,” McDonald said of his role as the night manager.

He describes his life prior to November of 2015 as bleak.

“I didn’t really care about personal hygiene. I would wake up, sometimes wondering where I was, and see the sunshine and really didn’t want to see the sun shine,” he said. “Before I came here I really didn’t like myself. Being here has taught me to like myself again. It helped me gain self-confidence back. I had a place to stay to work through my issues and better myself. Now I wake up and I have my routine. I make my bed, brush my teeth, shave, get dressed and do my reading, my meditations, my prayers.”

McDonald has also been dedicated to his sobriety. He walks two and one-half miles one way to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three to four times a week. He also attends two Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week.

“When Peter arrived at Mary’s Place he was just beginning his journey in recovery from his addiction to alcohol,” Mengel said.

“We took him in, we worked with him. He is so dedicated. He really embraced everything about this place. He’s embraced everyone else who lives here as his family and support system. He has gone from rock bottom to being quite successful. I think Mary’s Place really helped him.”

The Genesis Room at Mary’s Place is funded by United Way. The rest of the facility is funded by donations, grants and the rent payments from the residents.

Mengel said the funds from the Security Health Plan grant will be used for tenant relief. This covers things such as gas cards, grocery cards, clothing, haircuts, alcohol and drug recovery coaching.

“Donating to Mary’s Place is important. It is the only homeless shelter for men in the area,” Mengel said. “Mary’s Place simply exists to serve others. It exists to enrich lives by providing access to kind and affordable, even free, services to those who need them. Mary’s Place has changed hundreds of lives over the years and with donations like this from Security Health Plan, will continue to do so.”

Mengel said Mary's Place can always use more volunteers to help with cooking meals for the residents. They can do basic home care like mowing lawn or shoveling the sidewalks. She said people interested could adopt-a-room at Mary’s Place. This allows individuals, families or groups to paint, decorate and fix up one of their tenant rooms.

To get involved, make a donation or learn more about Mary’s Place visit their website at www.marysplacemarshfield.org. You can also check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MarysPlaceMarshfield/.