On the outskirts of Kenosha County, The Sharing Center stands as a pillar of hope for those transitioning toward independence. A non-profit striving to make a difference to the most vulnerable, the organization has served as a conduit connecting families to vital resources such as a food pantry and emergency housing for over 40 years.
“[The Sharing Center] works to fill unmet needs,” Executive Director Sharon Pomaville said. “We work to make services more accessible to those who cannot get to providers who are located further outside of town.”
When Rick and Kathy Fors moved to rural Wisconsin, they saw a notable lack of services. As a case worker, Kathy knew she needed to do something. Her husband Rick, who worked at SC Johnson, supported her. Together, they turned their garage into a food pantry and allowed their personal camper van to be used for emergency housing.
The Sharing Center was granted non-profit status in 1989, and continued to grow from there. Eventually, they relocated to Trevor.
“You don’t see a lot of the need in the open,” Pomaville said. “When there is a need, people are often hiding it, like sleeping in cars. It takes a lot for people to get here.”
While The Sharing Center does serve as an emergency food pantry servicing Kenosha County, it is more than just that. It also acts as an activity hub that supports a healthy snack initiative, as well as providing clothing, free household items, school supplies and information, and supplemental food for seniors. The Sharing Center also enables referrals for the Division of Aging and Disability, and facilitates emergency services referrals.
“We see people who don’t have access to transportation, who need services,” Pomaville said. “And we try to make connections here. We allow providers to set up tables during our events or during our food pantry to help them make the contact needed to provide assistance to those who might never otherwise visit those providers.”
Pomaville notes that some of the most challenging calls are those that come in at the end of the day on a Friday, when it is cold, and a family has just had their utilities disconnected. She explains how disheartening it is knowing that attempts to connect them with assistance programs won’t be answered until Monday, or when multiple families are living in one apartment and children are sleeping on the floor with no covers. That is when The Sharing Center pulls from their resources of generous donations to bring space heaters, blankets and a cooler to store food to families if they don’t already have them.
“This list goes on,” Pomaville said. “Our area is affected; make no mistake of that.”
Sometimes families are not aware of the assistance The Sharing Center can provide. To close this gap in knowledge, Pomaville focuses on awareness efforts like mailings, ads, flyers, and direct communication to reach as many people as she can. As the pandemic continues to impact financial stability, the need has only increased, she explained.
“We also work a lot with the school district,” she said. “Through counselors, we make sure families know what we have to offer and what assistance is available to the schools themselves.”
With the confusion of government programs, Pomaville says one of her primary jobs is to act as a liaison for the district to care for all children – no matter what their situation.
The Sharing Center serves 3,500 individuals per year, ranging anywhere from a single time assistance to weekly help. The organization utilizes 200 volunteers yearly and always is looking to add more to reduce burnout.
“It is so important that there is that ability to fill a need,” she said. “We rely on our volunteers to help make the programs work, and we rely on our generous donors to stock our pantry, clothing racks and kitchen needs.”
For more information about Keefe Kares, visit keefekares.com or contact Katrina Lasch at 262-348-3215.
The Sharing Center
25700 Wilmot Rd., PO Box 172, Trevor, WI
Mon and Wed 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Food Pantry Hours:
Mon and Wed 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Fri 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
To volunteer, inquire about donations, or to seek services, call 262-298-5535 or visit TheSharingCenter.net.