Falling behind on bills and rent can be stressful, especially when it leads to losing the place you once called home. This tragic situation happened to Marcia, a local resident of Walworth County who was struggling to make ends meet. Fortunately, Marcia was able to apply to the Twin Oaks Shelter for the Homeless in Darien, where she and her family would have a safe and stable place to stay.
Twin Oaks is a non-profit organization that offers residential units where homeless households can stay up to 60 days. It is Walworth County’s only shelter serving entire families and remains open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.
“Staying at Twin Oaks was such a relief for our family,” Marcia says. “Everyone was so nice and accepting and they had everything we needed to survive: a laundry room, kitchen, playground, a basketball court for my older son; he really appreciated that.”
Beth Tallon is the Public Relations Manager at Twin Oaks. She explains how situations like Marcia’s are not uncommon in Walworth County. In fact, the shelter’s long waiting list reflects the extent to which the shelter fills this need.
“Affordable housing is in short supply in our area,” Tallon says. “When someone falls behind on their bills or loses their job, they often have to choose between buying groceries or paying rent. Our case managers work one-on-one with residents to help solve their financial crises and move forward with a plan.”
Last year, Twin Oaks, which operates exclusively on private donations, guided 207 people, (97 of which were children) on their pathway out of poverty.
According to a January 2017 report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 553,742 people in the United States experienced homelessness on any given night. While 360,867 of the homeless population were living in some form of shelter or transitional housing.
Tallon, who grew up in Darien, says her role at Twin Oaks has made her acutely aware of the local need.
“There was a time when a board member was taking families out for a movie night,” she says. “He was using his church’s van to transport everyone and one of the children got in and said to their mom, ‘This van is so nice! Can we live in it?’ It was both heartbreaking and eye-opening. It’s a great example of why we do what we do.”
While Twin Oaks is only a temporary solution, there’s no doubt that the families who come through their doors are grateful for this helping hand.
For more information please contact Twin Oaks Director, Elizabeth Knapp-Spooner at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Twin Oaks Shelter at 262-882-3662.
By: Linda Fausel