‘FOCUS’ to move under one roof, helping community

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - Three Wisconsin Rapids community services that help people in need will soon be under one roof and make life easier for clients and volunteers.

When FOCUS opens in the fall, it’s going to be a one stop shop to help with essential needs and make sure people aren’t hungry.

Feeding Our Communities with United Services (FOCUS) was created in February 2020. It’s a group that was formed to be a merger between South Wood Emerging Pantry Shelf (SWEPS), The Neighborhood Table and Rapids Family Backpacks.

Now they’re planning to move under the same roof to better serve the community.

“I think it’s going to be a win-win for everybody as we go across the board,” SWEPS Operations Manager Dale Davis said. “This is going to give us a lot greater opportunity to further our collaboration and since our merger will be able to expand our programs, we share a lot of volunteers, we share a lot of resources, so it does make it a lot easier having us all in one location.”

Davis said they’ve been looking for a new location for over a year and all three programs combined serve thousands of people in the Wisconsin Rapids area. Moving to a bigger, single location was a no-brainer.

It’s especially helpful for clients who may struggle with transportation.

“Plus for the end user, the client, they’ll be able to get a hot meal and then go next door and pick up their food for the month and be able to head home,” Davis said.

The new site will be about 14,000 square feet, while SWEPS is only about 4,800 square feet.

FOCUS will have a walk-in fridge and freezer, more storage space, cleaner service areas, and working outdoors in the cold will be a thing of the past.

“We’ll be able to unload semis and stuff outside of the weather, we don’t have to be outside in the cold and rain, working on icy grounds. It will be safer, more efficient for our volunteers,” Davis said.

The total cost of the new facility is $750,000, but focus still needs about $250,000 more. Focus received a $500,000 grant from the Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin.

They plan to have a capital campaign to raise the rest of the money.

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