Stepping Stone celebrates one year of providing homes for families

Stepping Stone celebrates one year of providing homes for families

For too long, life for a family of four was lived day to day. The Donleas had no permanent home. They couldn’t plan on someday owning a home because all they could do was focus on making it through the day and finding a place to eat and sleep.

That ended one year ago with the opening of Stepping Stone Permanent Supportive Housing in Wisconsin Dells.

“From last year, before we got this place, there was always the unending feeling of not knowing,” Bob Donlea said. “Now I don’t have that feeling. I know I have a safe place to come home to. It is a home.”

The Donleas are one of 11 families who have found a home at Stepping Stone. It is not free housing, but the rent is set to allow families living below the poverty line to make payments.

The families get more than just a roof over their heads. They are paired with mentors in the community and are given guidance in areas like parenting and developing a family budget.

For the Donleas, it has changed what is possible.

“My credit score is not the greatest, but where it was a year ago to where it is now, I have two credit cards where last year I couldn’t get a wooden nickel on credit,” Donlea said.

He and his family now have a goal of one day owning a home.

“That would be the success story. You know, that’s what we did this for,” said Chris Fearing, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Wisconsin Dells.

Having a permanent home at Stepping Stone has also had a positive impact on the their two children. When 16-year-old Cydne got a home, she also got a dream.

“I’ve been able to get my grades up and I’m looking to get my diploma here because I’m going to be a senior next year and I’m hoping to be able to go off to college,” Cydne said.

One year ago, Stepping Stone opened its doors to families. It also opened up possibilities for the families it serves.

“They are stepping. It is Stepping Stone. They are going in the right direction,” Fearing said.