HISTORY OF

CARING HOUSE

Caring House came into existence because of the determination of Father Don Shiroda, pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church. In 1981, concerned citizens worked to create the first board of directors for the non-profit organization. With the assistance of a handful of volunteers, an abandoned convent was turned into the community’s first shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children. This is when area 3rd grade students gave Caring House its name.

The need for services grew over the years: 

  • 1985 - sexual assault services were added

  • 1986 - the children’s programming was introduced

  • 1998 - a grant from Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services paved the way to open an outreach office in Florence, WI

  • 2001 - the newest facility was purchased. Everyone from girl scout troops, private individuals, senior citizens, church groups, civic organizations, fund raising activities & media campaigns assured there wouldn't be a lapse in services 

  • 2017 - along with other Upper Peninsula agencies, we received funding for services in rural communities, providing resources to open a 2nd outreach office in Iron County

  • 2018 - Caring House was fortunate to receive a MI VOCA Child Advocacy Center Development Grant. In 2019 Caring House received funding from WI VOCA to provide CAC services for WI children. These grants provide for CAC services and additional counseling and support for children witnessing abuse in their homes

With the support of our community, Caring House continues to grow and add new services in an attempt to best meet the needs of our community.

OUR MISSION

To promote a violence free atmosphere from domestic and sexual violence in which survivors can recognize their options to have the opportunity to continue living violence free and regain their sense of self-worth, dignity individuality, and independence.

To educate and raise awareness within our community and systems that domestic and sexual violence is a prevalent problem.

To provide on-going prevention programs and support services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Meet The Team

 

Caring House Board of Directors

 
2019-2020 Board members include:

Bob Sauld, Chairperson

Geno Basanese, Vice-Chairperson

Carla Anderson, Secretary/Treasurer

Linda Zastrow

Lisa Richards

Ed Bonk

Reverend Stephen Lehmann

Description coming soon! Thank you for your patience.

 

Cheryl O'Neil

 

Executive Director

I would like to welcome you! I first came to Caring House in need of assistance and through the support I received here I was able to rebuild my life. I want your stay here to be as beneficial to you as it was for me. Even though my duties are mostly administrative, please know that I am here for you as well. I have worked in this field for over 23 years and have been given the opportunity to learn from many experts.  In addition to my administrative duties, I coordinate systems change, awareness activities, education presentations and expert testimony for court hearings.  Again, welcome and I look forward to personally meeting you.

 

Patty Schmidt

 

Administrative Assistant

Hi I’m Patty, welcome to Caring House! I am the office “computer geek “ & I help with all computer related technology.  I take care of all the clerical needs, I answer the crisis calls,  business calls and I schedule appointments.  My primary responsibility is to assist the Executive Director. I am also here to help you with whatever I can.  If I don’t know an answer, I will find somebody who does.  I look forward to meeting you!

 

Bryan Kesler

 

Finance Director

Description coming soon! Thank you for your patience.

 

Marti Swisher

 

Program Manager &

Crime Victim Advocate

Hi! My name is Marti.  I have worked at Caring House since 1996.  I am inviting you to come and talk to me.  My focus is to provide domestic violence and sexual assault counseling/education.  I facilitate individual and group educational counseling for domestic violence & sexual assault.  I am available for court accompaniment, PPO’s, resource information and helping you through this new transition. If you are feeling sad, depressed or just need someone to talk to call me…come talk to me…you are not alone.

 

Heather Strauss

 

Volunteer Coordinator

& Victim Advocate

Hello! My name is Heather Strauss. I have been working at Caring House since 2014. I started out as a volunteer and have since transitioned from shelter staff, to the Child and Teen Advocate and now I am a Victim Advocate / Volunteer Coordinator. I would love to be a part of your healing process and help you to navigate the systems throughout this difficult time. At Caring House, I have worked with many survivors. I am able to counsel with you and educate you regarding power and control, advocate on your behalf, accompany you to court, medical exams, referrals, housing, and most importantly, create a safety plan with you and your family. I am so happy that you have taken the step to reach out for support and assistance. I can't wait to meet you and work alongside you as you start the healing process. 

 

Mellisa Lantto

 

Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator

I know this can be a scary time and I'm here to make you feel as comfortable as possible. I've endured a lot of abuse in my lifetime but have learned to grow, heal, move forward and to love myself in the process. I'd love to help you on your journey of healing! I can counsel with you and help navigate the court system along with accompanying you to court. I can be by your side throughout medical exams, advocate for you, help with housing referrals and educate on sexual assault and domestic violence. Most of all, I'll be your biggest fan while you find your new path! I've been part of the Caring House family since 2015. Before coming to Caring House, I worked with At-Risk youth for numerous years. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management with Leadership.

 

Kelsey Bohn

 

Children & Teen Service Advocate

Hello Parents! My name is Kelsey and I am the Child / Teen Advocate at Caring House! I began working at Caring House in the Shelter before becoming an Advocate. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology from Northern Michigan University. Working with children is my passion in life. Working at Caring House I am able to offer both individual and age-appropriate group counselling sessions. During our group sessions, we focus on many different topics such as safety planning, red flags, healthy boundaries, healthy relationships, and much more. I am excited to meet with you and your children!

 

Jodie Garver

 

Domestic Violence Service Advocate

Hi! I’m Jodie! I am the Domestic Violence Service Advocate and am currently working on my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. When I began working at Caring House, I worked in the shelter and have since transitioned to working in different areas within the agency. I am here to guide and support you on your journey! I can assist you with emotional support, housing resources, court accompaniment or any other needs you have during this transitional time in your life. I am glad you are here and look forward to working with you!!

 

Angie Kurtz

 

Caring House & CAC Mental Health Therapist

Hi! My name is Angie. I am a Licensed mental health therapist for over seven years and have been working for the Caring House for over a year. I am a National Certified Counselor, certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor, and Certified in Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.The therapy services that is offered provides confidential, evidence-based, trauma informed therapy at no cost to you. I work with children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced physical or sexual abuse. I am inviting you to call for an appointment today!

 

Karla Lehmann

 

CAC Coordinator &

Forensic Interviewer

I am Karla and I am the Coordinator and Forensic Interviewer at the CHCAC. I retired from the Milwaukee Police Dept. in 2016 after 25 years of honorable service. As an officer, I became trained as a Forensic Interviewer in 2003 and at this time realized how critical the child interview is. Due to this realization, I became co-located at the Milwaukee CAC and through this I learned the value of research and trauma informed practices. After my retirement, I was employed as a Forensic Interviewer at this same clinic until I decided to head to the peace, quiet and beauty of the UP. I am now honored to be part of the MDT offering these best practices in Dickinson/Iron Counties, as well as my home state of Wisconsin. I am trained in both the Michigan and the Wisconsin interviewing guidelines. Due to my long history of victim interviewing and child maltreatment investigations, I have been involved in training other professionals throughout my career and have been called to offer expert testimony in court. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. I feel that my vast experience mixed with my passion for giving children a voice is an asset to the center. Thank you for giving me the honor of trusting me with your children. 

 

Shanna Stanley

 

CAC Child & Family Advocate

Description coming soon! Thank you for your patience.

Selene Gonzalez

Caring House & CAC

WI Outreach Advocate

My name is Selene (pronounced Selena) and I am your Wisconsin child & family advocate. I offer support, advocacy, & resource information to caregivers, children & teens to assist them in making informed decisions for their lives. My clients will have opportunities to learn how trauma has impacted them & what their options may be moving forward, as well as access to support groups & therapy. I work with families at our WI Outreach Offices & at the Caring House CAC. I love the U.P. & Northern WI and enjoy helping & serving my community. I previously attended college for social work, specifically desiring to work with children, so I really love my work as a child advocate. I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about you!

Donna Fayas-Johnson

 

Iron & Florence Counties Outreach Advocate

Welcome to Caring House! As one of the very first volunteers 39 years ago, I worked a weekly shift at the shelter. For the past 20 years I’ve been a full-time advocate in our two outreach offices located in Florence and Crystal Falls. Keeping very busy between the two counties Tues-Fri, Monday is my shelter day in Iron Mountain. It’s been such a rewarding experience working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. As an advocate working with non-resident and shelter resident clients, it is my goal to educate on domestic violence, offer individual counseling, assistance with TRO’s and PPO’s, court accompaniment, facilitate support group, emergency transportation and referrals. Enough about me, I look forward to meeting you and helping make a difference in your life. You are not alone.

 

Jen Blahnik

 

Shelter Coordinator & Service Advocate

Hello! My educational background is in Complementary and Alternative Health with a minor in Psychology. I began my Caring House journey by serving on the Advisory Board roughly a decade ago. I did various volunteer work and eventually became a member of shelter staff. I now hold the position of Shelter Coordinator. I attend to repairs, manage donations and supplies, and make sure the shelter has everything it needs to operate smoothly. I take a rotation in providing on call services. In addition, I serve as an advocate to our resident clients, providing assistance where needed – from helping with paperwork to listening with a compassionate ear. I am here to let you know that you are not alone.

 

Melissa Graf & Mickayla Streeter

 

Crisis Line Advocates

Hello! We are your Security & Maintenance staff.  We provide support services to our resident clients.  We answer the crisis lines and oversee general shelter operations.  We also provide the general cleaning and maintenance for the shelter.

(906) 774-1112
Iron Mountain, MI

©2020 by Caring House, Inc.