Janesville55.1°

New program helps fill community need

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
June 17, 2010
— Janesville police officer Laurie Valley is linking her hobby of rummage sales to filling needs she’s noticed while on patrol.

She’s hooking up donations of clothes and linens—bedding, mattress pads, towels and washcloths—to local programs serving people in need.


“My goal is to get things where they need to go,’’ Valley said.


She’s already working with the leaders at the YWCA of Rock County, GIFTS homeless shelter for men, Pregnancy Helpline of Janesville, House of Mercy homeless center and Acts of Kindness, a charitable organization. She’s done most of the work on her own time.


Valley is a member of the police department’s new domestic violence intervention team and makes contact with many people and agencies, including the YWCA and its advocates. While recently touring the Y’s alternatives to violence shelter for battered women and their children, Valley saw an obvious need.


“They have a lot of soaps and hygiene products, but they didn’t have the towels they needed,’’ she said.


After leaving the Y, Valley knew there had to be a way to fill this need. That’s when she recalled a talk show about a woman in a much bigger city who had contacted hotels and motels to see what they do with the linens they weren’t using anymore. Valley began doing the same here.


“Once I started calling, I found most really weren’t doing anything with this stuff,’’ she said.


Valley quickly set up a program to pick up or have linens delivered so she can distribute them between the organizations at no cost.


Last week, from the Best Western hotel she received a vanload of items, including 50 blankets, 50 mattress pads, 60 sets of pillowcases, 70 sets of sheets plus towels and washcloths. She distributed them the same day.


Paul Benish from GIFTS filled up his vehicle with everything he could fit into it, the YWCA filled the bed of an S-10 pickup truck and the rest was delivered to Acts of Kindness, Valley said.


“I want to get maternity, baby items and things like that for the Pregnancy Helpline,’’ she said.


Valley also knows clothes for adults and furniture are needed. That’s why she’s placed an advertisement next to rummage sale ads in local publications so people know how to contact her instead of throwing away what doesn’t sell.


“I can be the link to hook them up to where it needs to go,’’ Valley said.


“It bothers me that people are not getting items they need and other items are being tossed. There had to be a way to connect these two together,’’ she said.


“I see a need, and I see a way,” she said. “It’s not going to fill the need, but it’s going to assist people who need it instead of tossing these items out.’’


TO DONATE

Contact any of the following agencies:


-- YWCA of Rock County—1735 S. Washington St., Janesville, which offers programs in Alternatives to Violence, Transitional Living, Hispanic Outreach, CARE House and child care through it’s mission of creating a world of peace, racial justice, dignity, freedom and equality for all.


Contact Marilyn Lensert-Harris, anti-violence program director, at (608) 752-5445, Ext. 212.


-- GIFTS—God is Faithful Temporary Shelter is a men’s homeless shelter that rotates from church to church in Janesville, one week at a time October through April.


Contact Paul Benish at (608) 751-7848, e-mail paulbenish@yahoo.com or call the GIFTS Hotline at (608) 728-0140.

-- Pregnancy Helpline of Janesville—This 21 S. Jackson St., Suite C, agency, operates a 24-hour hotline and assists those who find themselves in this difficult position by providing a caring, confidential environment where clients can explore creative alternatives to problems associated with pregnancy.


Contact CARE Executive Director Barbara Niedermeier, at Barb@pregnancy-helpline.net or call (608) 755-9739.


-- House of Mercy—This 25-bed homeless center, 320 Lincoln St., Janesville, provides homeless families throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois with short-term emergency shelter and access to housing, job placement and child care resources. Center staff assist the homeless in assessing their needs, obtaining appropriate referrals and services and designing an action plan aimed at achieving more stable housing.


Call (608) 754-0045.


-- AOK—Acts of Kindness is a charitable organization that distributes donated items to people at no cost from a donated building on Janesville’s near south side.


Contact Shelly Danks, founder, at (608) 728-0841, schedule an appointment or drop off items between 1 and 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays.


-- Contact Laurie Valley at (608) 921-2998.



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