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Ending Homelessness One Life At A Time

Off the Cuff with Donna Rongholt-Migan, executive director at The Cathedral Center

Dec. 20, 2013
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“I was excited about being a part of a grassroots organization and I was particularly excited about working with women and families,” says Donna Rongholt-Migan, executive director of The Cathedral Center, 845 N Van Buren St. The collaborative nonprofit organization serves women and families who are homeless or facing housing crises. Rongholt-Migan, a licensed independent clinical social worker, joined The Cathedral Center in 2003, one year after the program became a 501(c)(3) organization. Since then, the Center has grown from a staff of one and a $250,000 budget to a team of 25 staff members and a $1.1 million budget. Rongholt-Migan discussed the Center’s services and programming.


How does The Cathedral Center help women and families transition into permanent housing?

Our mission is to provide a safe environment for women and families while working to end homelessness one life at a time. We provide emergency shelter for up to eight families and 32 women each night. In addition, when funding is available, we can offer overflow shelter for single women during extreme weather. The second part of our mission is ending homelessness. Our case management support staff provides comprehensive assessments and works with clients to create Individual Plan for Independence plans. In 2012, our case management staff helped 97% of families who came here to get to a safe place and over half of those families entered permanent and supportive housing options.


What is the Women’s Independence Program?

The Women’s Independence Program is a very small in-house program that is completely maintained by private donations. We really need more support for it. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has an emergency assistance (EA) program available to families when they find themselves in a housing crisis, but there is no such program available for women unless they have children with them. So the Cathedral Center created the Women’s Independence Program to help unaccompanied women find housing.


The Cathedral Center has 1,000 volunteers throughout the year. What are some of

your volunteer opportunities? 

We have so many. We have a group of disabled adults that comes in once a week to sort hygiene supplies for the kits we give to everyone when they come in. We are always accepting donations for travel-sized hygiene items people receive from hotels. Our biggest group of volunteers is our hospitality volunteers. They come in as a group. They purchase the food themselves and prepare a small meal or a hearty snack. We also have volunteers who sit at the reception desk and answer phone calls. Beyond that, people will come in and help with things like résumé writing, job applications and interview preparation.


To learn more about The Cathedral Center, Inc., visit cathedral-center.org or call 414-831-0394.


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