Starting Over with your Help

Alan's Story

Dear Friend,

We may be in the middle of another frigid, Wisconsin winter, but change is on the way. Just weeks from now, if we look closely, we may be able to spot the first signs of new life springing forth from the ground.

At Hope Gospel Mission, new life springs forth year-round.

Even in the midst of addiction, homelessness and hunger, hope finds a way. When our hurting neighbors come in from the cold, they get a warm welcome, a hot meal and a comfortable bed. If they choose, they find a path out of their despair in our Renewed Hope Program.

Thanks to your support, more of our residents are finding steady, sustainable jobs in our community and establishing themselves in local churches.

It may still be cold here in Eau Claire, but the days are getting longer and the snow will eventually melt. In the meantime, you are providing warmth and hope to men, women and children who need it right now!


Sandi Polzin
Executive Director

A special THANK YOU to the Wells Fargo Foundation for your generosity!
You are changing the lives of people in desperate need.

Alan seemed to have an ideal life. He was raised in a stable home, went to church and had a good education. He got married, hoping to have a family and give his children the same solid upbringing he had enjoyed.

The foundation under Alan’s feet shifted when his wife had an affair. He was crushed and began drinking to ease his pain. When the couple divorced a few years later, Alan was in bad shape, physically and emotionally.

Still, Alan managed to pick up the pieces of his broken life. He remarried, only to have his second wife leave him as well.

This time, Alan’s foundation crumbled completely. He considered suicide ... but worried if he took his life, hell would be waiting for him. For the next four years, Alan wandered, depressed and homeless on the streets, sunk into himself, trapped within his misery.

Living on the edge of suicide and mental illness, Alan came to Hope Gospel Mission. With your support, he experienced the best thing in the world that can happen to a person. He came to know Jesus.

Strengthened by God’s love and acceptance, Alan’s spiritual and physical health improved. He served wherever he was needed at the Misson, while building friendships with the staff and other residents. Today, Alan is on staff with us. He supervises the residents at the Hope Renewal Center for Men in our Short Stay and Renewed Hope programs.

Alan is also returning to school to equip himself for service to others in need. The pain of his past has given him compassion for hurting people who can benefit from what he has learned along the way.

Thank you for your kindness to men and women who fall into darkness like Alan did. They cannot escape without someone opening the door to a place like Hope Gospel Mission. Here, they can be fully accepted by Jesus Christ and begin a new life, built on a foundation of His love.

After founding Hope Gospel Mission in 1998 with her husband, Mark, Cindy Donnelly needed to step back and care for her growing family. A few years later, Cindy found a new way to serve: teaching crafts to the women at the Ruth House.

She began teaching basket crafts at Easter in 2005. At Christmas in 2009, Cindy decided to teach the women how to make fleece tie blankets, which had just become popular. This new craft was such a hit, she made it into a yearly tradition.

“It is such a joy to bless these women,” Cindy says. “When we’re all done, they’ll cuddle up in those blankets on the couch! Some will go put them on their beds. They’re so excited that it looks so pretty. It means so much to them.”

Over the years, Cindy has invited friends to come help instruct the women, which is even more of a blessing. “They sit down with each individual woman, talking with them about their lives, where they’re from and how they’re doing here at the Mission.”

The recent opening of our Hope Renewal Center for Women and Children kept Cindy especially busy this year. “I had my church making blankets for the families who are coming in. We worked hard all summer,” she says. “The children might not have anything. To have a blanket of their own is going to be really precious to them.”

Cindy insists that her blanket ministry is “nothing big,” but it does spread a lot of joy. “The women love things that are homey and warm. To see the delight on their faces, you want to do it again and again. I’m going to keep it as a tradition as long as the Lord allows me to do so.”

This new year, we will be welcoming the first residents to our new Hope Renewal Center for Women and Children. The Center officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on December 19th. The residents that come to us, some only infants, have all experienced crisis. Now, they have the opportunity to be well on their way to enjoying full and fruitful lives.

Program Manager Deb Toycen says the new facility is able to accommodate eleven mothers with children up to age ten. Child care is provided, as well as accommodations for getting older children to school and back.

Mothers in the program spend mornings in vocational training and afternoons in the learning center. Evenings include activities for families and children, small groups for moms and time for homework.

“It’s life transformation, not a Band-Aid,” Deb says. “We’re investing in their lives. The choice to change is up to the moms, but we’re here to support them and equip them to be the best parents they can be.”

That support begins with an assessment of nine areas: alcohol and drug addiction, education, mental health, finance, nutrition, life skills, vocational skills, spirituality and parenting.

An individualized renewal plan is created, which can take from nine months to two years to complete.

“I’ve been telling people in the community that this is a place to start over,” Deb says. “We’ll help moms work through their goals, rebuild a foundation and equip them with skills they’re going to need as they re-enter the community.”

Last year, with your help, Hope Gospel Mission provided:


Nights of Shelter

Hours of Employment

Education Hours


Every night of shelter is a blessing to someone who has nowhere to sleep. Every meal is a great gift to a hungry neighbor. Every caring word and act of kindness offers encouragement to those living without hope.

God bless you for stepping in to help. In addition to meeting the daily needs of our neighbors, you made it possible to build and open the Hope Renewal Center for Men (pictured below) and the Hope Renewal Center for Women and Children, with its unique family-oriented, goal-based programs.

You are making a huge difference!


Sandi Polzin
Executive Director

Gifts given in Memory

Persons being honored are listed first.

  • Ron Bleskachek, Jr., Packer Mini Storage/Diane Spinucci
  • Augusta Hamler, Ronald and Jeanne Farmer
  • My son, Tom, Jim Urness and Dorothy Sorlie
  • Frieda Gaier, Francis and Doris Gaier
  • Travis and Lisa Dettinger, Stephen and LaRayne Gospodar
  • Rod and Kim Jacobson, David J Jacobson
  • Al and Edna Petersen, Andy McGrane
  • Jake Mikkel Brown, Jeff and Vicki Iverson
  • My Sister, Oliver and Monica Lora
  • Richard Matty, Rochelle Matty
  • Bob Hintz, Joanne Hestekin
  • Lucy Hoff, James Duane Hoff
  • Gerald & Dorothy Booth, Jeff Kovacevich
  • Duane Michael Fern, Dawn Fern
  • Irving "Bill" Nelson, Ruth D Nelson
  • Celia and Balser Mattern, Roselyn Persons
  • Our Parents, James and Rita Sendelbach
  • Hope Gospel Mission, Curtis Castleberg
  • Leon & Theo Wilson, Harry and Patsy Bauer
  • Marie & Parson Gardner, Harry and Patsy Bauer
  • Janet and Bill Huntington, Marjorie Erickson-Ongna
  • Yvonne Joyal, Ronald and Linda Luck
  • Cousin Sarina, Lucy A Cota
  • Jesus Christ, John and Karen Knickerbocker
  • James R Sutherland, Jeffrey and Mollie Cipriano
  • Edward Bandach, Trish Bandach
  • Janice L Gunem, Karin R Cooke
  • Grandpa Sutton, Diana Kim
  • Alice Simmerman, Art's Snowmobile & ATV
  • Michael Blaeser, Roberta Blaeser
  • Paul Wink, Carol and Martin Schultz
  • Dorothy Walters, John Walters
  • Charles Wright, John and Sherri Weiss
  • Bud & Becky Wilkinson, TheresaAnn W Beck
  • Bridget Quimby, Gregory and Dorothy Plantz
  • Jean Pilgrim, Donald and Caroline Schulze
  • Eva Nissen, William and Vicki Hawn
  • Arve Etten, Juanice Monpas
  • George and Merna Johnson, Bill and Jennie Stewart
  • Moms & Nancy Allen, Lisa K. Fields
  • Delores Johnson, Lyle E Johnson
  • Deborah Konkel, Carolyn Hathaway
  • Benjamin Davis, Nicole Gould Gingras
  • My Family, Barbara A Berends
  • Willie Schmock, Duane and Lou Ann Norris
  • Milan Huley, Marlene C Huley
  • My Parents, Ann and Jon Larson
  • Veterans, Gary Hillestad
  • Sandi and Don Chrystal, Kristine Newman
  • Carl Sudbrink, Lori Sudbrink
  • Tom and Joan Schwartz, Sarah Ann Schwartz
  • Gene Rowe, Marceil Gunderson
  • Linda Jermstad, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Hanson
  • Shirley K Stewart, Bill and Jennie Stewart
  • Michael J Erickson, John Victor and Lorinda Bekkum
  • My grandchildren, Connie M Anderson
  • Maddie, Cindy Enger
  • Paul Freeburg, Alfred (Stan) and Janelle Freeburg
  • Grandson Matthew, Jerome and Gladys Geske
  • Jeff Murray, Raymond Murray
  • Ray and Julie, Edith-Marie R. Hackbarth
  • Russ Minnich, Lois Minnich
  • Ross Allen Gjerning, William & Paula Labelle, and Elizabeth & Katie Burger
  • Robert (Leo) Grueneich, James Nairne
  • Ruth Blake, Kelly and Michael Blake
  • Ted Gilbertson, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Hanson
  • Robert (Leo) Grueneich, Daniel T Nichols

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