Cold or not, shelter is one of the most basic needs you can have, especially for teenagers coming from traumatic environments where they might not be safe.
This is where KATS, or Keep Area Teens Safe, comes in, which is located at Elm Street and Hillcrest Avenue in Wausau.
His services began with the need to fill a gap by providing essential help to people who needed it.
“It was definitely a passion I had; how to keep 12-17 year olds from becoming a statistic,” said Kathleen Buckli, Director of KATS.
The organization can accommodate up to 18 young people at a time, offering them a bed to sleep in and home-cooked food on their plate until a long-term solution arises. For confidentiality reasons, officials could not share the number of young people the organization actively serves.
“We see every child in need as a child. We don’t see the county, we don’t see the city, we see them as a child in need,” Buckli said.
News 9 spoke to a current resident, who for privacy reasons will not be named, and said being referred by his social worker was a huge plus as they didn’t know where. they would be otherwise.
“People here are pretty much like family, you might say,” this person said.
KATS also goes beyond offering the basics in its programming, aiming to develop character and behavioral traits that can help teens in the long run.
For this resident, they appreciated the structure offered.
“Probably the rules, especially [that] you get a certain amount of phone time. Because with me I like to stay on my phone all the time, until I got here and now I’m barely on my phone because I’m trying to find active things to do instead to be on my phone 24/7” they said.
KATS often relies on community assistance and private funding to maintain its services, and they hope they can be there to improve the lives of more people.
“Our referrals come from different sources, so it doesn’t take much. It just takes a phone call, that’s all, or a knock on the door,” Buckli said.
They have staff on site 24 hours a day and can take referrals at any time.
More information about the organization can be found here.