When Brown County initiated its downtown gentrification projects in the 1980s, low-income housing opportunities were progressively eliminated, and homelessness and healthcare for the homeless became a visible community concern. In 1986, the Brown County Homeless and Housing Coalition (BCHHC) began as a task force to address these issues.
As the director at N.E.W. Community Clinic, Bonnie understood these issues in our community. She volunteered to join the coalition as a volunteer, where she shared her subject expertise and she deployed some of the clinic assets to address the situation. By the turn of the century, Bonnie held leadership roles for BCHHC, including serving as the Chair for several years. Through her involvement, she learned about the barriers faced by an onsite clinic when trying to reach those facing extreme poverty and mobility obstacles. In response to those barriers, Bonnie developed “Healthcare for the Homeless,” a health care program that provides outreach medical services to Brown County programs serving the homeless.
Today, through Bonnie’s leadership, the clinic services have increased to include dental and mental health care to this most vulnerable population in our community. Her dedication and development have provided the foundation for lasting programs that will continue to address the healthcare needs of the low income and economically vulnerable individuals and families as they seek shelter and employment opportunities in Brown County.
Bonnie retired as the director at N.E.W. Community Clinic just last week. We’d like to congratulate Bonnie for her many years of unwavering work to break the cycle of poverty, offering safe and stable housing solutions, and providing access to quality, comprehensive, and compassionate care to the unserved members of our community.
There is an old adage that says, “if you’ve changed one life, you’ve changed the world.” We wish a happy retirement to a woman who has changed the world many times over!
Thank you to Todd Bartels for nominating Bonnie and sharing her story. For more on the Brown County Homeless and Housing Coalition, visit their website at BCHHC and find out how you can help.