The experts in providing compassionate, intensive, personalized care to homeless and at-risk veterans.
To provide veterans and their families with housing and supportive services that lead to self-sufficiency.
To ensure that no veteran is left behind due to homelessness, joblessness, poverty, and/or mental health issues. Our desire is to ease suffering of veterans and their families and to empower veterans to become productive members of the community.
- "Can-Do" Attitude
- Individualized Care
The Midwest Shelter was co-founded by Bob Adams, Vietnam combat veteran and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Dirk Enger, Gulf War combat veteran. The shelter opened its doors in 2007.
The MSHV was co-founded and incorporated in 2000 by Robert M. Adams of Winfield, Illinois. Mr. Adams is a US Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam era, and a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in private practice. Over the past years, Mr. Adams, through his private practice, has been providing individual, group, and family therapy especially for veterans. Mr. Adams has specialized training in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) of which many veterans in his practice are afflicted.
In 2004, Dirk Enger of Winfield, a USMC combat veteran of Operation Desert Storm and a Union Iron Worker joined Mr. Adams in working with government agencies, veteran service organizations, trade unions, and other entities in exploring the possibility of opening a transitional housing program for veterans of all eras in DuPage County, Illinois. In 2005, a very active Board of Directors was developed. In 2005, Mr. William E. Gahlberg was introduced to the veterans shelter concept and began to partner with Bob and Dirk to make this dream a reality. In the fall of 2005, with the financial support and real estate expertise of Mr. Gahlberg, MSHV entered into an agreement to lease (with an option to purchase) a single family home at 119 N. West St. in Wheaton, Illinois to serve as our inaugural shelter.
In November 2005, the Wheaton City Council granted MSHV a special use permit, and a zoning change to use the property as a transitional housing program. In January 2006, the City of Wheaton Group Care Home Commission issued a license to MSHV to operate a group care facility upon purchase of the property. In February 2006, the DuPage County Community Development Office awarded the MSHV a $300,000 grant through the Federal Community Development Block Grant program to use for a capital expenditure for the property. The property was purchased in June 2006. In the fall of 2006, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs awarded MSHV a capital grant to aid in the purchase of the home, as well as a van for outreach and shelter transportation purposes. A full-time Case Manager, and full time House Manager Staff was hired and trained, and we opened our doors to veterans on January 08, 2007. A grand opening was held on January 20, 2007 with 250 people in attendance. The Board of Directors officially named the shelter the LCpl Nicholas Larson Home for Veterans, in memory of a Wheaton native who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004.
In 2009, DuPage County Continuum of Care engaged in its first street count. This process involved professionals and volunteers combing the streets of the county looking for the unsheltered. Founder Bob Adams, found himself concerned about the unsheltered homeless the other 364 nights of the year. He came back to MSHV and worked with Veteran Alex Garcia and designed a weekly outreach program that included the expertise of our residents. Each Monday night Alex took the TH residents out to various parts of the county to locate and engage the unsheltered. Resources such as information and referrals, transportation to local shelters, food, water and blankets were provided. Since then MSHV has expanded its outreach efforts to cover a seven county service area.
In 2012, by way of an award made possible through DuPage County HOME Funds for the purchase and rehabilitation of an apartment building located at 111 N. West Street in Wheaton, MSHV opened the Robert J. Miller Affordable Housing program. The Miller program houses 6 low income single male veterans at an affordable rent of $500/ month (utilities included) who prior to coming to MSHV had struggled with securing affordable housing in DuPage County. The home was named after Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, a Medal of Honor recipient, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008. Like Nicholas Larson, Robert Miller was a Wheaton North High School graduate. The Miller program provides safe affordable housing on a sober living campus. All residents are expected to refrain from drug and alcohol use during their leasing period. Case Management and support services are available to resident to facilitate improved quality of life.
In 2013 MSHV opened the Freedom Commissary which with permission from Vickie and Richard Landeck was named in honor of their son Captain Kevin C. Landeck. The commissary is a place where low income veterans in need can shop for free clothing, household, and other basic needs like personal hygiene products. All provisions are supplied by the generosity of donors. The Freedom Commissary serves over 200 veteran households each year.
In the fall of 2013 MSHV launched its largest initiative, made possible through a competitive federal grant award from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program is a rapid re-housing/ homeless prevention program designed to get homeless veterans and their families off the streets and out of shelters and into permanent housing as quickly as possible, and to prevent veterans and their families who are imminently at risk of becoming literally homeless. MSHV offers SSVF across seven counties: DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Will, and LaSalle.
In the fall of 2014 MSHV started its Veteran Employment Program. This program assists unemployed and underemployed veterans with securing gainful, meaningful employment. Services include assistance with resume and job readiness skills development, comprehensive assessment and vocational counseling, job placement and retention, as well as job training assistance through inter-agency cooperation. We are always looking to increase our network of employers who are looking to give veterans a hand up through employment opportunities.
In July of 2015 MSHV launched Freedom Harbour, a Continuum of Care HUD funded scattered site Permanent Supportive Housing program for chronically homeless single veterans. Freedom Harbour uses a housing first, harm reduction model of service focused on maintaining housing stability. Veterans housed in the Freedom Harbour program struggle with multiple barriers that have contributed to extensive housing instability.
Finally, in an effort to build a continuum of services to meet the needs of our nation's heroes, Tammy's Trace opened its doors in October of 2015. Tammy's Trace is an affordable housing program modeled after the Miller program described above, serving four single female veterans.
The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans continues to work to build a continuum of services dedicated to meeting the needs of our Nation’s Heroes. For more information on our strategic objectives check out our 2013-2017 Strategic Plan .
Meet our Staff
- Christine Lewis (Executive Director)
- Tom Galassini (Finance & Operations Officer)
- Kat Gilman (Program Officer)
- Emily Kehoe (Development Officer)
- Lauren Ogle (Transitional Housing Manager)
- Barbara Collins (SSVF Program Manager)
- Ozzy Salcedo (Permanent Supportive Housing Case Manager )
- Megan Mijares (SSVF Case Manager)
- Dana Reyes (SSVF Case Manager)
- Melodie Smith (SSVF Case Manager)
- John Dixon (Veteran Fulfillment Manager)
- Patricia Varela (Executive Assistant)
- Larry Cada (Veteran Employment Program Coordinator)
- Natalie Shannon (SSVF Coordinator )
- Joseph Krajnc (Larson House Manager)
- Judy Mitsias (Larson House Manager)
- Jeanne Tilseth (Larson House Manager)
- David Holle (Larson House Manager - Weekend)
- ZaKeya Johnson (Larson House Manager - Weekend)
- Rizik Mohammad (Larson House Manager - Weekend )
Meet Our Leadership
- PRESIDENT -Scott Ziemba
- VICE PRESIDENT -Rick Erickson
- TREASURER -Kathy Favata
- SECRETARY -Illiana Ebbole
- Terry Benshoof
- George Bradshaw
- Daniel Devine
- Marvin Donelson
- John Erwin
- John Hughes
- Donna Levigne
- Linda Russell
- Justin Smit
- Jay Williams
- John Wilt