The new manager at Twin Oaks Shelter for the Homeless in Darien has had a busy summer so far!

Renae Mitchell previously served as the executive director of non-profit organizations, including the UW-Rock County Foundation. She also taught college courses in human geography at UW-Whitewater, UW- Rock County and Carroll University. Earlier in her career she directed YMCA and YWCA Camps and then taught students about recreation administration at George Williams College of Aurora University.

“Being the director of a camp is similar in many ways to being a shelter manager because I’m responsible for a variety of clients of all ages who come to us for short periods [up to three months] and go through our programs to better their lives,” Mitchell says. “We hold room inspections like at camp and the kids have some fun playground equipment, a basketball court and toys, thanks to our generous donors. The operational functioning of the buildings and grounds is also part of my job and our residents pitch in with chores while local volunteers, church and service groups come out to help up spruce the place up!”

This summer the homeless shelter’s residents worked for more than twenty days on the large metal shed that stores furniture, bedding and household donations. Residents stripped peeling paint and power-washed the surface. Jim Pfeil at Thrivent Financial donated the power-washer and then a dedicated and enthusiastic group of employees from ANGI Energy painted the shed. The ANGI employees also brought out an amazing picnic lunch and games for the kids.

There are times when the difficulty of some people’s situations and the long waiting list of homeless people can be discouraging, but almost daily someone’s kindness and generous spirit changes the mood all over again. A little girl collects food and clothing from her school, a woman brings in a check every month because she just feels “it’s the right thing to do”. Mitchell says she’s amazed and grateful every day for everyone who contributes to making Twin Oaks a special pathway out of poverty for hundreds of people.