Organization based in Wausau makes sure young people have a place to stay
Cold weather 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.
That is where KATS, or Keep Area Teens Safe, comes in, which is located at Elm Street and Hillcrest Avenue in Wausau.
Its services began out of needing to bridge a gap in providing essential help to people who need it.
"It was definitely a passion I had; how do we prevent youth 12 to 17 from becoming a statistic," said Kathleen Buckli, the director of KATS.
The organization can take up to 18 youth at one time, offering them a bed to sleep in and home-cooked food on their plate until a long-term solution presents itself. Due to privacy reasons, officials could not share how many youths the organization actively serves.
"We see every child in need as a child. We don't see county, we don't see city, we see them as a child in need," Buckli said.
News 9 spoke with a current resident, who, due to privacy reasons, will be left unnamed, and says being referred by their social worker has been a huge benefit, since they weren't sure where they'd be otherwise.
"The people here are pretty much like family, you could say," that person said.
KATS also goes beyond offering the basics in its programming, aiming to build character and behavior traits that can help the teens long-term.
For that resident, they were appreciative of how much structure is offered.
"Probably the rules, especially [that] you get a certain amount of phone time. Because with me, I like staying 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 of being on my phone 24/7," they said.
KATS often relies on community help and private funding to keep its services going, and they hope they can be around to make more lives better.
"Our referrals come from all different sources, so it doesn't take much. It takes a phone call, that's it, or a knock at the door," Buckli said.
They have staff on site 24 hours per day and can take referrals at any time.
More information on the organization can be found here.