Hope grows

NUMAS Haus to expand shelter offering

Nicole Schmiesing, NUMAS executive director, stands in the santuary of the former First United Methodist Church. NUMAS Haus recently purchased the 100 year old building and is working on a plan to renovate the space. The current plan for the sanctuary space is to create auditorium/gymnasium space for NUMAS Haus residents.

NEW ULM – Through the generosity of the community and a partnership with the First United Methodist Church, New Ulm Ministerial Association (NUMAS) Haus will soon be able to expand its mission to provide shelter to homeless families.

On Jan. 31, NUMAS Haus acquired the former First United Methodist building, located at the corner of Broadway and Center Street. The non-profit already operated a shelter next door to First United Methodist and had offices inside the church building. With the purchase of the entire building, NUMAS is able to expand its footprint and create additional housing for families in need.

“We are grateful for the support of the First United Methodist Church and their commitment to our mission,” said NUMAS Haus executive director Nicole Schmiesing. “It is with a heavy heart they will no longer be in the building, but the support of their congregation is inspiring. We are honored to carry out mission work from this building. With an ever-growing wait list for Brown County residents, the board knew expansion was needed.”

NUMAS Haus began in 2013 at a meeting of the New Ulm Ministerial Association. Area pastors realized there were no shelters in the Brown County area. At that time, there were over 40 children in the school districts without a permanent address. In collaboration with several New Ulm churches, a home offered by First United Methodist Church. Through the work of many community champions, NUMAS Haus was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit and opened its doors in 2016. The first family moved in within 48 hours.

NUMAS Haus provides shelter and support services to homeless women and children in the Brown County area. The shelter is a home with a welcoming environment that can host up to three families at a time. During their stay, residents participate in a 90-day program, which connects families to education, resources, employment, mental health services, and housing within the community.

As of February 2024, NUMAS Haus has served 88 women and 92 children. However, the need for this shelter continues to grow. With only enough space available to take in three families at a time, many families in need were forced to go on a waiting list.

“This new space will allow for an efficient way to save on long-term administrative costs while still offering expansion to serve more families in this area,” said NUMAS board member John Gag. “Capacity is a big issue for us right now because we constantly have a wait list and until we always have one room open, we are not the size that we should be.”

NUMAS Haus is currently working on a renovation plan for the former church building with the hope of maximizing space. When complete, the NUMAS building will expand shelter space from three families, up to nine families.

Schmiesing believed it was possible to create space for three to five families in the former church. In addition, office space in the original NUMAS Haus building could be moved into the former church freeing up room for another family.

Renovations of the former church will come in three phases. Schmiesing said the first phase is dedicated to making the main floor functional. NUMAS office space is being relocated throughout the main floor. The former church library is being converted into a kid’s activity room. Other space on the main floor will likely be used for educational programming.

The second phase of the renovation will bring in additional housing units. These new units will be located on the second floor.

Schmiesing said plans for the second floor could change based on the design. The basic plan is to create a new kitchen space on the second floor and create between three and five living units. The former Sunday school rooms would be converted into bedrooms. The bedroom spaces could be adjusted based on the size of the families occupying the space.

The second phase of renovations will not begin until NUMAS Haus has the necessary funds to cover the cost. A capital campaign project is in the pre-planning stage.

The third phase of renovations will focus on the former sanctuary space and the lower level of the building. The long-term goal for the sanctuary is to create an auditorium or gym space for activities. The idea is to have an area for families to play, but also bring in the community.

The basement level already contains a kitchen and theater space. This could be used for additional classroom or community space.

Schmiesing said there is also a studio apartment on the basement level for transitional housing. The units could be rented by NUMAS Haus residents who completed the three-month program but still needed additional help in finding permanent housing.

Schmiesing said throughout the renovation process, a top goal was to maintain the historical value of the former church. The First United Methodist Church building is 100 years old as of this year.

Schmiesing said the building was a “staple to the community” and it was important to preserve its character.

There is no plan to change the exterior of the building. The building’s interior will be maintained as much as possible. Most of the woodwork and windows will be kept in their original condition.

The continued expansion of NUMAS Haus is only possible through community support. Schmiesing estimated that 85% of NUMAS Haus funding comes from Brown County individuals and businesses. The other 15% comes from grants.

Schmiesing said the shelter continues to exist because the Brown County community sees its value.

“We’re here because of the community support,” she said.


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