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our vision
All people will have access to safe and comfortable environs and to tender, expert caregiving as they are dying.

our mission
Our mission is to provide a place of compassionate, safe, comfortable presence and caregiving to our community's most vulnerable people as they prepare for the end of their lives.

our guiding principles and values

our story
The idea for Solace began when Dr. Ann Catlett, while working at a Madison hospital, became aware that some patients–even those diagnosed with a terminal illness–might be discharged to the streets if they had no home.

solace friends, inc.

At around the same time, Ann spent a week volunteering in Washington DC, at Joseph's House, where people experiencing homelessness were cared for in their last weeks of life. The exquisite kindness, attentive care, and true community feel in that home inspired Ann to ask: Does Dane County need a facility like this?

Looking for answers

When Ann returned from Joseph's House, she took her question to local homeless service providers, hospital social workers, and others she thought could provide an answer. After countless coffee meetings, it became apparent that further exploration was warranted and that others in the community wanted to help.

It didn't take long before a small group of dedicated volunteers assembled into a working committee that is now known as Solace Friends, Inc., or simply, Solace. Together, they increased their networking and conducted research to confirm that disparities in end-of-life care truly exist in Dane County.

One of the group's first initiatives was to survey member agencies of the Homeless Services Consortium. The survey, though informal, helped to reveal existing barriers to care, and indicated that of our target population, at least 15-20 people per year may need shelter and care as they are dying. All those surveyed expressed support for the creation of a hospice house dedicated to care for underserved residents in our community. In response, Solace decided to move ahead with the project.

Gathering steam

One of the next steps was for Solace to join The Omega Home Network, a national membership organization of existing and developing community supported social model hospice homes. Omega has proven to be a valuable source of information and motivation, providing access to numerous others in the country (many of which are much farther along in the process) who are working on similar initiatives. Of the 30-some social model hospice homes in this country, approximately six are specifically designed to welcome those experiencing homelessness.

On a parallel track, other "health care for the homeless" initiatives were started in Madison. Ann became co-founder of Madison Area Care for the Homeless OneHealth (MACH OneHealth) which provides direct services to people living on the street. For two years she served as Medical Director of The Madison Street Medicine Initiative, a Baldwin Foundation-supported project which grew out of Ann's associations with MACH OneHealth and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Several Solace members have volunteered for MACH OneHealth's regularly held foot-care clinics.

Taking the leap

Solace became incorporated in 2018; our working group became a board of directors. Solace Friends, Inc., more simply known as Solace, is now a 501c3 corporation.

Solace has been able to work toward our mission thanks to the passionate momentum of our volunteer board of directors, and through some private and memorial donations. We are also grateful for a few small grants and personal donations that have helped cover expenses incurred during our initial planning stage. The greatest boon to our work, however, is the sustained encouragement by local organizations such as Porchlight Inc., Madison-Area Urban Ministry, MACH OneHealth, and many others who share our vision for delivering equitable care and services to this vulnerable population.

Moving forward

Today, Solace is in the process of negotiating the acquisition of a property ideally suited for our program. Although we aren't yet ready to divulge specifics, we are cautiously optimistic that we have found the place and the partners that will allow our vision to materialize in a way that best serves those needing care, as well as, the entire Dane County community. More details about this agreement will be posted soon.

Accordingly, we are now ready to receive financial contributions with a goal to raise a start-up base $250,000 in cash assets by the end of 2020; these are funds that will be needed to open our doors. We hope you will help. The earlier we meet that goal, the sooner we can serve those in need. To learn more and donate, please click here.

our team

The Solace Board of Directors is currently comprised of nine dedicated volunteers—physicians, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, business professionals, and community activists—most of whom were members of the original planning committee. We are actively seeking additional board members and are especially interested in expanding the diversity of our board, and welcome people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and life stories. Our current board includes the following:

Our Board of Directors

Lynn Breedlove

Lynn Breedlove (fund-raising committee co-chair) was executive director of Disability Rights Wisconsin from 1980 to 2011. He is co-chair of the Wisconsin Long-Term Care Coalition, and chair of the Wisconsin Council of Churches Stewardship of Public Life Commission.

Ann Catlett

Ann Catlett, M.D., (board president) a physician specializing in palliative medicine, is the founder of Solace and the cofounder of the street medicine initiative Madison Area Care for the Homeless (MACH) OneHealth. She is on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Charlestine “Charlie” Daniel

Charlestine “Charlie” Daniel has been an award-winning advocate and ally to underrepresented groups for more than 35 years. She is past Education Director for Minority Students and Displaced Homemakers through the WI Technical College System, and past President of Access Community Health Centers. She is currently Director and Founder of the African American Opioid Coalition and Program Coordinator for Falls Prevention at Safe Communities Dane County, and remains active in many national, regional, and local service organizations.

Joan Karan

Joan Karan (fund-raising committee co-chair) has extensive experience working in Dane County nonprofits, including having served for 31 years as the associate director of Disability Rights Wisconsin, a statewide advocacy organization.

David Kinyon

David Kinyon has extensive experience in housing locally with builders and nonprofits; statewide with Focus on Energy and residential energy program conception, development, and implementation; and internationally with the United Methodist Church in west and central Africa.

Eric Knudson

Eric Knudson (board treasurer) has four years of banking experience and is currently employed at Park Bank. A UW-La Crosse graduate in Finance and Economics, he is also a community volunteer focusing on homeless outreach programs and at Meriter hospital.

Julie Huiras Mascitti is a longtime Madisonian who works at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Madison. Julie has volunteered with the Dane County Humane Society and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Meagan Minster

Meagan Minster, MSW, CAPSW, (board secretary) is a medical social worker at Meriter Hospital with several years of experience in hospice care. She also has worked and volunteered in the fields of disability services, violence prevention, and diversity and inclusion.

Andrew O’Donnell, DNP

Andrew O’Donnell, DNP, has more than a decade of nursing experience in a variety of key positions and is currently co-manager of the Trauma and Life Support Center at UW Health ICU. His professional passions lie in creating innovate models of care to better support patients and families facing serious chronic illness through better integration of palliative care and hospice services.

Karen Reppen

Karen Reppen (board vice president) is a former hospice communications professional who currently serves as a hospice volunteer, grief support specialist, and death awareness educator. She is also a board member of the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, and The Farley Center for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability.

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contact us

Solace Friends, Inc.
P.O. Box 3097
Madison, WI 53704

info@solacefriends.org
(608) 571-2717