Helping to Build a Secure and Stable Future

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Guest House of Milwaukee
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The mission of the Guest House is to provide shelter, housing, education, and services for Milwaukee's homeless who seek to transform their lives with dignity and purpose. The Guest House’s primary goal is that every homeless person served obtains and maintains independence, meaning permanent housing, self-sustaining income, sobriety, and stable mental health.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Since 1982, the Guest House of Milwaukee, Inc. has been creating solutions to homelessness in Milwaukee. What began as an emergency response to homelessness has grown into a multifaceted effort to help people recover from the trauma of homelessness and regain independence. Over the past four years, the agency has nearly tripled its budget growing from $800,000 to nearly $3.2 million. This growth has advanced the level of sophistication in programming that has led to client outcomes that meet or exceed national benchmarks. Having established a reputation of high quality service and sound management, the Guest House is now considered by many to be one of Milwaukee’s leading homeless service providers.

The Guest House has particular interest and expertise in assisting the hardest-to-serve homeless—those who are mentally ill, disabled, substance abusers, recently released from the criminal justice system, and/or chronically homeless. The Guest House serves men in our emergency shelter and transitional housing programs and men, women, and families in our permanent supportive housing programs. The Guest House offers the following core programs:

  • L.E.A.D.S. program (86 beds of emergency shelter and transitional housing,up from 76 just a year ago
  • Permanent supportive housing for homeless men and families with disabilities (170 units increased from 20 units in 2006)
  • On-site substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling
  • Job readiness including the award winning Resident Manager Training Program

Stable and Secure Technology – The use of Microsoft technologies has enabled The Guest House to effectively increase its operational efficiencies. The large growth that our agency has experienced in the last four years has demanded more from the use of Microsoft technologies.

Prior to our expansion The Guest House computer systems were archaic; systems and programs were underutilized. The agency had an ineffective system to track client and donor data, utilized outside sources to market events and publish newsletters, and there was no connected e-mail system. The organization realized it needed to build a better technological infrastructure. The Guest House needed to create stable and secure technology in order to meet its growing demand. Microsoft technologies helped increase the impact of the quality and service to our clients and our donors.

Through the use of Publisher, The Guest House now does its own annual report, marketing brochures and promotional postcards instead of outsourcing to a marketing provider. Publisher has helped The Guest House get event information out quicker, increasing attendance at events. Publisher has also expedited the process of getting our annual report to our donors faster. There is no middle man for the agency to have to wait on. Microsoft Publisher has helped the agency save money because marketing materials are now done in house decreasing both the cost of labor and materials. The savings have been applied where it is most needed – services for our clients.

Microsoft Access has helped The Guest House establish an effectual client database. The program allowsThe Guest House to track the progress and success of the homeless men we serve. The progress is tracked step by step so staff can better assess the needs of each man and provide him with appropriate care. The data also helps in showing space availability on any given day or week. The creation of this database has made it easier for the agency to report its outcomes to donors and funders, which in turn has helped to increase donations to the organization.

The Guest House uses Microsoft Excel to track the agency’s budget. The programs’ user friendly features simplifies tracking monthly income and expenses. This has enhanced the agency’s financial reporting ability on both a monthly and an annual basis. The agency can also do year to year budget comparisons, helping the organization to better plan for needed operational and capital improvements.

Prior to Microsoft Outlook, The Guest House e-mail system was ineffectual. It was a mix of systems that did not effectively or efficiently connect the organization internally or externally. Once it was determined that one system was needed, The Guest House chose Outlook. Now the agency is able to send and receive e-mails faster, use the calendar to help keep track of daily meetings and events and create contact lists. The agency uses Outlook to send out e-mail announcements to donors and other partners when we are in need of certain items for the shelter. This has helped increase in-kind donations to the agency in a shorter period of time. Outlook has really changed the way the agency communicates.

Many of the Microsoft programs have been vital in enabling The Guest House to begin a new employment program at our center. Clients works with our Employment Specialist to find work. Microsoft Word helps our homeless men create resumes, write cover letters and develop thank you letters. Microsoft Excel helps our employment specialist track the progress of our clients in obtaining and retaining employment. The Employment Specialist also uses PowerPoint to create learning modules that teach our clients about how to prepare for an interview, proper interviewing techniques and dressing for success. As the program grows The Guest House expects an increased use of these Microsoft programs.

Through the use of Microsoft, The Guest House has been able to enhance the impact on our programs and donations. Although Microsoft has helped the organization build a foundation for secure and stable technology, The Guest House is not done. In the next year the organization plans to network all of its computers to further stabilize our technology infrastructure and create a computer lab for clients to assist them in finding sustainable employment. In addition, The Guest House hopes to have a staff member become Microsoft certified. Into the future the technology plan will be updated to ensure maintenance, software and equipment replacement will be done in a timely manner allowing for continued technological growth at The Guest House.

In the last four years thanks to Microsoft’s diverse programs and platforms, the Guest House has come a long way in building its current technology infrastructure. As the agency moves forward in its growth, The Guest House looks to Microsoft and its innovative technological advances to continue helping create a successful infrastructure that will better serve homeless individuals and families in Milwaukee.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
Supporting Work Files
Supporting Work URL