WASECA — The first bike run for the Bethlehem Inn of Waseca raised more than $600.

This money will be put into the general fund for the transitional housing for women and children.

“It (the bike run) was really good from our perspective and then to get over $600, that’s a sizable donation,” Bethlehem Inn Board Chair Rodger Ashland said. “It enables us to keep doing what we want to do…”

The house, located in the former convent of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, is run 100 percent off donations and the cost each month to run it is a little more than $8,000, with about 80% of the cost being for employees. Those who live there are able to stay for about three months with some exceptions.

Bethlehem Inn of Waseca is a faith-based 501©3 nonprofit organization that relies on support from private donations and grants. The facility has a mission to help women and children.

“It just gives them a safe place so they can focus on what they can do,” Ashland said. “Otherwise they’re going to spend all of their time worried about where they’re going to sleep the next night, and it’s really giving them a safe space.”

Along with providing a safe environment for women and children, Bethlehem Inn is also a resource to help them get back on their feet.

Waseca resident Stacia Schnoor wanted to give back to those in need because she has been doing charity work all her life and chose to help the Bethlehem Inn.

“I had read the original story in the paper and that they didn’t get to almost open because of a lack of funding,” Schnoor said as to why she planned the bike run benefit.

On Sunday, Aug. 18, the bike run started at Bullheads Bar and Grill in Waterville and headed out of town with a Waterville Police escort until the turn off for the first stop in Elysian at the Thirsty Beaver.

For the second stop the run headed to Waseca for a tour of the Bethlehem Inn.

“The tour was helpful to show people what is going on and what kind of help they needed,” Schnoor said.

Most of the board was present at the time of the tour, which gave the attendees a better idea of what is going on at the transitional housing. There are currently four women and 11 children living in the 16 person capacity building.

“I think anybody that goes through the facility is good because it’s really a nice facility and it was in nice shape when we got it and we just did a few things to make it look nicer, painting and stuff like that,” Ashland said. “But I think anytime you can see what it’s like where people are and what it is, is a good thing, so that was all good.”

Schnoor is working on getting another refrigerator and freezer for the facility. She wants to make sure that everyone living there has room for their food items that they get. She is also getting a couple of twin mattresses and box springs for the residents of the Bethlehem Inn.

She hopes to do this run again next year to raise more funds.

Since this was the first run for the Bethlehem Inn and the first one she has ever organized herself, she kept it simple.

In the future she would like to add a couple of more stops to make it longer. Something else she would change is when to start advertising for it. She plans to start flyers and other advertising sooner to spread the word more.

“My goal next year is to double it (the donation raised),” Schnoor said.

Schnoor talked about the planning of the bike run, saying that people and businesses just wanted to help.

“I saw a need and I wanted to do something that would help bring light to it,” Schnoor said. “I mean there’s amazing rides for so many different things...but I have yet to see a ride for something like this. I’m hoping with that being said, I’m hoping that it’ll help it stand out and draw people in…”

During the bike run there was a raffle with donated prize baskets, along with 25% of the raffle money being raffled off. Schnoor said the woman who won the 25% donated the money back to the Bethlehem Inn.

“I had great support,” Schnoor said of having help to plan the event. “I had great people in my corner.”

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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