Focus on First Witness: Cultural and Spiritual center planned for new location

Part 6 Focus on First Witness: New home will include a Cultural and Spiritual Center

In our final piece about First Witness, we look at their new home and how it will include a Cultural and Spiritual Center.

First Witness is really excited to move into their new home at 1402 E 2nd Street.

Renovations continue, and they hope to be utilizing the new space by the end of the year.

It’s 10,000 square feet, and more than double what they have now.

In addition to the rooms for forensic interviews, advocacy, mental health, and medical exams, there will be a Cultural and Spiritual Center.

They’ve never had one before, and are thrilled to be offering this additional opportunity for healing.

It’s still a work in progress. Tyra Jaramillo-Kraemer, Program Director, shared they are working with Indigenous communities, in particular the Fond du Lac tribe, about what should be included. “We’ve talked about the need for a designated smudging center,” she said.

There will be other materials, including books and resources, to help connect people with leaders in their cultural communities.

The board members who support First Witness are thrilled to see this happening.

“There are many traditions out there. And we have to find a way to serve those different beliefs that people carry into the doors,” Kelly Haffield told us. She’s the incoming board chair.

Haffield used to be a sex trafficking investigator for the Fond du Lac Police Department. That’s how she got to know the First Witness folks.

“What I appreciate about First Witness, is that they are always looking to get better and to better serve the community,” she added. “These can be life altering events. But we don’t want them to be life stopping events.”

Their staff embody cultural humility, which means understanding there’s not an endpoint to being culturally competent. They are ready to serve anyone, and are always learning.

“If a situation comes up where they do need to interview someone who is a vulnerable adult or from a culture that’s different from their own, it’s not something that we are scrambling to figure out how to do,” Jaramillo-Kraemer explained.

It might mean taking out distractions from a room, or adding weighted blankets.

Anything to help children as they start their journey of healing.

“When kids get the messages that they need, when parents and teachers get the messages they need in order to prevent child abuse, we can continue to break that curve. And continue to not only respond to these cases, but to prevent them,” Tracie Clanaugh said. She’s the Executive Director.

“The community has been so generous to our capital campaign. It’s really inspiring,” she added.

Thank you to Kendra, our actor, who helped us share these stories with the Northland.

To donate to their Restoring Hope Capital Campaign: