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Mission Statement

United to prevent and end youth homelessness in Wisconsin.

Vision Statement

Fair and equitable communities that provide safe spaces and opportunities for all Wisconsin youth.

Organizational Values

  • Collaboration - We bring people together to work towards a common goal, to end youth homelessness in Wisconsin.
  • Advocacy - We use our collective voice to influence decision-makers to create policies and allocate resources to achieve our vision.
  • Inclusion - We embrace diversity throughout our organization and the populations we serve.
  • Social Justice - We seek solutions for youth where community systems have failed.

For more information, please contact Joli Guenther at: joli@wahrs.org.

Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services

Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services

Why we're here ...

Each year over 26,000 Wisconsin Families are confronted with a profound crisis — the running away of their child. Young people run away from home for a variety of reasons. In most instances, they leave because of a family conflict, typically by lack of communication. Other times, they are forced out of their homes by parents or leave to escape sexual or physical abuse. Returning a youth to this environment without an attempt at resolution can result in more runaway episodes, continuing family conflict, or even more tragic consequences.

The Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services, formed in 1979, is a coalition of community based, voluntary, non-profit agencies. The Association's members provide preventive and crisis counseling, temporary shelter, and referral services to these troubled youth. Family counseling is also provided to bring about reconciliation with parents whenever possible. Program services are available on a walk-in basis, as well as through 24 hour crisis hotlines.

The programs present young people with an opportunity to sort out problems and begin building more productive relationships with parents, friends, school, and community.

The Goals of Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services are:

  1. To identify, inform, and bring together a broad based constituency interested in improving and supporting services to runaway and homeless youth.

  2. To monitor and advocate for legislation and regulations that will improve services to runaway and homeless youth.

  3. To provide mutual support, technical assistance, and information among runaway services and homes for pregnant and parenting teens.

  4. To secure adequate funding to maintain runaway services and homes for pregnant and parenting teens.


Executive Director

Joli Guenther


Joli Guenther was hired on as Executive Director in 2020, previous Assistant Director, worked on the proposed street outreach programs since their development in 1999 providing staff development, training and oversight of direct service and street outreach. Joli is a member of the RHYTTAC Advisory Board, National Safe Place Advisory Board and National Network for Youth Policy Council. For the past 20 years she also develops and facilitates conferences and training events and assists in the development and improvement of programming in street outreach, basic center, and TLP programs across Wisconsin.

Assistant Director & AmeriCorps Program Director

Shana Dumbleton


Shana Dumbleton is new to the WAHRS staff as of 2020. She worked in Education for the past 20 years with the majority of that time being a School Counselor at a high school in Madison, Wisconsin.

AmeriCorps Program Director

Tim Bohrer


Tim has been a member of the WAHRS staff since 2019. Previously he served as director of the Runaway and Homeless Youth program in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Board of Directors, 2023 - 2024

Executive Committee

Tammy DeGarmo: President - July 2025
Project 16:49, Janesville/Beloit

Tim Baack: Vice President - July 2024
Pathfinders, Milwaukee

Emily Greene: Secretary - July 2024
Youth and Family Project, West Bend

Audra O'Connel: At Large - July 2025
Walkers Point, Milwaukee

Shannon Wienandt: Treasurer - July 2024
House of Hope, Green Bay

Person of Color Seat - July 2024

Shebria Small - 2 years
SafeHaven, Racine

Jackie Baumgart - July 2025
Foundations for Health and Wholeness

Person of Color Seat – July 2023

Veronica Judon – July 2025
Kenosha Human Development Services

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender Seat - July 2024

DeShanda Williams Clark
Pathfinders, Milwaukee - 2 years

Youth Seat (18-21)

Tristan Callaghan - July 2024

Tanya Nelson – July 2024
HDC, Superior

Katie Vangroll – July 2024
Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley, Menasha

Jennifer Stroup – July 2024
Family Crisis Center, Stevens Point

Youth Seat (under 18)

Mary Katherine Polasky - July 2025

Tonya Lyons - July 2025
Walker's Point

WAHRS • Joli Guenther • joli@wahrs.org • 608-239-5430

Mail to:   PO BOX 317 / Portage, WI 53901

WAHRS • Joli Guenther

Mail to:   WAHRS / PO BOX 317 / Portage, WI 53901