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Wisconsin man provides partitions for privacy at shelter

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former middle school teacher of the year in Wisconsin has come to the aid of a homeless shelter for women where privacy was an issue.

The now-retired Ray Blum says he was pained to learn that the dozens of single women who sleep each night at The Salvation Army shelter have no privacy, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Blum and some of his friends came up with a solution of movable partitions with fabric privacy screens. Blum said the partitions seemed like something he could make because he had built things out of PVC piping before and he sews a lot.

“Yet I knew it would be a massive project,” Blum said. “Fortunately, I have a lot of caring and talented friends.”

The shelter now has 60 of them that women staying at the shelter can place next to their beds. Blum and his friends Tom Rutlin, Steve Schumacher, John Kalson and others cut and assembled 600 segments of plastic pipe that makes up the frames of the partitions.

The Hat Ladies, a local group started by Nancy Daly that sews thousands of free hats each year for schoolchildren, hemmed the screens and sewed on the cords that attach the fabric to the frames. Blum and Paul Fieber sew with the group, calling themselves Hat Gentlemen.

Shelter manager Melissa Sorensen says that while The Salvation Army routinely benefits from people’s generosity, the scope of Blum’s help is unusual. Sorensen says it’s not often that someone comes up with an idea and then does everything to bring that idea to fruition.

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