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New 6:8 facility in Prairie du Sac taking shape

posted Oct 3, 2017, 5:56 PM by John Ramthun   [ updated Oct 3, 2017, 5:58 PM ]
The walls are up and the vision John and Sarah Ramthun had for a new facility for their growing organization is finally taking shape.

The new, 8,600 square-foot facility will serve as headquarters for 6:8 and the Sauk Prairie Area Food Pantry and features a main entrance/reception area, childcare room, teaching kitchen, dining room, classroom, office space, meeting rooms and an outdoor garden and orchard.

The 6:8 organization was founded about seven years ago, said John Ramthun, 6:8 co-founder. The group helps spread an awareness of poverty and the challenges of those dealing with poverty with education, service and conversation. It helps coordinate, sponsor or is directly involved in community events such as Fire on the River, Sauk Prairie Against Hunger, Silver Cord and mission trips.

The new 6:8 facility sits on a 1.5 acre-lot at 821 Industry Dr., in the Sauk City Industry Park. Currently 6:8 operates out of the Ramthuns’ Prairie du Sac home, while the food pantry is located by St. Vincent de Paul in Prairie du Sac.

The space set aside for the food pantry in the new facility will more than double its current space, said Carol Gagnon, Sauk Prairie Area Food Pantry Director. Currently the food pantry occupies about 800 square feet and the new building will provide 2,000 square feet for it, increasing its capacity to serve more families. Another key factor is people using the food pantry will no longer have to wait outside in the elements before opening on distribution days, Gagnon said.

John Ramthun said 6:8 is currently at $679,340 in or pledged funding, which is 85 percent of its $797,900 goal. This leaves the group with the remaining $118,560 to raise to complete the project.

Along with individual donations of money or in-kind items, local businesses have also stepped up to help with 6:8’s capital campaign. Ramthun said Sauk Prairie Healthcare is just one of many local donors helping to make 6:8’s new facility a success: To date Sauk Prairie Healthcare has donated the equivalent of $25,000 worth of items in repurpose value necessary to furnish the building.

“We’ve received a ton of cabinets, sinks, counter tops, desks, chairs, appliances and a walk-in refrigerator/freezer,” John Ramthun said. “We’ve even received dishes and hand dispensers of soap for our walls.”

Ramthun said in addition to the donations, Sauk Prairie Healthcare has generously agreed to store those items for 6:8 while volunteers slowly disassemble the unused items from the old hospital.

“They gave us the gift of storage which means we didn’t have to rent another place to store everything as we have been taking things apart over the last few months,” John Ramthun said. “And it has saved us from having to scrounge around for these items or do without.”

The hospital did initially sell some of its excess items, first to employees and then the community. The majority of the items the Ramthun’s have salvaged are from the old surgery department, offices and exam rooms.

“We even got a 10-burner gas stove, a hot water heater and an industrial dish washer,” Sarah Ramthun said. “6:8 is also very motivated to repurpose things.”

Ken Carlson, vice president of planning and business development for Sauk Prairie Healthcare, said it was important for the hospital to be able to give back to the community.

“Certainly we didn’t want to see any assets that could be used in the community thrown away,” Carlson said. “We think it is important to help support meaningful non-profits in the community.”

John Ramthun said getting the building to an operational state has been a little slow going, a lot depending on volunteer’s time and having the funding to pay contractors.

“We’re working on getting it done as soon as possible,” John Ramthun said.

Sarah Ramthun said 6:8 will hopefully have their grand opening in the spring of 2018.

“It’s really been awesome for us when we first finished framing the walls and finally being able to see what it will look like when it’s done,” John Ramthun said.

Sarah Ramthun said she’s been amazed at the community’s generosity and passion to help them. “I feel honored to be a part of that,” she said.

“Sauk Prairie is not a community that settles for status quo,” John Ramthun said. “When something is wrong, they want to fix it. When something is needed they want to work to improve it.”