First Stop Focuses on ‘Micro-Enterprises’ to Build Job Skills

This new year is bringing some changes at Huntsville’s First Stop, which has long provided essential services to homeless people in the city, and around Madison County. Executive Director Clete Wetli told our Shane Scott his organization is refocusing its efforts on work skills and job creation, while handing off some tasks it’s long handled for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Wetli wants ventures at First Stop’s Stokes Street facility, which he calls ‘micro-enterprises,’ to provide opportunities for clients to work – while making them better prepared for full employment elsewhere. Another change already benefitting First Stop is the new design of its website, provided by artist Elizabeth Dawson.

First Stop

The extended version of Wetli’s discussion with WLRH host Shane Scott can be streamed or downloaded here.


A Letter from the Executive Director

Dear First Stop Friends and Family,

As we diligently continue in our mission to empower the homeless by helping them transition from the street to stable and independent living, I thought this we would be a great time to update you on the many things that are happening at First Stop.

On April 27th, First Stop hosted a Ribbon Cutting with Mayor Tommy Battle, the Huntsville/ Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Huntsville and many more to launch First Stop’s Green House Project. At this time, we are already harvesting okra, tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, cucumbers, and more. Our sunflowers have bloomed, too. All this work was done by First Stop clients to feed our homeless and to eventually put this produce out at local farmer’s markets to help First Stop become self-sufficient. Soon, we’ll be working with our local extension office to learn how to can and preserve the produce we grow.


On June 21st, First Stop officially launched its “Pallet-able Alternatives” furniture building project by receiving its first monetary donation in exchange for a rocking chair made out of up-cycled cable spools and pallets. Not only are First Stop clients learning valuable trade skills, but they are taking pride in their work and craftsmanship. In the near future, we plan to turn this into real, paying jobs for our clients who have substantial barriers to securing employment in the mainstream workforce. Organizations like Phoenix have shown how valuable supported employment is in our community and First Stop intends to create good paying jobs for the homeless.

Currently, these furniture items are available in exchange for monetary donations and can be delivered anywhere in Madison County and custom built to meet your needs… see our website for more details.


Over the last three weeks, First Stop has secured housing for 14 veterans thanks to the efforts of case manager and veteran, Molly Burke! First Stop has also housed over 20 individuals through HUD’s Supportive Housing Program and over 20 through Huntsville Housing Authority’s voucher program thanks to case managers, Laura Bates and Kieara Williams. Our supervising case manager, Angela Johnson, has done an outstanding job helping folks on our waiting list and securing housing for homeless clients who are mentally challenged or who are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. We currently have over 140 clients under case management and over 350 on our waiting list. Our outreach teams have seen significant increases in the homeless populations in the various camps they serve throughout the city. Our day facility is serving between 30-70 homeless clients every day for breakfast and lunch.

As First Stop continues to meet this growing need in our community, it’s more important than ever that we raise money so that we can continue to help people transition to self-sufficiency. In order to do this, First Stop has a new T-Shirt campaign that will not only help raise money for client services, but will also help raise awareness about our growing homeless population.


First Stop is also excited to announce its big Summer Event: “First Stop Under the Big Top”. This family friendly event will feature live music and dancing on August 22nd at John Hunt Park. Booths are available to our partner organization and it promises to be a great day for people to show their support for the homeless and lots of fun for the whole family. We can’t wait to see you there!


So, you can see we’ve been pretty busy over on Stokes Street and passionate about our mission to change lives for the better. We take the philosophy of “teaching them how to fish” seriously and have begun to show our clients the meaning of empowerment.

Please feel free to come by and visit our facility at 206 Stokes Street and see how First Stop has changed.

Right now, you can make a difference and you can change a life by making a recurring monthly donation to First Stop. Your donation is tax-deductible and makes a tangible, positive difference in the lives of our homeless citizens. We truly believe in giving people a hand-up rather than just a hand-out and your contribution can help us in this unique and vital mission.

Please donate today. We count on your support.

Thank you for your donations and help. I’m rolling up sleeves and getting back to putting our homeless to work and helping them transition to self-sufficiency. Come visit and see how your donation is making a difference.


Clete Wetli

Executive Director

First Stop, Inc.

Publix joins First Stop as a Community Partner to Complete The Greenhouse Project

We are so excited to announce that Publix has joined First Stop as a community partner to complete The Greenhouse Project! Publix Super Markets associates are celebrating the company’s 85th anniversary this year by giving back to the communities in which they live and work.

Publix founder George Jenkins was a giving person and believed in supporting the community. “Giving back is a part of the Publix culture and mission statement of being involved as responsible citizens in our communities, “said Brenda Reid, Media and Community Relations Manager for Publix’s Atlanta Division.

First Stop Executive Director Clete Wetli said, “The Greenhouse Project is a wonderful way to help empower the homeless in our community by helping them develop marketable skills and to learn new ways to achieve self-sufficiency. We are grateful to have Publix as an involved and committed Community Partner. We especially thank Publix Bailey Cove Store Manager Bill Waring for his hard work in making this partnership possible and for his incomparable skill with post-hole diggers!”

We are so excited to see the progress of the Greenhouse and to work with Publix toward the goal of ‪#‎empoweringthehomeless‬ ‪#‎youcanchangealife‬‪#‎firststop‬ ‪#‎publix‬

Say it with Dinner

Say it with Dinner.

Have a Heart, Do Your Part Dinner and Dance on February 7, 2015. 6 until 10:30 pm. With Guest Speaker Brandon Gibson from the Crimson Tide and Live Music Provided by the Emily Joseph Band.

valentines day dinner (4)

Get Your Groove On at “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Dance on February 7, 2015

Come watch Clete Wetli get his groove on at the “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Dance on February 7, 2015 at 6 pm at the Marriott. This could be actual footage of him dancing!!! You won’t want to miss this!!


Hurry and order soon. Our Butt for the Bowl event ends TOMORROW at midnight. Score a touchdown at your superbowl party and order a Butt for the Bowl before it is too late!!