Our History

The following are annual highlights of our work at MBHS


Our completed Phase One Welcome Center has been up and running since April of 2022. Phase 2 of 1st floor (community gathering/program space, Offices, Counseling space and the Martha Watts Dining Room) is nearing completion. Our sprinkler system is almost complete. Installation of our new elevator has begun. We are advancing toward our goal of completing the kitchen and beginning to install the aquaponics system on third floor, plus a museum of urban agriculture and classroom, in 2024. More developments to come.


We added laundry facilities to the Welcome Center.

Walls were hung on three sides of the outdoor sheltering tent to provide guests with more protection from the elements.

Groundwork Milwaukee completed our pavilion which will serve as a community-building site.

Water tanks for collecting rain water were added to the Community Garden.

The Welcome Center opened!

Hot meals resumed at Hephatha Lutheran Church in April 2022.


The number of guests continued to grow as the pandemic continued. We added part-time staff members and recruited additional volunteers to meet the needs of the community. 

We broke ground and began construction of the pavilion in our Community Garden site.

We formalized a partnership with Tricklebee Cafe, Wisconsin's first "Pay-what-you-can" community cafe.

We installed a sheltering canopy tent to protect guests from the weather as they waited outdoors.

Construction continued on the Welcome Center, with the completion of the sidewalk and entry, installation of electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems, construction of two handicap-accessible bathrooms and showers, and installation of a dome that lights up to depict the configuration of the Little Dipper constellation which includes the North Star. Greg Schumacher, COO at Cityscape Architecture in Brookfield and one of the architects working on the renovations of our building designed and built the reception desk that was installed in our Welcome Center. He was assisted by Ryan Schaufnagel, a sophomore at Germantown High School. 

TMJ4's Positively Milwaukee names Sister MacCanon Senior of the Year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KVri0WEp1Y and Person of the Year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tckjwl4mHhI


When the pandemic hit, we were required to close down our ministry at Hephatha Lutheran Church, but we continued our Doorway Ministry at 2461 W. Center. The number of guests we serve grew significantly as other services were forced to close their doors.

Sister MacCanon Brown was named "Best Community Advocate" Award from MKE Lifestyle Magazine.

Construction continued on our Welcome Center.


The Board of Zoning gave approval September 12. for Phase One construction to begin at MBHS. 

The first phase of development is the Welcome Center, a daytime sanctuary and help center that will provide a violence-free space with linkages to other services, especially for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Welcome Center will greatly expand services offered by MBHS—providing refuge from the cold or heat, as well as access to showers and bathrooms. In addition to addressing basic human needs, there will be more capacity to accommodate guests, assess their needs and provide a toolbox of what people need to advance in their life situations. MBHS will also have the ability to provide programming onsite for those recovering from AODA and/or trauma. Plans include serving as an emergency warming room during extremely cold temperatures.

General Contractor—Jack Dahlman (Dahlman Construction Company); Architect—Greg Schumacher (Cityscape Architecture); Structural Engineer—John Goetter (GRAEF-USA INC.); Interior Design Professional—Sheila Semrou (Sheila Semrou Consulting LLC).


Students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering are working with Sister MacCanon to create an aquaponics system that will help the shelter produce most of the food needed to feed residents. Nick Brnot, MSOE student, joined Sister MacCanon on 414-ward to talk about it.


Sister MacCanon Brown was named one of the most inspirational people of 2016 by the Catholic Herald serving the archdiocese of Milwaukee. Meanwhile, we continued to serve 

MacCanon Brown receives 2017 Social Innovation PrizeOn Thursday, November 16, the Social Innovation Prize in Wisconsin Ninth Annual Awards Luncheon recognized Sr. Edna Lonergan, OSF of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Inc., Sister MacCanon Brown, SFCC of MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary (shown in photo), and Linda Hand of Senior Resource Center located in Sawyer County, WI for their creative approaches to addressing social and economic challenges in the community.


Through generous donors, the Sanctuary was able to purchase an abandoned and blighted building at 2461 W. Center St. as a Sanctuary home. The building was designed in 1927 by the acclaimed architect Alexander Eschweiler and his sons Alex Jr.,Theodore, and Carl as a a five-story furniture and upholstery warehouse.  

We continued offering services at Hephatha on Friday afternoons while expanding to include  our Doorway Ministry out of the loading dock at the Center St. location.



The MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary began in 2015 with an outreach site at Hephatha Lutheran Church, offering free clothing and hot meals.  We soon expanded to include a nurse presence, tutoring, access to community resources including employment, financial management, and legal assistance as well as  therapeutic activities. These included drum circles, wood burning, jewelry making, Tai Chi, and Chair Yoga to help counter the effects of trauma.


Sister MacCanon Brown files Incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary was launched despite having no funds.