The face of homelessness is expanding in North Dakota. And NDSU alumna Jaclyn Bugbee is at the forefront of publicizing the plight and fulfilling the basic needs of a wide-ranging group of individuals.
Bugbee has been director of Bismarck, N.D.-based Ruth Meiers Hospitality House since 2011. Her efforts to aid those in need have helped Bugbee, BS ’00, accounting, land a spot in Prairie Business magazine’s “40 Under 40,” which each year recognizes outstanding professionals under the age of 40 for their contributions to their organizations and community.
Ruth Meiers Hospitality House was established in 1987 as a small homeless shelter in Bismarck. During the last 25 years, it has expanded to provide essential services to serve the homeless and individuals at risk of homelessness. It’s one of few such facilities between Fargo and the Montana border.
The state’s burgeoning energy industry is providing housing challenges to new, out-of-state workers as well as long-time residents. Housing and other cost-of-living costs have risen significantly in recent years. The capacity at Ruth Meiers’ facilities has doubled in the last 18 months in order to keep up with the influx Bugbee said.
“Eighty-five percent of individuals seeking shelter in our facilities have a job,” she said. “They just don’t have a place to come home to.”
From July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, the organization provided more than 18,000 nights of shelter and nearly 8,000 meals. In response, Ruth Meiers is expanding its eight supportive service programs and looking at expanding affordable housing options in the area, such as rent-fixed apartment units.
Individuals looking for help range in age. Bugbee said 450 children who attend Bismarck’s schools are homeless. In addition, many 50- to 60-year-olds who have disabilities or depend on a fixed income use the organization’s services.
Bugbee joined Ruth Meiers after stints with the Bismarck State College Foundation and the St. Alexius Foundation. Her accounting background in part helped her find ways to booth Ruth Meiers’ annual budget from approximately $750,000 to more than $2.5 million. Bugbee said her work, albeit stressful, is fulfilling and she credits her time at NDSU for helping her success.
“The camaraderie and sense of tradition NDSU has – you see it when you’re in the business world,” she said. “Having a solid education at NDSU has helped because you can always visit with classmates or professors, especially in community development. It solidifies your reputation.”
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.