HOW IT ALL BEGAN
THE HEART BEHIND THE VAULT
"Every human being has value, purpose, and potential!"
- Michelle Witzke
This strong conviction of truth is at the heart of The Vault and its founder, Michelle Witzke. As a former secondary school teacher and social worker from Michigan, her natural passion has been to foster each teen’s sense of value, purpose, and being loved. She believes these are foundational and necessary for anyone to be able to recognize their own potential and to subsequently take steps to achieve a life of fulfillment and purpose.
So, when she and her family moved to Clinton in 2003, she couldn’t help but notice the lack of opportunities and support for teens outside of school. The impact of social isolation and high rates of mental health issues amongst teens in this rural community was of particular concern. She began doing research about what could be done. As time went on, Michelle began to see more clearly how vital it was to meet this need to create a positive, supportive, and fun space for teens.
Michelle latched onto her faith and family for support and stepped out of her quiet life to begin doing surveys, seeking wisdom from others, and forming community collaborations. In late 2016, a perfect site was located on the Square in Clinton, right in the heart of DeWitt County. When the vision was shared at the community meetings, it was met with overwhelming support from students, parents, and community leaders alike. In January of 2017, The Vault became a 501(c)3 nonprofit and formed student and adult leadership teams to help launch a campaign that would secure the funds needed to purchase and renovate the 1896 building. By June of 2017, the building was purchased and renovations began with astounding numbers of volunteers and broad community support.
After great anticipation and hundreds in attendance, The Vault celebrated its Grand Opening on October 14, 2018, after completion of the first level. The lower level was finished (debt-free!) by September of 2019. Since then, The Vault has been enjoying full operations by providing leadership, community service, crisis support, social, mentoring, tutoring, and enrichment opportunities for over 500 youth in DeWitt County.
Visionary Vault Donors and Leaders
The Vault would not be what it is today without the faith and courage of our Visionary Vault Donors and Leaders. Without their commitment to the vision of The Vault, it would still be a dream waiting to become a reality.
Thank you to our commUNITY!