Marathon Co. Real Heroes: Community Heroes - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marathon Co. Real Heroes: Community Heroes

Linda Larson-Schlitz Linda Larson-Schlitz
Ralph Schlitz Ralph Schlitz

by Colby Robertson

MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -- Ralph Schlitz and Linda Larson-Schlitz dedicate their lives to helping others through Randlin Homes.

The non-profit organization started almost a decade ago and continues to grow.

All that hard work makes the Wausau couple this year's Marathon County Red Cross Community Hero.


In 2000, Ralph Schlitz had a dream and a vision. He wanted to help chemically dependent, mentally ill primarily homeless veterans by giving them a roof over their head and a safe, sober and supportive environment for recovery.


Ralph Schlitz says, "Being in recovery myself I knew how many people were out there with the same problems that I did and they had nowhere to go and so I felt the need to start a home where they'd be able to go and get the same kind of help I was doing."


In February 2001, Ralph and his wife Linda Larson Schlitz opened their first home in Wausau and instantly Randlin Homes made its mark on the community.


Ralph Schlitz says, "They need more places like us because there's a lot of people out there and we don't even know it."


Now they have several homes. Plus, a snow removal and lawn care business and the Hope Thrift Store; all to help fund Randlin Homes.


Linda Larson Schlitz says, "I'm a visionary and I always look at what can be, but this wasn't in the plan to be where we are today."


So many dealing with addiction, yet alienated from their families with no where to go. They turn to Ralph and Linda for direction. Over the past decade they've helped countless people get back on their feet after reaching rock bottom, people just like Troy Johnson.


Troy Johnson says, "I was so screwed up and my direction was confused still cloudy. I knew what I wanted to do I just didn't feel like I could do it alone and with their help and support it made things a lot easier, simpler and I wasn't afraid."


Johnson was homeless in July of 2008 - Now, he's self-sufficient, employed and doing well. He owes it all to Ralph and Linda.


Johnson says, "Seeing my future at my time and I didn't feel or think I could be self-sufficient again with the situation I was dealing with I was faced with but they helped me and walked with me the whole way and showed me that it wasn't that unbearable to deal with because I wasn't alone anymore."


It's success stories like this that keep Ralph and Linda going and what makes real heroes in the community.


Larson Schlitz says, "It gives me hope for much more to come that we've only scratched the surface of where we as a community need to be going because we've just helped a handful of the people that need help."

Troy Johnson is working to start his own business and plans to open his hotdog stand later this month in Wausau.

Ralph, Linda and the other Marathon County Real Heroes will be honored for their accomplishments, April 15th.

Online Reporter: Colby Robertson

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