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June 2021 Jefferson Award: Heath and Traci Tappe

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) — A Wausau area couple receives a Jefferson Award for their efforts to help the homeless.

Heath and Traci Tappe are the founders of the Bridge Street Mission.

It all began in 2015 when the Tappe family took a cross-country mission trip. Along the way, they held cookouts for the homeless people they met.

"Then we came back to Wausau and started a grill out for the homeless, our homeless friends," Heath Tappe says.

"Part of that wasn't just feeding them it was saying 'hey, how can I pray for you? How is your heart?'" Traci Tappe says.

The couple owns a home construction business. They bought a building on Bridge Street and gave it upgrades to develop a Christian-based rescue center.

Today, Mission Outreach Center provides daily meals and meeting space.

In the parking lot is Mission Street Coffee, a small shop that sells coffees, teas and smoothies to support the ministry.

And to the West on Bridge Street is the Sober Living Center. It offers a place for men who are in recovery from drugs and alcohol a place to stay.

"We often think the little things we do don't mean much but the things this family has done have changed a lot of lives," Mission Executive Director Craig Vincent says.

Today the mission has a growing staff and volunteers.

That means the Tappe's no longer take part in the day-to-day operations.

But they continue their mission by serving on the non-profit's board.

As they look back on the past 6-years they are grateful.

"We are super happy when we see lives change," Heath says.

"The satisfaction is the joy and peace you have in your heart that you loved and that they reciprocated," Traci says.