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The history of Ascend stretches back to 1957 – the year that a small group of dedicated Manitowoc residents began a very special wreath-making business just before the holidays. That group was headed by Bjorn (Bj) Halvorsen, who felt that differently-abled individuals should have meaningful work to facilitate them being part of the community… instead of feeling apart from it.

Their enterprise was successful that very first year, with the support of organizations who helped by contributing funding for materials and community members who subsequently bought the wreaths. Because it started out as a holiday wreath-making business, and because the first participants had such a good time at work they they called it their “clubhouse,” the project became known as Holiday House.

Throughout the following sixty years much has changed (even the name of the organization) to respond and adapt to the needs of the people served, but the mission has always been the same: to provide opportunities for independence and individual growth by offering experiences, training, and employment in connection with the community.

1960 – 2818 Meadow Lane

In October of 1960 the operation moved to 2818 Meadow Lane (25′ x 90″ army barracks purchased by Don Pauly) 3 buildings (Army Barracks, old Woerfel Barn and a small house. On December 23, 1960 they became incorporated as Holiday House of Manitowoc County, Inc. 

Groundbreaking April 7, 1966

On April 7, 1966 groundbreaking ceremonies were held for a new building. The one story building was made of steel and measured 60′ x 160″. Pictured Below is the finished addition.