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Former Badgers star stepping up to help local homeless residents

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MADISON (WKOW) -- When the coronavirus hit, Dane County moved many of the most at-risk residents of their shelters to local hotels. Then, they gave Focus Counseling a call.

"We're very focused on some of the clinical services, some case management and especially getting folks connected to existing community resources," explains Cal Brace, the Director of Clinical Operations.

Brace needed employees to live at the hotel. The first person he thought of was his rec league volleyball friend, Montee Ball.

"When this thing came across my desk, he was the first person I thought of. I didn't think he'd do it," chuckles Brace.

"I jumped on board immediately because, for me, what helps me to stay sober, other than obviously participating in therapy, counseling, what have you, is continuously giving back," Ball explains of his decision to accept the offer.

Ball has been living at a local hotel since April 1st. He provides 24/7 assistance of all kinds.

"Helping them, if they're eligible for certain benefits, Social Security…some housing programs. I've done some taxes."

The former NFL running back also shares his battles with alcoholism, and how he has turned his life around.

"I guess there's a lot of power in being next to somebody who's walking the walk."

Brace says the 50-60 residents at Ball's hotel don't see a Badgers football legend...they see a friend.

"I'm a huge sports fan," says Brace. "Montee Ball means a lot to Wisconsin sports. I'm also a Madisonian. I'd feel pretty confident saying this is Montee Ball's biggest contribution to this community. This is huge."

Focus Counseling is prepared to continue offering services through the end of the year. Ball has volunteered to stay on at the hotel as long as needed.

"I'm glad that I have my 10 toes deep in this project because it's changed my life."

You can learn more about Focus Counseling here:

Lance Veeser

Sports Director, 27 News

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