Green Bay provides a sense of community, family

Vince Lombardi once said, “There are three things that are important to every man in this locker room. His God, his family, and the Green Bay Packers. In that order.”

His God and the Green Bay Packers are deeply motivating for Brett, a homeless brother who stayed at St. John’s Homeless Shelter for two weeks. He rode his bicycle across the country from Erie, Pa., to be in Green Bay when the Packers started training camp and be fully immersed in the experience.

What Brett has been seeking and found for a time while in Green Bay was a sense of community and family while at the shelter and attending the Micah Center. St. John’s provided him with warm meals, a place to sleep at night, case management support and access to a computer lab.

Over a decade ago an unfortunate circumstance led to him spending time in prison, which led to the separation from his only daughter. He still longs for that connection to this day.

“Being homeless can be extremely sad and lonely,” he said when talking about his journey. “It can be frustrating. In the days where I was in the cold or the rain and thinking about whether I would make it, the next smile on someone’s face would keep me going. I haven’t been with anybody in 12 years, but I am making it through.”

It has been said that St. John’s has an aura of friendliness and a willingness to go out of its way to help someone. Brett said he felt that connection to the staff and homeless brothers and sisters at the shelter.

Brett’s journey has taken him all over the country to experience the beauty that America has to offer — Appalachia, Shenandoah National Park, deep in the south working on a shrimp boat and to the Northeast. To him, the city of Green Bay feels different because it brings back memories of his childhood when his family would watch Bart Starr lead the Packers after attending church on Sundays.

“In life there are disappointments and successes, and there’s something about the city of Green Bay and the Packers because it’s so different than any other franchise,” Brett said. “It’s about community and the G on the helmet even stands for something greater. There’s something symbolically meaningful in that it’s about hopes and dreams.”

We all have dreams and aspirations and Brett, with tears in his eyes, spoke of his vision to one day be married, own a home and let his clothes dry in the wind on a clothesline in his back yard. That and to be connected to his daughter with a meaningful conversation that hasn’t happened in over a decade. As he talked about what fulfills him, he referred to his faith and what God meant to him.

“If you use your talents and use them wisely in good faith, God will give you more,” he said. “Then if you walk in faith, God will walk through you and take you there. Life is about the communal experience. Many people are willing to quit sometimes. I believe what has happened and what happens in life is that when someone is down, we need to help them.”

Brett is a man who has experienced a lot over the past 12 years and lives by the grace of God. When asked what keeps him motivated, he said:

“Our faith has to be greater than our doubt. Our hope has to be greater than our despair. Our love has to be greater than our fear.”

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