GREEN BAY, Wis. — St. John’s Homeless Shelter has always and will continue to honor the dignity, restore hope and create lasting change for the homeless population in the Green Bay community. During 2020, it was a year unlike any other with a global pandemic, and St. John’s responded to those with the greatest need in the community.
For the first time ever since the inception of the shelter in 2005, St. John’s Ministries published an Impact Report showing the true scope of the homeless issue in the Green Bay community.
“St. John’s has served homeless adults or those at-risk of experiencing homelessness for over 15 years,” Alexia Wood, St. John’s executive director, said. “I’m excited that we’re able to offer our donors and the larger community concrete data that illuminates our work in this community.”
St. John’s Impact Report shows that during the 2019-20 shelter season (November 1 to April 30), the organization served 562 guests, provided 20,145 nights of shelter and served 40,290 meals. It was the busiest season for the shelter in the history of St. John’s.
“We were seeing unprecedented shelter numbers, upwards of 120 adults per night, even before COVID hit,” Wood remembers. “We were utilizing our overflow facilities nearly every night and our daytime resource centers were packed.”
St. John’s is known primarily as a homeless shelter of last resort, but it also runs the Micah Center and Wellspring, two daytime resource centers for men and women experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. Throughout 2020, the locations combined to assist nearly 1,500 guests with case management, mental health counseling, on-site medical care, services to help seek employment and housing, and opportunities to increase one’s sense of self-worth through giving back.
While the harsh winter months are a particularly hard time for those experiencing homelessness, St. John’s also recognizes the need to provide a range of services during the summer and early fall months. St. John’s initiated a Summer Safe Sleep program in 2018 to provide shelter for 35 adults from May 1 to October 31. In 2021, the organization provided 4,916 nights of shelter for 274 guests from May through the end of September.
St. John’s also created an ENGAGE the park program at St. John’s Park across from the shelter where case managers and staff can engage with those experiencing or are at-risk of becoming homeless. This program has allowed case managers and staff to meet guests where they are and work on forward-moving programming and individual support.
“The guests that we see at St. John’s Park have very few options left for shelter,” Green Bay City Police Department Lieutenant Nate Allen said. “Some of the guests that we see at the park are our unsheltered population. The ENGAGE program has given guests that frequent the park a sense of belonging and in some cases a jumping-off point to move forward or have continued motivation to do so.”
“Without the program, the case managers would not have been there to help intervene and work with guests to get them into shelter,” Green Bay City Police Department Commander Kevin Warych said. “By having staff, it helped the police department and the shelter by providing a sense of order and consistency that is needed in the park. In turn, this does help other park goers to ensure everyone sees we are trying to help the clients.”
St. John’s also runs Drop-in Tuesday during the summer season, a daytime program that offers meals, laundry services, shower facilities and basic clothing & toiletry needs to homeless men and women.
The community support for St. John’s was at an all-time high, with just over $1.7 million donated during 2020, with 78 percent of St. John’s total revenue coming from community members, which in turn directly benefits our homeless brothers and sisters through various avenues.
“We have been in absolute awe of our community members, who stepped up to provide for us even amidst a global pandemic,” Wood said. “Everyone is incredibly grateful.”