Homeless shelter expands in response of need
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – St. John’s Homeless Shelter is responding to the increased needs of the homeless population amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes operating two 24-hour shelter sites, one at the current location and another at a downtown area church, beginning Wednesday, March 18.
The current shelter has a capacity of 84.
When this capacity is reached, shelter staff utilize off-site overflow locations to accommodate guests.
Executive Director Alexia Wood said the already record-number of guests and the need to directly and safely meet the needs of these individuals during this time is critical.
She said this prompted the need for two, 24-hour locations.
Wood said staff have implemented safety measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since late February.
By having the sites, she said it is able to create smaller groups of guests and promote social-distancing.
“While there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Brown County, or among our guests, we have been in communication with local health officials, and we are prepared if a guest at our shelter were to test positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Wood said.
With the expansion of shelter services to two 24-hour locations, staff will temporarily close its daytime facilities, the Micah Center and Wellspring.
Wood said this move comes with the need for community support.
The shelter is in immediate need of partnerships and donations to help meet meal needs, she said.
“Due to the COVID-19 virus, we have seen a decline in meal teams able to provide dinners to our shelter guests,” Wood said. “This combined with the additional shelter site we will be opening, necessitates an urgent call to our community for support to supplement the need for meals.”
She said St. John’s would like to help a local restaurant or business which may be struggling with the economic decline to raise funds to cover costs for them to provide food nightly for guests.
Businesses interested in participating are asked to contact the shelter.
Those looking to donate to help cover food costs can do so online at stjohnhomelessshelter.org/donate.
The shelter is also looking for help with transportation needs.
Wood said due to the closing of the public transit system in Green Bay, many shelter guests with jobs are suddenly unable to get to work.
Those interested in helping can contact staff at email@example.com.
For more information on shelter needs, ways to help or updated information in regards to COVID-19 can be found on the shelter’s new dedicated website to the outbreak stjohnhomelessshelter.org/covid19.
“We are incredibly thankful for the community support we have received and for the partnership that allows us to continue to serve our homeless brothers and sisters,” Wood said. “Support from our Green Bay community is crucial at this time, and we know that in a time of crisis such as this, we see the very best our community has to give.”