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Helping the homeless: Fond du Lac Salvation Army focuses on long-term solutions

Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 10, 2023
  • The Fond du Lac Salvation Army is no longer hosting the winter warming shelter, and will instead focus on a longer-term housing retention program.
  • The organization detailed their plans in an event on Friday, attended by former Packers Super Bowl champion Chris Jacke.
  • Holy Family Church will now host the warming shelter.
  • Video shows the Salvation Army explaining their plans.

It’s getting colder out, and now that the Salvation Army is no longer hosting Fond du Lac’s warming shelter, many in the community are wondering: what’s next?
At a holiday fundraising kickoff event Friday, the Salvation Army explained just that.

“We're excited to bring that here to help families and to help them before they become chronically homeless,” Salvation Army Captain Christina Champlin said.

The organization is beginning a housing retention program, which connects people experiencing chronic homelessness to long-term housing resources in the area.

It was started by the Fox Cities Salvation Army, which Champlin says had a 92 percent success rate in finding stable housing for its participants.

“We're looking at helping to curve the continual problem that continues to exist, more and more people are becoming homeless,” Champlin said.

Fond du Lac County has a poverty rate of 9.8 percent—which is lower than the state average of 13 percent, but still enough to put a strain on the community.

According to the National Alliance to end Homelessness, one chronically homeless person costs taxpayers more than $35,000 a year.

“Because that's at hospitals, mental health issues, addiction issues… so they're using services agencies throughout the community,” Champlin said.

The event Friday aimed to educate community leaders on the organization's new goals. . . with a special appearance from former Packers Super Bowl champion Chris Jacke, who answered questions from fans and signed autographs

“It’s that time of year when you give a little back,” Jacke said.

Amy Ortega lives in Fond du Lac, and she shared her personal story with financial troubles 15 years ago.

“Christmas was coming and it was going to be really tight,” Ortega said. “And we were gonna feel it. My kids were gonna feel it.”

She had nothing to give her three kids for Christmas, until a coworker gave her $200 in a random act of kindness.

“I'm so happy it happened because it created three beautiful children that have hearts of gold, and my love for this community and giving back,” Ortega said.

Now, she’s supporting the Salvation Army’s efforts to help others in the community.

The new warming shelter, hosted by Holy Family Church at 73 E. First St., opens on Wednesday and the Salvation Army says it plans to continue to support its efforts.