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'We don't want people to die out in these conditions': Fond du Lac warming shelter helps during cold temps

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-19 19:08:11-05
  • This is the first winter for the new Fond du Lac Warming Shelter hosted by Holy Family Church.
  • Video shows how dangerous it is for the homeless community in the winter, and how the shelter has been doing during this week's cold temperatures.

This is the first winter for Fond du Lac’s new warming shelter on First Street, and organizers said extreme weather this past week has made more people turn to them for help.
“We don't want people to die out in these conditions,” said Sarah Razner with Holy Family Church.

Razner said the church is extending their hours, staying open later this week. She said that’s so people can stay warm while they wait for places like Church of Peach or the Fond du Lac Public Library to open, where they can go during the day.

Few people understand the gravity of the homelessness crisis in the winter better than Amy Loof, who has worked with the homeless population in Fond du Lac County for seven years and now works as executive director of St. Katherine Drexel Homeless Shelter in Fond du Lac.

She said cold temperatures present unique challenges.

“There's more panic, when they're asking for [housing],” Loof said. “It's like, ‘I need it and I need it now and don't have a whole lot of time to get it.’”

This week has brought record cold, with windchill temperatures reaching negative 30 degrees. And just about an hour away from Fond du Lac, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner is investigating the deaths of three people over the weekend that they say may be related to the cold.:

Loof says that right now, there’s a waitlist of 400 people at St. Katharine Drexel Shelter, and Razner said the warming shelter reached its 30-bed capacity for the first time this week.

Both shelters are always looking for volunteers and donations of food, clothing, and monetary gifts.