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'I'll know at least their first name': One man takes us around to meet Green Bay's homeless population

St. John's Ministries is doing more intense street outreach
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Posted at 6:25 PM, Sep 08, 2023
  • St. John's Ministries is trying to get a better understanding of the homeless population by doing more intense street outreach
  • Case manager Tollef Wienke said he drives around Green Bay looking and checking in on homeless people parks, bridges, or other areas he thinks are popular gathering spots for the homeless
  • The video above explains why the Green Bay nonprofit is doing this project

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — St. John's Ministries, a Green Bay nonprofit that assists unsheltered people, is trying to get a better understanding of the homeless population by doing more intense street outreach.

"We want to hit everybody in the community that is experiencing homelessness to share that we have resources for them in order to take one step forward," St. John's Ministries case manager Tollef Wienke said.

Wienke said twice a week, he drives around Green Bay looking and checking in on homeless people in public areas. He said Whitney Park is one of the more common places that he checks.

"There's usually people sleeping underneath this gazebo or underneath by the bathrooms," Wienke said. "But...as you can tell, nobody's there, which is a good thing."

Wienke checks parks, bridges, and other areas he thinks are popular gathering spots for the homeless.

"Probably 95 percent of the people if I encountered...I'll know at least their first name," Wienke said.

He said he's even found people sleeping in roundabouts and churches.

"Churches are safe places for people, because people always want to go to churches to help," Wienke said.

Wienke said he also walks or bikes doing street outreach.

In the last two months, he said he's seen 150 unsheltered people.

"What I look for is just little things that are encampments where people leave their stuff," Wienke said.

He said his goal is to find people who ned help.

"But if I don't find people, that's what I want," Wienke said.

St. John's Ministries has a bunch of Green Bay area shelters and resources listed on its website.

And Wienke said a lot of the people he's seen know where the resources are.

"Now, do they come and get the help? That's up to them," Wienke said. "They're adults, so they have to make that choice. But at least they know where it is."