Area shelters serve homeless during holidays and beyond

By | December 22, 2010

Father Carr’s Place 2B operates two shelter facilities. Holy Family Villa serves women and children, 17 and younger. Bethlehem Inn serves men in need of emergency housing. Each facility has a capacity of 75 residents.


Brad Vivoda, executive director of the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, puts out coffee and snacks every night to welcome the night’s patrons in the window of the shelter’s new kitchen. (Kasi Koshollek | For The Compass)

“For the last year, we’ve averaged 100 per night,” said Geniesse. “The shelter for women and children has filled up occasionally. With this economy, we are very busy.”

Food donations are the greatest need, he added. The Place 2B serves meals to as many as 300 a day and operates a food bank. Personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies are also needed. Donations may be dropped off any day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

In addition to providing housing and food, the Place 2B offers health care through its St. Francis Community Free Clinic. Geniesse said that the clinic is in need of more volunteer doctors and dentists.

Unless the economy changes, the need for services at the Place 2B will continue to be steady, he added.

“We haven’t seen an upswing in people getting jobs,” he said. “The jobs we’ve seen are temporary jobs. We are seeing a lot of new people here. We also see a lot of people coming back.”

Fox Valley Warming Shelter

The number of people served by the Fox Valley Warming Shelter in Appleton has more than doubled since last year, said Brad Vivoda, executive director. The economy and below normal temperatures for this time of year have contributed to the increased number of people seeking emergency housing, he added.

Shelter support

For more information on services provided, volunteer opportunities or item donations, contact the shelter or visit the Web site.

Father Carr’s Place 2B, 1965 Oshkosh, Ave., Oshkosh, (920) 231-2378.

Fox Valley Warming Shelter, 1928 W. College Ave., Appleton, (920) 832-1479.

COTS, Inc., 913 S. West, Ave. and 1003 W. College Ave., Appleton, (920) 734-3609 and (920) 831-6591.

St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter, 411 St. John St., Green Bay,WI 54301, (920) 436-9344

“We’ve been at around 35 people a night,” said Vivoda. “There are some that may have been trying to live in their car or a friend’s garage before it became too cold. Some people feel that it’s a personal failure to go to a shelter. That’s not the case at all. The opportunity to help people is a blessing.”

Don (now deceased) and Carol Stoegbauer were the driving forces behind the start of the Fox Valley Warming Shelter at St. Joseph Church in Appleton in 2008. The shelter rotated among 20 churches in its second and third seasons. A permanent facility at 1928 W. College Ave. in Appleton opened this past October. The shelter serves men and women, 18 and older.

“We’ve seen an increase in females,” said Vivoda. “We recently had a 77-year-old woman show up. Her circumstances dictated a need for emergency shelter. Luckily, we got her back into someplace where she qualified for assistance. We are able to offer all the basic needs. We take anybody who doesn’t qualify at other facilities.”

The Fox Valley Warming Shelter provides an evening meal served by a local church, breakfast, shower facilities and laundry service. A van picks up people downtown and brings them to the facility. Donations needed include gas cards, food cards, personal hygiene items, laundry detergent, long underwear and socks.

“The people we serve are very appreciative,” said Vivoda. “For our volunteers, this is a gift to the community to be able to give back. They get an opportunity to be hands-on. It’s more than writing out a check. These people come in and volunteer their time. You are physically there, serving the poorest of the poor.”


Temporary transitional shelter for homeless men and women in Outagamie, Winnebago and Calumet counties is provided by COTS, Inc., of Appleton, which was founded by Fr. Orville Janssen in 1999. COTS operates separate men’s and women’s facilities.

A third program, designed to serve single mothers and their children, is being added, said Cindy Sahotsky, executive director. Unlike the emergency shelters, COTS does not offer crisis management. People in need are referred to those programs.

“People can live with us up to two years, as long as they are improving their standing,” said Sahotsky. “We have some people who are ready to go after 30 days and some that are here two years. While they are here, they need to be either working or volunteering somewhere. They also have to complete our core education programs.”

COTS also offers a meal ministry, which provides hot meals to Fox Valley shelters. The meal ministry, which was started by Don Stoegbauer, is served by 400 volunteers.

COTS is in need of donated items including personal hygiene products, laundry detergent, linens, cleaning supplies, food items, food storage containers, office supplies and twin bed mattresses and box springs.

“We’ve been steady in our numbers,” said Sahotsky. “Right now we are full and we have a waiting list in our men’s program. We are always looking for donations and volunteers who can help with projects or assist with a class.”

St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter

Christmas donations have been down so far at St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter in Green Bay, said Mary Kelly, executive director. She encourages donations of new sweaters for the holiday season.

“Rarely do they ever get anything new,” she said. “People are very generous and we really appreciate the used clothing donations, but for Christmas, it’s always a big treat to get something new.”

The shelter, which operates from November to April, is averaging 41 people per night. Eighty percent are men. Other items needed include fast food gift cards, movie passes, coffee shop gift certificates, bath lotions, day planners and inexpensive watches.

“Jeans are also nice,” she said. “We run out of those pretty quickly.”

Donations may be dropped off at the shelter at any time during weekdays and after 4 p.m. on weekends. Contributions to the Fr. Guy Blair Boot and Bus Fare Fund are also welcome.

“We purchased some new boots for the guys,” said Kelly. “That’s an ongoing thing along with the bus passes.”

A fund in support of Ashley Kohls is in the works, added Kelly. Kohls, case manager for the shelter, was in an automobile accident in November. Her new baby was home doing well after the accident, but Kohls remained in the hospital. “She really misses everyone around here,” said Kelly.

The shelter, which is in its fourth year as a diocesan operation, has a large amount of returning people season to season, said Kelly. A new development this season is a ministerial team coordinated by Laura Robinson. The ecumenical group consists of seven individuals.

“There is always somebody here in the evening for a couple hours for guests,” said Kelly. “It’s been working out very well. They are available if someone wants to talk.”

Kelly emphasized her appreciation for the shelter’s many volunteers. More are needed.

“If anybody wants something to do during the winter, come on down,” she said. “We will find something for you to do.”

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