Father Carr’s Place 2B will hold Bridge Walk fundraiser June 1

After four years as director, Bob Lang will step down July 31

OSHKOSH — The fourth annual Bridge Walk sponsored by Father Carr’s Place 2B is scheduled for June 1. The event is the signature fundraiser held to support the Place 2B’s mission.

The event is about much more than raising funds, said executive director Bob Lang. “The walk is designed to raise awareness of Father Carr’s Place 2B,” he said. “It’s about bridging the community and our supporters. It’s about getting a lot of people together to celebrate the Place 2B.”

Bob Lang, executive director of Father Carr’s Place 2B in Oshkosh, is pictured inside the facility’s community food bank. The Catholic social service agency will hold its fourth annual Bridge Walk on June 1 and Lang will retire as executive director on July 31. (Michael Cooney | For The Compass)

The two- and four-mile walk options will go over scenic Lake Butte des Morts.

Lang said the walk is a wonderful experience because the causeway has been developed with a walking path, artwork, historical markers and viewing spots.

“So many people have never been underneath the bridge and seen the artwork and architecture,” he said. “It’s amazing how quiet it is under the interstate. It’s a peaceful, beautiful place on Lake Butte des Morts. You can see fishermen, people walking dogs, people walking their children in strollers, people rollerblading. You can check out the artwork, sit on a rock and look out over the water and read about the history of the Indian tribes and Indian establishments that were here.”

He said the walk is “short and sweet,” and most walkers return to the Place 2B in about an hour. Then, free lunch and tours of the Place 2B complex will be held.

“You don’t even have to walk,” Lang said. “You can just show up for the food, fellowship and tours. If you haven’t seen Father Carr’s Place 2B, this is the time to do so.”

This also will be Lang’s last walk as executive director of the Place 2B. He will retire July 31.

The Place 2B was founded by the late Fr. Martin Carr and serves a variety of needs for people throughout northeastern Wisconsin: housing for people in transition, a community food bank, a free health clinic, daily Masses, daily and holiday meals, family and community activities, mentoring and job-seeking skills, and volunteer opportunities.

On three occasions each year — Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas — more than 1,000 meals are served at the Place 2B and through home deliveries.

Lang started with Father Carr’s Place 2B in February 2015, but he hadn’t really been seeking a job position. He previously was a parks and recreation director in Greendale and a pastoral minister and youth minister at St. Bernard Church in Appleton. He watched as the center’s executive director position remained open for six months. His wife, Debbie, told him, “You’re being called to go to Father Carr’s Place 2B.”

He called for information, but he wasn’t interested in doing a formal interview. “I wasn’t really looking for a job,” he said, “but it was such a clear call. God gives you just enough to go on so you’re able to make the next step.”

When he was hired, Lang and his wife sold their home in Appleton and have been living on the Place 2B campus ever since. He made a three-year commitment to the position, and it now has been four and one-half years.

“Amazing miracles have happened here,” Lang said. “This place has changed our lives. You can’t out-give God. The more you give, the more he blesses you. I have met many people and made many precious friends.”

He said his biggest accomplishments have been working with people at the Place 2B and “helping them move on, stay clean, find a job, take those next steps in their lives.”

“They find their faith and continue to grow their faith,” he said. “Most of the people walking through those doors have been baptized and have faith, but have quit practicing their faith. During their time here at Father Carr’s, you’re able to touch them.”

People who come to stay at Father Carr’s stay for an average of one to three months, and many cite it as a precious time in their lives, Lang said.

One woman said, “When I came here, I thought it was going to be the worst time of my life. But I’ve made new friends, my kids are doing well in school, I’ve gotten a job. The last four months have been a wonderful time in my life.”

Just as important are the volunteers who keep the Place 2B going and the blessings they receive from that service, Lang said. “The executive director is the only person who gets a paycheck,” he said. “All the rest are volunteers. We are blessed with hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and benefactors who keep us going.”

He said the Place 2B is open 365 days a year, and 300 active volunteers serve as receptionists, nurses, doctors and servers.

“The typical volunteer is 60 to 80 years old,” he said. “They have had careers, have an income coming in and are still healthy. ‘My cup is overflowing, and I want to give back,’’’ Lang said.

He pointed out one volunteer on duty who had “actually died here.” The man was revived through CPR and still volunteers every Monday night.

“We pride ourselves in that we are privately funded, with no government support and volunteer-driven” Lang said. “We are for the community, run by the community. Ninety-eight cents of every dollar goes to direct service, so people feel good about giving to us. By the grace of God, benefactors and volunteers have a place to feel good in their faith life through the ministries of Father Carr’s.”

Lang and his wife will be moving to a lake house in Three Lakes, Wis., but plan to stay involved in ministry.

“It’s bittersweet to leave,” Lang said. “We’re going to still have a room here at the Place 2B, a place to lay our heads and a place to serve. We’ll always be involved in church, prayer and ministry.”

But he knows he’s leaving the Place 2B in good hands. Tony Klink, who serves three linked parishes in Luxemburg, will be the executive director after Lang retires. “He’ll come with new gifts; change is good,” Lang said.

“The person who really runs this place is the Holy Spirit. It’s the grace of God and the Holy Spirit that keeps the place going.”

Father Carr’s Bridge Walk begins 9:30 a.m. June 1. The $15 fee includes T-shirt, 2- or 4-mile route, 11 a.m. free lunch, open house and tours. For more information visit fathercarrs.org.