Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

How You Can Help the Homeless

As Thanksgiving approaches, a list of groups that serve the homeless and how you can help.

Volunteers serve a meal to guests at St. Benedict the Moor, 924 W. State St., which provides walk-in and 2-1-1 referrals for shelter in extreme cold weather. File photo by Sue Vliet/NNS.

Volunteers serve a meal to guests at St. Benedict the Moor, 924 W. State St., which provides walk-in and 2-1-1 referrals for shelter in extreme cold weather. File photo by Sue Vliet/NNS.

This is National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. In Milwaukee, about 885 people live in homelessness on a given night, according to the 2019 Milwaukee Continuum of Care report.

Many community organizations mobilize to combat the issue and provide help. Whether you want to take action in this season of giving or need certain resources for yourself, here are groups that lend a helping hand.

Sister MacCannon Brown’s Homeless Sanctuary

Services offered: Winter clothing, activities, hot meals, nursing consultations, advocacy services and more.

What it does: Rooted in Milwaukee’s 53206 ZIP code, this group offers services and resources to homeless individuals and those at-risk of homelessness at two locations: Its new location (still under construction) at 2461 W. Center St. and Hephatha Lutheran Church, 1720 W Locust Ave.

Though still in the first stages of construction and lacking heating, the Center Street location acts as the site for the “doorway ministry,” where volunteers distribute winter weather clothing and other physical resources through the back door to passersby on the street.

“We are open because we know there are people who need us to be open,” Sister MacCanon Brown, the group’s founder said. Most guests who seek assistance from the organization come from vulnerable situations and visit to escape the “life-threatening extreme cold,” she said.

On Fridays at the church, the group offers a sanctuary space for guests to enjoy activities like chess, dominoes or crafts, eat a hot meal and check out the agency fair, which includes help with housing, justice system guidance and more. Guests can also meet with volunteer nurses who are available for free consultations and assessments.

Volunteer nurse Sharon Garrett said this resource is especially helpful during the winter cold when the homeless population is more susceptible to the dangers of frostbite.

Email for volunteering inquiries or more information regarding the schedule of services offered at both locations or visit the website for a schedule of services.

Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge

Services offered: Immediate basic needs (showers, hygiene and care packs, meals) and more.

What it does: This group, led by Bob Burmeister (known as Mr. Bob) and his truck, has been bringing basic-need resources to individuals experiencing homelessness since its beginnings in 2007. Since July, the group has provided a mobile shower trailer as a clean, private space for individuals.

Though he formerly stationed the trailer at the Marquette Interchange for residents in the adjacent “Tent City” to utilize, Burmeister said he will bring the trailer to “overflow sites,” the shelters and warming sites to accommodate residents who previously lived in Tent City on North Sixth and West Clybourn streets.

In addition, opportunities to volunteer range from sorting donated items to distributing care packages, coffee and snacks to about 125 people Saturday mornings at Kosciuszko Park. Sign up here or email with questions.

Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach

Services offered: Immediate basic needs (hygiene and care packs, hot meals) and more.

What it does: With a bus, this volunteer-based nonprofit organization transports basic resources directly to people experiencing homelessness around the city.

If you are in immediate need of a meal or survival supplies, contact or visit its website.

You can sign up here to volunteer, make meals served at Unity Lutheran Church (1025 E. Oklahoma Ave.) or donate clothing. Volunteers must complete a volunteer training before attending a shift. Donations can be dropped off Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. at 445 W. Oklahoma Ave.

How You Can Make A Difference

Volunteer at a local shelter or warming house

As mentioned in its recent Post from the Community, the Milwaukee Continuum of Care partners with local shelters to provide warming rooms and overnight spaces for anyone seeking to escape the cold.

If you or someone you know is seeking shelter or is at risk of being homeless, contact 2-1-1 for assistance. You can:

  • Dial: 2-1-1 or (414) 773-0211. To avoid being charged a long-distance fee, call 2-1-1 toll free at (866) 211-3380
  • Text your ZIP code: TXT-211 (898-211) Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

In case you missed itPlaces where you can get free meals

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

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More about the Tent City

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