homelessness is here, in De Pere

I attended a presentation tonight by Tony Pichler, a De Pere resident, employee of the Diocese of Green Bay, and chair of the St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter board of trustees. Tony spoke about homelessness and how it affects us right here in De Pere. We all have our views and ideas of what homelessness looks like, but I find it interesting to focus on the kids.

Did you know that for the current 2013-14 school year, there are 29 students in De Pere who are homeless? For our neighbors to the north, the Green Bay School District has 700!! Ashwaubenon has 80. Strangely, I think when you look at that staggering number for Green Bay, the 29 here in De Pere doesn’t seem too bad. But let’s not fool ourselves. As I write this, it’s 9:45pm, and there are 29 kids here in our community who do not have a home tonight. 29. These are classmates of our children. These are our children. Our families.

By telling you this, I don’t have any answers or profound message to offer. I just want to make sure that we’re all aware that homelessness is not just someone else’s problem. Each of these 29 kids has a story. Each has hopes and dreams. And those stories and hopes and dreams are not all that different than those of your kids.

Just think about all the challenges that we face as we work with our own children, to help them with their homework, their friendships, their after-school activities and other typical kid problems. Think about that process from the perspective of your child and how tough things can be at times. Okay, now imagine if your child had no home. For me, it’s not easy to think about, but it’s real.

So let’s just keep these children and their families in mind as we go about our daily business. What can we do to help? Think about how we, as a city, can help to take care of each other.