Street Angels Milwaukee volunteers partake in 48 hours of homelessness campaign to raise funds

NOW: Street Angels Milwaukee volunteers partake in 48 hours of homelessness campaign to raise funds

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach is raising awareness on the needs of the homeless community with a 48 hour challenge and fundraiser where a group of volunteers put themselves in the shoes of those who are homeless by living outside in the elements for 48 hours.

The group of volunteers has been living homeless since 10:30 p.m. Friday night (Oct. 22) and will be doing this until Sunday night (Oct. 24) to complete the 48 hour challenge.

Organizers of this effort hope this sends a deep message to the importance of stepping in to help the homeless community especially as the weather is getting colder.

"It's an awareness campaign and it's an opportunity for us to step in the shoes of the people that we're serving to be able to better serve," said Eva Welch, the executive co-director of Street Angels Milwaukee.

With just the clothes on their backs, the volunteers exposed themselves to the elements a homeless individual experiences daily. Sleeping outside at a park on W Burnham Street.

"It helps us to realize just how important it is that we continue to do the work that we do," said Welch.

"It was loud, it was cold, it was uncomfortable I guess but that's part of the experience, is understanding," said Dan Grellinger, who is part of the outreach team and is board secretary at Street Angels. 

It was Grellinger's first time doing the 48 hour challenge. He said this was out of his comfort zone, barely sleeping because they were on a busy corner where it was loud all night.

"That's why it's important to come out and experience it even if it's just for 48 hours because it is a very difficult life and you don't really appreciate it until you have to spend the night in the park," said Grellinger.

It was Jamie Palomo's second time doing the challenge. As an outreach volunteer for Street Angels, she makes sure to help those out on the streets find a safe shelter, but putting herself in the environment gives her a different perspective, where she truly sees and experiences the dangers that the homeless community faces daily.

"I maybe got two hours of sleep and then we encountered rats and things kind of went downhill from there for me. I volunteered to do it again because I think it's for a really good cause and they're able to do incredible things with the amount of money and stuff that they get," said Palomo. 

The goal of this effort is to raise $150,000 to help with a no temperature threshold warming room that Street Angels will open nightly starting Nov. 1 for those in need of shelter. It will be open to 25 people.

Welch said the homeless community has faced even more challenges during the pandemic.

"They didn't have anywhere to wash their hands, they didn't have anywhere to charge their phones, they didn't have anywhere to use the restroom. Still to this day there are a lot of programs that are not operating because of covid. A lot of the meal sites are doing to-go meals so they're missing out on that fellowship and that social interaction," said Welch. "Folks that are going to stay at the warming center, they're going to get safety, they're going to get warm, they're going to get food, clothing, and friendship." 

As of most recent data, Street Angels is seeing up to 183 people on outreach nights. Many are worried about the dropping temperatures and the upcoming winter. 

"It has been difficult. I mean, we were concerned that the numbers are rising and we're concerned that we're coming into winter and it's all very disturbing," said Grellinger.

Street Angels is in need of donations of items like blankets, pants, socks and more as the weather cools down. They have an Amazon wish list where people can purchase items for the shelter. There is also a link to help with raising the $150,000 for the warming center. 

To learn more about Street Angels and volunteering opportunities, click here.


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