As much of Wisconsin braces itself for the first major snowfall of the year, a Green Bay homeless shelter is hosting a memorial service for people who died on the streets. The annual service is scheduled for the shortest day of the year.
St. John the Evangelist is a temporary shelter for people who have no other place to spend the night. It is only open during the cold weather season.
It operates under the umbrella of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese. On Thursday--December 20--the shelter will host a memorial service for homeless people who died in 2012.
Laura Robinson is the shelter's ministry team coordinator, "So far this year we have five individuals identified that passed away this past year who were homeless. So we always light a sixth candle to represent all the people who are unnamed or unidentified."
Robinson says the homeless population has a much shorter life expectancy than that of other demographics. She says they are also more likely to become victims of violence.
Robinson says so far this fall an average of 60 people spend the night there, "And this is still warm weather. I mean we're not dealing with the zero temperatures of January. We know there's going to be a lot more people seeking shelter. And all the shelters in Green Bay have a waiting list. It really is a crisis situation."
St. John's has come under criticism from neighbors who complain of vagrancy during hours it is not open. The shelter is working with the city to address those complaints. Similar memorial services are scheduled in Kenosha, La Crosse, and Racine.