FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Pillars helping the forgotten get registered for the COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) In a few days in a few days, Wisconsinites 16 and older will be eligible to get a COVID-19 shot but what about people experiencing homelessness?

One local organization is getting the word out to those with no place to go.

John Wallschlaeger, a member of Pillars Street Outreach teams says he visits homeless camps because of his 22 years as an Appleton Police Officer and understands that not everyone has an easy life.

So it’s no surprise that during this pandemic, John’s been sacrificing his health to ensure the well-being of the forgotten.

Wallschlaeger says, “Through my work in law enforcement, I recognize that this population really needed support.”

As part of Pillars Street Outreach Team, John and his partner Emily, visit Appleton’s homeless for wellness checks.

Lisa Strandberg, Pillars Community Engagement Coordinator says, “What we’re doing through our street outreach program is really reaching out and encouraging those folks to seek out a vaccine.”

This is not always an easy sell for someone who lives moment to moment.

Wallschlaeger says, “The homeless live in a much more short-term world. They worry more about where their next meal is coming from or where they’re going to be sleeping tonight than they do about being sick.”

Getting vaccines in the arms of those without a home is critically important because their well-being is most at risk.

Wallschlaeger says, “Their health generally is somewhat precarious because they only use emergency doctoring, and so preventive care is not in their language.”

As the outreach teams spread the word about the benefits of the vaccine, Pillars says their guests have become less resistant.

Strandberg says, “Just yesterday we took a busload of clients to receive the vaccine at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center, so we’re really doing what we can to keep the shelter a safe setting for all.”

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