Shortly after my father-in-law “Mr. Bob” started serving the homeless in downtown Milwaukee, the entire family realized that his passion for finding and connecting with those who were seemingly forgotten would only continue to grow. And indeed, it has. Nine years ago Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge didn’t have a name and was only Bob and my mother-in-law, Sue, putting together hygiene kits and backpacks full of supplies in their basement. Now, more than 60 volunteers, including 11 directors on the board, are providing clothing, hygiene packs, coffee, and food to a majority of the approximately 1,000 homeless people living on the streets and under bridges in our city.
The seed for Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge was Bob’s love and his drive to help those less fortunate. But, the expansion of his ministry and the enormous impact it has on the homeless community in Milwaukee is a result of other selfless individuals volunteering their time to show compassion to fellow human beings. Many of Mr. Bob’s volunteers learned about the organization by simply stopping by the park when they saw the truck and crew in action on a Saturday morning. They asked the question, “How can I help?” More than 60 people have asked that question. And, through Mr. Bob’s, God has answered.
In the past year, Mr. Bob’s volunteers have:
- Provided 4,160 hygiene packs
- Served 13,000 cups of coffee
- Distributed 18.2 tons (yes, tons!) of clothing
- Supplied 4,500 pairs of socks
- Driven 4,620 miles in the distribution truck
- Spent at least 4,800 hours serving Milwaukee’s homeless
This is in addition to the immeasurable acts of caring and concern these volunteers show to the homeless community on a daily basis; especially on Saturday mornings, which is an important time of fellowship.
It’s my pleasure during National Volunteer Week to say “thank you” and recognize the people who are the heart and soul of Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge, because without your time, talent, and love the organization couldn’t be what it is today.
And, I also extend that “thank you” to the many, many others who donate clothing, food, hygiene items, money, and the like in order to provide our homeless friends with a fraction of the necessities they deserve.