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Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal December, 18 2023

The holidays and the end of 2023 are quickly approaching. Thankfully, the weather has not been bitterly cold for our brothers and sisters up to this point. Still, it has been below freezing and puts people at risk for cold-related injuries.  Time will tell what type of weather we'll all face in January and the Street Ministry will be prepared to provide needed items to keep our friends as safe as possible. 

A man approached the table a few nights ago and asked for socks.  He said that his feet had bled through the socks he was wearing and he wanted a clean, dry pair to change into. We gave him three pairs and asked if he needed different shoes.  He replied that his shoes fit him okay and then explained that the problem had been that the shoes and socks had gotten wet and walking in them had caused his feet to blister. The blisters had then ruptured and his foot was rubbed raw enough to bleed.  Clean and dry socks are such a simple thing, yet so necessary for healthy feet.




























These large boxes are being used to protect someone from the elements. 

We talked with a man who has been homeless for several years about his experiences in the winter.  He has had to spend some nights out of the shelter and we asked how he was able to sleep. "You don't," he replied.  He shared that a person might find a place to rest but it wouldn't be for long as they're told to move along or it is too cold to sleep. He said that he walks the streets and tries to not be noticed.  This is not safe and not a sustainable plan for anyone.  Housing for him, and many others, is just too difficult to obtain.




























This is one of our unhoused friends who routinely helps the Ministry
with preparing and distributing food and beverages.  We are
grateful for his willingness to help out.

One evening a woman approached the table and took a bag that contained food, water, and Gatorade. She softly asked for a second bag and said she needed food for her 3-year-old child. She assured us that she and the child were safe but needed the extra food.  Since then, we've checked in with her and she states they are managing.  We've learned that prying too much can deter people from sharing anything with us so we don't pressure too much.  We're hopeful that, in time, she'll trust us to share her story.

We need gloves (especially 2XL) and hand warmers. If you can help, we would appreciate it. Our needs list will be shared, take a look at our other needs and donate if you can.

As the holidays approach, please keep our unhoused neighbors in your prayers, thoughts, and goodwill.  Merry Christmas to each of you.  

Peace to everyone,
CVSM Volunteers



Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal December, 3 - 2023

It's December and at the time of this writing, the weather has given us a few cold days but thankfully, for the people we serve, it has been relatively mild.  Still, even the milder weather subjects people to the risk of cold weather injuries if they are not careful.  Mittens and gloves are a must and we can always use donations for those.  Please share our journals and needs lists, we appreciate it! 

When we prepare to go out, we always try to estimate how many people we expect and then bring a few extra food items to make sure we don't run out.  Last Monday, even though we brought extra, we ran out of food. We brought 60 bags and it wasn't enough. It was a terrible feeling for us and a disappointment for those who depend on the food. We've been told by people who stay outside of the shelter that those bags of food get them through each day.  We used up all of the men's coats that we'd brought that night and most of the boots were given out. We were able to replace our supply in the van before going out again but are concerned about running out of our back-up stock.  Please consider donating so that we can continue to provide basic items for our brothers and sisters. 

We talked with a man who needed a blanket and noted that he had a child with him. They were planning on sleeping in a van that night and it was cold.  All of the volunteers were wearing coats, mittens/gloves, hats, etc., and provided the same to any guest who needed them. It was much too cold for a 5-year-old to be spending the night outside. We encouraged the man to check the family shelter and see if they could utilize services there. The little girl was friendly and talkative, but she was cold.  We wrapped her in a large blanket and away they went.
































This man and his daughter were staying in a vehicle for the night. 
Picture taken with permission

From volunteer Tess: "An older gentleman politely asked for some gloves as I was handing out food items. I noticed his coat was very thin and he was shivering. I offered to have him come and speak with me and offered a warmer coat. He gladly accepted and said he had just been released from the hospital after having abdominal surgery. He said he was 70 years old and never thought he would be homeless at this age. He was appreciative of everything offered and said he felt “bad for taking items others may need more.” He obviously needed these items but had more concern for others than himself. I asked him about housing and if he signed up for services. He said he had signed up for housing but was on a waiting list. He said he is just appreciative if he can stay in Sojourner for the evening. The numbers have grown for elderly living on the street."

As Winter and the Holidays draw closer, please keep the people we serve in your thoughts and prayers. If you're able to donate to CVSM to help us care for our brothers and sisters, please do so, everything is helpful.  Again, please share our journal and needs list. We appreciate all of your support!  

CVSM staff










Thank you for your interest in donating to CVSM! 
Our donation information is below.

Feel free to share our needs list!  

We accept new and gently used and in good repair items. Please make sure any zippers are in working order and the items are clean. 


We are in need of the following items.
XXL Gloves
Handwarmers (2 per pack)
Jeans, especially sizes 30,32,34
Gas Cards
Food Cards
Monetary Donations

Checks and gift cards can be mailed to:

PO Box 51
Eau Claire, WI 54702

Donations can be dropped off M-F 9:30am-12:30pm at:

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
1120 Cedar Street
Eau Claire, WI 54703


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Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal November 26, 2023

Please Share our Journal


Historically, we would see fewer people at the beginning of each month as disability checks would come in and friends would seek reprieve from the street at local motels.  Lately, we're serving 55+ people regardless of the time of month. Some still will hunker down together in a motel room but there are plenty of other people that are in need of shelter that come our way. If it feels hopeless to us, we can only imagine what it must be like to be someone in need of housing or treatment or any of the needs we hear about.

Waiting for the shelter to open.



We spoke with a young woman who lamented that this year was going to be her first Christmas without her family. She wouldn't get to see her little sister opening gifts or share in the anticipation of the Season. We asked if there was any chance of reconnecting with her family but it sounded like that bridge was irreparably damaged.  We obtained a little more of her history and offered to assist in making connections for some of her needs.  The reality is that many of the people we serve are without family or friends during the upcoming holidays and they do not find the joy that so many others have. Please keep them in your heart.


The last time we were out, we were informed by a gentleman who often helps us that a woman had been sexually assaulted and needed to talk to us. She arrived shortly and we spent time gathering information and trying to determine the best course of help for her.  She reported that she had spoken with the police and that she would consider going to the domestic violence shelter. She seemed relatively calm but we acknowledged that she may not have absorbed the full impact of what had happened to her.  We provided sweatpants and boots to her as what she was wearing was not going to protect her from the cold air. After seeing someone she trusted, she departed with the agreement that she would reach out to us if she felt unsafe. 



We've been blessed with blankets and quilts to help keep our brothers and sisters warm.  There are a number of people who, for one reason or another, 

do not stay at the shelter and need the warmth of a blanket to get them through the night safely.  

Others like the idea of being wrapped up rather than having a coat. This man sincerely appreciated this blanket and showed it off to us. 



We are always accepting hoodies, gloves/mittens, hand warmers, as well as jeans and underwear.  Please see our full needs list with other needs and donation information.  Also, please remember the Street Ministry on Giving Tuesday -- Tuesday, November 28, 2023.  We are always in need of monetary donations.  We are 100% unpaid volunteers and donations are used for the care of the people we serve.


Ella, one of our amazing volunteers, is finding a hoodie for someone in need. 


Thank you for your support, we couldn't do this without you.  Please keep yourselves safe as we enter the colder months and keep the people we serve in your thoughts and prayers. 


Blessings to all,

CVSM Staff. 
























Please review our current needs list.

We do accept used items that are clean and in good repair (working zippers, buttons, etc.) 

Our donation information can be found below:


Jeans -- especially sizes 30, 32, 34, 36

Men's boxers - Lg, XL

Gloves and mittens -- Larger sizes needed

Hoodies -- Lg, XL, ++


Food Cards

Gas Cards

Monetary donations


Donations can be dropped off  Monday -Thursday between 9:30a-12:30pm at:   


Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

1120 Cedar Street

Eau Claire, WI 54703


Checks and/or gift cards can be mailed to:


Chippewa Valley Street Ministry

P.O. Box 51

Eau Claire, WI 54702


If the options above do not work for you, please contact us and we'll make other arrangements. 

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"GivingTuesday reimagines a world built upon shared humanity and generosity." About - GivingTuesday  The Street Ministry operates on the concept of humanity, dignity, and respect.  Our generosity comes from you, our network. Please help us to continue our mission of caring for our community's unhoused population by making a donation. 



















Please share our request!


We appreciate your interest and support.




Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - October 26, 2023

We've served women throughout the lifespan of the ministry that have presented with bruises and injuries, both visible and unseen. It is those women, and the victims that we've yet to meet, that this journal is about. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Our partners at Bolton Refuge House offer the following information:


"End Abuse, WI recently released their Domestic Violence Homicide Report for 2022. In Wisconsin, there were 96 lives claimed by domestic violence in 2022. This is a 20% increase from the 80 domestic violence related homicides in 2021. Victims’ ages range from 20 months old to 92 years old – spanning the lifetime.


One question we’ve been asked is why is it so important to share these statistics. Awareness is incredibly important to preventing future deaths and to supporting survivors. Domestic Violence, and especially homicide, can be a very uncomfortable topic, so having statistics and ways to start the conversation is vital to pursuing solutions and safety.


It is also especially important to raise awareness at this time as domestic violence victim services across the state are facing massive decreases in funding. We here at Bolton are facing a massive deficit to our emergency sheltering and 24-hour crisis services due to grant cuts at the federal and state levels. Our agency exists because our community decided that it was worth providing these services, and this epidemic isn’t going to go away if we look away.


Each life taken by domestic violence is a loss – it’s someone’s sibling, parent, neighbor, coworker, friend. It’s a loss for the entire community. If you or someone you love is experiencing domestic violence, the best thing you can do is listen to them and believe them. Our crisis line is staffed by trained advocates 24/7 – we’re here to help.  -- Cassie Pearson, Administrative Assistant/Victim Advocate Bolton Refuge House, Inc."


While domestic violence can happen to both men and women, we hear mostly from women when we're out.  We've seen bruised and battered women and hear reports of assaults and rape. Some women are verbally and emotionally assaulted with the injuries lasting long past what a cut or bruise would. Regardless of the injury, all abuse is unacceptable -- no one asks for it, no one deserves it. 


Please support Bolton Refuge House and the street ministry as we provide support and care for victims of domestic violence. For more information about Bolton Refuge House and their services, check out their website: 


Bolton Refuge House


Blessings to all,

CVSM Staff

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Street Journal notes from October 5, 2023

“An Eventful Night”


The temp was in the high forties, windy and cold. When we arrived to provide service, we noticed several police cars in the area and someone was being arrested. After a short while, all of the police vehicles left except one. A female police officer stayed behind and spent time with our homeless friends while they waited for the shelter to open. After a while the police officer stopped by our table and asked if we had a blanket that she could have. One of our homeless friends who is in a wheelchair was insufficiently dressed for the weather and the officer went back and placed the blanket around the man's shoulders. This is a great example of “Community Policing,” actively engaging with the public; I know many of our homeless friends appreciated her time with them.





















Safe sleep is a challenge that many of our homeless friends face. This man is taking 

a rest but is leaving himself very vulnerable.


The following is contributed by one of our volunteers:


"One new face was a gentleman who had just been released from jail. He asked for warm clothes but refused the food bag. He stated he did not want to appear “gluttony.” He returned back to the stand a couple more times this evening. He asked for better shoes as his shoes were tattered. I offered him a seat to try them on and he asked for assistance with tying the laces. It was then that Ivnoticed he was blind in one eye. After thanking me for helping with his shoes he asked if he could donate his old ones. I gladly took them and thanked him for donating them. He returned later for a blanket when he noticed others were getting them.


On an average night on the street we are normally prepared for what comes at us because we have experienced volunteers and several social workers and a nurse that are usually available. But this evening was especially concerning when two women reported they had been raped. 

As we were packing things up for the evening, a regular visitor that we have come to know came up to us and reported that a girl was just dropped off and she was distressed saying she had been assaulted. I went up and offered her a bag of food which she gladly took. I asked if I could help in any way. She said she had been forced to stay with these people at a “drug house” and had been drugged and assaulted repeatedly. I listened to her tell her story and she thanked me for just listening. I offered to assist with calling the authorities and encouraged her to do so. She refused saying, “They won’t believe me anyway.” I told her that I believed her and that seemed to calm her. I encouraged her to get medical help and she also refused this. I mentioned Bolton Refuge House and she said, “I am just going to stay right over there.” I noticed she was pointing towards a building. She had missed the check in time for Sojourner and said she would be fine on the street. I gave her the last sleeping bag we had left, blanket, hooded sweatshirt and vest. She thanked me several times. I told her that I got more out of helping others than they could ever possibly get from me. Pastor Mike informed me that when he went back later that evening as he had bought pizza for her, she was not there anymore. I can only hope she is in a safe environment.


A young man in shorts, t-shirt and hospital socks, who I have not seen before, came up and asked for shoes. When offered a pair, he seemed confused and said he already had a pair like that. I offered him another pair and he said he didn’t need shoes. I offered him pants, sweatshirt and a food bag. He refused to take anything. We noticed him later sitting on the sidewalk with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. He was alone and talking to himself. The mental health concerns noticed on the street are exhausting. What can we do to help others?

The thing that I noticed last night was the concern others showed for others. For those people who are not able to ask for things either because of pride or not having the ability, there was someone who was able to ask for them. I could feel the concern others felt that the weather is now changing."


It's nights like this that remind us of the importance of just being present. While the items we could provide were important, the support and friendship that we give is just as important.  Thank you for your support.  Please continue to donate so that we can continue to be available for our unhoused brothers and sisters.


CVSM Staff

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry notes, October 2, 2023

At this time of each year, we never know what to expect with the weather.  We've had chilly days with requests for hoodies only to need to have shorts and T-shirts available for the hot, muggy weather. The evenings get cold and our friends struggle to stay safe and warm. Last week, we served in the rain and were able to provide ponchos to anyone who needed them. At the end of our visit, one volunteer gave up their poncho to someone in need with the knowledge that the other person needed it more than she did. Many people asked for dry socks, as well. Thanks to you, our donor network, we were able to provide the items. We were blessed to view a double rainbow following the storm.  Perhaps you were fortunate to see it, it was beautiful and we enjoyed it alongside our unhoused brothers and sisters. 

A little rain won't stop us from serving!

The message on one of our volunteer's jacket was meaningful to many of us and our visitors.

Double rainbow, 09-25-2023

The man that we've mentioned numerous times with foot problems alerted us that he's sought medical attention and that he has an infection that is reaching a bone in his toe.  He reports that it is recommended to amputate the toe but he's fearful and uncertain whether he will follow through with the recommendation.  We will continue to listen and try to help process the information with him, sometimes our listening is enough for the person to find the solution on their own. 

A woman came to us needing shoes and just to talk. We noted bruising on both arms and on her torso. When she saw the volunteer looking at the bruises, she said that she had been assaulted and that she'd called the police to report the incident. This reminded us that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Women living on the street are at risk of physical, emotional and sexual violence every day. Please keep these vulnerable women in your thoughts.  Often the injuries these women sustain aren't visible. 

We visited with a man who has cancer and is receiving treatment three times weekly. He looked tired and reported that the treatments take a toll but he also has pneumonia.  Imagine having cancer and not feeling well and having to focus on basic needs day after day. We wished him well and asked him to come back the next time we're out and let us know how he's doing. 

A woman that is relatively new to us came with clothing needs.  She asked if she could show us her leg as it was hurting. She has had cellulitis in the past and is concerned that she may have it again. The area is concerning: red, swollen and warm to touch. We encouraged her to seek medical attention for further evaluation.

There were many new faces this time out. We're serving, on average, 50-55 people per time.  We've purchased bus passes and have needed to purchase other items not donated: small tents, clothing in special sizes, etc. We are in need of financial donations to be able to continue our work.  If you are able to help us care for our unhoused brothers and sisters, your donation is greatly appreciated.  

Thank you for your support. Please keep our brothers and sisters in your thoughts and prayers. 

CVSM staff

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal September 12, 2023

We've seen a significant change in the weather since our last journal.  After experiencing some intense heat and humidity, it now feels like fall is in the air.  We're adding more hoodies and sweatpants to the van each time we go out and have been getting requests for lightweight jackets.  It won't be long until we'll transition from shorts and sandals to gloves and boots -- hopefully, not too soon! We're continuing to deliver water to those in need on a daily basis to help with hydration. 

We encountered a man last night that we've known for several years. When he arrived, he was somewhat obstinate but after sitting with him and listening to his concerns, he softened.  He has a couple of problematic toes that need far more attention than we can provide on the street. It was painful for him to walk and when he arrived, he only had one shoe.  After sitting and listening to him, we provided clean and dry socks as well as a pair of shoes.  He wasn't sure he'd be able to get into the shelter and requested a blanket in case he stayed out at night.  The visit reminded us of the importance of listening and the ministry of presence.  We may have provided important items for this man but listening to his story and being a support was equally, if not more, important. 

























Listening and caring are just as important
as the items we provide.

Another man that came to our table informed us that he was going to be starting chemotherapy for a form of cancer the next day. He asked for an extra hoodie to layer over his two shirts as he was cold.  Physically, he was pale and looked fragile compared to previous visits. Imagine being without 24/7 shelter when facing a serious illness and treatment...

Just before we left for the evening, a man came to us and said that he was embarrassed to ask for help but he needed a pair of sweatpants. We tried to reassure him that there was no need for embarrassment and that we were there to cover needs.  He said that he'd never imagined himself in this situation and didn't know "how" to be homeless.  He didn't want to stay and talk as the shelter was going to open soon but we did quickly tell him when we were going to be back and invited him to come again.  We noted that he has a vehicle and likely spends a significant amount of time in it. 

























This dragonfly came and visited us for a good amount of time and watched our brothers and sisters as they came and went.  We like to think of it as a watchful symbol of hope for our friends. 

As we leave the hot summer behind and move into a more temperate time of year, please keep those we serve in your thoughts and prayers.  The nights can be cool and even now, there can be some hazards related to the temperature. 

Blessings to all,

CVSM staff


Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal notes - July 5, 2023

It is incredible to think we're already into July. The days go by quickly for us as we continue to work with our unhoused friends to keep them safe and provide for basic needs. We are dropping boxes of water off in the community on a daily basis to help with hydration needs as the lack of water is a common concern that we hear.  The lack of free water sources has been raised as a concern since the beginning of the Street Ministry and we've mentioned it frequently.

We encountered a man that looked unwell. He reported that he was being admitted to a local hospital for surgery related to lung cancer.  He was told that he'd be discharged back to the street.

If you live in this area, you are aware that it has been very hot and very dry. While the following article is not just about our area, it is concerning. Tuesday was world’s hottest day on record – breaking Monday’s record | Climate crisis | The Guardian. We served on Monday when it was 93 degrees and miserable. We know we should not complain knowing that our homes and vehicles have air conditioning and we're living a privileged life. An hour and a half of heat for us is minimal compared to our brothers and sisters who are outdoors all day and possibly nights. By the end of the day, our friends look haggard and tired and are in need of a break. 




















    Woman finding some relief from the hot sun      



















              Man in need of water, he felt ill from the heat.              
In a previous journal, we noted the area's poverty and that there seems to be few efforts to combat the suffering of the growing number of individuals and families experiencing poverty.  Just recently, we noted an article that not only discusses the poverty in the country but reports that poverty is the fourth leading cause of death.  It's a good read: The fourth leading cause of death in the US? Cumulative poverty | Reverend William Barber and Gregg Gonsalves | The Guardian.  It seems that it would make sense to address poverty here and nationwide to curb the effects it has: medical, mental health, homelessness, life spans. Is it such an enormous problem that it's being ignored?  We have talked about the poverty question in our journals for the last decade, when will we address it for real?

Our numbers continue to rise: we're regularly serving 55-60 people.  We are fortunate to have not run out of water, Gatorade or food although it has been close a time or two.  We've given out countless t-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes.  Our guests have been pleasantly surprised when they ask if there's any chance at all that we'd have sunscreen for them and we've handed over a small bottle. The same is true for a belt or shoelaces. We've been in service for 11 years and it never gets tiring seeing the relief on people's faces when we can fill a need. They are truly grateful for our service and for the donations we receive from you and pass on to them.  We are taking a break from purchasing bus passes as financially, it isn't a viable practice to regularly do. Unfortunately, that leaves some people without transportation and out in the elements.



















The relentless heat from the Sun

Thank you for your continued interest and support of the street ministry. Please keep our homeless brothers and sisters in your thoughts and prayers.  Our needs list is attached, we appreciate your donations. Feel free to share!


-CVSM staff



Thank you for considering Chippewa Valley Street Ministry for your donation!

Monetary donations can be made via check or PayPal.

Checks should be mailed to:

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry
PO Box 51
Eau Claire, WI 54702

PayPal can be accessed by clicking on the "Shop Now" button on our Facebook page:

or the "Donate" button on our web page: 

We do accept gently used items that are clean and in good repair. Our current needs includes the following:

Tennis Shoes, mens -- sizes 11 & 12
Jeans -- sizes 30, 32
Antiperspirant (men's and women's)
Gas cards
Food store cards
Hoodies -- Lg, XL

Donations can be dropped off Mon-Thurs 9:30am-12:00pm at:

 Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
1120 Cedar Street
Eau Claire, WI 54703

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Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal  08-07-2023


The last few weeks have been hot -- and busy.  The temps have been in the 90's and one day we served 68 guests.  On average, we typically serve 55-60.  We gave out popsicles as an unexpected but appreciated treat. The smiles people had with these cold, sweet treats were enjoyable to see; many people said they felt like a kid. They appreciated the distraction for the moment. 



A cold treat on a hot day! 


The actual heat, the heat index, sunburns and dehydration put our friends at risk for heat related injuries.  The clouds formed prior to a thunderstorm. 


Many of our brothers and sisters are struggling with the weather.  If they're not staying at the shelter at night, they're often riddled with insect bites. During the day, many people are sunburned.  We're reminded weekly of the importance of good shoes for walking. Blisters develop from ill-fitting shoes and pain develops from poor support.  Each time out, we give out 6-8 pairs of shoes to those in need. Last week we also had our first aid kit out to provide bandages and a cleaning wipe to clean wounds. 



We're unsure how the sores developed (insect bites or shoes) but the discomfort made walking uncomfortable. 


Every season and every year we talk about the limited availability of free water in the community. We provide water on a daily basis to our brothers and sisters.  On the evenings we're set up in service, several people bypass the food and ask for extra water or extra Gatorade after they've gulped down the first bottles that we've provided. Water should be a right, not a luxury.



Water and Gatorade.  We bring 6 coolers out each night to ensure no one is without hydration. 


A man approached us and said that he remembered us from about three years ago.  He'd moved to Florida and was actually on his way back for a job -- a circus job.  I admit that I had some judgement when hearing this .. a circus?  He continued to talk about how it felt when people called him a "carnie" and how he was deeply offended by this term.  He shared what his duties were and I had to admit that my assumption was not fair to him whatsoever. He worked with the set-up of the tents by working with riggings, supports and was responsible to ensure safety for the audience and performers. Dare I say that many of us would be judgmental to those who have jobs that we view as less worthy than others?  He was working, and at a job that many of us would not be qualified to do. I think that when the general public sees our friends walking through the community, unfair judgement is often passed.  The people we serve are fighting to survive and we have no idea what challenges they face from day to day or what their backgrounds and stories are.  


Waiting for the shelter to open after a long day. 


We've been getting to know some kids staying at the local family shelter. We provide books to all ages to encourage reading and to help pass time. Books -- yet another offering we are able to provide due to our amazing donor network. Thank you!


Thank you, as always, for your generosity and your support.   Please keep those we serve in your thoughts and prayers. 



CVSM Staff 





Chippewa Valley Street Journal - June 18, 2023
Celebrating 11 years of service

It is hard to believe that another year has rolled around and that we're acknowledging our 11th year of service. We've come far. We have grown with the donation of a 2nd vehicle to help carry our necessities and we have built relationships with businesses in our community that care as much as we do about the people we serve. What is discouraging is that not only are we still needed, often we're needed urgently.  We encounter people new to the street who are incredibly vulnerable to a multitude of risks such as violence, weather, medical or mental health complications, for example. We would love for this, our 11th anniversary in service, to be the last and there are no longer homeless people in our community, but we don't have high hopes for this. We will continue to be available as the needs of the people continue. 

Please read the following journal from the first outing of the street ministry staff.  It was written by George, a founding member of the ministry and a retired physics professor at UWEC. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012.  

At 5pm, Pastor Mike, Pastor David, and I ate at the Community Table and talked with the people eating there.  Mike introduced himself and us and asked the diners what needs they had that weren't being met.  It was a very hot day, and after we finished, we asked the Community Table staff if we could hand out cold water bottles in the parking lot.  They gave us their blessing so after our meal we handed out many bottles of cold water. 

We then drove around town and handed out water bottles to anyone who looked thirsty.  People were a bit surprised by these strange folks handing out free water, but many accepted gratefully.  We met a Mexican boy on a bicycle.  He gladly accepted a cold bottle of water and talked with us.  He was in his mid-to-late teens and, although he didn't explicitly state it, he hinted that he was undocumented, but that the US was the only country he really knew--his family had come to the US when he was 5.  I now had a human image to think of every time I heard "dreamers" being talked about on the news.  We drove around town a little more and I spotted an old woman sitting with her back against the wall of an office building on Barstow Street, holding her knees.  Next to her was a garbage bag containing, I assumed, all of her belongings.  We found a parking spot and walked over to her and talked with her.  She looked very hot and dehydrated and could only speak with a very faint voice.  Most people had walked by her without even making eye contact, although she said that one man had given her five dollars.  (Afterward I wondered if I were simply walking down Barstow Street if I, too, would have walked by without making eye contact.)  She accepted a water bottle, but she still looked so weak that we were worried.  I believe we offered to take her to a hospital to get checked out, but she did not want that.  Soon a police officer (I don't remember exactly, but David may have phoned) arrived.  We talked with the officer.  I remember wanting her to be a part of the conversation--after all, it was her welfare we were discussing--but she didn't seem able to talk much.  After much effort, the officer convinced her to accept a ride in the squad care to the Sojourner House shelter so she would have a bed for the night and wouldn't have to walk the remaining blocks in the intense heat.  By the end of that evening we had handed out about 50 water bottles.

We didn't get a name until August-- I noted the new name, Plymouth Street Ministry, in my August 10, 2012 journal entry.  Mike had encouraged me to write up a journal after each outing, so I did, and soon others were writing journal entries as well.  From its earliest days Plymouth Street Ministry has had a philosophy of being with the people we serve as equals.  We met them, and still meet them, in their territory.  They don't need to go to an intimidating office and talk to someone across a desk--we are there among them, evening if it means standing for over an hour in below zero temperatures.  We have never proselytized, although we will pray with people if they ask for it and initiate it.  The people we serve have often been lectured to, preached at, and judged by religious institutions and we don't want to do that.  Instead, we share God's love by simply loving them.  We try to love all, to help all, and to judge no one, and we know that those we serve are every bit as important as we are in God's eyes, perhaps even more important because of their need. 

We frequently note that CVSM operates only on the donations we're given.  We're truly, truly grateful for the 11 years we have been supported and proud that we've continued our work with the generosity of people like you.  However, we are at a point in our bank account that we're getting a little uneasy and are in need of donations. If you have recently donated, thank you, and if you have the ability to help us serve our vulnerable population with a financial gift, please do so. Donations can be made on either our Facebook page or our website, or, checks can be mailed to: CVSM, PO Box 51, Eau Claire, WI 54702.

Thank you for helping us get to 11 years!  We value you and appreciate your interest and support. Please continue to help us care for the homeless in our community. 

-CVSM staff

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal, May-31-2023

It is hot out. There is limited access to bathrooms and water for our brothers and sisters who are without permanent shelter. They have limited places to go where they aren't asked to leave or relocate their positions and possessions. By the time we see them in the evening, many people are worn out, hungry and very thirsty. We always bring 5-6 coolers of water and Gatorade and have left our site with nearly empty coolers several times. We're seeing sunburns and providing sun lotion/block; we're providing shorts, T-shirts and shoes each time we go out. On average, we interact with 45-50 people each outing. 


The more times we go out, the more it feels like we (the community as a whole) are not doing enough to address the cause of homelessness for so many of the people. Certainly, there are a multitude of causes of homelessness but one main factor is poverty. We are a society of haves and have-nots and in our view, the have-nots population is growing faster than its counterpart. What can be done to end the poverty so many individuals and families are experiencing? What can be done to assure everyone of receiving basic human rights? Until there is equity within the community, there will not be an end to homelessness. If poverty continues at the current rate, there will not be an end to homelessness. There isn't a downside to eliminating poverty. While poverty is an enormous problem to tackle, it would be more cost effective for a community to have minimal to no homelessness.





















We've been contacted by two separate families in the last two days for help as they have been or will be evicted after falling on hard times and not being able to maintain housing. These are people with education and jobs that for one reason or another have lost a basic need. We're not set up to provide motel vouchers or housing.  We help how we can and make suggestions on agencies that might be able to help them.  
























A man came to our table on Monday and gladly accepted the food and drink that we provided. He didn't look well. He proceeded to walk a few feet from us and vomited onto the street. We offered him a chair in the shade of the van and began listening to his story.  He hadn't eaten that day and had had one bottle of water.  It was very warm that day and he needed additional hydration. Regardless of the cause of him not feeling well, he reminded us that being homeless and feeling poorly is not a good combination. Self-care for oneself when ill is difficult, if not impossible, when your effort to simply survive takes precedent. 
























We are leaving water in various parts of the city on hot days to help our friends with hydration.  


Poverty and homelessness are community-owned problems; it will take the entire community to address and treat the situations. We believe that all people deserve to have access to basic human rights and will continue to work towards this. Please continue to keep the people served by the street ministry and those living in poverty in your thoughts. Thank you for your support.






















Chippewa Valley Street Ministry volunteers


-CVSM staff


Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, May 11, 2023


The weather has finally warmed up and our brothers and sisters on the street are grateful.  We've been serving about 45-50 people each time we're out, each person having their own challenges and stories to tell. We're often asked for extra water or Gatorade as often our guests don't have easy access to this during the day.


When there are conversations about the homeless, often the population is generalized as a single unit which implies that all members have the same needs, same histories, same wants. This is not a one-size-fits-all population and all people will not benefit from one service. Not all want or are ready for housing; not all want or need substance treatment.  Some have medical challenges and others have mental health challenges. Some are veterans and may need or qualify for certain services. Some have trauma and are triggered by stimuli that don't affect others.  We are seeing more women and even within one gender there are differences: victims of violence, mothers, sex workers. We work with LGBTQ and we know they face altogether different challenges. There are runaways and youth that have been told to leave their homes. Professionals and trade workers and the list can go on and on. 



Guests waiting to go to the shelter. Each person has a unique story and unique needs. 


The bond between all of these groups is that the majority of people need their service urgently. Waiting to get through the barriers of a system only adds to their problems. For our elderly who have mobility problems, the waiting leaves them vulnerable for too long.  For the addict that wants treatment and has to wait, it's a missed opportunity for change.  For the abused woman who can't find safety, she is left to independently fend for her safety for another day. Our point is that while there are services in the community and efforts to make change, the people that need those services may not be able to wait. Help is needed now. 




























Guests waiting to cross the street to the shelter. While there are many different needs,

there is community and support with one another. 


One of our friends that we've served for several years now has housing. We began to celebrate the event and share our joy with him when he said that it had been only a few days and he wasn't sure he wanted it to work out.  In fact, he'd thought about leaving. We asked why and he explained that while he'd wanted a place to call home, he had not considered that he'd be alone and how quiet it would be.  He has, for years, been with peers and had his needs met at one agency or another.  He didn't have the "comforts" of home: TV, radio, etc. but was working on getting these items to create some noise.  He said that he was spending as much time during the day with his friends and continuing his routines that he had prior to obtaining his apartment just to feel like he belonged somewhere. There will be case management involved for him but between those visits, he is concerned about loneliness. 


Please continue to support our work and the people we work with.  Help others learn that the unhoused are not a one-size-fits all population, each person is unique.


Be well, be safe.  Blessings to all.

CVSM Staff


Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal April 19, 2023

Last week we took the thermals, coats, boots and gloves out of the van as the weather had been warm and we were handing out T-shirts and shorts. To our surprise, a significant amount of cold and snow was expected and we needed to bring back the coats, gloves and hats to provide to our friends during the recent weather event. We're hoping for more temperate weather, as are our guests who have managed to survive a long, cold winter. The effects of the weather have been observed not just on the physical health of our brothers and sisters but their mental health, as well. People are tired. They are stressed and frustrated. 

Already this Spring we have heard that there is little access to free water.  For some people, the water and Gatorade we give out is of the utmost importance.  Some people keep the bottles we give and are refilling them at the library or Haven House but for people who don't visit those sites, there is little access to water.  We are also told about the lack of bathroom facilities for people not spending time at either of the noted sites. 

We are working regularly with two individuals that have experienced strokes. Both have one-sided weakness as well as speech deficits. One person has the support of friends to keep them safe -- 'safe' being a relative term when someone is without housing. The other person appears to prefer to be alone but also appears incredibly vulnerable with the challenged gait, inability to use one arm and limited speech. The second person answered affirmatively that contact had been made with local agencies to try and gain housing. Sadly, we worked with this person several years ago and were disheartened to see them back on the street.  We hope and pray that safe housing can be found. 

It is troubling to us that we see so many of the same people week after week, month after month and year after year.  We recall in previous years that there was a person from time to time that had scored housing and we celebrated with them. Quite honestly, it has been months since we've been told that someone has gained housing.  For those who desperately want a home to call their own, the lack of available housing and the length of time it takes to get a place has to be discouraging. Are any agencies or organizations designed to support this growing population long term?  At what point will we see the scales start to tip from charity to justice? We have heard people suggesting that going to jail is a better alternative than continuing to try and survive in their current state. For some, there is appeal to "3 hots and a cot" to avoid the weather and have a guaranteed place to lay their head. 

Pastor Mike asks "What are our friends who live in poverty supposed to do while waiting for society to change and help take up their cause?" The facts are, we live in one of the poorest counties in Wisconsin. A major motel where many of the poor and homeless frequent is about to shut down in July and we are quite sure a majority of those people will be heading downtown to join the others. When are we going to start listening to the voices of those that suffer and try to understand what their needs are and work with them to try and find solutions to this epidemic?  

The street ministry is supported by donations; we are grateful for the years of generosity that has been shown to us.  We are heading into a period of time when donations typically decrease.  Unfortunately, the needs of the people we serve do not change and we are in need of funding to continue our work.  


Checks can be sent to:


      P.O. Box 51

      Eau Claire, WI 54702

Electronic donations can be made via Paypal on our website as well as on our Facebook page:

This clearly is not an uplifting journal but it is important to report what we see and hear in order to be an accurate voice of those we serve.  Thank you for your continued support, we cannot continue without you.  Prayers for our homeless brothers and sisters are appreciated. 

- CVSM Staff

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal March 21, 2023


We're nearing the end of one season and will be transitioning to the next season soon. With that change brings new needs, new problems, and we hope, new answers to old problems. It has been a long and hard winter for the people we serve and many are worn out. 


During one of our recent snowfalls, a man came to us in desperate need of boots. He reported that he'd walked without proper footwear for a significant amount of time. While volunteers were gathering boots, thermal socks and other needs, we snapped these pictures.  He said he'd checked at a nearby thrift store but his size was not available. He denied losing feeling in his feet and they did not appear to be discolored.  He did report significant pain with the cold and was very grateful for the socks and boots. 


















This gentleman arrived with only flip-flops on his feet.


























Boots, wool socks and other supplies were provided. 


We've been consistently serving approximately 40-45 people each time we're out. We know we're not seeing every unhoused person in the area: there are  people that don't come to visit with us and there are several others that are hunkered down in spaces where they are unseen and unheard.  


While we strive to provide for anyone in need, the individuals staying outside at night are of the greatest concern to us. There are people that are not able to shelter for various reasons and are left to be out at night. When the capacity is reached at the shelter, people are left to find their own spaces and they often are required to move from place to place to not violate any ordinances. The lack of sleep intensifies mental health symptoms and worsens the overall health of those we serve. The community does not have enough beds to shelter our homeless. While adding beds would be an immediate help for safety, the cause of the homelessness also needs to be addressed.  While we've seen some positive change in our twelve years of being in service, none of this has changed significantly or rapidly enough. 


Each time we're out, we provide for safety and basic needs. We provide for weather related needs such as coats, mittens and gloves, boots, etc. We also provide food, water/Gatorade and hand warmers. All items are provided without question or any requirements. We often talk about what we do but most of you haven't seen what we do.  We've included a few photos to share:



























This van contains clothing, boots, gloves, coats and a variety of other items.



























Brent and Lynn are gathering up items to provide to a visitor. 





























Steve is taking a break from preparing bags to visit with people.





























Bags of food,water and Gatorade are ready to be picked up. 


Please keep us in mind as the winter season comes to an end and you do your spring cleaning. We'd be happy to take winter clothing donations in order to be ready for next winter. 


Thank you for your continued support. Together, we can care for our brothers and sisters in need.


CVSM staff

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - February 14, 2023

The rain is falling this evening and I can't help but think about our brothers and sisters living without permanent shelter.  I think about the blankets and jackets that we've distributed and how heavy they might be if they've gotten wet.  I think about the risks people have with the slippery intersections that they cross and I think about the overall sadness that this dreary weather contributes to.  We'll continue to do what we do and hope for the best.  Hope for better weather, hope for housing, hope for equity in an inequitable world. 

We have talked to several people over the last few weeks experiencing body pain.  One man has strained his back carrying his backpack and other belongings day in and day out.  Consider carrying everything you own on a daily basis.  It has taken a toll on his back as well as his mental status.  He's generally not feeling well and is very discouraged.  

Another man that we've known for several years has pain in both knees and requires crutches to get around.  He tries to maintain his sense of humor but we suspect that the humor is a mask for the pain and to try and convince himself that he's okay. Our volunteers were nearby when he fell one evening and assisted him back up. Thankfully, he wasn't hurt any worse than before he fell.  With the ice build-up of many intersections, stepping off and onto a sidewalk can be risky even without crutches, canes, or walkers. Many years ago, we provided a bicycle to him and he was able to zip around on it without any problems.  It saddens us to see him struggling. 

This individual has pain in both knees.  He fell and accepted help to get back up.

Yet another man came to see us and was also using crutches.  He'd been to the emergency department of a local hospital and explained his situation.  He showed us how his bandage had slipped down and was unraveling; we rewrapped it and found a sock that would fit over it to hold the ACE wrap in place without constricting his circulation.  He complained about his other foot, after looking at it, we suggested that it looked like a bunion. Due to cultural and language differences, we're not sure he is understanding of the treatment recommendations.  We encouraged him to elevate his leg when he could. 

Karen, our nurse, rewraps the ankle of one of our guests.

There are others that we know of: a woman with a cane, a man with a walker and others that have difficulties getting around but don't use assistive devices. Being unhoused is difficult in itself, adding mobility issues only adds to the challenge.

Thank you for your support and interest in the street ministry and of those we serve. Please pray for our brothers and sisters without permanent housing as they navigate their way on their journey.  

CVSM Staff

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal - January 22, 2023


"A Looming Food Crisis"

Our partners at Feed My People were kind to write the following as an update:


It has been just announced that the extra FoodShare Emergency Allotments that began at the beginning of the pandemic will be discontinued next month. This means many of our struggling families will see a significant reduction in their monthly FoodShare dollars. At a time of high inflation, this will put more folks at risk of not being able to provide for their basic needs including food and shelter. Feed My People along with our partners, including Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, are working to ensure that we can meet the potential increased need for food. Last Friday, at a Pop-Up mobile distribution at the food bank, numerous guests shared that they were there for the first time. Many had just been informed of the reduction in their benefits and were extremely afraid about having enough for their families. The distribution served 265 households, an increase of over 50% from past distributions. Going forward, we anticipate this to be a challenging time for our community. Please join us in supporting hunger-relief efforts in our community. If you know of someone who could use extra groceries, please reach out to Feed My People at 715-835-9415 or and we will make sure they get the food they need.





























Note the line of cars waiting for food from Feed My People. The cars wind around the curve and all the way to Clairemont Ave. 


Thank you for your support.

Tami Syverson, Partnership Manager
Suzanne Becker, Executive Director



Feed My People provides much of our food that we distribute on the street in order to supplement the meals our brothers and sisters potentially receive during the day.  We are grateful for their support and encourage our community to support FMP's efforts, if possible.  There are countless individuals and families in need.  If you know of anyone or are in need of food, please contact FMP at the number or link noted above.  


Thank you for your support of the street ministry and of those we serve.   Let's continue to work together to care for those in need.















Blessings to all,

CVSM staff

Chippewa Valley Street Ministry Journal, January 5, 2023

Tonight was a night that reminded me of why the street ministry is a critical part of the community in terms of serving the homeless population.  We often say that our greatest service is to simply be present and provide a place for people to talk, laugh, cry, or share whatever is on their mind.  Today we did that and also provided some guidance to resources in the community that would help further the next day – because of the hours we keep, most agencies or service providers are closed.  It was a privilege to be able to provide a source of comfort to our visitors. 

One man seemed hesitant to talk but eventually told us his story and how he came to Eau Claire from California many years ago.  We assessed his needs and he shared that his feet hurt so much that he walked as flat-footed as possible to avoid having his toes touch the surface.  I asked to see his feet, there were no open areas but his feet were swollen.  We provided thick socks and boots, he grimaced in pain as he slid them on, even though they were at least 1-2 sizes larger than he normally wore: he wanted the least amount of contact inside the shoe to decrease any pain. We talked about his health, and that he needs to establish with a provider to obtain medication for blood pressure, mental health and some other conditions. When encouraged to make an appointment, he reported not having a phone and not even being sure who to call or what to say. When he left, he quietly said that he felt that he had “wind under his wings” and felt a renewed hope.





















A man showed us that he uses bags on his feet to keep his feet dry and keep some extra heat in. 


The next person that we spent time with reports that he’s had 3-4 strokes and he clearly has limitations: he has one-sided weakness and speech delays. At a previous visit, he had requested boots that could be pulled on as he has little control of one foot to get the boot on/off and is unable to use both of his hands to tie regular style boots.  He arrived and had loafer-style shoes on which were slippery on the ice.  With time and patience, he did get the boots on that we delivered and was happy with the additional support on his weak leg.  We asked about his hand and if he could feel the cold.  He has decreased sensation and movement and we found gloves and mittens too difficult for him to get on so we improvised and found a stretchy-but-warm pair of thermal socks to slip over the one hand to provide protection from the cold. We provided an adjustable cane as he was using only his balance to walk.  

A woman we see regularly asked to show us one of her fingers that she thought had frostbite on the tip of it.  We could see the area she was referring to but we couldn’t be sure. She talked for a long time about the challenges of staying warm when the usual warm places are closed.





















The tip of the finger was blanched, a possible sign of frostbite.


We served guests from our arrival time until we prepared to leave, many come for food and/or clothing but many come just to talk as they have no one else.  

Our needs list will be out soon. Please review it and help us provide for our unhoused friends, if you are able. Thank you, as always, for your interest and support. We couldn't serve without you!


 - CVSM Staff

Addendum: both men noted above have been in contact with the social worker at the local library.  It is a relief to know that they are working on getting some of their needs met. 

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