CREATED May. 1, 2013
Green Bay, WI -- Homelessness is a growing problem in the Green Bay area. Chances are someone you know is just a paycheck or two away from being out on the streets. Packers wide receiver James Jones has been there and is now using his celebrity status to change lives.
"My childhood growing up in the homeless shelter was lonely at times," said Jones.
Long before he won a Super Bowl, Packers player James Jones lived in a homeless shelter in California.
"It was difficult. It was hard. If you're not mentally tough, you can easily go the wrong direction," he said.
"He feels like God put him in that situation and made him deal with being homeless, because he knew that he could handle it," added Jones' wife, Tamika.
Now, James and Tamika are making difference in Brown County.
"Freedom House became near and dear to our hearts because when James went there, he noticed how they focused on keeping the families together. Some homeless shelters just focus on the parents, and the kids get lost in the shuffle," explained Tamika.
"To see him interacting with the parents and interacting with the children is just very powerful, and then they think to themselves, 'You know what? Maybe there's hope for me,'" said Freedom House President Robyn Davis.
64 families are currently on Freedom House's waiting list. 129 of those people are children.
"The loss of income whether it's from the loss of employment or divorce or abandonment of the bread winner, those things are still happening in our community," explained Davis.
"I truly believe a lot of people don't truly understand how serious homelessness is here in Green Bay and back home in California. It's just getting worse," said Jones.
That's why James is sharing his painful story at "Toast 2 Success." The 4th annual event will raise funds for Freedom House to continue offering food, shelter, training and support.
"When someone like James Jones is involved, it really helps people to see that homelessness is different than what they expected. It's not the stereotype," said Davis.
Davis appreciates the Packer player's courage to speak out and his compassion to help the shelter serve more families.
"The biggest thing with events like this, you want to raise money. You want to raise awareness to be able to help those homeless families," James said.
"I just ask that people come out, support and lets really help end homelessness together," added Tamika.
Part of the proceeds from Toast 2 Success will also benefit the "Love Jones for Kids" foundation which offers programs to help disadvantaged children. The event is coming up on Friday, May 17th at the Green Bay Distillery in Ashwaubenon. Tickets are still available. Click on this link for more information.