Burmeister of Jackson and Polly
Schellinger of Lisbon carry bags of gifts
for the homeless in Milwaukee from
Schellinger’s garage to Burmeister’s
truck. Schellinger, owner of Healing Place
Farm, conducted a gift donation campaign
for “Mr. Bob’s Under The Bridge,” an
organization to help the homeless founded
Smith/Special to The Freeman
OF LISBON - A spontaneous outpouring of
Christmas spirit in Waukesha and Washington
counties is going to make the holiday season
warmer and perhaps brighter for homeless people
collected by a Waukesha County woman are being
distributed today at various homeless
encampments by a Washington County man.
Schellinger of Lisbon, owner of “The Healing
Place Farm,” and Bob Burmeister of Jackson,
founder of “Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge,”
share the same philosophy about helping people.
are put on this earth to help one another and I
don’t think there is enough of that going on
this world,” Burmeister explained.
is my belief that the world is so broken that we
need to help one another the best we know
how,” added Schellinger.
donates to dozens of organizations and
individuals the profits she earns from her
production and sale of health care-related
essential oils, lotions, balms, soaps and
restaurateur Jennifer Bartolotta told
Schellinger about how Burmeister helps the
homeless, Schellinger launched a social media
campaign that attracted scores of donors.
estimated most of the donors traveled from about
a 20-mile radius to deliver their gifts to the
farm except for “one women who drove nearly an
hour to get here.”
obtained a list of items the homeless need to
survive in the winter from Burmeister’s
website and added them onto her Facebook page.
didn’t just donate. Some of them went shopping
to buy some of the items that were on the
list,” she added.
and bags stuffed with hats, coats, gloves,
scarves, socks, long underwear, toiletries, even
home-baked cookies, were stacked into a garage on
the 20-acre farm owned by Schellinger and
her husband Robert, a physician and director of
Carroll University’s Physician Assistants
and Burmeister had not met before they greeted
each other with a warm embrace after he arrived
on the farm Wednesday in his truck, about the
size of a small moving van, with a large trailer
is amazing. I am speechless,” he proclaimed as
he walked through the rows of boxes and bags.
Bob’s Under The Bridge” is a not-for-profit
organization dedicated to fostering dignity,
compassion and friendship toward the homeless
founded about a decade ago by Burmeister, who is
a heavy-equipment salesman.
Bob” and dozens of volunteers gather on
Saturday mornings at a Milwaukee park where they
distribute necessities such as clothing and
hygiene products to about 125 homeless men,
women and children each week.
also serve warm coffee and snacks to encourage a
sense of community and fellowship among the
organization is named after the Holton Street
a youngster growing up in the inner city,
Burmeister frequently walked across the bridge
under which the homeless often lived.
of his goals is to educate people
living in more fortunate and comfortable
conditions about the existence and hardships
faced by the homeless, whom he often refers to
as “my friends.”
live under a bridge takes a lot of thought. It
is not only how to survive the weather, it is
also learning to sleep with one eye open, so you
don’t get beaten up or stuff stolen,” he
are experts on survival, on how to layer
clothes, on how to build a shelter, that will
keep them warm in the winter,” he added.
the homeless are always at risk.
told the story of how one of his friends lost
seven toes from frostbite partly because of his
alcoholism, and social service agencies’
failure to recognize the seriousness of his
estimates there are about 1,200 to 1,500
homeless people in Milwaukee, which he says is
about typical for an urban population of about
600,000 in the United States.
60 percent of the homeless suffer from alcohol
and drug addiction. Another 25 percent suffer
from various forms of mental illness, according
said she may try to organize a monthly donation
am so blown away that you have a place in your
heart for our friends in the city,” Burmeister
later told Schellinger on Facebook.