“I think a lot of people are fearful of someone who might be homeless,” said Steinhoff, a social worker for Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service. “But here's the tent. Here's the pole. The tent and the sleeping bag rolled-up and set aside. That tells me someone is either sleeping here now or maybe they could have been here last week and something changed and they had to leave or something like that.”
Steinhoff said since April, her group has come across more than 60 homeless people in St. Charles, Lincoln, and Warren counties.
O’Loughlin, a registered nurse at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital-St. Charles, carries a backpack filled with medical supplies.
“I’m checking for things like whether they have crazy blood pressure. Are they out of their psychiatric medicines? Or have they been hungry or cold so long it's made them ill?” she said.
But half the story is how they get here. The evidence of homelessness they found is located in the back of Wapelhorst Park, off of Muegge Road.
To get to the area where Steinhoff and O’Loughlin found the tent and sleeping bags, they had to pass beautiful homes, paved pathways, and suburban soccer fields filled with teenagers and children.
“This is a very affluent area, it really is,” Steinhoff said. “And they don't want to be found, either. They like that degree of anonymity.”
Back on location, more evidence their efforts are needed. Steinhoff discovered a sleeping bag under another tree.
“There's a blanket right there,” she said. “This one (blanket) may have been out here a little bit longer.”
The pair goes out at least three times a week—Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays—trying to find homeless people in St. Charles County, and see what they can do for them.