Fund spotlight: Homeless Jesus Fund

July 30, 2021

Katie Berkedal, Program DirectorBy Katie Berkedal, Program Director

Homeless Jesus Fund

jon Stuttgen established the Homeless Jesus Fund in 2020 to serve as a beneficiary of his estate. The fund is designated to provide financial support for the immediate needs of people who are homeless and living on the streets of the city.

jon was born in north central Wisconsin into a Catholic family. As a young adult, jon was drawn to those who live unprotected in our society; people who are unsheltered, uninsured, and under-resourced. During graduate school, he volunteered at Port Ministries, an outreach to the homeless of Chicago’s south side. Prior to that, he spent time with Bethany House, a homeless shelter in Fond Du Lac, Wisc.

When jon returned to La Crosse, he worked at the Diocese of La Crosse doing outreach to Catholic students at UW-L and Western to keep them connected with their faith. He regularly took students to the Salvation Army, the Warming Center and Place of Grace where students met guests who frequented those places, some of whom were once university professors.

Students would often ask if they should help serve dinner or help clean up. jon’s advice was first to get in line, get some supper, sit down and introduce yourself to somebody. Because service is not always about what we can do for someone. jon has learned that folks do not always want you to do something for them. Sometimes, in our attempts, we end up doing something to them. It’s best to do something with those you hope to serve.

I can’t feed the world’s hungry or shelter the world’s homeless, but I can offer hospitality with whatever I have at the time. I can always be a friend. If that’s all I can do, that has to be enough,” shared jon.

2020 has been tough on jon as the health risks brought by the pandemic have forced him to isolate. His priority, after being vaccinated, is to go have supper with his friends at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church or Sally’s (Salvation Army), then maybe hang out at squirrel park (Cameron Park).

The name of his fund, Homeless Jesus, was inspired by a touching gift, from friends, of a miniature of the well-known bronze “Homeless Jesus” sculpture by artist Timothy Schmalz. jon hopes the fund provides freely for folks who need it, no strings attached.

jon established another designated fund in 2020 to receive part of his estate, the Hilda Stuttgen Memorial Fund for St. Clare Health Mission, in memory of his mother.