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Vinny's Lockers re-opens in Madison, unlocks potential for people in-between homes


Birth certificates, social security numbers, baby photos and family heirlooms. You probably have these important documents stored in a safe place in your house. What do you do with them if you don't have a house? A local organization is answering that question as it bounces back from a devastating fall.

Unless you've lived it, Daniel Hinkle says you can't begin to understand what it's like to experience homelessness.

"This ain't my first go-around, and hopefully it's my last," Hinkle said.

For these individuals, carrying around whatever baggage is difficult enough. When it comes to the actual stuff they're carrying, where do they put it?

"Well, there's no places for the homeless to store their stuff," Hinkle said.

There is one place with a bunch of lockers.

"We have, you know, homeless folks that are all over the city and, you know, for them, they're just like everyone else. They have important items that need to be stored," Eric Fleming, director of development, said.

Vinny's Lockers just re-opened. It's a service from Society of St. Vincent de Paul Madison that allows people in need a place to store things like birth certificates and social security cards.

"Where else can they put those items where they're truly secure?" Fleming said.

Vinny's Locker just opened in its new place on Culmen Street after its previous location burned down.

"We actually not only have a facility here, but we actually have a fireproof safe or box that they can actually have access to. Even when our previous Vinny's Lockers burned down, unfortunately it happened this past November, those most important items were saved," Fleming said.

Hinkle says having a safe place for his important belongings lightens the load.

"If you have to carry it like me, right now I've got a bad shoulder, torn tendon, you can't carry the stuff. So, you do't have a safe place to put it so it won't get stolen," Hinkle said.

Lifting that burden helps in another way.

"Many of our customers that are using St. Vinny's Lockers, they're actually actively looking for jobs. You know. We want to give them that space so they can focus on that versus spending that entire day trying to protect their items," Fleming said.

They're just a bunch of lockers, but they and the volunteers here are helping people like Daniel Hinkle unlock a path to a brighter future.

"They have a heart that goes beyond bounds," Hinkle said.

To learn more about Vinny's Lockers and how to qualify, click here to visit its website.