This is the type of work that’s possible only with your support. You can make a secure donation to any of our member groups—or to all of them (by selecting “CSW” in the drop-down list).
This is the type of work that’s possible only with your support. You can make a secure donation to any of our member groups—or to all of them (by selecting “CSW” in the drop-down list).
Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) worked with an eighth grader who, due to mental health issues and behavioral challenges in school, was being restricted to an alternative site offering no contact with other students his age. DRW helped the family advocate for return to school and negotiated a plan in which the student started attending a regular public high school in ninth grade—his time was split between regular education and special education settings. Due to DRW’s efforts, the school is now doing some special training regarding mental health issues.
Every year the River Alliance of Wisconsin co-hosts a paddle with Milwaukee River Keepers through downtown Milwaukee on an evening lit by a full moon. It is a wonderful experience—not only a means to meet new people but also a novel way to experience paddling.
River Alliance staff say that the smiles on people’s faces are a reminder of why they host these kinds of events.
714,000 Wisconsin women (32.4%) have been assaulted, raped, or stalked by an intimate partner, according to Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV). (This number exceeds the population of Milwaukee.) About half a million of these women were fearful or concerned for their safety.
These numbers reveal a great need for services for victims. WCADV helps train advocates so that the state’s programs and shelters are ready to serve.
One advocate said, “WCADV staff discuss and request input from agencies regarding topics for the trainings. And WCADV does a spectacular job!”
One boy involved at Community GroundWorks said, while slicing tomatoes, “I don’t usually like tomatoes, but I will try them here.”
Then as he was leaving the garden, he asked, “Can I take a bunch of cherry tomatoes home, so I can put them in my lunch for tomorrow?”
Each year Grassroots Empowerment Project conducts Listening Sessions statewide each year. It’s a chance for legislators to hear from mental health consumers their most pressing needs for systems change. About 6 minutes into this video, hear what Executive Director Molly Cisco says about the lawmaker who said, “I’ve never before talked to a constituent of mine with a mental illness.”
The organization also sponsors:
• The Consumer Conference—a conference by and for mental health consumers
• Empowerment Days—to educate policymakers and involve them in discussions on the issues identified from the Listening Sessions
“Chrysalis means having a supportive community behind me to help me with my mental disability on the job. Chrysalis has helped me develop coping skills to use if I feel or get overwhelmed. Without Chrysalis I don’t know where I would be today, they have changed my life forever!” – Jennifer M, Front Desk
When the only state funding for providing sexual assault services in Wisconsin was cut by 45%, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) helped lobby, which resulted in a 15% reinstatement of funding. WCASA will continue to lobby for full reinstatement of that money.
Despite the cuts, WCASA last year:
• Provided training about sexual violence to over 1000 advocates, community members, nurses, and prosecutors
• Provided much-needed technical assistance and training to 46 Rape Crisis Centers in Wisconsin so they could enhance services to survivors
REAP Food Group’s Farm to School program adds to schools’ meal programs by introducing children to fresh, nutritious, local, and sustainably grown food. REAP also secured three “garden bars” to donate to the Madison School District and stocked them with fresh, local
In addition, REAP gave weekly fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to 4,500 students in Madison’s most economically challenged elementary schools. REAP:
• Bought more than $25,000 worth of local produce from area farms
• Offered job-readiness kitchen skills through the Catholic Multicultural Center’s training program
• Provided more than 19,000 pounds of fresh fruits and veggies to area children
Part of the mission of the Sierra Club Foundation, John Muir Chapter, is to let citizens know how “green” laws can improve our lives. For instance, recently passed vehicle standards require automakers to achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. These standards, which were supported by the Sierra Club, will:
• Cut US oil use by 12 billion barrels
• Keep 6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution out of the atmosphere
Our local John Muir Chapter also recognized some local businesses and nonprofits for their efforts to support electric vehicles:
In the past year the Fair Housing Center of Greater Madison:
• Offered help to numerous people who alleged housing discrimination.
• Hosted fair housing training seminars to rental property owners and managers who own or manage a total of 3,104 housing units in Dane County. The trainings help the owners and managers run their businesses in compliance with the law–from advertising units to terminating tenancies.
• Hosted presentations on housing to 526 consumers, social service agency staff, and members of community-based and faith-based organizations. The presentations helped the audiences better understand fair housing laws.
Margaret may be 92, but with the help of the River Alliance of Wisconsin she stood up to the harassment of her neighbors to do what was right for her beloved Bark River. Circumstances made it clear that removing a dam–attached to the mill that Margaret and her late husband had called home for 60 years–was the best thing for the river. But she faced stiff opposition from property owners claiming rights to the pond formed by the defunct dam. The protests were silenced when a jury ruled in favor of Margaret’s right to remove the dam.
The staff of River Alliance was proud of Margaret for hanging in through all the troubles. And Margaret was happy to see her precious river returned to its healthy state.
“I would never have believed that anything as bad as these lakes even existed in the United States,” said Peggy. “It is like living in a third world country with the cyanobacteria that chokes our lakes and emits toxins, hydrogen sulphide, and ammonia into the air. . . . In 6 short years, I have lost 20% of my lung function.
“We donate to Clean Wisconsin because it is the leader in trying to make a difference for Wisconsin waters. We can’t afford to keep brushing this under the rug. This is a huge problem for the state’s economy and health!”
Calls to Rape Crisis Center‘s (RCC’s) 24-hour crisis line jumped 26% last year, to nearly 2,300. Volunteers and staff provide support to an average of nearly 200 callers each month.
In addition, RCC advocates accompanied victims 400 accompaniments at the hospital, police station or courtroom nearly 400 times last year – an increase from the average of 350 we’ve seen in previous years. Having someone to provide support, information and resources can dramatically improve a victim’s experience interacting with medical and legal systems.
ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation trains legal observers who attend rallies and protests around the state—and who protect the rights of free assembly and expression.
This nonprofit also played a key role in Election Protection work during the many elections during the past year. Many voters were confused by changes to registration requirements. That’s why the ACLU provided thousands of guide—in multiple languages—on topics from voter rights at the polls to registration requirements.
Without help from Legal Action of Wisconsin, April’s family might
still be homeless. She and her children were evicted from their Madison apartment after they stopped receiving assistance from the public housing program known as Section 8. “I lost half of my possessions, furniture, clothing, everything,” she said. And in the midst of all that, April lost her job.
April went to a hearing to try and reinstate her Section 8, but she lost. She then contacted Legal Action of Wisconsin. With their help, a judge ruled that April’s housing assistance had been wrongly terminated and should immediately be restored.
Now living with her kids in a duplex, April is studying criminal justice at a local technical school, where she’s passing with high honors. She thanks Legal Action, and she urges others who feel they’ve been treated unjustly to fight.
“A lot of people get that official letter in the mail and they just give up,” she said. “They don’t know they have the option to fight.”
Continuing its Health Advocacy, Wisconsin Literacy has worked with UW-Madison to bring Byron Pitts (60 Minutes reporter) to Madison for the 2013 Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit on April 9-10.
The Summit attracts a national audience of health care providers, public health professionals, and literacy program administrators.
Wisconsin Literacy also received a grant from UW-Madison to recommend how to implement new national standards for medication labels. The study will be carried out in collaboration with the UW School of Pharmacy.
In the past year, the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families was successful in its fight to maintain BadgerCare coverage for 29,000 Wisconsin children.
MALDEF Parent School Partnership Program is a curriculum in Spanish that supports Spanish-speaking parents increase their understanding about the school system, local political system, and how to best advocate on behalf of their children.
To date, Nuestro Mundo Inc has offered two sessions of MALDEF PSP training over 45 parents. The sessions help the parents become more informed, confident, and active in supporting their children’s education.
Among the plaintiffs in the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation case opposing Wisconsin’s new voter ID laws is Anthony Sharp, 19. An African-American Milwaukee resident, Anthony does not have any of the accepted forms of photo ID under the new voter ID law. Anthony, who lives with his family, also does not have income to buy a $20 certified copy of his birth certificate in order to vote.
“You shouldn’t have to pay all this money to be able to vote,” he said. “I’m a citizen and was excited about voting, but I don’t have the money to pay for all these documents. Every American must be able to vote, not just those who can afford to get an ID.” The ACLU of Wisconsin is fighting to preserve Wisconsinites’ right to vote.
(Update on the law: Thanks to CSW member group the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, the law was found unconstitutional in a Wisconsin circuit court. As that lawsuit and one other work their way through the state appeals system, the ACLU’s lawsuit in Federal court is on hold. The ACLU’s motion for preliminary injunction has been filed and stands as a backstop in the event the State Supreme Court reinstates the law.)
Through Project Home‘s community-funded Hammer with a Heart Program, major home repairs were performed on seven homes last year—five in Madison, one in Monona, one in Black Earth. Repairs were also made to one nonprofit facility, Prairie Crossing Apartments on Allied Drive.
Hammer with a Heart is the only local program to do major home repairs, at no cost, for low-income homeowners.
Knowing that justice issues extend to the environment that we all depend on, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (WNPJ) has been educating people about the range of mining activities in our state. This the recent explosion of sand mines in central and southwest Wisconsin. Tons of sand are exported from Wisconsin each day, for use in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) elsewhere to extract natural gas.
WNPJ also helped launch Madison Action for Mining Alternatives. This group builds coalitions between environmental organizations and Native American leaders.
Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) invites you to the International Day of the Women art exhibition opening reception on Tuesday, March 12, 4:30 -6:30. Photographs of WCCN’s women borrowers—taken by of Michael Kienitz—will be shown, along with work of other women artists. The reception is at the Biopharmaceutical Technology Center-Promega Gallery, 5445 E. Cheryl Pkwy, Madison.
In the 1970’s and 80’s, Michael photographed civil and revolutionary wars in Central America. Today Michael travels to photograph the hopes and struggles of the working poor. His portraits bring alive the pride that WCCN borrowers have for their accomplishments.
Arts Wisconsin asks that you mark your calendar to attend Creativity at Work: Arts Day 2013, Wednesday, March 13, at the Concourse Hotel in Madison. It’s Wisconsin’s most important day for the arts, arts education and creative economy, and you don’t want to miss it.
Freedom Inc. spotlights Zon Moua. Zon started volunteering with Freedom Inc six years ago to start the dance troupe Viv Ncaus. Now she is one of the core staff, leading the Hmong girls’ group.
Zon reflects, “I never knew that my experiences in life can turn into wisdom. But through love and patience and self-acceptance, I learned how powerful my silence, actions, and words were. I am ready to be the best I can for my community, family, and myself.”
ABC for Health is helping to train Family Practice and Pediatric Residents about health care coverage. ABC prepares them to answer questions patients often ask their doctors about costs and systems of coverage related to treatment. Empowered with information and resources, the Residents can help to alleviate stress and confusion among patients and physicians alike.
How did borrower Delia Mondragón Rios rise from poverty in Peru to send her children to college? Thanks to Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) and its many lenders here at home, the chain of events is simple:
• Ten years ago, Delia borrowed $100 to buy flour to make bread and start a bakery. She joined a community bank formed by WCCN partner agency ARARIWA. (Community banks are needed since larger banks would never lend small sums to someone like Delia. The community banks also offer financial management training.)
• Over the years she continued to borrow money to expand her bakery.
• With her increased sales and income, she was able to send her three children to the local university.
Get involved as a lender with WCCN.
Thanks to the Sierra Club Foundation, John Muir Chapter, over 1,800 signatures were gathered urging Governor Walker to sign onto a regional Memorandum of Understanding. This MOU would allow Great Lakes states to work together to overcome policy barriers to developing offshore wind. The Sierra Club’s efforts continue this year as staff and volunteers educate elected officials about offshore wind’s huge potential for green jobs and clean energy.
Paint-a-thon is another of Project Home‘s community-funded, volunteer events. This annual program focuses on exterior painting for Dane County residents that are unable to pay for, or perform the work themselves.
In 2012 a total of 12 homes were painted by both professional painters and hundreds of volunteers.
Should laws be written to protect Wisconsinites’ public interest and our environment? Or should out-of-state mining companies be able to change our laws so they can mine faster and cheaper than what our current process calls for?
Clean Wisconsin is opposed to putting mining company profits over environmental protections. This group will be at the forefront of legislative discussions in order to protect our health, air, and water.
Pardeep Kaleka, whose father was killed in the attack on the Sikh Temple in
Wisconsin, offered his reflections on nonviolence and community building at the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice Member Assembly. The Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), a member of WNPJ, has been working for years to prevent gun violence.
Despite back-to-back years of funding cuts, Rape Crisis Center (RCC) continues its Community Education program, reaching over 4,000 people last year. Staff tailors presentations to almost any audience: law enforcement recruits, mental health workers, etc.
But their special focus is working with middle and high school students.
Madison Audubon Society spoke out against a proposed bill in the legislature to open a hunting season on sandhill cranes in Wisconsin. Here were some of their reasons:
A member group of Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice—the
Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, or WAVE—hosts small group discussions on gun violence like the one shown here.
Arts Wisconsin points out that there’s a critical need for
integration of the arts and creativity in a quality education for all Wisconsin students. Arts Wisconsin increased its advocacy for arts and creativity in education in 2012, and it will see even greater growth in that area in 2013.
The Just Dining Guide for Madison is available from Interfaith Coalition
for Worker Justice, a group of faith leaders advocating on behalf of low-wage workers. In a statement ICWJ said, “We choose where we eat and shop, considering the wages and conditions of the workers that produce and deliver these goods to us. We lift our voices—in writing, in person, in protests—to lift up the voices of workers calling for changes.
“We also support legislative changes that will protect the future rights of those who protect our futures—our teachers and other public employees.”
Maria and Rosa live in Ecuador and work with a local nonprofit lending group, FACES, which partners with Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN). Thanks to donors/lenders with WCCN, Rosa received a low-interest loan to raise pigs—which increases the family’s income and pays for medical services and therapy for her daughter, Maria.
For families like this with special needs children or adults, FACES provides below-market rate loans. The loan helps families like Rosa achieve economic independence.
With help from donors/lenders, WCCN proudly supports nonprofit microfinance agencies in Latin America that enable hardworking women to support their families.
The group home run by Women in Transition (WIT) is called the Halfway House. Jane, who suffers from severe mental illness, entered the Halfway House in February of 2011. Jane had been living alone, isolated, and unable to connect with others to make friends. Her family called or saw her daily but it was not enough to move her toward recovery.
In the months since coming to WIT, Jane has become noticeably better. She has contributed to the community through volunteer work, she has excelled at cooking, and she is now looking for paid employment.
Jane has developed two friendships while at WIT—an important step toward recovery. And she has once again become the sister her siblings know and love.
Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools (GSAFE) recently began offering trainings for staff at Madison’s community centers. The trainings focused on:
After the trainings 100% of staff said that they were more likely to interrupt anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and name calling, with nearly all saying they were more equipped to do so after the trainings.
One staff member later said, “I’ve made it very clear in many cases that what’s being said is very hurtful and that I’d no longer like to see that type of behavior and language continue. The response is usually pretty good, and the behavior ceases when they see they’ve hit a nerve.”
Wisconsin Literacy staff know that health literacy is key to immigrants’ quality of life. That’s why Wisconsin Literacy created the Seasonal Flu/Vaccination workshop project. Aimed at vulnerable populations throughout the state, the project reached over 900 adults in various community settings. The average learner’s pre- and post-test score grew from 56% to 83%, and many followed up with a flu shot.
Each week REAP Food Group serves a locally grown snack to 4,500 children in Madison’s lowest income schools through the Farm to School Snack Program. In doing so, REAP helps Wisconsin schoolchildren learn to love healthy food from local farms. Local farmers like Rufus benefit as well.
In the past year Chrysalis has supported 35 adults with mental illnesses along their path of recovery and to paid employment. The majority—66%—are now employed or in a formal education program.
In addition to offering supported employment services, Chrysalis has worked with 45 people as they volunteer, obtain important job skills, and expand their social support network. These volunteers have completed many mailings (over 10,000 pieces) for over 30 local nonprofits.
The answer is Southern Wisconsin Buy Fresh Buy Local—also known as REAP Food Group’s match-making service. REAP helps area farmers, chefs, and other food service providers build lasting relationships. When farmers and chefs find one another, the result is $1.7 million in local goods purchased by local restaurants.
In this way REAP creates a long-term network of local producers and buyers that has economic benefits to all parties—including all of us who get to enjoy healthy local food when dining out.
Praise from both the prison warden and the prisoners—it’s one way nonprofit volunteers like Cheri (right) know they’re doing the right thing. After Dane County TimeBank members taught mindfulness and non-violent communication in a women’s prison, the warden said that the entire culture of the prison had shifted for the better. “The work you’ve done . . . is amazing and I want you to know that I’m singing your praise,” said the warden.
One woman sent a note: “How do I begin to thank you for bringing me a way to live, a method to quiet my mind, and a way to know that I am connected to all that is around me?”
As her parole date approached another woman wrote, “I am excited and somewhat anxious but never fearful. Those fear-filled days are part of my past.” About the apartment she hoped to find, she said, “I may not be able to fill it with materials things at first but I’ll fill it with love, compassion, honesty, trust, and a coffee pot—and the rest with come. You opened a door for me . . . As I get ready to leave this place I go with an open heart . . . and with a deep bow of gratitude.”
Economic hardship—it’s a reality for many domestic violence survivors. The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV) has an economic empowerment program. It allows local domestic violence groups to develop or enhance ways to address the economic challenges that survivors face.
Money and finances play an important role for many women when debating whether to leave an abusive partner. If a woman does leave, it can be devastating to leave a home, income, benefits, and economic security behind, regardless of job skills or earning potential. And in the short term, many survivors of domestic violence have little or no access to money.
This program offers help for women who take the step to escape the cycle of violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
River Alliance has compiled a series on how phosphorus pollution harms small business owners.
“I’ve been told by several people ‘Frank, we love your place, but we’re not going to allow our children into the water, so we’re not going to be back.’ ”
Over 25 years, Frank’s customers have come from as far away as Nepal, China, and South America to stay at his resort on Lake Kegonsa. His customers also supported other Stoughton businesses such as restaurants, retailers, and gas stations. But he estimates he’s lost nearly half of his long-term customers due to polluted water.
“I can work day and night and make the place look beautiful, but if the lake stinks, they’re not going to come here. It’s sad,” said Frank, who is unsure how much longer he can afford to stay in business.
Last year, over 200 parents, students, and community members attended a school board hearing in Belleville, Wisconsin—to support keeping a controversial book in high school English classes. Wearing green “Keep the Book” stickers in a show of support, parents and students spoke passionately against censorship. (The book in question was “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes,” which depicts teens facing problems such as bullying.)
The ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation supported the parents and students who chose to attend the event and support their teachers. In the end, board members agreed that peer-reviewed, modern selections of fiction are appropriate for their ninth graders and that options are available for parents who want their children to read alternatives.
“People can’t wait to get out of town,” said Mike Pahl about the economic and social impact of lakes such as Lake Tainter, which is infested with blue-green algae. The cause of the algae is excess phosphorus runoff.
To document how phosphorus affects our lakes, one Clean Wisconsin video features:
- Realtor Robyn Morin, who describes how the algae blooms reduce property values
- Residents like Peggy, who describes how the algae cause respiratory distress
- Johnson Motor’s Mike Pahl, who says that potential visitors don’t stay in town since the smell is “like being in the center of a hog farm”
Clean Wisconsin is working with communities across the state to implement the recently passed phosphorus rules—since phosphorus pollution is the primary cause of toxic blue-green algae.
Brenda, David, and daughter Brooke were just one family that recently received greatly needed home repairs through Project Home’s Hammer with a Heart.
David has had Huntington’s disease for many years and was bedridden. Brooke, 17, was diagnosed with Huntington’s at 8 years old, a very early onset. Brenda had to quit her job to care for them both. Their leaky roof and other needed home repairs became overwhelming, and there was no way the family could afford them.
Through Project Home and Findorff, the family received a new roof, kitchen floor, additional half bathroom, ceiling, drywall, carpet, and vent cleaning—making the house more safe, comfortable, and healthy.
David passed away several months after the Hammer with a Heart project. Project Home’s staff and many volunteers are glad they could help the family in this one way.
Through advocacy trainings around the state, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) helps empower Wisconsinites to become advocates on issues that matter most to them. Vicky is a case in point.
After Vicky’s 17-year-old son Kirk killed himself while confined in an adult jail, Vicky became committed to returning 17-year-olds to the juvenile corrections system, where they can access the mental health and other services not available to them through the adult system.
For those like Vicky wanting to get involved, WCCF provides the data and know-how to work with local policy makers. With the help of advocates like Vicky, WCCF has worked for several years to get legislation passed that would ensure that teenagers receive age-appropriate treatment in the justice process. WCCF expects this legislation to be introduced again this year.
The goal is that no more families would have to suffer the kind of tragedy Vicky did.