Editorial published in the Cap Times in December 2013.

Support Community Shares’ Work for Justice — for Lasting Change

In a time when some support systems for the low income and vulnerable in our community are threatened or eliminated, it’s good to know that Community Shares of Wisconsin’s more than 60 member groups are on the front lines, advocating for systems that are fair and empowering everyone in our community. Short-term assistance is always critical, and long-term change takes place only by advancing social and environmental justice. Some examples of what our members groups are doing:

• The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network is taking its voter ID case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The case, to be heard in the spring of 2014, argues for the right of all qualified citizens to be able to vote — without unreasonable fees or burdens.

• When the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools began in Wisconsin in 1996, there were two GSAs in schools to support students. Now there are over 150 GSAs in schools in every part of the state, helping to educate both faculty and students about what they can do to put an end to bullying and discrimination.

• ABC for Health is strongly committed to helping low-income clients get health care coverage. Because of changes in the health coverage landscape, ABC is assisting many more families who call about legal rights, or termination of benefits through BadgerCare Plus or private insurers.

• Housing Initiatives buys and rehabs apartments to offer permanent homes to homeless people with severe mental illness — and recently many of these homes have gone to homeless veterans, a growing population in our community. Housing Initiatives doesn’t provide merely short-term housing. They also provide supportive services, giving people the tools they need to stay in their new homes.

• Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Institute got their supporters involved when an out-of-state mining company wanted to mine for frac sand along the banks of the Lower Wisconsin Scenic Riverway. After WLCVI supporters wrote more than 2,200 letters to Riverway Board members and turned out to hearings, the board rejected the mining permit by a 6-2 vote. (WLCVI points out that Wisconsin has about 75 percent of the frac sand market. The sand mines are affecting our natural landscapes, shrinking our groundwater supplies, and leaching hydrochloric acid into our waters.)

Community Shares of Wisconsin does more than raise money for these nonprofit groups; it also provides training. Fellow CSW board member Michele Erikson, executive director of Wisconsin Literacy, said, “We often benefit from seminars and one-on-one sessions offered by highly skilled professionals in law, marketing and accounting. This is advice we wouldn’t otherwise have access to, due to budget constraints — I don’t have the funds to call a nonprofit attorney on my own and talk through a complex legal question. So CSW and its consultants go above and beyond in offering really valuable assistance for us.”

Make a gift to CSW (communityshares.com) this holiday season to support our work for justice. The positive change we create by all working together will leave us — and the next generation, which depends on us — with a more just and fair community.

Emily Dickmann is board president of Community Shares of Wisconsin.

Read the article on the madison.com website.



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