Living Local tells the stories that connect us in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington & Ozaukee Counties through interviews and personal testimony. Hosted by United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County staff and donors, we cover topics ranging from fatherhood to homelessness, volunteering to school readiness…and everything in between. Our communities’ toughest issues affect all of us because we are all connected. Have a listen. Join us. Live United.



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Podcast: On Race & Friendship

May 17, 2017

Episode 1: Listen Now (00:17:19)
Episode 2: Listen Now (00:16:18)



Think about your group of friends. What drew you to these particular people? Often, friends are those we grew up around, went to school with, work with, or met through the pursuit of similar hobbies.

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Podcast: Mary Lou Young Announces Her Retirement

May 10, 2017

Listen Now (00:16:20)



This episode is bittersweet: Mary Lou Young, who has served as president & CEO of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, will retire from her position after eight years of service.

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Podcast: PATCH Mends the Gap Between Doctors and Teens

May 2, 2017

Listen Now (00:14:25)



Think back to when you were a teen. Would you say you were comfortable opening up to your doctor about sensitive topics like sexual health, mental health, or drug and alcohol use?  Who didn’t cringe at the dreaded questions like “are you sexually active” or “could you be pregnant?” In fact, this uncomfortable feeling with telling your doctor the whole truth about your health may have even followed you into adulthood.

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Podcast: Simmi Urbanek, Advocate Extraordinaire!

April 25, 2017

Listen Now (00:16:01)



Remember those summers when you were too young for a job but too old to just hang around the house all day? What did you do to pass the time? Pre-teen Simmi Urbanek’s mom had an interesting solution: she dropped her two daughters off at their local United Way and said "find something to do!"

This began a long life of giving, volunteering, and advocacy for Simmi. After her first summer with United Way staffing charity root beer float stands, playing with kids at local agencies, and volunteering at a nonprofit coffee shop, Simmi stayed involved in volunteer activities through college.

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Podcast: From Survivor to Champion, Episode 2 (Re-run)

April 19, 2017

Listen Now (00:13:30)



Trigger Warning: This blog post and podcast contain recollections of and information about sexual assault.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men has been sexually assaulted…so why is it still so hard to talk about?

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Podcast: From Survivor to Champion, Episode 1 (Re-run)

April 11, 2017

Listen Now (00:17:30)



Trigger Warning: This blog post and podcast contain recollections of and information about sexual assault.

At the age of 21, Dawn Helmrich experienced a brutal sexual assault. This life-altering event had many negative outcomes for Dawn, including rampant victim blaming and lack of support during a traumatic experience on the witness stand. As a result of these experiences, Dawn has become one of Milwaukee’s most vocal advocates for victims of Sexual Assault through her leadership of the annual Denim Day. Each April, Denim Day brings awareness to sexual violence and helps end victim blaming.

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Podcast: How Sexual Assault Changed My Life

April 4, 2017

Listen Now (00:16:25)



“It came up casually in conversation. He died. What? No one thought that would be something I would have liked to know? It happened years ago, but to me it was like yesterday, every day. I relived the abuse daily. It affected so many facets of my life.”

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Podcast: Daring to Fail Differently

March 28, 2017

Listen Now (00:17:38)



What would happen if we threw our rules out the window and started from scratch?

This is the question Audra O’Connell asked her staff at Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center’s Emergency Shelter when she began her tenure as Executive Director in 2016. The shelter, which serves teens, had a list of rules governing everything from behavior to dress, but Audra did not see how these rules were helping impact the broader issue of youth homelessness in Milwaukee. In fact, 6 months after trying to run the shelter without rules such as “no baseball caps in the house,” Audra and her team found themselves serving more youth than ever before.

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Podcast: When Black Babies Thrive, All Babies Thrive

March 21, 2017

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Problems. The ones most people don’t have the stomach for. The ones nobody talks about at cocktail parties. The ones that can’t be solved overnight. We go looking for them.

These are the words in United Way’s new credo for 2017, and they perfectly describe the issue of Infant Mortality. Milwaukee has one of the highest rates in the country, with Black babies dying at nearly three times the rate of White babies. 

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Podcast: Representative David Crowley on Urban Underground, Yoda, and Building Influence

March 14, 2017

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There are many ways to affect change in our community. Here at United Way, we raise funds and mobilize volunteers around our communities most difficult issues. In Madison at the Wisconsin State Legislature, Representative David Crowley works with his peers on both sides of the aisle to advocate for issues affecting an area of Milwaukee that is close to his heart: the near-North West side. Representative Crowley intimately understands this neighborhood – it is where he grew up playing on the playground near his Grandma and Uncle’s house, and where he now resides with his family.

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Podcast: Violence & Equity Top List of Community Concerns

March 7, 2017

Listen Now (00:18:01)



What kind of Community do you want?

What is keeping us from making progress?

Who do you trust to take action?

These are some of the questions that the 330+ participants in United Way’s Community Conversations project answered in 2016. Participants from 70 zip codes, diverse in race and income level, and ranging in age from 12 to 95, shared their candid thoughts on what they see in their community when they walk out their front door every day. The 2016 Community Conversations year-end report was released on February 22 at United Way’s Annual Meeting.

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Podcast: Shaquita and Adrienne, Street Beat Team (Rerun)

February 28, 2017

Listen Now (00:18:08)



Here at United Way, we recently said goodbye to Living Local co-producer Rebecca Schimke, who moved on to an excellent position with Palermo’s Pizza. In her honor, let’s revisit one of her favorite interviews from 2016. 

This week we talk to two women who spend a majority of their time on the streets. They aren’t homeless but spend their time helping youth who may be experiencing homelessness and young people who need help finding resources or maybe just need a friend.

These two women are Shaquita and Adrienne. They are outreach specialists on the Milwaukee Street Beat team through Pathfinders and the Walker’s Point Youth & Family Center. Our conversation ranges from how they got the job to what some misconceptions may be about who they are working with.

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Podcast: Greg Marcus on Making Generosity Fun

February 21, 2017

Listen Now (00:15:45)



Who is the CEO of your bank? Do you know their name? Better yet, do you follow them on social media or see a commercial featuring them when you pay your bills? 

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Podcast: Looking for Romance? Swipe Right on Volunteering!

February 14, 2017

Listen Now (00:18:04)



If you’re in a relationship, how did you meet your partner? If you’re single and looking for a relationship, where do you usually go to meet people? If volunteering doesn’t spring to mind, maybe it should.

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Podcast: City Year Connects with Students to Transform Schools

January 8, 2017

Listen Now (00:16:29)



Only 61% of students in Milwaukee Public Schools graduate in four years. The remaining 39% may take longer than four years to graduate, or drop out of school completely. Students who drop out of school are eight times more likely to become incarcerated and three times more likely to be unemployed. Students who drop out earn roughly $1 million less over their lifetime than high school graduates. 

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Podcast: How a Volunteer Opportunity Led to a Career Path

January 31, 2017

Listen Now (00:16:06)



The motto for IT United, a United Way donor network group comprised of IT Professionals, is “connecting the dots.” Throughout the year, IT United members volunteer their time to put on an IT Career fair for college and high school students at UW-Milwaukee, as well as coordinating a variety of job shadow opportunities for these students to learn more about the IT field and connect with professionals.

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Podcast: Free Money for Families This Tax Season

January 27, 2017

Listen Now (00:12:44)



What would you do with an extra $265 dollars per month?

This is the average amount by which a low- to moderate-income family can increase their income when they take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. However, in 2015, one in five eligible families did not take advantage of the EITC credit. 

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Podcast: Waukesha Social Worker Shares Personal Story of Hope

January 17, 2017

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Imagine that you’re suffering from a chronic disease. This disease affects your personal and professional life. It affects your overall health including your sleep and diet. This disease is something that has an official diagnosis and can be treated with professional therapy and medication. However, people in your community often question the legitimacy of your disease. They believe that you simply need to “think positively” or “turn your frown upside-down” to feel better and that perhaps you brought the disease on yourself. For the one out of every four people living with mental illness in our country, this scenario is often the reality.

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Podcast: From Loss to New Life. Death of Daughter Spurs Local Filmmaker to Action.

January 10, 2017

Listen Now (00:18:01)



A year ago last October, Joey Papa and his wife Nikki lost a child, Canaan. For the entirety of her brief life, Canaan, though never formally diagnosed, dealt with innumerable medical complexities and was what one might describe as a child with "special needs."

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Podcast: Human Trafficking Episode 2

January 3, 2017

Listen Now (00:18:04)



Think back to when you were thirteen years old. Were you secure, happy, and confident all the time? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably no. Thirteen is the average age when young women and men are forced or coerced into Human Trafficking. Traffickers look for people who are vulnerable; those who lack confidence in themselves and are looking for a protector-figure. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, regardless of gender, age, or socioeconomic status, and it happens in both urban and rural areas. In fact, the latest data shows human trafficking has become a $150 billion dollar industry worldwide. 

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Podcast: Human Trafficking Episode 1

January 3, 2017

Listen Now (00:17:29)



Think back to when you were thirteen years old. Were you secure, happy, and confident all the time? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably no. Thirteen is the average age when young women and men are forced or coerced into Human Trafficking. Traffickers look for people who are vulnerable; those who lack confidence in themselves and are looking for a protector-figure. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, regardless of gender, age, or socioeconomic status, and it happens in both urban and rural areas. In fact, the latest data shows human trafficking has become a $150 billion dollar industry worldwide. 

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Podcast: Living Local’s Driveway Moments 2016

December 20, 2016

Listen Now (00:16:52)



‘Tis the season for reflection.

United Way’s very first podcast, Living Local, launched this past August with Tonda Thompson’s incredible story about losing her infant son, and how this tragic event spurred her passion for preventing infant mortality. Last August, as the episode aired, United Way celebrated the first-ever HaRUNbee 5k Walk/Run to Prevent Infant Mortality, which took place in Tonda’s own neighborhood of Harumbee.

From there, we covered topics ranging from homelessness to fatherhood to suicide prevention and addiction. We spoke with people of all ages, across our 4-county region, each of whom shared personal, emotional moments that changed their lives and shaped the work they do. 

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Podcast: Retiree Volunteer Builds Robots with Waukesha Students

December 13, 2016

Listen Now (00:15:03)



If you had to guess, what would you think a retired Army Police Officer living in Waukesha County does with his time? Why, volunteering in public schools working with students on robotics, of course!

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Podcast: Waukesha Business Owner on Addiction, Recovery, and Compassion

December 5, 2016

Listen Now (00:17:58)



Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is a growing public health concern in Wisconsin and across the country. In 2013, more Wisconsin residents died from drug overdose than motor vehicle accidents. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports that, in 2015, Wisconsin experienced 872 drug overdose deaths.

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Podcast: 3,000 Volunteers Help MPS Students Succeed


November 30, 2016

Listen Now (00:16:18)



Large class sizes, overwhelmed teachers, lack of resources for individual attention… these are some of the barriers to success for students in Milwaukee Public Schools. However, did you know that over 3,000 people lend their time and talents to MPS schools, often just one hour a week, to help overcome these barriers?

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Podcast: 2-1-1: Three Little Numbers that Make a Huge Impact


November 15, 2016

Listen Now (00:16:11)



Do you ever pass a homeless individual on the street and think, I wish there was more I could do for them than just give them a couple of bucks? How about in the winter, when you make the walk from your car to your warm and comfortable home, do you ever think about the folks who may not have a warm place to sleep that night? Did you know there is a free and comprehensive resource that you can share to get people the help they need?

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Podcast: The “PENtastic” Brit Morgan

November 8, 2016

Listen Now (00:18:08)



How often does a podcast give you chills?

This week, we have a very special guest in Brit Morgan. Brit currently serves as a Teen Program Coordinator with COA’s Holton Youth Center. Until July of this year, Brit was a Community Health Ambassador through Public Allies working on the Infant Mortality Prevention Initiative here at United Way.

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Podcast: A Special Visit from United Way Worldwide CEO Brian Gallagher

November 1, 2016

Listen Now (00:12:18)



In December 2015, as we prepared to celebrate the end of our very first campaign as the merged United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, a very special guest paid us a visit; Brian Gallagher. Gallagher is the president & CEO of United Way Worldwide, covering nearly 1,800 communities in 40 countries and territories and engaging more than 3 million volunteers and 10 million donors.

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Podcast: Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Offers Balanced Reporting on Milwaukee Neighborhoods

October 25, 2016

Listen Now (00:18:09)



If you live in Milwaukee, or just love the city and all of the great work happening here, how many times have you thought to yourself “I wish our news media would cover more than just the latest shooting…” Perhaps you stay away from downtown Milwaukee because you see violence on the news each morning. Or, maybe you decided not to send your children to Milwaukee Public Schools because of stories you’ve read in the paper.

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Podcast: Moving Toward Zero: Suicide in Waukesha County & Nationwide (Episode 2)

October 18, 2016

Listen Now (00:16:23)



In the time it will take for you to listen to this podcast, someone in the US will have died from suicide. Suicide is a more common cause of death than homicide or car accidents and is on the rise in our community and across the country.

This week we talk to Mary Madden, Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Waukesha, and Dr. Bob Dubois, Professor of Psychology at Waukesha County Technical College, about suicide in Waukesha County and around the county, which has risen about 24% in the last decade. Since August, NAMI Waukesha has been bringing together non-profits, healthcare agencies, and schools in Waukesha County to collaborate around a plan to decrease this high rate of suicide.

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Interested in Sponsoring Living Local?

We are looking for sponsors to help underwrite the cost of production.

As a sponsor, your company will be recognized at the end of each episode, as well as in all accompanying blog content. Your logo will appear on our Sponsorships webpage and your company will be listed in our annual Business Journal Recognition Insert. Additional recognition opportunities may be available. 

Contact Katie Kuhn at 414.263.8132 or via email.