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How Does United Way Support Veterans?

Happy Veteran's Day and thank you to all who served - and continue to serve - our country.

November 12, 2018

While United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County does not yet directly fund veteran programming, a great deal of the work we do include wrap-around services for military veterans and their families. Our impact areas of Health, Education, and Financial Stability serve the needs often seen in the veteran community, including mental health resources, housing connections and food security. Our funded programs impact over 6,800 local veterans and their families annually.

United Way Strategy

# of Vets Served

Health Care Access


Older Adult Support and Independence


Health Education/Prevention: HIV


Food Security


Behavior and Mental Health


Assessment, Referral and Support


Emergency Shelter


Intimate Partner (Domestic) Violence


Support for Children and Families


Reducing Barriers to Employment


Legal Aid


Housing and Home Ownership


Community Wide Support


Disabilities Services


Health Education/Prevention: Case Management


Local Disaster Response


The above strategies represent issue areas that at least 20 self-identified veterans accessed programs at in the 2016-17 funding cycle

Total of self-identified veterans served through UWGMWC funded programs in 2016-17: 6,816


Additional involvement in veterans’ issues:

Impact 2-1-1:

Impact 2-1-1 is a central access point for people in need. It is available to anyone, but provides 320 unique referral resources specific to veterans. This includes things like Veteran Benefits Assistance, Veteran Employment Programs, Veteran Home Loans, Veteran Survivor Benefits, Veteran Support Groups, and Veteran Reintegration Counseling.

Homeless Veterans:

Veterans are more likely than civilians to experience homelessness due to a higher risk of experiencing traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), both of which have been found to be among the most substantial risk factors for homelessness. A recent increase of sexual trauma to women while serving in the armed forces also greatly increases the risk of homelessness.[1] About a quarter the homeless vets in Wisconsin are in Milwaukee County.[2],[3]

  • United Way works in partnership with the City of Milwaukee to organize Project Homeless Connect – a one-day event that provides a holistic array of resources for men and women experiencing homelessness. Services range from housing & employment opportunities; health & dental screenings; haircuts & photographs to send home; clothing, backpacks & blankets; lunch, and more. 8% of guests accessing services in 2016 identified as being a military veteran.
  • United Way staff volunteers at the twice-a-year Point in Time count of homeless individuals.  Point in Time volunteers work with police and shelter staff to interview every person sleeping on the streets or in a shelter from 7pm to 7am. Two of these locations are at Dryhootch – a 24 hour safe space for Veterans to navigate the peace outside of the battlefield.
  • United Way has mobilized volunteers to write notes of encouragement and pack shoebox kits for Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.

[1] National Alliance to End Homelessness, “Fact Sheet: Veteran Homelessness” (April 2015).

[2] U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, “HUD 2017 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs Homeless Populations and Subpopulations” (2017).

[3] HUD Exchange, “2007-2017 PIT Counts by COC (2017)”.  

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At Fill the Freezer, Food is Love

Rebecca Cook (R) and her daughter, Emma, at Fill the Freezer 2018.

October 29, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

For Rebecca Cook, a senior attorney at ManpowerGroup, and her daughter Emma, volunteering is a part of life. For the past two years, they have taken part in a fun and delicious project with United Way and both agree it’s one of their all-time volunteering highlights. 

United Way’s Fill the Freezer is an annual event that brings professional chefs and community volunteers together to prepare and pack freezer meals for local families in need. All meals are prepared in one day at MATC’s commercial kitchen, then distributed to family-serving nonprofits like The Cathedral Center, Sojourner Family Peace Center, and others.

This past September, Rebecca, Emma, and 62 other volunteers joined 8 chefs to prepare a total of 351 freezer meals. Rebecca and Emma were paired with Chef Josh Vanbibber of EasterSeals Southeast Wisconsin, who – in his day job - provides immersive, hands-on training for adults with disabilities to prepare them for jobs in the food service industry.

“Chef Josh shared with us that he chose a meal his mom used to make,” recalls Rebecca. “She was a single mom and made their family comfort food dishes which was something really special to him and his siblings. He wanted to pass on that feeling of comfort and togetherness that this meal had always brought him.”

The dish, fondly called ‘Lauren’s Party Potatoes,’ “looked and smelled DELICIOUS,” said Rebecca. “Chef Josh specifically designed it so you would get pockets of melted cheese, and emphasized that it was a recipe you could add anything to - jalapenos or hot sauce, extra veggies, crumbled potato chips on top, even scrambled eggs to make it a breakfast dish!”  

Rebecca, Emma, and their volunteer group were put to work opening cans, chopping, mixing, and measuring. As they cooked, the group got to know each other and Chef Josh. “We had a great group that talked a lot and asked a ton of questions. Chef Josh shared his background moving from a fast-paced kitchen to his experience truly serving people with EasterSeals, and his intention for this dish to be something that anyone could make with simple, low-cost ingredients.”

Emma is a high school student at Wisconsin Lutheran, and spends a lot of her time volunteering. “This is one of her favorite projects of the year,” said Rebecca. “The morning of, she sprang out of bed because she was so excited to go.”

“Every time you volunteer you learn something, and learning to cook is so valuable,” said Rebecca. “The other cool thing about the project is how it changed our view of chefs – they are not just people who make your food in a restaurant. They are thinking about how people will eat a meal, how they will enjoy it, how they will feel. It really is love.”

Feeling inspired? Find your perfect volunteer opportunity.

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  • Health
Categories: Health

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, a Lifelong Friendship

Lori (L) and Kim love training for races together.

October 23, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

When Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, she was most worried about her three kids. After emailing their teachers to let them know about her diagnosis, one wrote back: “Have you heard of ABCD?”

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, or ABCD, is a locally-based nonprofit that provides free, genuinely personal help and support that eases the stress and burden of breast cancer. One of ABCD’s signature programs is the one-to-one mentor match, which pairs those who have a recent breast cancer diagnosis with one or more mentors who have had similar experiences.

“I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try,” remembers Lori. “I knew of people who had had breast cancer, but not many.”

Lori was matched with two mentors. One, Debbie, had had a similar diagnosis as Lori and shared her experience with different treatments. The other, Barb, was, like Lori, the primary caregiver for her elderly parents when she was diagnosed. “It was so hard being a caregiver who needed care,” said Lori, whose mother had been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. “So it was great to have someone who could empathize.”

About a year later, Lori got an email from ABCD about becoming a mentor herself. “Training was unbelievable,” remembers Lori. “That was the first time I had heard stories of so many other people who had breast cancer. It was one of the most emotional experiences I’ve ever had.”


Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2017.

“My mom had been through breast cancer in 2001 and told me to connect with ABCD,” recalls Kim. “I called right after I was diagnosed, but it was such an overwhelming time, so I pulled back.”

Five months later, Kim had completed chemotherapy and was preparing for surgery.

“I was really nervous,” said Kim. “I had never had surgery before and thought I would really like to talk to someone who had gone through this.”

She called ABCD again and was matched with Lori. “I couldn’t think of a better match,” said Kim. “We both worked, had teenage kids, had the same type of breast cancer, both were self-diagnosed. After my first surgery I was feeling very down because the pathology results showed the cancer was multicentric (meaning it was more extensive than the doctors initially thought), thus, I had additional surgeries. Lori had a similar experience (multicentric) and when she told me that I felt some comfort knowing someone else had this happen too.”

“It changed my whole experience,” remembers Kim.

United Way supports ABCD’s Nuestra Conexion program, a culturally responsive peer support initiative meant to reduce barriers and increase support for Spanish speaking survivors and individuals living with breast cancer. This program offers community outreach and engagement to promote awareness of breast cancer and offers one-to-one peer support for survivors. 

Over the past year, Kim and Lori have met up and talked regularly. For Kim, having someone to reach out to any time of day with questions has been invaluable. She also appreciates Lori’s positivity and willingness to get out and be active together. In fact, Kim and Lori both joined Team Phoenix, a triathlon training team for cancer survivors.

“I never thought I could do a triathlon, even before cancer,” said Kim. “But looking at Lori and the other people doing it, I was inspired!”

For Lori, being a mentor has been life-changing.

“While I wouldn’t choose to go through it again, there has been a silver lining to having breast cancer,” said Lori. “Meeting Kim and the other people I have mentored makes me feel like there is some benefit to what I’ve been through. If I can help my mentees avoid some of the challenges I experienced early on, that is a really cool thing.”

Kim has one more surgery to go, but feels supported and good about the future.

“You meet a lot of special people through the breast cancer experience,” said Kim. “Lori is one of those people who have changed my life. I think she will be a lifelong friend.”

Learn more about United Way’s work in Health.


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  • Health
Categories: Health

DVAM: Hope and Healing

October 17, 2018

By Carmen Pitre, Sojourner President and CEO

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.”

– Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Chances are high that you know someone who has been hurt by domestic violence.  A co-worker, friend or family member who has been scarred by the hurt and harm that has been caused by someone who promised to love them. 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity for us all to understand what we can do to help those who have been hurt among us.  During the month of October, we take time to honor survivors, we work to elevate the community conversation about domestic violence and we strive to engage everyone in the hard work of ending violence in our community.  While it happens in our homes, domestic violence sets the stage for violence on our streets, in our neighborhood and in our city.

At Sojourner, we understand that we must help survivors by believing them when they come forward.  We know that we must work together to make coming forward easier and we must dedicate ourselves to eliminating the barriers that prevent survivors from seeking help.

We believe that healing is possible.  At Sojourner, each day we partner with survivors to help them find their path toward wellness and hope.  We understand that people come through our doors at the most difficult of times and we believe it is our responsibility to be present to the truth they need to speak.

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once,…”

You must ask yourself what role you can play in ending violence in your own life, in your own neighborhood, at your job, in your church and within your own relationships.  Survivors need us to work together to end the silence that allows violence to thrive in their lives. We can give reassuring messages, encourage people to seek help, respect the decisions survivors make, listen to them when they need to speak their truth and challenge the notion that people are to blame for the hurt and harm that has happened to them.  Starting in your own life is a good place to begin.

We know that domestic violence can rob a person of their ability to live a peaceful life.  Violence can take away a person’s sense of safety and security.  Experiencing violence puts survivors on guard and teaches them that they must be prepared to defend themselves at any moment.  


Even more troubling is the normalization of violence for children who are exposed to hurt and harmful behavior.  We know that children who witness violence learn that this behavior is acceptable and it will influence their lives for years to come.


No child should grow up in violence.  No child should have to hide in the closet, under the covers or tremble in fear because violence is happening in their home.  We have the power to create a different reality for our children.

We must stand by survivors and let them know that they are not alone.  We must tell them that the violence is not their fault and we must affirm that we are here to help. 

These messages are deeply needed at this moment in time.

If we want to end domestic violence, it will require that we make space for hurt to be healed and pain to be acknowledged.  It is important for us, as a collective community, to give healing messages, to believe that healing is possible and to build programs that support a person’s ownership of their own healing process.

As helpers and healers, we can hold space for harm to be mended and for pain to be transformed.

Can we really heal? Is it possible to find space and time to heal our deepest, darkest hurts?  Can our hearts be mended? How do we build a culture of hope and healing for the next generation and ourselves? 

These important and urgent questions must be answered if we want to leave our children with a better world.  A world, perhaps, that will not need to dedicate a month to ending violence in our lives.

Sojourner Family Peace Center has been designated the 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline for the City of Milwaukee and outlying communities. If you or someone you know need help, dial 414-933-2722 or learn more about how Sojourner can help by visiting their website.

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  • Agency Partners
  • Health
Categories: Agency Partners, Health

What are Warrant Withdrawal Wednesdays?

Municipal Court Judge Derek Mosley meets with an attendee of the Success Starts Here! Men's Seminar, hosted by United Way and ManpowerGroup.

October 16, 2018

For many people, going to court - even to settle a parking violation - can be incredibly intimidating.


On any Monday through Friday during walk-in hours, people may come to Milwaukee Municipal Court without a scheduled hearing and see a judge. Unfortunately, many people do not do this for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is fear of being arrested. While people in Milwaukee are never arrested for municipal violations, this is not widely known.


Another reason people avoid dealing with a municipal violation is lack of funds to pay a fine in full right away.


The consequences of avoiding dealing with a municipal violation can run deep. Having an outstanding warrant on your record or a suspended driver’s license can make it very difficult to find employment and housing.


In response, Milwaukee Municipal Court has started Warrant Withdrawal Wednesdays to engage people who have outstanding warrants and/or driver’s license suspensions. The events are held at community locations like Greater New Birth Church and Journey House with the hope that individuals will feel more comfortable taking the first steps to deal with a warrant at a neutral location rather than at the courthouse.


“We bring court into the community as an opportunity for people to engage with the court in a venue that is perceived as less threatening to some and might be closer to home for people attending,” said Sheldyn Himle, Milwaukee Municipal Court chief court administrator.


At Warrant Withdrawal Wednesday events, Municipal Court Judges meet individually with defendants to discuss their specific situation. If a person cannot pay their fine right away, they may be put on a payment plan or held accountable for the debt in another way, like through a community service requirement, alcohol or drug addiction program, or credit for time served. Each event also features a variety of community resources that residents can learn about while they wait.


The Municipal Court provided warrant withdrawal at September’s Success Starts Here! Men’s Seminar and will also be present at Thursday’s Project Homeless Connect. United Way recognizes the importance of these services as having a warrant is a barrier to employment, housing, and financial stability- all building blocks for a good quality of life.


For more information on the next Warrant Withdrawal Wednesday event, follow Milwaukee Municipal Court on Facebook. The date and location is typically announced several weeks ahead of time, and those who want to attend can call to register.


Volunteers are also needed to help facilitate the event. “This is a great, unique volunteer opportunity - lots of talking, no heavy lifting, and a chance to experience the joy of people who are honestly thrilled at the opportunity to take care of something that fell off their radar or wasn’t previously a priority to address,” said Sheldyn.


For more information and to sign up to volunteer, email Sheldyn at


It is important to note that the intent of Warrant Withdrawal Wednesdays is to re-engage people with the Court, not to forgive fines, but to work through resolving the debt in some way.

For those with a violation who are not eligible to participate in Warrant Withdrawal Wednesdays, Sheldyn has an important message: “Come on in to the Municipal Court! It doesn’t have to be scary – these are non-criminal violations. Our staff understand that these are ordinary, everyday things that any of us could run into. We are helpful, friendly, and customer service focused, but we can’t help you if you don’t come in and talk to us.”

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  • Financial Stability

Waukesha Teacher and Sons Team Up to Support Backpack Coalition

Kara Ecoff and her sons.

October 15, 2018

Written by Meghan Marsden Parsche, United Way volunteer blogger

School supply shopping is an exciting experience, as kids stock up on the essentials that will help them learn and grow in the upcoming school year. But the cost of seemingly simple items like pencils, notebooks, glue sticks and markers can add up quickly. For some students, back to school supplies simply don’t fit in their family’s budget.

As a second grade teacher with Waukesha Public Schools, Kara Ecoff has first-hand experience with the challenges facing students who cannot afford school supplies.

“It’s so easy to find yourself in a situation where you need support,” says Kara. “Things like the loss of a job, a disability or divorce could leave you in a completely different financial situation than you were in the year before.”

This is why each year, when school supply shopping for her own kids, Kara would purchase additional school supplies for students who didn't have all their needed supplies.

“Many schools have a stash of school supply donations, but it’s often pretty limited,” she explains. “There are often supplies available, but they aren't always what is needed. There may be 100 rulers donated, but not many markers or notebooks.”

Two years ago when Kara’s son Andrew was working on his black belt in Taekwondo, she sought out opportunities for him to fulfill his volunteer requirement. On the United Way volunteer website, Kara was thrilled to find an opportunity that would not only allow her and her two sons to volunteer together, but would also allow them to help get school supplies in the hands of students who needed them.

Kara, Andrew and her younger son Elliot began volunteering with Backpack Coalition, which helps children from low-income families in Waukesha County participate and succeed in school by providing school backpacks and supplies. For two to four hours a week, they would volunteer in the warehouse, taking inventory of donations, sorting them and getting them ready for distribution. It was a manageable time commitment that had a big impact on Andrew and Elliot.

“It has certainly opened their eyes to the fact that not everyone has what we have,” says Kara. “It’s a very concrete example of something we have tried to teach them their whole lives, which is to be thankful for the ‘little things.’”

She says that her sons have enjoyed volunteering and are particularly happy to be part of a project that helps other kids.

This past year, Kara was able to experience other aspects of Backpack Coalition by taking part in a school supply collection at a Wal-Mart and by volunteering on distribution day, where she even got to see some of her former students.

“There was definitely an atmosphere of thankfulness and appreciation at the distribution,” she says. “It was really rewarding to be able to see the process come full circle.”

This year, over 5,000 backpacks were donated to kids in need. The Backpack Coalition reviews school supply lists to try to provide the most commonly-requested supplies. Supply lists vary quite a bit from teacher to teacher, but the backpacks represent at least 80% of items needed at each grade level.

Whatever your passion, the United Way has volunteer opportunity for you. Whether it’s a one-time event or a few hours each week, you can make a difference. Visit our website to learn more.

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  • Education
Categories: Education

“One of the most inspiring events in our community…”

Guests of Project Homeless Connect can access more than 80 services and resources at the annual event.

October 12, 2018

For the past three years, Bekki Schmitt, Information and Outreach coordinator for the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, has manned a resource table at Project Homeless Connect.

“This is one of my favorite outreach events of the year,” reflected Bekki. “We talk to so many people about the services provided by the Department on Aging. Not everyone who comes through is a senior, but there are more older individuals experiencing homelessness than you might think.”

Milwaukee County Department on Aging (MCDA) serves anyone aged 60 or older with a wide range of programs and services including:  senior centers, transportation, meals at area dining sites, dementia care, as well as long term care programs.

Providing outreach to individuals attending Project Homeless Connect has proven to be a great fit for MCDA. “It’s a natural connection,” said Bekki. “Project Homeless Connect offers us a great opportunity to share resources with older adults experiencing homelessness.”

According to Bekki, the great thing about connecting to older adults experiencing homelessness at an event like Project Homeless Connect is that it acts as an entryway into the vast network of community resources, so the person is never again left behind. “Once someone taps into the resources from MCDA, they are connected to professionals, services, and agencies, all of whom can open the door to other resources when the need arises.”

Bekki remembers a story of two men experiencing homelessness who began regularly attending a senior dining site in West Allis. Over time, workers and attendees of the dining site got to know them, so when one of the men stopped coming, they knew something might be wrong. “They found out he had had a small crisis and immediately connected him with professionals who could help,” said Bekki. “I’ve watched that same scenario play out time and time again – that’s why it’s so important to connect people to others who care and can look out for them.”

Bekki loves seeing Project Homeless Connect guests arrive at her table alongside their guest advocate, a community volunteer paired one-on-one with each guest who can help them navigate resources and feel at ease. “When people walk up to our table alongside a guest advocate, it changes the tone of the conversation. It’s no longer a professional talking to a person in need, but three community members connecting.”

“This is one of the most inspiring events I’ve seen in our community,” said Bekki. “We face a lot of challenges in Milwaukee, but there are times when you see a point of light, see people and agencies come together to rally behind something really important. Project Homeless Connect is one of those moments.”

Milwaukee County Department on Aging serves anybody 6o and older with the goal of empowering older adults and strengthening our community. Visit to learn more.

Project Homeless Connect is one week away! It’s not too late to help – sign up to volunteer or purchase an item off of the Amazon wishlist. Hope to see you there!

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Blog Categories
  • Financial Stability
  • Homelessness

Podcast: Navigating Senior Living and Care

Pam Foti (L) and Jenny Wagner of Vesta Senior Network

October 11, 2018

Produced by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Listen Now (00:58:03)


There are certain subjects in life that we all need to deal with at one time or another, but are hard to think about and plan for. What to do when a spouse or a loved one needs extra help as they age is one of those topics. What makes this an even less fun conversation is the sheer mind-boggling complexity of the senior care landscape. Acronyms like RCAC, CBRF, ADL, SNF cause confusion, how to pay for senior care causes anxiety, and uncertainty about what a loved one wants and needs and when they will want and need it can result in choice paralysis.

Pam Foti and Jenny Wagner understand these emotions, and are here to help. Both are elder care consultants and owners of Vesta Senior Network, a consultant organization that works with older adults and their loved ones to help them understand the many choices and opportunities that exist for them once it’s time for them to leave their own home.

Retire United and the Retiree Advisory Council recently hosted Pam and Jenny for a discussion on navigating senior living and care. For those who were not able to be in the room, we recorded the talk and Q&A.

Retire United members are retirees (or soon-to-be-retirees) who recognize the important role volunteerism and philanthropy play in strengthening our community. Learn more.


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  • Health
Categories: Health

DVAM: The Women’s Center Takes Action to End Domestic Violence

October 8, 2018

Written by Angela Mancuso, executive director at The Women's Center

October is here, and with the changing of the season comes an important time: Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).


DVAM, observed every year in October, is an opportunity to come together as a community to talk about these issues, to understand them better, to share our resources, and most importantly, to support and stand with survivors. Domestic violence is a grossly underreported crime that affects thousands in our community. We all have a role to play in breaking the cycle of violence.  


This year, The Women’s Center’s theme for the month is “Take Action. Support Survivors. End Domestic Violence Now.”

I often get asked how someone can support a friend or loved one who discloses violence or trauma to them. It can be difficult for a survivor to disclose any part of their experience with others. If someone comes to you for support, start by believing them. You can’t take away what happened to someone, but you can listen to them, believe them, and be a source of comfort.

Some things you can say to someone who has been impacted by domestic or sexual violence:


  •  “I believe you.” The most important thing to do when supporting a survivor is validate their experience. Let them know you believe them.
  • “It wasn’t your fault.” It is essential that a survivor understand they are not responsible for their assault or abuse. Be a supportive voice and remind them that they are not to blame.
  • “I’m sorry this happened to you.” Mindful language is key: let survivors know that what happened was unacceptable, and that you take their experience and feelings seriously.
  • “Can I help?” Let survivors know you are there to support them without being forceful. This allows survivors power of choice on whether to seek out your help.
  • “What do you need most right now?” Give the survivor space to decide what comes next; there is no single right or wrong way for a survivor to respond to an assault or abuse.


It takes a lot of courage for a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault to share their story with anyone. Never underestimate the power you have to affect the course of a survivor’s healing journey. Our 24-Hour Hotline is available always at 262.542.3828.

For more information about our events during DVAM and ways you can get involved this month and throughout the year, visit

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  • Health
Categories: Health

Mortenson is Building a Stronger Community!

Mortenson volunteers at various projects around the region.

October 4, 2018

Written by Susan Smieja, sr. account manager, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

As United Way staff members, we get to attend many events at area businesses that support United Way. Some businesses go above and beyond to give their employees opportunities to help their community. Mortenson is one of those companies. They recently kicked off their annual United Way campaign by inviting all staff to breakfast to learn more about the campaign and shared a presentation either in-person or remotely.  Mortenson did a “stand down” for the campaign, so everyone – even those out in the field – could participate in the kickoff.

According to Mortenson General Manager Jeff Gruhn, “It is really important to us to include all locations and to share communications with all team members, including craft workers, so everyone can take part.”

Mortenson has been running United Way campaigns at their greater Milwaukee location since 1991 and has raised more than $250,000 in the last five years alone. Their employees are passionate about giving back, averaging about 77% participation in the campaign annually. 

Their theme this year is Do Something Good and they are promoting both giving and volunteering. In fact, they have organized seven volunteer projects for their employees to participate in. They also do something really unique to encourage volunteerism, for every four hours employees volunteer, Mortenson donates $200 to United Way. As though that were not enough, Mortenson also matches employee donations $1 for $1 up to $250 each. They truly embody what it mean to Live United.

At the kick off presentation, Jeff Gruhn emphasized the importance of giving back to our community and of Mortenson’s core values of service and stewardship. He talked about United Way’s fiscal responsibility and the impact we are having in greater Milwaukee as two of the reasons that Mortenson supports United Way. He said that Mortenson strives to provide for their employees so that they in turn can help others.  

According to Jeff, Mortenson encourages employees to look for ways to give back: “With the diversity of our outreach, we have the opportunity to impact many different areas. We have many team members, including our craft workers and new members, who can all give back and make a difference in our community.” 

Maggie Bork, a project manager at Mortenson, leads the employee campaign. She said it was an easy decision to take on this role, because United Way impacted her life. “My grandmother participated in a United Way-funded adult day care program that allowed her to stay in her home and stay with her family. Once your life is impacted, you can’t say no.”

Ross Bunchek, an estimator for Mortenson, has helped with the campaign for two years now. He says, “We cannot volunteer for every organization we want to, so donating financially is another way to extend our outreach.”

If you are wondering why Mortenson is so passionate about helping the community, Jeff Gruhn summed it up best when he quoted Mort Mortenson, whose father founded Mortenson Construction, in 1954: “There is no greater gift we can give others than our time and treasure.”

As a community, we are lucky that Mortenson continues to hold these values true today.

Feeling inspired? Learn how your company can have an impact in our community with United Way.

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  • Volunteer
  • Workplace Partner

Coordinators Appreciation Week: Family Support and Fresh Food Access at Hopkins Lloyd

Glenn Carson

October 1, 2018

Written by Glenn Carson, community school coordinator at Hopkins Lloyd Community School.

September 24-28 is Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week! Learn more about the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership and check back here regularly to learn more about the exciting projects going on at Milwaukee’s Community Schools.

This is my fourth year in my position as community school coordinator at Hopkins Lloyd Community School, hired through United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. I work every day to align school partnerships to our school’s goals to better support the success of our students.  The work of a community school coordinator is not as cookie cutter as one would think, we have our hands in various aspects of the school and community.

Since being in the position here at Hopkins-Lloyd, I have been able to bring partners together to work cohesively within our building and with our students.  An example would be our monthly English Language Arts meetings I host with our four partners leading that work in our building (City Year, Reading Corps, Transformative Reading Instruction, and Core Knowledge Language Arts).  Once a month we look at student data, compare different strategies, create a student data inventory and work on various goals.  These meetings help our partners not only better service our students, but also stay connected to each other and align their work towards common goals.

When I first got to Hopkins Lloyd food access was a big concern for community members and our families.  Our principal, Ms. Harris, and I researched the possibility of getting a food pantry in our school that could service our families and the community.  With our building being as old as it is, we did not have enough accessibility to host food pantries in our building.  We later learned about the Pick N Save Fresh Picks Mobile Food Market.  I reached out and we came to an agreement to host the mobile market each month.  We have now hosted the Pick N Save Mobile Market for over two years on the last Tuesday of each month.  The market provides easy access to fresh produce, meat and dairy items at a 25% discounted price for the community.

One of our most recent programs we started is Homework Diners. Homework Diners are bi-weekly family engagement events that allow students and families to receive homework support from classroom teachers and volunteer tutors while enjoying a free community meal for the whole family.  This is a program myself and Principal Harris saw at a Community School in Albuquerque, New Mexico during a conference.  We loved the idea of parents and teachers working together to help students with their homework and wanted to bring it to our school. We implemented the program last February and partnered with HeartLove Place and their culinary arts students to prepare our meals for each diner.  The program got parents more involved in their students academics and allowed an easy opportunity for parent and teacher collaboration.  Our first Homework Diner for the school year will be Wednesday, October 10.

Being a community school coordinator at Hopkins Lloyd Community School has been a very fulfilling and educating experience.  My favorite part about the position is that the work is never the same, we are always looking for new and innovative ways of growing and broadening the Milwaukee Community School Partnership within our schools. 

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Coordinators Appreciation Week: Failure is Not an Option at North Division High School

Lateff Alston (back row, third from left) with the Milwaukee Community School Coordinators team. 

September 28, 2018

Written by Lateff Alston, community school coordinator at North Division High School.

September 24-28 is Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week! Learn more about the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership and check back here all week to learn more about the exciting projects going on at Milwaukee’s Community Schools.

I am Lateff Alston, the new community school coordinator at North Division High School.  I am employed though the Milwaukee Urban League and under the auspices of the United Way. Prior to this wonderful partnership, I worked for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin –Project Ujima as a community liaison for 12 years, serving youth survivors and families impacted by interpersonal violence. I also served as a health educator for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee-Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program for two years, teaching grades 6-12 in several MPS schools, and private schools including Messmer High School, my alma mater. This opportunity also afforded me the chance to teach at the Milwaukee House of Corrections working with their high school population.

I am motivated and optimistic at the many possibilities that North Division possesses. In spite of being labeled a “failing school,” low enrollment and a high absenteeism rate, the “spirit” of North Division is still felt in every square foot of that amazing edifice.  Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s central city 53206 area code, North Division has been a staple for educating youth since 1906. The students at North are surround by a brilliant group of amazing people that give tirelessly to educating our youth not only academically but also educating the complete student. Although low enrollment is an area of growth for North Division, the students tend to be much closer to one another forging a stronger bond corporally -- bond that is not easily broken.  School spirit is another unique quality of North Division High School. I’ve had the privilege to teach in several MPS high schools and I am ecstatic at the way the students “rep” their school. Everywhere you look, students are wearing the North Division logo somewhere on them. That says promise… that says hope!

The possibilities are truly endless to rewrite the school’s current narrative. A school that was the hub for educational greatness will be restored back to a mega power school it once was. I am most excited for the opportunity for theater to live again in North Division. Broadway products like Dream Girls, Westside Story, and A Raisin in the Sun just to name a few were the norm for this high school, which drew hundreds of people though it’s auditorium doors. Today, efforts are being made through a team of people comprised of current teachers and alumni to resurrect the fine arts department. I sit on the board not just as the community school coordinator but also as a “North Thespian.” I did not attend North Division High School but I was a part of all of the plays mentioned. 

Finally, my hope for the school harmonizes with many people in this community and that’s to see North Division High School become a force to be reckoned with in the MPS school district and across Wisconsin. For it to be not just a “thriving” school but a school that is ranked one of the best, if not the best school in Milwaukee.  Because at North Division “Failure is not an option…but success is.”

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Coordinators Appreciation Week: Connecting the Dots at Longfellow School

Longfellow Community School Coordinator Nestor Muro (L) with local police officers at the school's annual carnival in May.

September 27, 2018

Written by Néstor Muro, employed by Journey House as community school coordinator at Milwaukee’s H.W. Longfellow School.

September 24-28 is Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week! Learn more about the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership and check back here all week to learn more about the exciting projects going on at Milwaukee’s Community Schools.

As the proud community school coordinator at H.W. Longfellow School and as we enter the second year as an official community school, I feel more inspired, determined and committed to work with families, staff, and community partners in support of our efforts to help students and families thrive.

Located in the heart of the Clarke Square community, our school community is often faced with numerous inequalities such as the lack of a mental health resource that will support our students and families. This summer, as a way to strengthen our partnership, between Journey House and Longfellow and to create synergy around collaboration, we hosted a Welcome Back to School Kick Off for both Longfellow and Journey House staff to mingle and learn about each other’s work, opening doors for future collaboration on family engagement events and in the after-school space. At the Welcome Back to School Kick Off we had food, music, raffle prices and a guest speaker from one of our newest partners at Journey House, Mindstar Counseling LLC. Mindstar Counseling LLC, is a local certified outpatient mental health clinic that serves adults and youth 3 years and above for a variety of mental health and social needs. Additionally, we had two international fellows through the U.S. State Department from the Republic of Congo and Israel share their work and offered their support in their short stay.

I am also excited about connecting families to local resources such as the new partnership with Mindstar Counseling LLC and bringing awareness to students and families of the resources and programs that our school has to offer. Furthermore, I look forward to sharing with families the immense support received from our partners through volunteering, workshops, donations, mentoring, field trips and more from the following but not limited to: Arts @ Large, Alverno College, Children’s Hospital, Ernst and Young, Journey House, Northwestern Mutual, Marquette University, Safe and Sound, United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, just to name a few.

A long-term goal is to continue to expose students and families to resources and opportunities that otherwise they may not have had and maintain the reputation that proceeds us as being a well-rounded and academically challenging community school. I aspire for students and families to continue to feel welcomed and supported by our staff, our school leaders and our community partners.

I feel confident that our team of talented and passionate educators will continue to serve our school community to the best of their ability and place Longfellow as one of the top schools in the state. In conclusion, I am grateful to be a part of the Longfellow, Journey House and the Clarke Square family and excited for what the future holds for us.

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Coordinators Appreciation Week: Dismantling Barriers and Celebrating Growth at Browning Elementary School

September 24, 2018

Written by Malayia Roper, community school coordinator at Browning Elementary School

September 24-28 is Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week! Learn more about the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership and check back here all week to learn more about the exciting projects going on at Milwaukee’s Community Schools.

Today, I give our communities and our schools permission to dismantle the barriers. To make it a point to approach, honor, and feel it all. Feel the highs, the lows, the newness, and even the areas of discomfort. To respect our school environments, to trust the process, yet still be bold enough to be transformative in our ideas. To identify community issues in a way that is relevant to all cultures that are represented. To challenge the system. To be intentional. To be willing. To be present.

Each day is a new day in the fight against educational inequities. We must keep our boots to the ground and our hearts connected to the purpose as purpose triggers passion and passion ignites power in the schools and communities we work with. We must keep that power blazing as this fight is not easy. We’re faced with resistance and even complacency; however, that power precedes any pain or setbacks that may come our way. No, the fight is not easy, but by keeping that passion, we can keep pushing, keep uplifting, and keep carrying on.

As anchors in the work, we must keep focused. We must keep walking. We have to keep going. We have to understand that this mission, this assignment is bigger than what’s easy or what’s safe or what’s comfortable. We have to be willing to stand in the gap and do things differently to understand our students, our families, and our communities. We must operate past our fancy checklists and outside of our comfortable board rooms in order to step out of ‘compliance’ into a radicalness that creates space for everyone to feel free enough to join the movement.

Here at Browning School, we’re into our third year of being a Community School. We’re still in the beginning phases of transitioning away from telling people ‘what’ to think into a new mindset that  encourages people to tell us ‘why’ we should care. For many years, Browning was labeled a “last resort elementary school” or “a failing school,” Everyone had these perceptions of the school that overwhelmed and sometimes outshined the truth behind the Browning way. So, when a group of teachers began listening to the students’ opinions for the school, Browning organized a ‘Hygiene Closet,’ designed to meet the needs of the students and families we engage with. This closet is managed by our school’s social worker and provides students and families with a fun shopping experience. There was a great need to provide our community with high quality hygiene products that were readily available. And though the project is still in its early launch, it is one way Browning is no longer ‘telling’ and is taking the time to lean in, to listen, and to understand.

Browning is such a special place. No, it’s not exempt from challenges; however, there is so much love, excitement, and commitment to the work and the families we engage with. As a Community School , we’ve launched neighborhood events, developed parent groups, leveraged new and existing resources, and invited partners such as UWM Community Nursing Center, Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, Safe & Sound, Westlawn Resident Council, and Housing Authority City of Milwaukee (HACM) to the table. We’ve crafted the makings of a united school narrative that has helped us to rethink the ‘why’ in order to be more intentional with ‘what’ we do. We’ve given ourselves permission to embrace our school’s culture, to trust the process, to trust the setbacks, and to feel it all. We know the fight is not easy; however, the movement is worth it. Here at Browning, we’re dismantling our barriers, we’re adjusting our plans, and we’re showing up each day united as one band, one voice, one sound.

I charge everyone -- every Community School, every voice -- to fight. Fight with passion, purpose, and a power so strong that it encourages even the naysayers to take a listen. Every day, we are faced with challenges at the local and even national level that try to silence us simply because we’re headed in a new direction. However, with each new ‘why’ and each new story, we will rise. Those in disbelief may try to end our fight, but we will rise. Those too afraid to speak up may try to discourage us, but we will rise. We’re like seeds and though they may try to bury us, we will rise. We will rise.

Cheers to Community Schools. Cheers to Community School Coordinators. We rock!


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Life Happens!

September 17, 2018

Written by Greg A. Brigowatz CLF, LUTCF, Managing Partner, Financial Solutions Group

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. If your death would have both an emotional and financial impact on others, making sure your life insurance coverage is adequate should be at the top of your “to do list”.

Unfortunately, having a conversation about life insurance is usually at or near the bottom of most people’s list of things to do. An experienced, well rounded, and educated Advisor can go a long way to help you establish a program that will protect the ones that you love and make sure your plans don’t die if you do.

Life Insurance and the Life Insurance industry has changed a great deal over the years. Obtaining life insurance has become easier with advances like fluid-less underwriting (no needles!), algorithmic underwriting (using technology such as databases available via the internet), and a wider portfolio of products.  Other than procrastination, there really is no good reason to not have the appropriate amount of coverage to protect the people and things you care about the most.

In addition to advancements in the types of products available, the ease of obtaining a policy, and the underwriting process, a couple of innovative and unique programs have been created to help serve a greater variety of people.

MassMutual has created three unique programs that define “out-of-the-box thinking” when it comes to helping people get the life insurance they need…..LifeBridge, SpecialCare, and CoverPath.

LifeBridge is a corporate responsibility program designed to provide free life insurance for income qualifying, working families….yes, I said “free” life insurance for qualifying individuals.

LifeBridge will help give income-eligible parents and legal guardians peace of mind. Under the LifeBridge free life insurance program, MassMutual will issue a $50,000 term life insurance policy for a period of 10 years. If the insued parent or guardian dies during this time, $50,000 will be put in a trust, administered by the MassMutual Trust Company, to pay the educational expenses of his or her eligible children. MassMutual pays the premiums; there is no cost to the insured or their children.

If you or someone you may know may be eligible, please follow this link for more information on LifeBridge and to view the eligibility form!

The SpecialCare Enhanced Underwriting Pilot Program can provide insurance coverage to those individuals that were historically considered uninsurable under current guidelines. The objective is to offer an underwritten policy to enhance the special care program and to make a modest amount of life insurance available to a select group of individuals with the most common disability diagnoses. Life Insurance is now available for those with the following impairments:

  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism

To learn more about this program, please visit our website at

CoverPath is a program that incorporates fluid-less and algorithmic underwriting to provide people with an opportunity to go online to secure life insurance coverage quickly, and easily. Qualified candidates can get a quote for coverage and a policy approved in under 20 minutes.  Click here to learn more!

If you would like to make sure your life insurance program is correctly designed to have the appropriate amount of benefits, the right type of coverage for your situation, and is structured with the correct ownership and beneficiaries designations, contact a qualified Advisor to assist you. If it has been a few years since you reviewed your coverages, invest the time to review what you have. It will be time well spent.


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Blog Categories
  • Financial Stability
  • Health

United Way Kicks Off 2018 Community Campaign!

From left: Cory Nettles, Mary Lou Young, Don Layden, David Gay, Amy Lindner, Mike Rowe, Cristy Garcia-Thomas, George Oliver, Mark Irgens, and Jay Magulski proudly announce United Way's 2018 Goals: $56 million fundraising and 40,000 volunteer hours!

August 31, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

For the first time, United Way kicked off the annual Community Campaign right here at our Milwaukee office! More than 350 community members gathered to hear from our 2018 campaign co-chairs, celebrate our $56 million fundraising and 40,000 hour volunteer goals, and tour the brand-new Johnson Controls Volunteer Center.  

Now it’s time to get to work, and we can’t do it without you! Here are some fun and easy ways to get involved with United Way this season:

Did you attend the event? Check out the facebook photo album and don’t forget to tag yourself!

Get those tissues ready! Watch the 2018 United Way success story videos and share with your friends and family.

Or read and share the 2018 stories here.

Caring is always in season! United Way’s newly-expanded Seasons of Caring connects individuals, workplace and professional teams, school groups, and entire organizations to meaningful volunteer work through 15+ signature events and agency partner projects. Find a volunteer opportunity.

Never miss an opportunity to impact your community. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram (@UnitedWayGMWC). Use #LiveUnited.

Your gift to United Way's Community Fund, strategic focus areas, or community-wide initiatives ensures that your donation is invested where the need is greatest. Donate today.

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  • Events
Categories: Events

“They Teach Us Something, Too.”

August 22, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

When Oby Nwabuzor, a community volunteer, entered James Madison Academic Campus for her first Women United Mentoring Session, she intentionally went in without expectations. “I knew it wasn’t going to be about me,” remembers Oby. “It’s about the girls.”

Since 2015, United Way’s Women United donor group has hosted quarterly mentoring sessions with sophomore girls at James Madison, a Milwaukee Community School. This program is designed to engage and provide role models with a focus on mentoring around issues to help the girls succeed in career and life.

Volunteers are matched one-on-one or one-on-two with students and have candid conversations around professionalism, resume building, and interview skills. Conversations vary based on the interests and goals of the students.

Oby works with Linda and Myonna. When they met, Linda had recently transferred to James Madison from another school and was struggling to achieve enough credits to pass on to the next grade. Both girls wanted to improve their grades and find part-time jobs for extra money.

“Linda and Myonna are bright and receptive to advice to help them do better and become leaders of tomorrow,” says Oby. “However, it took a while for us to get there.”

Many of the students at James Madison have experienced challenges that can make it difficult to succeed in school, such as poverty, homelessness, and trauma.  

“The ideal approach to this is to build a relationship,” says Oby. “As you build that relationship, you help build these young people up. And then, as you build people up, you’re able to expose them to things they may not have been exposed to. That’s when the mentoring comes in.”

Both Linda and Myonna identify as Black, which is one of the reasons Oby felt motivated to mentor in this space. “I wanted the girls to see someone professional who looked like them. I don’t think young girls of color often see other women of color in that perspective.”

Over the course of four sessions, Oby, Linda, and Myonna talked about everything, from professionalism and how to conduct yourself in an interview. They also discussed the unique challenges women experience in work and life, like dressing for your body, dealing with emotions, and the expectation that they play the role of caretaker for the family.

“There are things you can talk to another woman about that you probably wouldn’t talk to a male mentor about – just things he hasn’t experienced,” says Oby, who has faced similar situations in her own professional life. “That’s where the relationship forms, in those candid interactions with other women.”

By the February session, both Myonna and Linda had gotten their grades up, and were working hard on the other goals they had set together with “Miss Oby.”

“These sessions have gotten me started thinking about careers,” says Myonna. “I am working on setting financial goals, ways to get a good job, and how to present ourselves in a professional way.”

“I put my goal sheet on the refrigerator so I remember to stay on track,” says Linda. “I know that, next year, I can aim for higher goals.”

For Myonna, the sessions have helped her with her current job hunt: “I learned I can put volunteering on my resume, and to incorporate language from the job description into it when applying for a job.”

Oby is overjoyed to see her mentee’s progress, and reflected on how the experience has also been impactful for her. “While we are there to mentor them, they teach us something, too. They have taught me to always be in a learning state of mind. It’s an honor to be able to do this, and so rewarding to come back again and again.”

Make an impact on the life and career of a local young woman by signing up to mentor with Women United.

Learn more about how you can help Women United make an impact in our community.

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  • Women's Leadership
Categories: Women's Leadership

Sobelmans and United Way – a Delicious Partnership

August 13, 2018

Written by Melanie Sobelman, Co-president, Sobelmans

Give as much of yourself as you can so that others have a chance to blossom.

Something that has always been dear to my heart is giving, which is why I feel so fortunate to be able to incorporate that into my business. Sobelmans embraces the chance to help others in every way possible no matter the circumstances. If we can be of any help at all, we are in.

Connecting with the United Way and various other organizations has been one of the most exciting things we have done. Their mission is the same as ours: to help others, see the good in every situation, and give the most you can.

In so many ways, Sobelmans is that long branch on a tree that extends itself outward with the mission of picking someone up when they’re at their lowest, regardless of the circumstances.

That is exactly why I personally love United Way. They're on the same page as us, with a willingness to give to anyone and everyone continuously for the greater good.

Needless to say, I hope Sobelmans and United Way’s partnership will continue for many years to come and that we will do great things for people who are in need.

Sobelmans is a longtime partner in United We Dine, a delicious, one-day even where restaurants all over the region donate 10% of their sales to United Way’s Community Fund. Learn more and join us in 2018!

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  • Events
Categories: Events

Podcast: Meet the P5! August Ball

August 8, 2018

Produced by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Listen Now (00:21:57)


Welcome to our “5 with the 5” week of podcasts interviews with our amazing 2018 Philanthropic 5 award winners. Each year, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County Emerging Leaders honor five community leaders for their commitment to the community through their Philanthropic 5 awards.

The awards, created by United Way’s Emerging Leaders Council, recognize five community leaders in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who give, advocate, and volunteer for change throughout our region.

Today we talk with P5 winner August Ball, founder of Cream City Conservation. August is passionate about giving diverse youth opportunities to explore their interests in environmental fields as well as encouraging diversity in local workplaces, so she combined these interests into her dream job.

Register to attend the Philanthropic 5 Awards of our most popular events of the year!
Thursday, August 16, 5:30pm at The Ivy House

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Blog Categories
  • Emerging Leaders
  • Philanthropic 5

Podcast: Meet the P5! Dan Sweeney

August 7, 2018

Produced by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Listen Now (00:18:21)


Welcome to our “5 with the 5” week of podcasts interviews with our amazing 2018 Philanthropic 5 award winners. Each year, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County Emerging Leaders honor five community leaders for their commitment to the community through their Philanthropic 5 awards.

The awards, created by United Way’s Emerging Leaders Council, recognize five community leaders in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who give, advocate, and volunteer for change throughout our region.

Today we talk with P5 winner Dan Sweeney. Dan works in community development at Wells Fargo – a job he loves and one that allows him to partner with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to strengthen the communities in which Wells Fargo operates. Dan is also a board member of LISC and Historic Milwaukee. We had fun chatting about why he gives his time to these causes, his love for the water, and who he would most like to invite out on his boat.

Register to attend the Philanthropic 5 Awards of our most popular events of the year!
Thursday, August 16, 5:30pm at The Ivy House

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  • Emerging Leaders
  • Philanthropic 5

Podcast: Meet the P5! Kris Havlik

August 7, 2018

Produced by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Listen Now (00:17:59)


Welcome to our “5 with the 5” week of podcasts interviews with our amazing 2018 Philanthropic 5 award winners. Each year, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County Emerging Leaders honor five community leaders for their commitment to the community through their Philanthropic 5 awards.

The awards, created by United Way’s Emerging Leaders Council, recognize five community leaders in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who give, advocate, and volunteer for change throughout our region.

Today we talk with Kris Havlik, one of our 2018 Philanthropic Five award winners. An estate planning attorney with Foley & Lardner, Kris was part of the effort to bring Wills for Heros to Wisconsin. Wills for Heroes is a national program started after September 11, 2001, to provide free estate planning to first responders. Kris is a proud mom of two and enjoys leading her daughters Girl Scout Troop and coaching her local middle school forensics team. 

Register to attend the Philanthropic 5 Awards of our most popular events of the year!
Thursday, August 16, 5:30pm at The Ivy House

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Blog Categories
  • Emerging Leaders
  • Philanthropic 5

Podcast: Meet the P5! Ranell Washington

August 6, 2018

Produced by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Listen Now (00:18:57)


Welcome to our “5 with the 5” week of podcasts interviews with our amazing 2018 Philanthropic 5 award winners. Each year, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County Emerging Leaders honor five community leaders for their commitment to the community through their Philanthropic 5 awards.

The awards, created by United Way’s Emerging Leaders Council, recognize five community leaders in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who give, advocate, and volunteer for change throughout our region.

In this episode, we hear from 2018 P5 winner Ranell Washington of Town Bank. In addition to his day job in finance, Ranell is co-founder of Social X, a young professional organization committed to drawing diverse talent to Milwaukee and encouraging them to call this city home. Ranell also volunteers with Secure Futures, mentoring high school students to take charge of their finances.

Register to attend the Philanthropic 5 Awards of our most popular events of the year!
Thursday, August 16, 5:30pm at The Ivy House

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  • Emerging Leaders
  • Philanthropic 5

Podcast: Meet the P5! Kelsey Brenn

August 6, 2018

Produced by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Listen Now (00:15:10)


Welcome to our “5 with the 5” week of podcasts interviews with our amazing 2018 Philanthropic 5 award winners. Each year, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County Emerging Leaders honor five community leaders for their commitment to the community through their Philanthropic 5 awards.

The awards, created by United Way’s Emerging Leaders Council, recognize five community leaders in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who give, advocate, and volunteer for change throughout our region.

In this episode, we hear from 2018 P5 winner Kelsey Brenn of St. Augustine Preparatory Academy. Kelsey is the school’s CFO by day, and fills the rest of her time with community-focused activities…and a lot of exercise. We talk about her passion for developing young girls as leaders, her dedication to making the city a better place, and the unbelievable number of cupcakes she bakes for her colleagues every month.

Register to attend the Philanthropic 5 Awards of our most popular events of the year!
Thursday, August 16, 5:30pm at The Ivy House

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Blog Categories
  • Emerging Leaders
  • Philanthropic 5

Saint John’s on the Lake Gives Back to the Milwaukee Community

Saint John's on the Lake staff members Sybil Bell (L) and Mary Przybylski love their role as United Way champions.

July 24, 2018

Written by: Susan Smieja, United Way Sr. Account Manager

Recently I visited the beautiful Saint John’s On The Lake to talk with some staff and residents about why and how they support United Way.

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  • Workplace Partner
Categories: Workplace Partner

From Intern Volunteer to United Way Champion

Volunteers show their United Way pride at the 2016 Intern Day of Action

July 19, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

When Karthik Palaniappan was looking for an engineering job last year, he knew he wanted to work for a company that made giving back to the community a priority. As a student at UW – Milwaukee, Karthik enjoyed volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, building homes all over the country.

Luckily, he knew just where to apply.

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  • Volunteer
Categories: Volunteer

5 Reasons to get your Kids in the Kitchen

July 18, 2018

Written by YMCA of Greater Waukesha County staff

If yours is a home where an adult typically handles the food planning, preparation, and cleanup, it’s time to get the kids involved. It may require a little extra time and patience, but getting kids in the kitchen has lots of benefits:

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  • Health
Categories: Health

Red Cross Saves Hundreds of Lives through Home Fire Campaign

A team of volunteers shares how many families they helped through the Red Cross.

July 12, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Do you know what you would do if there was a fire in your home?

“When people think about disaster relief, the mind automatically goes to hurricanes and tornadoes,” said Viv Chappell of American Red Cross of Wisconsin. “In fact, the type of disaster Red Cross teams respond to most often is home fires…often a couple of times per day in Wisconsin.”

Most Americans think they would know what to do in the event of a home fire, but common mistakes – like not having a predetermined meeting place – can lead to injury or even death.

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  • Agency Partners
  • Volunteer

Agency Partner Spotlight: Literacy Services of Wisconsin

July 3, 2018

Agency Name: Literacy Services of Wisconsin

Agency Mission: Literacy Services of Wisconsin partners with motivated adults to provide access to quality basic education and skills training so they can improve their lives, enrich their families, and strengthen our community.

United Way-funded programs: Adult Basic Education

Founded: 1965, United Way partner since 2012

Issue areas: Financial Stability

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Blog Categories
  • Agency Partners
  • Financial Stability

Meet the 2018 Philanthropic 5 Winners!

June 29, 2018

Each year, United Way's Emerging Leaders honor five community leaders and one Philanthropic Youth winner for their commitment to the community through the Philanthropic Five awards.

The Philanthropic Five awards recognize five community leaders in their 20s, 30s and 40s who give, advocate, and volunteer for change. The Philanthropic Youth award recognizes a youth community leader under 21 years old. Get to know the 2018 winners below and register to join us at the Philanthropic 5 Awards event! Thank you to BMO Harris Bank, the longtime sponsor of the P5 awards.

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Blog Categories
  • Emerging Leaders
  • Philanthropic 5

"Mentors helped me visualize what was possible."

June 26, 2018

As a young woman, Margaret Crowley found herself in need of guidance. After she and her husband welcomed twins, Margaret got a job working at a hospital that provided a variety of services to young moms.  She enjoyed having lunch with the parent educators and nurse practitioners.

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  • Volunteer
  • Women's Leadership



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