Community Advocates
Winter 2017-2018

Friends --

There's a reason why we chose the theme One to close out our year.

Since our founding 41 years ago, Community Advocates has tried to remove the barriers that too often keep us apart. We don't view the world as being peopled by "us" and "them." Rather, we only see one interconnected community striving to ensure that all of us have a safe roof over our heads, adequate health care, food when we're hungry, crisis assistance when necessary, and basic human dignity. Without these elements, all of us suffer. With them, we thrive.

Please join our community to ensure that as one we all rise stronger, healthier, and happier knowing that not one of us is alone, even in the darkest times.

Thank you for all of your support throughout the year.

Happy Holidays!

Andi Elliott
Chief Executive Officer
Community Advocates



Anniversary Celebration Emcee Martin Hogan with Steve Thomas and Richard Johnson
Nevermore Program Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary 

A high-spirited crowd of graduates, staff, family, and allies gathered on December 8 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Nevermore Batterers Treatment Program and the continued success of the Milwaukee County New Pathways for Fathers and Families initiative.

Nevermore, housed within Community Advocates' Milwaukee Women's Center division, is an educational, support group-based program aiming to help male batterers understand and take responsibility for their violent behavior.
It recognizes that while services for survivors of abuse are vital, supports that help men with an abusive past also are critical to ending the cycle of violence within relationships.

Community Advocates acquired the Nevermore program, led by Program Manager Steve Thomas, when it merged with the Milwaukee Women's Center in 2007. In its 10 years as a Community Advocates program, Nevermore served 2,322 men who sought to change their behavior. Last year, 131 men completed the six-month course.

New Pathways serves fathers and expectant fathers under the age of 24 who seek to strengthen their engagement with their children, improve their employment and economic opportunities, and improve their relationships. Community Advocates is a partner in this Milwaukee County program. Thomas served as Program Supervisor.

The Nevermore and New Pathways staff
"This is one of my favorite events of the year, celebrating all of you, and Steve and his team, and the exceptional work that they do throughout the year," Andi Elliott, Community Advocates CEO, told the crowd. 

Thomas thanked the program's front-line staff, which includes a significant number of women.  "When we started bringing women on board is when we found success," Thomas said.

"We can't speak for women. They speak for themselves. And for men who don't respect women, the only way to learn that is by learning from the women on our team."

Elliott said the team is successful because of Thomas' leadership.

"They treat every individual as an individual, and they are real," Elliott said. "They care and they show it every single day. They do that because they have a leader who shows them every day how to care, how to be real, how to connect, how to show people that they are loved and cared for."

Elliott presented Thomas with an award and gift before the attendees of all ages enjoyed a holiday dinner with all of the trimmings and a raffle, and participated in a silent auction that included hotel stays, restaurant and retail gift cards, and sports tickets.

For more information or to make a referral to Nevermore, go to or call
(414) 828-5190.

Matt Raymond and Andi Elliott sign certificates of appreciation for Project Bridge partners
Project Bridge Turns 10

Community Advocates' Project Bridge program is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This long-term supportive housing program has helped to find permanent housing and provide wrap-around care for more than 200 individuals with a disabling health condition who also were experiencing homelessness.

Project Bridge is part of Community Advocates' Housing Continuum of Care, which provides support for men, women, and families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. The continuum includes one-time or short-term interventions (such as mediating conflicts with landlords, or the Homeless Outreach Nursing Center's staff engaging with those living on the streets) to long-term supports. 

Project Bridge is one of Community Advocates' long-term supportive housing programs for adults who had been without a permanent home and have been diagnosed with a disabling condition. Project Bridge staff helps participants to find and keep a permanent residence and provides wrap-around care, such as transportation, connecting and keeping health care, helping with furnishing a home and shopping, and providing a sense of belonging and dignity.

During the national Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in November, Community Advocates CEO Andi E lliott and Supportive Housing Program Director Matt Raymond sent thank-you notes and certificates of appreciation to Project Bridge's many community partners, from landlords to the faith community to locally owned shops who welcome our clients and donate extra food.

Last week, Project Bridge held its annual holiday party at Our Savior's Lutheran Church on West Wisconsin Avenue. Guests include more than 50 Project Bridge participants, eight Autumn West residents, and dozens of Community Advocates' supportive housing staff, volunteers, and guests. More than 150 gifts were given throughout the week from the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee's Giving Tee. 

We couldn't help our clients find a roof over their head, a bed to sleep in, and food in their pantry without the generosity of our community partners and supporters. Our allies don't ask for a thank you, but they deserve a very warm one. Thank you!

Utility Call Center staffers Jesus, Atiya and Luis with a poster showing the team's progress
Energy Assistance Advocates
Reach Out to Community

Community Advocates is a proud partner in the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program, which allows low-income renters and homeowners to lower their utility bills and access additional benefits, such as emergency crisis assistance, furnace/heating system repair or replacement, or oil, propane, or bulk fuel. 

Our Energy Assistance Advocates are out and about multiple times a week at community events, schools, senior apartments, and health fairs to spread the word about this vital program. They're also busy enrolling Milwaukee County residents in our offices.

The Milwaukee County Energy Assistance team is offering special promotions throughout the winter for those who complete applications, along with providing  helpful energy conservation tips and assistance with payment plans. 

It's easy to sign up! If you are eligible for energy assistance, you can make an appointment by calling 414-270-4653, going to, or stopping by one of six locations throughout the county (6918 W. Brown Deer Road; 4906 W. Fond du Lac Ave.; 728 N. James Lovell Street; 6761 W. Greenfield Ave.; 2701 S. Chase Ave.; 5663 S. 27th Street).

Want our Energy Assistance Advocates to attend your event or sign up residents of a senior apartment complex? Contact Kim Amos at

Click on any of the flyers below to learn more about the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program.

Maudwella Kirkendoll with Andi Elliott and Matt Raymond
Green Bay Packers Contribute to Community Advocates' 
Supportive Housing Programs

The Green Bay Packers Foundation donated a generous check to Community Advocates' Autumn West Safe Haven and Homeless Outreach Nursing Center on December 5. This year, the foundation targeted organizations working to alleviate hunger and homelessness. Community Advocates CEO Andi Elliott, COO Maudwella Kirkendoll and Supportive Housing Program Director Matt Raymond had a great time at the foundation's luncheon at Lambeau Field.

Warming Rooms Are Open

As the temperatures plunge, the need to stay warm becomes imperative. The Milwaukee Continuum of Care, which includes Community Advocates, is thankful that these safe spaces welcome those who are left out in the cold and snow. Share this information widely to ensure that the bitter cold doesn't harm anyone in our community.

Generous Response to

We are so grateful for your support on  #GivingTuesday, the global day of giving observed on Tuesday, November 28. Thanks to your generosity, Community Advocates raised more than $10,000 in one day! Every gift will be put to good use by providing top-notch advocacy, services, and supplies for those in need. Thank you!

BoardConnecting with the Board
Catching Up with 
Timothy Charek

Timothy Charek offers a unique perspective on the Community Advocates Board of Directors. Charek, our longest-serving board member, was allied with our late founder, Ramon Wagner, in this organization's earliest years. Charek's long personal and professional bond with Wagner continues to guide his work on the board.
"Ramon's approach was to gather all the stakeholders and work toward common solutions," Charek said. "This strategy led to more effective delivery systems and better services to clients."
As Charek explained, in the late 1970s the two men were working on anti-poverty issues, Wagner as the founder of Community Advocates and Charek as the executive director of the Welfare Advocacy Center.
"We became friends because we shared the same value of social justice, and we also wanted to ensure that people have a voice," Charek said. "We also had a common background. He had been a Roman Catholic priest and I had prepared for the ministry in the seminary. We had a common language. We hit if off that way."
After Charek moved to a new position preparing Catholic deacons for social justice ministry, he joined Community Advocates' Board in the mid-1980s and served as Board President for a number of years. He said Community Advocates' expertise in addressing multiple aspects of our clients' lives is an asset to those we serve.
"Nobody who comes to Community Advocates has just one issue," Charek said. "What attracts me to Community Advocates is that we are a learning organization. We continue to develop our expertise in the issues surrounding those experiencing poverty. We are able to bring comprehensive solutions to their many problems. We are not a one-issue organization. We treat our clients with dignity and they trust us to help them resolve their issues."
Charek also cited Community Advocates' ability to build coalitions as central to our mission.
"I think Community Advocates' approach has been to immerse itself into an issue, and assess what's going on, gather a coalition together of organizations and clients, and determine strategies that would improve outcomes," Charek said. "And then we'd make every effort to share our conclusions with the decision makers."

Charek recently retired from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains but is an active member in the Ignatius Volunteer Corps -- and he's just as committed to Community Advocates as he ever was.

"It's been an honor to participate in something as important as Community Advocates' work," he said.

successCelebrating Success
Tiffany's success inspires her peers and allies
Tiffany's Story

Tiffany is a recent graduate of the Milwaukee Women's Center's substance abuse day treatment outpatient program. The path she took to treatment follows a very familiar course. Fortunately, her path led beyond treatment to success.
Tiffany was born into a family who has a long history of generational substance use and was removed from her family's home when she was a child. As a result of these multiple traumas, Tiffany herself battled with addiction and mental health issues. When she became a mother, her children were removed from her care.
"Tiffany could have continued her family's pattern of addiction and absentee parenthood, but she wanted to change her life and her children's destiny," said Sa'Aire Salton, Milwaukee Women's Center Substance Abuse Treatment Program Coordinator and Clinician.
The Milwaukee Women's Center's Positive Options for Women Entering Recovery (POWER) Program offers no-cost outpatient and day treatment programming for mothers and pregnant women who are battling addiction and have been diagnosed with a mental illness. This program provides holistic help to women in treatment by addressing their substance use issues; providing greater awareness of the impact of trauma, domestic violence, and mental health issues; and improving their chances of employment and self-sufficiency.
Tiffany was referred to the Milwaukee Women's Center's POWER Program from Family Drug Treatment Court in September 2016. At the time, she was homeless and unemployed. Her children lived elsewhere.
But Tiffany knew that she and her children deserved to live better lives. Tiffany committed to her recovery and after making great progress in day treatment she transitioned into our outpatient program, which she successfully completed. 

As a result, Tiffany has successfully graduated from Family Drug Treatment Court, obtained stable, long-term housing, and is gainfully employed with a full-time job in customer service. Perhaps best of all, she has been granted trial reunification with her children and the opportunity to be a loving mother to them.
Tiffany's transformation is remarkable. Where she once felt isolated and despondent, she now offers hope to her peers struggling with addiction and often returns to the Milwaukee Women's Center to share her story with the women in the program.
"We're always glad to see Tiffany and hear about her new life," Salton said. "She offers so much inspiration and encouragement to the women who are facing the same struggles she did when she came to us a year ago. She has earned their respect and is held in high regard by the members of the Family Drug Treatment Court and the Milwaukee Women's Center. We are very proud of her."
For more information about the Milwaukee Women's Center's substance abuse treatment programs, contact Clinical Services Director Otis Lockett Jr. at 414-270-4622 or

AdviceAdvice from the Advocates
Our Housing Advocates keep residents in their homes
Tips for Renters & Landlords

Community Advocates' Housing Department handles thousands of tenant/landlord questions every year. In fact, in 2016 our Housing Advocates helped 12,250 families resolve issues with their landlords so that they could stay in their homes. Our advocates also offer training for tenants and landlords so that they know their rights and responsibilities and can avoid misunderstandings later on.

Shawanna Lindenberg, who heads our Housing Department, offered these three tips to ensure that the tenant/landlord relationship is a happy one:

Spell out the details up front: Be sure that all of the terms of the rental agreement (month-to-month or term leases) are spelled out in writing so that both parties clearly understand what's expected of them.


Buyer beware: Tenants should stay away from renting units that need repair prior to moving in.


Keep a paper trail: Never pay in cash. Use checks or money orders so that you can prove you've been paying your rent or other expenses.


Need more help with staying in your home? Call 414-449-4777 and ask for our Housing Department. One of our Housing Advocates would be happy to help.


[Back to Top]

GiveWays to Give
Year-End Appeals Are in the Mail

We'd be honored if you would contribute to Community Advocates and/or our Milwaukee Women's Center division before the year's end. As you know, need and inequality are rising nationally and throughout Milwaukee. Every one of your gifts to Community Advocates and the Milwaukee Women's Center helps to reduce those threats and improve the health, safety, and well-being of those who have nowhere else to turn. 

It's easy to give. You can mail your tax-deductible donation to us at Community Advocates, 728 N. James Lovell Street, Milwaukee, WI, 53233, or give online at our website, We are so grateful for your support. Thank you!

Arthenia and Marisela with our Holiday Giving Tree
What Our Clients Need This Winter

Community Advocates works 365 days a year to assist our friends and neighbors who need a helping hand. But the winter months seem to accentuate our clients' needs, including:  
  • Soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrushes
  • Household cleaning supplies
  • Socks (adult women/men)
  • Underwear (women's sizes M, L and XL; men's sizes 36, 38, 40)
  • Pampering items (perfume, lotions, makeup, etc.)
  • Toys
  • Gift certificates to Walmart, Target, or Pick 'n Save
  • Blankets, sheets, towels, and dishes
  • Sleeping bags, backpacks, hats, and gloves 

Our staff is also pitching in to help. Our downtown offices feature a Holiday Giving Tree adorned with donated hats, gloves, and scarves. Anyone who walks through our doors who needs protection from the cold can pick out an item from our tree.

To donate items to Community Advocates' clients, please contact Lisa Kaiser at 414-270-2999 or lkaiser@communityadvocates.netThank you!

Call for Housewarming Kits

Most of us got a head start in life because we were prepared to move out of the house with lots of supplies, whether it was hand-me-down furniture or enough money to purchase cleaning supplies. 

But most, if not all of our clients, aren't so fortunate when they move into an apartment. Most of the time, they're moving into an apartment after lacking a home for an extended period, oftentimes years, as they have lived in emergency shelters, on the streets, or survived by couch surfing. They lack most of the essentials they need to set up a happy home, take care of themselves, and begin rebuilding their future. 

Carrie Burkham, Program Manager at Autumn West Safe Haven, Community Advocates' 20-unit supportive apartment building for those transitioning from homelessness to a permanent home, is asking for your help. She and the Autumn West staff would love to provide residents with the housewarming supplies they need to set up their new home. These housewarming kits can include:
  • Pots and pans
  • Utensils and plates
  • Drinking glasses
  • Dish-washing soap and sponges
  • Slotted spoons for cooking
  • Can openers
  • Fitted sheets and blankets for a twin-size bed
  • Mattress covers
  • Shower curtains
  • Personal care items 
If you can contribute any of these items to Autumn West's residents, please contact Lisa Kaiser at 414-270-2999 or lkaiser@communityadvocates.netThank you!

Amazon Smile Makes Giving Easy

When you shop via Amazon Smile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to Community Advocates. Just click on this link and start shopping! 

Winter Calendar
Community Advocates' Holiday Schedule:  Our offices will be closed Saturday, December 23, through Monday, December 25, and Friday, December 29, through Monday, January 1, 2018, to allow our staff to spend the holidays with their loved ones. Our offices will also close on Monday, January 15, 2018, to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. However, our 24/7 facilities will remain open around the clock on all of those days.

Milwaukee Record Presents Local Coverage:  Check out  Milwaukee Record's one-of-a-kind concert  featuring local bands covering each other's songs on Friday, January 19, 2018, at Turner Hall Ballroom. Milwaukee Record also is generously donating all of the proceeds from the event to the Milwaukee Women's Center. If you can't make it to the concert, you can still contribute to the cause. $1 of each pint of Milwaukee Record's Re-Porter beer will go toward the Milwaukee Women's Center. Here's where you can find Re-Porter around town.

January Point-in-Time Count: Milwaukee Continuum of Care volunteers and advocates will be checking on the approximately 1,000 Milwaukee County residents who are experiencing homelessness from 7 p.m. on January 24, 2018, through 7 a.m. on January 25, 2018. Stay tuned for information on volunteering for a shift during the count. "Like" Point in Time Milwaukee on Facebook at and consider contributing via its wish list on Amazon or PayPal. Donations of socks, underwear, and outerwear will be accepted through January 5, 2018. Contact Nancy Esteves about donating items at

Light & Unite RED: To increase awareness of substance abuse and the importance of prevention, a broad coalition of community partners (including Community Advocates) is turning the town red during National Drug Facts Week, January 22-28, 2018. Get more information at

48 Hours of Giving: Look for our annual 48 Hours of Giving event in March to support Community Advocates' client services and programming. 

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute 10th Anniversary Celebration: Enjoy after-hours access at the Milwaukee Public Museum to hear Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, and Reggie Jackson, Head Griot of America's Black Holocaust Museum, on Thursday, April 26. 

Community Advocates 
2017 Board of Directors
President:  Sheree Dallas-Branch | ABRAZO Multi-Cultural Marketing & Communications Firm
Vice President:  Jodi Wire | We Energies
Treasurer:  Sandra Samse | Johnson Keland Management
Secretary:  Bryan House | Foley & Lardner, LLP

Board Members
Marquette Baylor | Aurora Health Care
Timothy Charek | National Association of Catholic Chaplains (retired)
Anne DeLeo | Community Volunteer
Valerie Gabriel | Community Volunteer
Dr. Stephen Hargarten | Medical College of Wisconsin
Erin Henry | Northwestern Mutual
Betsy Hoylman | Northwestern Mutual
Gary Ingram | Igary Events
Moriah Iverson | Medical College of Wisconsin
Sharon Jordan | Direct Supply
Pamela Klein | Fresh Coast Partners, LLC
Jim Liedtke | Community Volunteer
Tom Salemy | Marquette Associates
Esther Shin | Urban Strategies
Kate Venne | Brady Corporation

Lisa Kaiser
Communications Specialist
Community Advocates 
728 N. James Lovell Street, Milwaukee WI 53233  |  414-270-2999