The State, University & UW Health Employees Combined Campaign of Dane County

Success Stories

What happens to the money you contribute to various charities as a Partner in Giving?

Your gift may go directly to people and families in need. Or it may go to support a cause and the staff behind it. It just depends on what specific charity or charities you choose – and there are over 500 to choose from! What follows are only a few examples of how your donation directly impacts people, families, communities and causes around the globe and makes a tremendous difference. These are stories from Partners in Giving charities and their clients about how state employees in Dane County are making communities across the nation and around the world a better place:

Access to Community Services ‐  GiGi’s Playhouse

Special Olympics Young Athletes is a very popular program at GiGi’s Playhouse Madison. During this eight-week program our two to seven year old participants practice to balance, jump, run, throw, catch and kick a ball. Last week, one of our two-year-old participants, learned to kick a ball for the first time!

Community Health Charities ‐  Autism Speaks: Lenora & Her Son

I have a son who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3. I’ve known about Autism Speaks but never thought that I would find myself in need of any assistance. Until, due to unforeseen family emergencies and personal health issues, I found myself almost homeless. I had already found a suitable place to live but I didn’t have enough money to pay the security deposit and last month’s rent in order to move in. I contacted a representative from Autism Speaks and explained my situation. I was then referred to Autism Speaks Cares because they offered emergency financial assistance to families of children diagnosed with Autism. At first, I was a little confused about the process but the representative patiently explained everything to me. I was able to complete the application requirements online and was contacted in less than a week with news that my circumstances qualified my family for the help we needed. I never thought that my family would ever have to face possibly being displaced, but with help from Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks Cares, I was able secure a home for my family. It’s been over a year since we moved and I’m as grateful today as I was then for Autism Speaks helping to make our burden a little lighter.

Community Shares of Wisconsin ‐  Madison Audubon Society & Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Community Shares of Wisconsin member groups Madison Audubon Society and Wisconsin Council on the Blind and Visually Impaired partnered to host workshops to teach community members to bird by ear. Attendees who were blind and visually impaired, as well as those who are sighted, learned ways to better identify birds through birdsong–all with the aim of increasing opportunities for people to experience nature in new ways. One attendee said: “Everyone in my group was very interested in learning. Everyone was so willing to share what they knew.”

EarthShare Wisconsin ‐  Bald eagle wintering habitat permanently protected

In partnership with Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, Groundswell Conservancy recently purchased 31 acres to add to Ferry Bluff State Natural Area on the Wisconsin River south of Sauk City.

Ferry Bluff hosts one of only three winter concentrations of bald eagles in all of Wisconsin. It is a pivotal base for the eagles, a place where they can forage under ice-free conditions near the dam at Prairie du Sac, when the rest of the Wisconsin River is frozen. And it is the only communal roost on the lower portion of the river that has gained significant long-term protection.

Groundswell Conservancy is a member of EarthShare Wisconsin

Hunger Relief Fund ‐  The Gathering – Bob

Bob is a senior who eats at The Gathering meal site. He owns his own home and works, but he owes so much in taxes and debt that he relies on meal sites to eat. He used to have FoodShare, but gave up on the process because it was so hard to keep up for what you’d get. That’s one reason why his meal at The Gathering is so important to him.

United Way of Dane County: Samantha’s Success Story

Samantha, a hardworking single mom from Madison, fell on financial hard times after the death of her mother. That led to jail time for check fraud and ultimately left her and her daughter, Bella, without a place to call home. The generosity of family and friends helped keep the pair afloat, but it wasn’t a long-term solution. Samantha needed a stable job and a stable home—a place where Bella could focus on her schoolwork and the two of them could thrive.

Samantha looked to United Way’s partner agency, YWCA, for help finding her and Bella the stable housing they needed to keep moving in the right direction. After finding a place to call their own through YWCA’s Third Street Program, the pair finally felt comfortable and confident in their futures. Samantha could now focus on getting Bella ready for kindergarten, as well as finding a job for herself.

Now settled in their new home, Samantha turned to the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP), one of United Way’s signature initiatives managed by partner agency RISE (formerly Center for Families and Community Partnerships), for help preparing her daughter for kindergarten. PCHP gave Bella crucial behavior and language skills while providing Samantha with key parenting skills and access to a support system of mothers in the area.

As Bella and Samantha flourished, the pair had finally hit their stride and grew more confident each day. The stability offered by United Way of Dane County inspired greater initiative in Samantha, who now enjoys a new career in Madison and proudly gives back to United Way. She’s determined to continue supporting the same community that helped her get back on her feet.

Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education: North Lakeland Discovery Center

A few years ago, a fifth grade girl with a tragic past came to The North Lakeland Discovery Center for a field trip. She had recently lost both parents in a car accident. Unaware of her situation, Discovery Center staff noticed other students treating her with unusual care and compassion. As the class explored the bog, she fell waist-high into mud. Teachers, staff, and students held their breath to see how she would react. At first, she smiled. Then, she broke out into laughter! Teachers shared that it was the first time she had laughed since coming to the school.

In 2018, over 1,000 students took part in programming at Discovery Center. We are proud of the 1,100 library patrons, day care children, and senior citizens who attended 52 Traveling Naturalist programs in the community. We want to tell you about our citizen science army of volunteers who go out at night with a bat monitor to locate bat populations, keep a watchful eye on our lakes for aquatic invasive species, or record lake level data in front of their property throughout the summer.

We’re so grateful to the nearly 882 of you, our member households, who make that happen.

But what really matters is that for a moment, the healing power of nature touched a girl’s heart. What really matters is you.

America’s Charities ‐  CureSearch Success

CureSearch proudly announced our inaugural Catapult Award recipient – Dr. Ranjit Bindra of the Yale Cancer Center. The CureSearch Catapult Awards are designed to propel high-potential pediatric cancer treatments through clinical trials and to our young patients, helping them lead long, healthy lives. This nearly $1 million grant will fund a phase 1 clinical trial testing a novel treatment for pediatric glioma, an aggressive brain cancer with a 5-year survival rate of less than 25%.

With a goal to improve long-term survival rates and overall quality of life, this exciting new trial could create a shift in current treatment standards. Dr. Bindra’s study will test a novel drug for pediatric patients who have a specific subtype of glioma called an IDH1/2 mutation. The drug will make the cancer more sensitive to chemotherapy, allowing the patient to receive lower doses of chemo – which would ultimately reduce damaging long-term side effects that are common with pediatric glioma patients.

The study will help children like Camryn Saal, who was diagnosed with brain cancer at just 7-years-old. Camryn survived but at the time, she had only a 20 percent chance of survival – a percentage that Dr. Bindra hopes to significantly increase through his research. This grant will provide families like the Saals with the hope that their children too will survive this terrible disease.

“There was an 80% chance our daughter was not going to make it through her battle. No child should face those odds. This funding provides hope that we can prevent families from dealing with the struggles our family dealt with Camryn’s diagnosis,” said Andrew Saal, Camryn’s father.

Global Impact ‐  Americares – Elia

Forty days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Elia had empty prescription bottles and no way to refill them. Without power, pharmacies could not access patient records or insurance plans. “I can’t get medicine because there’s no data system,” Elia says.

Elia was living without electricity or water; lack of medicine was adding to her worries. She needs medicine daily to control her blood pressure and diabetes. Beginning immediately after the hurricane, Americares delivered medicine and medical supplies to more than 60 health centers on the island and brought medical teams to communities including Moca, in western Puerto Rico, where Elia lives.

On an 85-degree November day, Elia was one of 60 patients who received care and medication from Americares medical team at no cost. Americares emergency response is active in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the Caribbean island nation of Dominica.

Neighbor to Nation ‐  World Emergency Relief – Kristy Scott & Exoce

Kristy Scott has seen a lot during her 30 years of working in developing countries for World Emergency Relief. But even she was shocked when she met 4-year-old Exoce, a Congolese boy with a 10 pound tumor on his kidney.

Scott was in D.R. Congo to witness their donors’ dollars hard at work. The small group of Congolese doctors, travelling as part of a WER sponsored medical mission, performed 86 surgeries in one week. One memorable patient was Exoce, who would have died had the tumor not been removed. The doctors were amazed when he awoke from his surgery and immediately gave the thumb-up sign!

The surgeries WER sponsors are life-changing if not life-saving. Each surgery, including medicines, supplies, doctors and hospital charges costs around $100. Look at the impact such a relatively small sum of money can have on a child’s life.