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 ‐  Goodwill Southcentral Wisconsin, GiGi’s Playhouse: CJ

Chris Johnson (CJ) embodies what is possible through Access to Community Services partner agencies.  With support from Goodwill SCWI job coaches, CJ has thrived at his job for more than 20 years.  A popular figure at the downtown brew pub where he works, CJ’s work day starts each weekday afternoon. His employers say he’s the best kind of employee: reliable, always on time, hard-working, and friendly with both co-workers and customers. His primary duties include cleaning – counters, tables, and laying out place settings.

In between his work duties, CJ usually finds time for dancing, encouraging everyone around him to join in the fun. His musical interests often lead to song. From CJ’s perspective, singing Roll Out The Barrel and laying the silverware are his two favorite things about his job. And from the perspective of his co-workers, CJ is one of the best parts of everyone else’s job.

When CJ was in school, he never learned how to read.  In the spring of 2016, CJ became actively involved with GiGi’s Playhouse Madison-another ACS partner agency.  GiGi’s provided him the opportunity to learn to read through weekly one-on-one tutoring at the Playhouse. With this program, CJ quickly learned how to recognize numerous words, especially his favorite food-themed words.  Both his tutor and his family were stunned by his progress, and CJ continues to be excited by the opportunity to learn.  Partner agencies with Access to Community Services help thousands of people gain equal access to opportunities that allow them to live, work and enjoy life in their communities.


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 ‐  Dane County TimeBank: Youth Court

Dane County TimeBank launched its first school-based Youth Court in 2008 at La Follette High School, and following successful results, expanded to five area schools and two community-based youth courts. To date, more than 800 kids have been through the TimeBank’s Youth Court Program, with 90% successfully completing agreements and avoiding the formal juvenile justice system.


EarthShare Wisconsin ‐   Groundswell Conservancy and Town Of Dunn – Longtime Dane County Partners

Did you know that some of the best farmland in the country is right here in south-central    Wisconsin? The vast prairies that once blanketed this part of the world built a soil that is    second to none for growing the food that sustains us and the agricultural economy that is    so important to our state. Over half of the acres Groundswell Conservancy (formerly    Natural Heritage Land Trust) has permanently protected since we were established in    1983    have been on working farms, many in the Town of Dunn.

Two decades later, Groundswell and the Town of Dunn have permanently protected more than       3,000 acres of vital farmland, rolling pastures, woodlands, and wetlands. More is being done every year.


Hunger Relief Fund ‐  Open Door Cafe – Alan

Alan Hombs has been eating at the Open Door Café meal site for six years. He has had trouble getting FoodShare (food stamps) in the past and is so thankful that the community can provide places where he can enjoy a hot meal. “A lot of people are chronically homeless and chronically hungry. Many of them have no money,” Alan said. “I don’t think people realize how important it is for people to have something like this.”


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: Wisconsin Envirothon

Wisconsin Envirothon is our state’s ultimate middle and high school environmental science challenge and the only one like it in Wisconsin where teams of four or five high school or middle school students participate in the hands-on, outdoor field challenges designed by natural resources professionals and educators. The exams are based on four categories, Forestry, Soils/Land Use, Aquatic Ecology and Wildlife. The teams also participate in creating a group presentation based on a pre-selected conservation topic, a current issue local conservation professionals are dealing with across the state. Winners advance to the North American Envirothon to compete for scholarships and prices. This event offers an opportunity for students to develop leadership skills that will help them develop fundamental knowledge and reasoning ability in understanding and articulating today’s critical conservation concerns. Through this program we are able to reach hundreds of middle and high school students from all backgrounds all across the state educating and engaging them in conservation, stewardship and passing on Wisconsin’s rich conservation history to future generations.


America’s Charities ‐  Dress for Success – Ms. Gonzalez

At the 2015 Something to Share Gala, Ms. Gonzalez shared her story about overcoming a turbulent past of domestic violence and rape, and transforming into a self-made entrepreneur and business owner.

In her own words, “My mother gave birth to me when she was only 14 years old.  But I never knew her as a mother. You see, my mother was not just my mother.  She was also my sister. At the dawn of her adulthood, she was raped by her father—by my father. I suffered through nine years of severe domestic violence, and faced abuse from my great grandmother herself who had raised me.  I contemplated suicide many times. It seemed as if a cycle had been created with my mother because, and at the age of 14, I too became pregnant. But then I realized that being a single, teenage mother with a broken background wasn’t an excuse as to why I wouldn’t be able to succeed in life, it was the reason why I had to. When I came to Dress for Success, I made a commitment to more than just myself and even to more than just my family.  Whether someone knew me as family, a friend or just a woman they passed on the street, I wanted to be an example of excellence for everyone that never had anyone. As a young mother who had a baby on each hip, people used to call me a “nobody” and tell me that I’d never amount to anything.  Well, this “nobody” had two high school diplomas, an Associate’s degree and was the boss of her own business before she turned 30, all while raising five children, now along with the help of my husband, Alejandro. And I’m leading a new generation of business owners. What I am passing down is the power of perseverance. I didn’t have any professional role models growing up as a girl, but my daughter does.  All of my five children do.  That role model is me. I take my children to Dress for Success events with me when I can because their prosperity is a physical testament to what Dress for Success has done for my family and I am so proud of them, just as I hope they are so proud of me.


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.