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 ‐  Dreamweavers, VSA Wisconsin: Clem

In 2013, Clemmens was 83, living alone.  He was doing well after the death of his brother and housemate. He had Meals-on-Wheels, church on Sunday and a weekend visit by an older sister. He spent his time reading the newspaper, working on puzzles and watching TV.

Clem was referred to Dreamweavers for supported living services because his aging sister could no longer help out. He moved from the family home into a group home. Within months, Clem received a terminal diagnosis, underwent surgery, and was admitted to out-patient hospice. Three years later, with quality care provided by the Dreamweaver’s support team, Clem defied the odds and was discharged from hospice.

Clem started attending VSA Wisconsin art classes. He goes to dances, on fishing trips, plays cards. On a group trip organized by Avenues to Community he has cruised along the Mississippi.

Clem is among thousands of people whose lives have been transformed by the support they receive from Access to Community Services (ACS) organizations. Contributions to ACS or to individual organizations within ACS make a significant difference in the lives of people with disabilities.


Community Health Charities ‐  St. Jude: Colton

Doctors discovered Colton suffered from a high grade glioma tumor in September 2015, and he underwent brain surgery at home in Wisconsin. Colton’s family then turned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® for his continuing treatment. He has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy at St. Jude, and will continue maintenance chemotherapy at home. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, housing, travel or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. “Literally, St. Jude spares no expense,” said Colton’s mom, Colleen. “It doesn’t matter the cost, they’re going to do what’s in the best interest of my child. The attitude is not to wait and see if something happens, but rather to make sure nothing happens.” Colton is a sweet little boy who loves music and trains.


Community Shares of Wisconsin ‐  ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation: Youth Justice Forum

Every fall, the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation holds a Youth Justice Forum to teach high school students to exercise, protect, and celebrate their civil rights and liberties. Participants learn about social media, public art, civics and government; they discuss bullying, racial profiling, LGBTQ+ rights, restorative justice and other topics relevant to youth rights and responsibilities. Students also participate in a mock election using real voting machines supplied by the City of Milwaukee Election Commission


EarthShare Wisconsin ‐   Ice Age Trail Alliance: Building and Protecting Wisconsin’s Linear National Park

One of the most successful initiatives of the Ice Age Trail Alliance has been the Mobile Skills Crew program. The program’s vision has been to build a statewide group of volunteers who are trained in advanced crew leadership and trail construction techniques.

MSC-trained volunteers apply their knowledge and experience to local trail-building projects.  Each year, volunteers from across the state and beyond flock to these trail building events at different points along the Ice Age Trail. This process allows the Ice Age Trail to grow and maintain its status as one of the premier hiking trails in the United States.

Trail-building projects which have enhanced the trail in south-central Wisconsin include the Gibraltar Rock segment near Lodi and the Montrose segment south of Verona.


Hunger Relief Fund ‐  Central City Churches: Glenn

Glenn was injured at work two years ago and currently receives disability benefits. He wishes he could go back to work to earn more money but his injuries are too severe and permanent. He and his 15-year old son live together at home. “He grows so fast and eats so much,” said Glenn. “But the money is never enough to feed us both.” To make ends meet, Glenn visits Central City Churches food pantry once a month.

The food that Glenn and his son receive from Central City makes a huge difference every month. “We can have meals three times a day and keep up with the rent for our apartment,” he said. “It’s a small place, but it’s home…I was worried that my son and I would end up in some roach-infested place, but the food we receive from the pantry helps us keep what we have.”


United Way of Dane County: Play and Learn program

At our Stoughton Play and Learn site, we started having a couple of stay‐at‐home dads come to Play and Learn with their small children. After participating in the Play and Learns for a few weeks,  they decided to start a “dads” support group. Each Friday they met at McDonalds Play Land with their kids and talk about “dad” stuff. Every time a new dad came to Play and Learn, they would invite him to the group they had started on Fridays. One of the dads said he has Play and Learn to thank for this!  Not only is Play and Learn important for children’s learning, but it is so vital for parent support, community building, and reducing the isolation of parents – all critical to supporting a child’s development towards kindergarten readiness.


Wisconsin Environmental Education Foundation: Conservation Camps

Conservation Camps provide positive educational outdoor experiences, foster an appreciation for nature, and introduce campers to a variety of careers in natural resources and conservation. Professionals from various agencies present programs on topics including wildlife, habitat, water quality, fisheries, forestry, orienteering, and canoeing. These professional as well as adult volunteers serve as overnight staff and group leaders for the duration of camp. Campers make new friends, participate in hands-on activities, practice social & leadership skills, enjoy the outdoors, and just have fun.


America’s Charities ‐  Dress for Success

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 ‐  SEE International: Koffi, Isaac, & Israel

Being a caregiver is challenging. Whether it’s your child, spouse, parent or another loved one, it’s a full-time job. Now, imagine the relief you would feel if your loved one regained their independence in an instant. – That’s what restoring someone’s sight can do.

In May 2016, a SEE International team, led by Dr. Kimberly Lovelace, held a sight-restoring program in the Ivory Coast. There, we met the D’Jezou family. The father, Koffi, and his twin 7-year old boys, Isaac and Israel, all had cataracts. Their mother cared for all three of them. It was much more than a full-time job!

The twins were fairly quiet, not moving far away from their mother or each other, due to their blindness. The team operated on the father on Friday, while the twins waited to be seen on Saturday. A week after the surgeries, their vision had improved significantly.

Thanks to you, their lives have begun anew.


America’s Best Charities ‐  American Brain Tumor Association: the Fatula Family

Five‐year‐old Lindyn and eight‐year‐old Lauryn left for school filled with the excitement and anticipation only little princesses can muster knowing they soon would be leaving for the most magical place on earth‐Disney World. Unfortunately, their family vacation, and the world as they knew it, would abruptly change. “Thinking back on that day, I remember trying to pick the right words to explain what’s going on with Mommy, why we weren’t going to Disney World” said Brian Fatula. “I could see that they were terrified, and I was trying my best to share what I felt was appropriate for their age so it wasn’t too big, too much, but at the same time, answer their questions the best that I could.” Taking on the role of caregiver for his wife Katy who was diagnosed with an oligodendroglioma brain tumor was something Brian never expected. He cherished his role as a loving father and husband, and now the role of caregiver was not only unexpected but foreign territory that he quickly needed to navigate. Many individuals like Brian who are suddenly thrust into caregiving for a spouse or loved one feel the added responsibilities can challenge them in ways they never imagined. “Caregivers often feel the stress of the immediacy of becoming an expert not only in attending to their loved one’s physical needs, but also in managing the details and communication with doctors, pharmacists, insurance companies, employers and especially family,” explained Mary Lovely, PhD, RN, CNRN, senior advisor, American Brain Tumor Association. “Brian found he quickly needed to balance his daughters’ needs with his wife’s needs, and often, caregivers like him ignore their own needs in the midst of caring for others.” While it took Brian nearly a year before he felt ready to do something just for himself, he still can’t shake the feelings he had when he left the house that day. “I decided I was going to go out and play golf, but I had nothing but guilt on my mind. All I kept thinking was, I’m out here trying to enjoy myself and my wife’s at home with someone else taking care of her,” Brian recalls. “That day was my first  step in realizing that I too needed some help and support. If you don’t take care of yourself first, then you can’t take care of somebody else to the best of your ability.” The challenges of balancing work, family, and a caregiver’s own needs, while caring for someone else and fulfilling day‐to‐day responsibilities are unique to each caregiver. “Because everyone’s situation is different, we encourage caregivers to call or email us anytime with questions so we can help them find information or resources to help them cope,” added Lovely. “Caregivers are not alone in this journey. The ABTA is here to help.”


Neighbor to Nation ‐  Mission Aviation Fellowship: Hurricane Matthew

When Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti’s southern peninsula of Grand’Anse on October 4, 2016, MAF began relief flights the next day. Between October 5 and December 4, 2016, MAF executed 372 flights, delivered 57,232 pounds of cargo (food, water, medicines, tents/temporary shelters, and hygiene kits), carried 1,028 passengers (first responders, medical personnel, humanitarian and ministry teams, and victims), and served the needs of 81 nongovernmental agencies. (Mission Aviation Fellowship – Haiti)