The State, University, and 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 ‐  Lad Lake

Emmanuel lived in five different foster homes before even turning six. Now 17, he has been living in a group home for the past three years. When he enrolled in Lad Lake’s ULTRA Day Treatment program, he had a history of skipping classes and getting into trouble. Emmanuel turned to Lad Lake because he needed somebody to show him the way to the right path.
“The people at Lad Lake told me, ‘This is how it is: You need to straighten up and fly right.’ And after that, something just clicked in my mind,” says Emmanuel. “I realized I needed to find something in my life that could help me control myself. I found that at Lad Lake.”

It didn’t take long before Emmanuel dedicated himself to the ULTRA Day Treatment program. He logged perfect attendance throughout the year and even completed the Lad Lake Summer School program, which gave him additional credit toward completing high school. Emmanuel also participated in the ULTRA Job Readiness program, never missing a single day of work and always showing up on time.

“School is my focus,” Emmanuel says. “I’m trying to graduate high school so I can go on to college and learn how to be a businessman.” With so much dedication, he’s already well on his way to achieving his dreams.

“Lad Lake gave me a gift. The staff gave me hope. They gave me hope because they pushed me like I’ve never been pushed before… They made me believe if you try hard, you really will go somewhere in life.”

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 ‐  Saunters Program Teaches Youth about Wisconsin’s Glacial Landscape

The Ice Age Trail Alliance offers its Saunters program to combat “nature deficit disorder” by taking youth on Ice Age Trail hikes infused with core curriculum highlights. The program is based on the idea if youth are immersed in natural settings, they will learn experientially, naturally, and collaboratively while navigating the glacial landscape on foot.

These immersive, interactive, and natural experiences apply to all Ice Age Trail users. This linear national park winds through woods, farm fields, small towns, and large cities. The trail makes Wisconsin’s natural beauty accessible and available to both rural and suburban populations

Hunger Relief Fund ‐  St. Ben’s Community Meal

Paul is a veteran, worked as a carpenter in the military and has long supported himself with his diverse, handy skills. But as the economy declined, he lost his work as a casual laborer, and his military benefits were not enough to get by. Now, he lives in his car and walks the homeless meal route in Milwaukee. He enjoys the exercise and tranquility of walking, but often, he has to skip lunch because walking to all the meal programs takes too much time.

One of Paul’s frequent stops for dinner and a shower is at St. Ben’s Community Meal. He enjoys the “warm and sincere” environment, and has come to know many of the friars very well. Despite his struggles, Paul has a unique and selfless perspective on his own situation: he wants to give the Capuchins more of his time and skills to support their ministry and facility. He wants to give back to those who have helped him. For instance, when a bathroom at St. Ben’s was vandalized, Paul offered to fix it up and did a great job. He’s also been hired by St. Ben’s to do some light work and painting around the facility. Paul soon hopes to rent his own room with money from his continuing work as a handyman and service-related disability benefits.

United Way of Dane County – Centro Hispano

Thanks to Centro Hispano, I found a place in Madison where people appreciate and respect my culture and ancestral roots.” Matilde and her daughters felt disconnected in Madison. CENTRO HISPANO of Dane County, a United Way partner, gave Matilde and her daughters a community of support and growth. There, Matilde’s daughters were introduced to two United Way programs, By Youth For Youth and HIRE. Now, both of Matilde’s daughters are on a path toward building a life and community of their own.

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 – Natural Resources Foundation

Since 2018, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin funded recovery efforts for the endangered piping plover, a shorebird that could once be seen darting along the shores of the Great Lakes. Challenges including habitat loss, high water levels, predators, and even unleashed dogs diminished their populations, and by the mid 1900’s only one pair of plovers was known to nest in Wisconsin.

The piping plover was listed as a federally endangered species in 1985 and didn’t return to nest in Wisconsin until 2016. Foundation supporters made recovery efforts possible for their growing population (now up to at least 70 nesting pairs in the Midwest region!) through the creation and monitoring of breeding sites as well as banding piping plover chicks.

America’s Best Charities – Angel Canines & Wounded Warriors

Dustin was born with facial deformities. He needed multiple surgeries, including an ear reconstruction. His family is on a limited income, and they had a hard time paying for the surgeries. They had to turn to crowdfunding, and eventually raised enough money for the treatment. Unfortunately, Dustin’s family faced another obstacle – transportation to medical care. The best hospital that could help him was in Los Angeles, CA, more than 830 miles from his home in Denver, CO. He needed numerous round-trip flights to and from surgery and post-op appointments. Angel Canines & Wounded Warriors
provided round-trip airline tickets for Dustin and his parent, enabling him to get the care he needed. Dustin’s mom said:

“Dustin loved flying! It was the highlight of traveling back and forth for surgery and post-op appointments. We are so blessed to receive help with transportation to the life-changing medical care Dustin needed, and so thankful to Angel Canines & Wounded Warriors”

America’s Charities ‐  Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends owns nearly 3,700 acres, and we lease another 17,000 acres of state and federal land. Nearly 30,000 people visit every year to meet the animals and tour what has become the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. (Best Friends Animal Society)

In 2017, Best Friends is able to determine that the number of dogs and cats killed in shelters nationwide has gradually been reduced to approximately 2 million annually, from 17 million in 1984. By 2019 for the first time on record, the total number of dogs and cats killed in America’s shelters for a given year has dropped below the one million mark — to about 800,000.

Global Impact ‐  Mercy Corps

At 14 years old, Fatsuma could follow the familiar path for girls her age in Niger. She could get married. She could start having babies. She could go her whole life without learning how to support herself, let alone a family. She could never build her own future. She could, but thanks in part to this goat, she won’t. Because of Mercy Corps, a Global Impact charity partner, this goat is hers.

In the Mercy Corps girls group in her village, Fatsuma gets the chance to think differently about what her life can be. In a country where hunger is chronic, poverty is rampant and opportunity for women is nonexistent, livestock like goats and cattle offer security, providing healthy milk and income to build a stronger life. For Fatsuma, the responsibility of raising her goat also comes with a sense of empowerment that is often out of reach for girls in Niger: she has the rare opportunity to earn her own money and support her family with something that is all her own

Neighbor to Nation ‐  Food for the Hungry

We believe that when communities are trained and equipped to care for their most vulnerable, the entire community is lifted and poverty can be overcome. We serve communities like Galgallo’s through life-changing resources such as clean water, medical aid, food, equal educational opportunities to girls and boys, vocational training and empowerment in the midst of unimaginable hardships.

Galgallo lives in Kenya with his mother and 5 siblings. Before Food for the Hungry entered his community there wasn’t an adequate school and children were left vulnerable. Thanks to Food for the Hungry, the community is now thriving.