Circumstances over the past few years have created hardships and inconveniences for most everyone, but for people living at or below poverty levels, these circumstances can be devastating. The cost of goods, supply chain issues and inflation are wreaking havoc not only on members of our community but on the non-profit organizations that are trying to help by providing food, clothing, shelter & medical care for the ever-growing needs.
Karen Gallagher, Corporate Relations Manager for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin said that during the height of the Pandemic, demand for their services increased by 65%, and they weren't the only food pantry being affected.
Recently, actress Viola Davis was being interviewed about her memoir, "Finding Me," and spoke about her poverty-stricken childhood: There was no food in her house, her home was not a safe place for her and she was bullied. "People have to realize when there's no food, it's all you can think about. You'll do anything for food," Davis said. Watch the Viola Davis interview here. While Davis was able to break free from poverty, many cannot.
The First Weber Foundation supports more than just food insecurity. In 2021 the Foundation contributed more than $275,000 to organizations who provided food, shelter, safety and medical care, as well as to the arts, nature, education and special needs. Two key company-wide collections were in the name of humanity: one was for victims of the Waukesha Holiday Parade tragedy, the other for UNICEF to assist vulnerable children and families affected by the invasion of Ukraine. These two collections alone account for almost $47,000 of assistance.
The need is growing, though, and we are being asked to give more.
Let's take a look at some of the organizations who received donations from the First Weber Foundation within the past year.
The Foundation has supported Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity since 2008, helping to build homes and provide housing to families who otherwise could never have afforded it. The newest homeowner plans to close soon, and will be able to afford to go to college.
Brian Sonderman, Executive Director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity shared his appreciation via video.
Karen Gallagher from Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin said "First Weber Foundation has been a long time, consistent, sustainable partner with Second Harvest and made it possible for us to survive some challenging times." Last year the Foundation contributed $18,500 to Second Harvest through the use of Direct Giving, Group Giving and Matching Funds. The Fitchburg office holds a bowling event to help support this cause.
Late last year, Karen Patrick, Sarah Venes & Abby Hauke from the First Weber Lake Country Office coordinated a Group Giving collection for Tricia's Troops. After their collection was matched by the Foundation, Tricia's Troops received a check for $5,060 to be used in supporting and encouraging members of communities in SE Wisconsin who are enduring a journey with cancer. "We are deeply touched to be the recipient of such generous and meaningful support," writes Candice Strong, Executive Director of Trisha's Troops. "Our sincere thanks to your Foundation for the time, effort and resources that you pour into our community."
The Minocqua First Weber team held a Group Giving collection for the Lakeland Pantry in Woodruff, Wis., and when matched by the Foundation, the pantry received $2,150 for the Lakeland Pantry Greatest Needs Fund. John Winkelman, Director of the pantry, wrote "Thank you for the caring gift, which benefits so many of our neighbors!"
Last summer, Val Herritz of First Weber's Baraboo-Reedsburg offices held a Group Giving event for the Loganville Area Fire Department. Ron Bindl, First Assistant Chief of the Loganville Firemen, said the $5,250 they received from the Foundation was used to purchase 3 air packs for their firemen to use while fighting fires.
And, the First Weber West Towne office had a Group Giving event that included a raffle and silent auction and was able to provide almost $6,500 for One City Schools, a non-profit school system with a unique approach to learning. Some agents also used their Matching Gifts funds to contribute to the event.
The Foundation makes it possible for our agents and staff to help in their communities, even if it is one crisis at a time. As news of our giving spreads, more requests come in for help. To do more, we need to ask for more to ensure that First Weber agents and staff can help fill some of the many needs that are prevalent in their communities.
Please consider a one-time donation to the First Weber Foundation to help us continue to provide assistance to local communities throughout our state.
The First Weber Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization.