The Power of Partnership to Support Youth and Make a Positive Change in Milwaukee
Two organizations — one with a nearly 175-year history and one just a few years old — are joining together to make a positive impact in Milwaukee.
Wellpoint Care Network, led by President and CEO Ann Leinfelder Grove, has a mission to facilitate equity, learning, healing and wellness by restoring the connections that help children and families thrive.
Voices of the Elders, formed by lifelong Milwaukee resident Earl Ingram, is a group of “men with white hair, who through the ups and downs of our own lives know the important role men play in the lives of children.”
Being a new organization, Voices of the Elders does not currently have a permanent space to work in. Living on the northwest side of Milwaukee, Ingram noticed the recent transformation of Wellpoint Care’s 18-acre campus and decided to find out what the organization was all about.
“The idea of greeting the Elders and offering them space for their meetings was such a no-brainer,” said Leinfelder Grove. “They have such big hearts, and they have such a commitment to the community.”
What began as just a place to meet then grew into a much larger partnership.
“Through ongoing conversations, there was an appreciation for some of the similarities between what the Elders are already doing, what they hope to do and some of the work we at Wellpoint Care are also hoping to do,” says Leinfelder Grove. “There’s an understanding of how our shared values align with our trauma-informed model of care.”
“We believe that if you don’t impact children’s lives when they’re young and vulnerable, they can become adults that are causing disruption in the community,” said Ingram. “The easiest way is to direct and guide children early, giving them the tools and support needed to thrive and be successful.”
“The opportunity for us to share some of what we’ve learned to energize and expand the Elders relational power in the community is very exciting,” added Leinfelder Grove. “There’s a quote we use, ‘Relationship is the superpower of humankind,’ and it’s people, not programs, that help people. To me, this partnership is the absolute commercial message for that truth. I’m excited for where that might take us.”
FEEDING the soul
In the meantime, the men of Voices of the Elders are hosting events on the Wellpoint Care Network campus. The next is a turkey giveaway on Monday, November 20 from 12 to 3 p.m.
“I came from a time when stability, community, family and church were commonplace,” said Ingram. “When I look at what’s happening now, those things aren’t as readily available.”
“Thanksgiving is a time in this society where we all come together and say, ‘Nobody is going to be hungry.’ So, we are going to make sure that 200 families have an opportunity, without any strings attached, to be able to have food on the table this Thanksgiving.”
“It’s a great opportunity to take our usually empty parking lot on Capitol Drive — easy in, easy out — and convert it to a wonderful drive-thru place where this vision of Thanksgiving bounty can be easy, joyful and hassle free.”
As for the future of this emerging partnership between Wellpoint Care and Voices of the Elders, the possibilities are endless.
“Every time we get together and chat, there’s good energy and new ideas that come from it,” said Leinfelder Grove. “The possibility that the Elders might have a dedicated space here on campus is in discussion. In addition to the education in trauma-informed concepts, equipping the Elders with additional skills to strengthen their engaging relationships with the community youth, there are discussions sharing other services and learnings to strengthen their mission and vision.”
“Our goal is to create an army of volunteers,” said Ingram. “We’re in the beginning stages, but we’re going to create an army that we hope will blanket our city and serve people in the manner that they need to be served, just as Wellpoint Care Network does.”