Tag Archives: milwaukee

Make a difference in the lives of Milwaukee families who need it most: The 4th Annual Head Start Holiday Party

Do you wish you could do something truly meaningful for some of Milwaukee’s underserved this holiday season? Please consider giving to this worthy cause. A group led by my wife and me are staging an event this year for a local Head Start program. This program helps families that frankly are among the most in need of it. According to extremely stringent Head Start entrance requirements, a family of three must have a pre-tax household annual income of less than ,000.

SmilesThat very first year we helped nearly 70 preschoolers and their family members by organizing and staging this event. We did it with a lot of hard work, but just as importantly, a total of $628 in cash donations from many friends and supporters. The economy has been worse every year since, and the number of family members who show up for the meal and festivities continues to grow.

This year’s event is on Thursday, December 15, and the need is even greater.

Depending on funding, we will be doing whatever we can from the list of past year’s activities and gifts:

  • Everyone gets a hot meal — mostaccioli with meat sauce, rolls, string cheese, fresh fruit and baby carrots
  • Each Head Start child receives a brightly colored bag with his or her name on it, that can be used as a school bag. It will contain the following:
    1. A warm fleece scarf – each child gets his or her own pattern, so they can’t get mixed up with others when brought to class
    2. A special tee shirt (my sister-in-law is embroidering a colorful emblem on each)
    3. An educational activity kit — it’s a lace-up game to help with manual dexterity
    4. Crayons, pencils, a coloring book and a bookmark
    5. Granola bars and other snacks
    6. Knit mittens
  • We’re shooting for these different stations that the kids can go around to, including:
    1. The cookie station where kids can decorate their own giant cookie
    2. The boat-building station (they make and decorate a toy boat that they can take home and float in a tub or sink)
    3. Candy cane or snowflake ornament decorating station
    4. Face painting station
    5. A bowling game, where every child receives a small prize
    6. A photo booth, where photos are taken of each child. That’s how I took the shot you see at the top of this post. We print each portrait on the spot, so parents have a photo for the fridge

For the families: Each parent receives a raffle ticket to win one of the food baskets that we will be giving away, filled with approximately $25 worth of healthy foods — canned goods, flour, pancake mix, soup, rice, beans, oat meal, etc. — plus a few goodies. In past years when we gave these away, the excitement was one of the evenings’ highlights. These clearly were extremely valued by the families! Below is a photo showing some of the baskets, which are in blue transparent gift wrap (to the left of that photo is a shot of the kids eating hot dogs at our first event — we’ve upgraded to pasta with meat sauce!):

Gifts and MealsWe need your help. The only financial support we receive is from donations made by people like you. Please contribute whatever you can — $25, less or more. Any amount would be appreciated.

You can reach me at JLarche [at] Gmail [dot] com, or use this contact form on my business blog. If you want to donate directly, use the PayPal button below.

Everyone who donates and makes a request for a donation letter for tax purposes will be provided with one.

Do you have other holiday charities? Are you unable to give because of this tough economy? If so, I understand. If not, please help these deserving kids and their families. Thank you.

 

 

 

Help Milwaukee’s Underserved: Give To The 3rd Annual Head Start Holiday!

However you celebrate them, you have to concede: The holidays are about family. So two years ago my own family decided to do something “real” – and meaningful – for the season. We learned that the Capitol Head Start class needed volunteers to stage a holiday celebration. There was zero Head Start money for this event – or anything but the basics of educating underserved children in the Central City. But the need was great. According to extremely stringent Head Start entrance requirements, a family of three must have a pre-tax household annual income of less than $18,000.

That first year we helped nearly 70 preschoolers and their family members by organizing and staging this event. We did it with a lot of hard work, but just as importantly, a total of $628 in cash donations from many friends and supporters. Last year, with the economy worse than it has been in decades, the number of family members who showed up for the meal and festivities nearly doubled. Even with more aggressive fundraising (we raised a little over $1,000 that year), we had to rush out for extra food to feed a handful of late-arriving familes.

We’re doing it again this year, on Tuesday, December 21, and the need is even greater.

If a horrible economy weren’t enough of a challenge to Head Start teachers and families, the water from July’s “Great Flood” swamped the church basement that was where classes were held. It destroyed school supplies and forced teachers to work out of a temporary location. They still haven’t moved back in. Our goal is to not only host a party that tops last year’s, but to replace some those educational books and toys. Our fundraising goal is $1,500. Here is what we’re doing:

  • We’re serving everyone a hot meal, which we will be improving upon this year — mastacioli with meat sauce, rolls, string cheese, fresh fruit and baby carrots
  • Each 3-and-4-year old receives a canvas bag with his or her name on it, that can be used as a school bag. It will contain the following:
    • A warm fleece scarf – each child gets his or her own pattern, so they can’t get mixed up with others when brought to class
    • Knit mittens
    • A special tee shirt (my sister-in-law is embroidering a colorful emblem on each)
    • An educational activity kit — it’s a lace-up game to help with manual dexterity
    • Crayons, pencils, a coloring book and a book mark
    • Granola bars and other snacks
  • We’ll have seven different stations that that the kids can go around to, including:
    1. The cookie station where kids can decorate their own giant cookie 
    2. The boat-building station (they make and decorate a toy boat that they can take home and float in a tub or sink)
    3. Candy cane or snowflake ornament decorating station
    4. Face painting station
    5. A bowling game, where every child receives a small prize
    6. A photo booth, where photos are taken of each child. That’s how I took the shot you see at the top of this post. We print each portrait on the spot, so parents have a photo for the fridge
    7. A super ball station — the kids get to mix multi-colored powder, then mix the powder with water and place in a ball mold. It comes out a minute later a real bouncing ball. Why didn’t they have this stuff when I was a kid?!?!?

For the families: Each parent receives a raffle ticket to win one of the food baskets will be given away, filled with approximately $25 worth of healthy foods — canned goods, flour, pancake mix, soup, rice, beans, oat meal, etc. — plus a few goodies. In past years when we gave these away, the excitement was one of the evenings’ highlights. These clearly were extremely valued by the families!

Please help. The only financial support we receive is from donations of people like you. Please contribute whatever you can — $25, less or more. Any amount would be appreciated.

You can reach me at JLarche [at] Gmail [dot] com, or use this contact form on my business blog. If you want to donate directly, use the PayPal button below.

Everyone who donates and asks for one will get a letter with the proper non-profit info, so this can be used on your taxes. Do you have other holiday charities? Are you unable to give because of this tough economy? I understand. Thank you for considering this.

But if you don’t, please consider helping these deserving kids and their families. Thank you.

 

Two reasons of many why I cannot wait for Julia Taylor’s Likemind talk on Friday

As Milwaukee grows to its full potential in the new decade, Julie Taylor will be someone deserving much of the credit. Her role as president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee could be one of maintaining the status quo. Instead I’ve witnessed how she has helped the most influential companies in Milwaukee understand the power of modern digital connectedness (which includes social media, but also much, much more).

She’ll be talking about The Talent Dividend this Friday morning at Milwaukee Likemind. Here are the details.

What’s the second reason? She is also a talented photographer. I’ve enjoyed several of her nature photos — many in the Milwaukee area — posted from her Twitter account. Here’s one from her Flickr account. Don’t miss Likemind this Friday. It’s free, always fun, and often fascinating!

 

Head Start Holiday Event was huge & wildly sucessful

I’m posting from my smart phone so this will be brief. The holiday
party for Head Start (read the prior post here for details) was
unpredictably well-attended. Even the food we bought yesterday “just
in case” was gone by night’s end. At one point we counted 92 people,
and that’s before the last of the crowd showed up!

Watch this space over the weekend for an update. And for those who
contributed their time or money, thank you!

Make a REAL difference in Milwaukee! Give to the 2nd Annual Head Start Holiday

Last year at this time I learned a lesson I will never forget. It’s a lesson about giving. And making a real difference. I and a handful of volunteers were able to help some people out, in a small but important way. These were people who (according to stringent Head Start criteria — see paragraph #3, below) are among the most in need of some help, here in Milwaukee.

Holiday GigglesTake a moment to see some of the faces of the folks I was privileged to serve. They were the pre-schoolers, their parents and other family members, who were at a holiday celebration held Thursday, December 18, 2008, in the basement of a church on the corner of Milwaukee’s 54th Street and Capitol Drive.

These 4 and 5-year-old children are from families that are often struggling for the basics, let alone a head start on their school years. For example, in order to qualify for this head start program, a family of three must have a pre-tax household annual income of less than $18,000.

Last year we helped out nearly 70 under-served preschoolers and their families through this event. We did it with a lot of hard work, but just as importantly, the caring cash donations of many friends, family-members and co-workers. We’re planning to do it again this year, on Thursday, December 17, but it won’t be as good without your help. Yes, you. Here’s what we provided last year (suffice to say we’re already hard at work on our preparations and plan to top ourselves!):

  • We served everyone a meal. This is not to be undervalued, because many parents (often, single parents) came there right from work
  • We provided them an 8″ x 8″ canvas bag with their name on it, containing crayons, pencils, a coloring book and a book mark. We’re going with bigger bags this year, to contain even more goodies
  • A “decoration station” gave the kids a chance to further decorate their bags. It was a wonderful sight!
  • A second table, the “cookie station,” let them have fun decorating a ginger bread man that they each received (Full disclosure: Last year we baked them all. This year we’re going another route and focusing our efforts in more elaborate winter apparel gifts, described below).
  • A photo booth took the shots you see. We printed the portraits on the spot, so the parents had a photo for the fridge — in a foam picture frame that their little ones decorated at yet another decoration station!
  • Yet another booth was to make “super balls” — a toy the kids, again, customized before adding them to their bag of goodies

Also, last year each child received a pair of knitted winter gloves and a fleece scarf, labeled with their names on them. (You wouldn’t want them being misplaced in the classroom!) This year we’re making fleece hats to match the scarves. They’re looking really good!

Here was one of the most wonderful parts of the evening: Families drew names for receiving gift baskets, filled with hot cocoa mix, canned goods, flour, pancake mix, syrup, etc. — over $20 worth of staples and a few indulgences. Wow! You would not believe the excitement as each winner was announced. These clearly were extremely appreciated by the lucky families! Here’s is one shot (click on the photo to see other shots from the event, including other winners):

Another winner claims her prize!

You can add to the joy! The only financial support we received last year was from donations of people like you. Each $20 donation we received helped us purchase one more basket of food, or went toward other necessary supplies. Please pledge whatever you can. Any amount would be appreciated. You can reach me at JLarche [at] Gmail [dot] com, or use this contact form on my business blog. If you want to donate directly, use PayPal. Email me and I’ll give you my PayPal account information.

Everyone who donates and asks for one will get a letter with the proper non-profit info, so this can be used on your taxes.

Do you have other holiday charities? Are you unable to give because of this tough economy? I understand. Thank you for considering this. But if you don’t, I and my fellow volunteers will be supplying photos here and on Flickr again this year, of the many happy memories that you will have helped produce for these deserving kids and their families.

Last year the total amount contributed was $628. We’re currently about two-thirds of the way to that amount. Please help however you can. Please consider giving right now.

Thank you.

Director Danny Boyle Interview

On my commute to work this morning I was able to listen to a Filmspotting podcast, my favorite source of film news and reviews. It included an interview with director Danny Boyle. What a fun, enthusiastic person he is! He really lifted my spirits.
 
As a side note, I get to hear, on this “best of” Filmspotting compilation, a piece that included Milwaukee’s own Sam Van Hallgren. He was one of the two original hosts, who moved on to become a DJ / On-air Staff Member for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.
 
I remember distinctly when Sam dubbed the brilliant actress Laura Linney, “an age appropriate character delivery device.” It’s as  funny a descriptio as it is apt!
 
You can find the episode here if you’d like to listen for yourself.