People of The Gathering - in community, feeding the hungry

People of The Gathering is a collection of work sharing the stories of volunteers, staff, board members, donors, meal guests and all who lie between. We’re pleased to introduce you to People of The Gathering and hope you enjoy reading their stories as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them.

Ken Bernoksa 3.jpg
Ken Bernoksa sunrise.jpg


Meal Guest, Volunteer

The Gathering may have been the first meal site that I went to…it’s more of a precious space than it gets credit for.

At 25 years of age, Ken was living on Milwaukee’s streets and eating at The Gathering.  Even amidst his housing crisis, Ken felt called to volunteer, and for a year and half spent his weekdays with The Gathering’s Breakfast Program and 1-2 weekends a month serving as a Volunteer Coordinator for The Gathering’s Saturday Lunch Program. The photo above was taken by Ken during the time of his homelessness. He was greeted by the sunrise, just before he made his way to The Gathering’s Breakfast Program.

Ken (Kenneth Bernoska) was born in Illinois and raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  He has fond memories from his early childhood that include going on camping trips and vacations with his family, but in his teenage years he began to experience trauma and violence in the space where he was living.  This led to food and housing insecurities.  As a young adult, Ken worked to overcome this trauma and ultimately found his way to Milwaukee.

Now, at age 27, Ken continues to donate time to The Gathering.  He is currently working toward obtaining a fellowship with The Obama Foundation and has finally secured stable housing.

Jacob Slocum.JPG


Donor, Musician

I am who I want to be.

Jacob Slocum grew up as a member of St. James Episcopal Church, a Gathering volunteer and an aspiring musician.  Twice he faced food and housing insecurities that tested him as an individual. 

“I had to rely on the love and generosity of others to get out of a hairy situation”, explained Jacob, “but neither time was long because God moved through the love of those around me.” 

As a teenager, he found refuge at St. James where he was first introduced to The Gathering’s meal program.  He was an active volunteer and felt close to The Gathering’s mission. 

In his twenties Jacob moved to Chicago to pursue his music career.  His first album was just released and he chose The Gathering to be one of the recipients of a portion of the proceeds. 

At just 29 years old, Jacob confidently shares, “I am who I want to be.” The Gathering is proud and thankful to be a part of Jacob’s journey.




Jillian is a student at Glenwood Elementary in Greenfield, Wisconsin.   In February, Jillian and her second grade class collected money and food items to make 125 bag lunches for The Gathering.   They wrote letters to their families and their teachers about wanting to help people in need.  They learned that people who were homeless had joys and fears and families just like they did; and that 40% of the homeless were children just like them.  Each lunch included a second grader’s personal handwritten note.

 Komatsu - Donor, Volunteer

Komatsu - Donor, Volunteer

Sharing Thanks, Helping Others

On Saturday, November 18, employees of Komatsu Mining Corporation and their families served the Thanksgiving meal to over 200 guests at The Gathering’s State Street Site.  They also donated pumpkin and apple pies for the feast.  Komatsu (formerly Joy Global) has supported The Gathering’s work for twenty years.  Cathy Stagmer, Komatsu’s Manager of Social Responsibility writes, “The Gathering is one volunteer activity that always finds employees inviting their family members to join in giving back…  For some it has become a family tradition, for others it is hopefully the start of a lifelong practice of helping those in need.”  Click here for more of the story.

mke college prep.jpg

Milwaukee College Prep

Donor, Volunteer

We are grateful to share this experience with The Gathering guests.

For several years now, students at Milwaukee College Prep (MCP) have helped The Gathering with our Thanksgiving meals by baking pies for dessert. They continued the tradition this year under the tutelage of Gathering Board Member and MCP Community Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator, Maggie Broeren. At the school’s 36th Street Campus, students prepared and baked 20 pumpkin pies for The Gathering’s nearby ONG (Our Next Generation) meal site where 30% of guests are children themselves. “We are grateful to share this experience with The Gathering guests,” Maggie stated. And we are grateful for the enthusiastic participation of MCP.



This year’s Gathering Golf Classic netted $11,500 for our Community Meal Programs.  Thank you to our sponsors, golfers, raffle donors and event volunteers! 

Event Sponsors: 

GOLD:   Komatsu Mining Corp.; Michael & Ginny McBride; Twin Disc, Inc. 

SILVER:   Law Office of Eugene E. Detert; Mel & David Johnson

BRONZE:  John & Sherry Wenum

HOLE SPONSORSHIPS:   Jim & Laura Holtz (1); Ruby Isle Tire & Auto (2); Virginia Schrag (1); Joe & Joanne Graf (1); Harry & Ellie Moseley (2); Weber & Rick, S.C.(1); Teresa Trostmiller (1); Maggie Broeren (1)

HOLE IN ONE SPONSOR: Boucher Hyundai of Waukesha 

To view photos of the event, click through the photo gallery below! 

golf event sponor logos.png



The 2018 Gathering Golf Classic will be Monday, June 18 at the Evergreen Golf Course in Elkhorn, WI. Starting time is 11:30am. The cost is $125 per golfer which includes lunch, 18 holes, golf cart, dinner and two drink tickets.

All proceeds benefit the Gathering meal programs.

You can help by putting together a foursome, sponsoring the event or donating an item for the event raffle.


Contact the Gathering for questions at (414) 272-4122 or email at

Update: The Gathering on State

 First Saturday Cook Group preparing the Saturday Lunch at State Street

First Saturday Cook Group preparing the Saturday Lunch at State Street

Numbers served at the State Street location since our move in late March:  March 26 – October 31, 2017
•    Breakfast    30,611
•    Saturday Lunch    5,358
•    TOTAL        35,969

•    Larger dining hall space; easier to move around
•    Parking on site
•    No stairs; wonderful for those in wheel chairs who have difficulty walking
•    No stairs; wonderful for deliveries
•    Stable Saturday Cooks and Coordinators; slowly getting to know where things are and how things work in a new environment
•    Stable onsite Breakfast staff (Nicole and Pat) and stable management staff (Angela) with good communication skills, passion for their work, and willingness to work out issues with our host

•    Due to the larger footprint (inside and outside) we found it necessary to double our Breakfast security from one guard to two  
•    Again, due to the larger dining hall, we quickly found we needed more volunteers than at the St. James location; summer was extremely challenging
•    We have one quarter of the storage space we had at St. James for dry and cold storage
•    Because we share the kitchen and dining hall space with our landlords - St. Ben’s Community Meal - requiring the moving of small appliances and supplies in and out of dining hall and kitchen on a daily basis
•    Little to no privacy is available for our collaborative services

One additional blessing was the financial success of our Capital Campaign.  It has given us the ability to add the additional security guard and to purchase items that relieve the stress on storage space.  Thanks to all of you who gave to the Capital Campaign, and to those of you who have volunteered at the new location.  We remain grateful for your compassion, dedication and joy.