Community Partners

FUEL Milwaukee Adopts the Gathering

In February, FUEL Milwaukee adopted the Gathering as part of their Adopt-A-Nonprofit program. FUEL Milwaukee is a community engagement network that seeks to connect young professionals to organizations serving Milwaukee.

Every year, FUEL’s Creative Council selects a number of nonprofits to partner with through their Adopt-A-Nonprofit program. Through this program, the Council works to promote each non-profit through various events including a launch event (200+participants), social events and volunteering/fundraising efforts. The benefits include publicity, education about the nonprofit, and a large volunteer base of professionals with all types of networks. So far, this partnership has been very rewarding for the Gathering—bringing in new volunteers, raising awareness and helping us spread our mission!

One of the Gathering’s Creative Council partners, Corrie, explained the importance of the program. “The Adopt-a-Nonprofit is my favorite part of FUEL and the Creative Council. Without FUEL, I probably wouldn’t know about half of the needs of our city. The opportunity to learn about what great work is being done is one thing but to be able to be part of that great work is priceless. That’s the benefit of Adopt-a-Nonprofit, you connect to people, places and organizations you might not have on your own, to make a difference right here in the city of Milwaukee.”

Special thanks to Corrie and Kara, FUEL’s creative council members who elected to work with the Gathering, Tiffany, Tara and Gathering Board Members. These indiviudals have already put in a great deal of time, talent and energy towards the partnership. We look forward to more social and volunteer events with FUEL, and we hope to welcome more FUEL members into the Gathering family.

Learn more about FUEL Milwaukee and the adopt-a-nonprofit program.

We Love the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee

The Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee is “Milwaukee’s primary resource for volunteerism." It helps recruit volunteers for the Gathering’s meal programs, along with other volunteer-based nonprofits in the area. The Center also provides area nonprofits with countless resources. They do great work behind the scenes and we think it’s time they are recognized.

Jessica Tabbutt is the program coordinator at the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee. Tabbutt runs the Center’s website, speaks at community service fairs, corresponds with prospective volunteers and works in creative ways to promote volunteering throughout Milwaukee. If that wasn’t enough, Tabbutt still finds time to volunteer at partner agencies. 

“One of my personal goals is to really get to know the agencies and volunteer opportunities I’m sending volunteers to.”

Tabbutt’s experiences with the Gathering’s meal program have been enjoyable. “Every one of the guests and fellow volunteers were so nice to be around. I pointed out to a friend after the experience, you wouldn’t even know it was 7:30am while you’re there. Everyone is chipper, in a good mood and excited to be there!”

Tabbutt also interacted with many of the Gathering’s long term volunteers including Robert and Yolanda, Marquette High School students, and more.

“Yolanda told me that the week before I was there was her one year anniversary of volunteering at the Breakfast Program. Along with her, many of the others were returning volunteers as well. I think that it’s very special when volunteers love being there so much they return time and time again.”

The Gathering is so thankful for our volunteers, whether they can come once, twice, or have been volunteering for a year. The work of Jessica Tabbutt, the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee, and other community organizations strengthens our committed volunteer network. We cannot thank you all enough!

Connect with the Volunteer Center of Milwaukee.

Volunteer Spotlight: East Troy High School National Honors Society

The National Honors Society (NHS) at East Troy High School has been volunteering with the Gathering for over 15 years, and in the words of student Krystal Jacobs, “We have a great experience every time!” East Troy High is one of many high schools that volunteers with the Gathering, but, unlike many other schools, East Troy students travel over 30 miles to make it to the Gathering’s dinner program. The commute may be limiting for many, but for East Troy National Honors Society students—it is a welcome challenge.

Jacobs explained that in order to transport 15 students to volunteer, they needed to get their own bus. The NHS students rallied together and fundraised to afford the bus. These fundraisers included creative opportunities such as: Duct Tape A Teacher, where students paid for the opportunity to duct tape their teachers to a wall (an idea they found on Pinterest), selling carnations for Valentine’s Day and doing their own version of eharmony for students. The students successfully raised the money to rent a bus and were able to volunteer on February 22nd. 

Fifteen NHS members signed up to volunteer. The students cleaned and set up tables, wrapped silverware, prepared food and worked the food line.

“The most meaningful thing, hands down, for all of us, was seeing and hearing how grateful the people were for their meal. There is nowhere else where you can see someone so happy for our volunteer work. Definitely put a smile on our faces as well!”

The NHS members had a great time volunteering. They even adopted nicknames for their fellow students based on what they were serving in line, like Peaches, Cookie, Beans, and Dressing.

The students were especially touched by their interaction with the Gathering’s guests. “We met a guy, Monte. He checked the name on our hats and wanted to be polite and address us by our first names. He was very thankful for what we were doing at The Gathering.”

Like Monte, the Gathering community is also thankful for what East Troy High School and other students do to travel to a meal site and volunteer. We look forward to seeing Peaches, Cookie, Beans, Dressing, Napkins, Coffee, and all other East Troy NHS students when they come volunteer again in March. Who knows, maybe Ed the chef will let us duct tape him to the wall!

Numbers are up at Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church

A Mt. Carmel chef hard at work

A Mt. Carmel chef hard at work

Nearly 3 years after Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church began its collaboration with the Gathering to serve lunch on the fourth saturday of each month, the meal is going strong. “Our numbers are up, and they are staying up,” Dani Ovanin, the youth ministry coordinator and meal program liaison, explains. They have consistently served between 50-55 guests per meal. With the recent close of a senior meal center in the neighborhood, the meal may even expand to serve more in the community.

Not only has the number of guests increased, but so has the number of volunteers. Mt. Carmel youth help prepare and serve meals as well as Marquette High school students, who seize the opportunity to gain some experience. We are so thankful for Mt. Carmel’s service and their commitment to feeding the hungry in their west side neighborhood.

Mt Carmel volunteers distribute desserts

Mt Carmel volunteers distribute desserts

Volunteer Spotlight: CG Schmidt

CG Schmidt volunteers in the breakfast serving line

CG Schmidt volunteers in the breakfast serving line

Gathering volunteers are always contributing in new and unique ways and they never cease to surprise us. One group who has demonstrated this so far is the volunteer group from CG Schmidt. CG Schmidt is a “values-based construction management and general contracting firm, driven by our core value of caring.” Their core value of caring certainly came through when various employees volunteered their time to serve at the Gathering’s breakfast meal throughout December and January. What’s even more interesting is the reason the staff volunteered.

Greg Morelli, a construction manager for CG Schmidt explained, “Our owner, Rick Schmidt, does a lot to give back. Rather than come together to give him a tie and a Christmas card, which we normally do, his assistant asked anonymously via e-mail if we could join the Gathering to help needy and hungry people. It is a way to thank Rick in a little more meaningful way, because this kind of service is near and dear to Rick’s heart.”

Morelli also stated that he is proud of his co-workers. Over the five days of volunteering, there were 32 different volunteer slots filled. Such a good turnout says a lot about the CG Schmidt team and their overall attitude. In addition to volunteering, the staff also prepared bagged lunches to contribute, so guests had something to take away from the meal. While staff members had different reasons for volunteering their time, the caring value was present throughout.

Tom Pagel, a project/construction manager with CG Schmidt observed, “This is my second time volunteering. I believe in karma. Do good things and good things happen, I’m a pay-it-forward kind of person. I worked on the serving line and giving coffee. When you’re serving, you get personal contact. You always hear stories on Facebook about how it could be just a smile that can make a positive difference. Serving on the front line, you’re acting as that welcome. That’s what we try to do.”

Pagel also explained that through George, the Gathering’s breakfast coordinator. The group had an educational discussion about poverty: “If you don’t know the city, George’s education about poverty brings it to real life.”

We are so impressed with CG Schmidt staff members! Our volunteers continually make a concerted effort to learn more about poverty and hunger, give back to the community and practice compassion. We hope that all of our volunteers are able to take what they learn from their experiences with the Gathering and pay it forward.

Learn more about CG Schmidt.