Meta Housing Gets a New Roof In-Kind

From National Roofing Partners:

NRP Gives Back

Khary Penebaker, President of a National Roofing Partners affiliated commercial roofing company, Roofed Right America LLC, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sat with company CEO Ricardo Herrera as he blinked back tears, turning his face away from his tablemates. Meta House’s annual breakfast featured graduates of the substance abuse treatment program who shared their testimonials. Their stories took on the drumbeat cadence of barely functioning, hitting bottom, navigating despair, then, finally, the stirrings of hope as a Meta House apartment – redemption – opened up. The best part? The women got to bring their children to live with them.

As the morning went on, Penebaker and his colleagues grasped the full scope of the drug and alcohol crisis crippling so many families in their community. Following a touching video testimonial by a Meta House graduate and family member of one of Penebaker’s partners, they choked up.

“We all just looked at each other, like, ‘We have got to be better stewards in our community.’ It’s one thing to be altruistic and treat employees well, but that’s internal,” says Penebaker.

When they could bring themselves to speak they made a decision: they would reroof this amazing place. Forget the discounted estimate they had recently written up. Now they were here, witnessing Meta House in action. The roof would be their gift.

National Roofing Partners Gives Back

A few months ago NRP asked its membership of commercial roofing companies to share their stories of corporate giving with promises that one company would win top billing on the NRP blog with its charity of choice.

Dale Tyler, NRP President, admires companies that support their communities. Tyler realized, long ago, that giving is contagious and affirming.

“It was heartwarming to read the entries to our contest and to witness the generosity and acts of kindness going on behind the scenes at so many of our network companies. Everyone in this industry knows it is such a warm, family-oriented one. But from the outside, sometimes I think people only see the fruits of our labor, not the fruits of our spirits,” says Tyler, whose network of roofing partners spans the nation and offers a single point of contact for corporate clients in need of leak detection, building envelope sealing, roof repair or maintenance, lightweight concrete, or general portfolio maintenance.

Meta House Receives A New Roof

“Khary and his partners freed up tens of thousands of dollars to better serve these families. Their generous donation has made such a difference to the women and children we serve,” says Amy Lindner, President and CEO of Meta House. She praises the roofing company and crew for investing in the women and children who will live in the facility so much more comfortably now. She describes Meta House as “a safe harbor where women can rest, recover and get their lives together” without the pressure of traditional household stressors

Penebaker and his partners attended the breakfast in May and began the reroofing job in June.

“We came back to work and told the crew we needed them to work this one weekend. No one asked for overtime. Not a single person said no, which was awesome. They just said okay, they came in, and they did a great job,” says Penebaker with a smile.

The Roofed Right America LLC  team took on the substantial project, which fell at the peak of the summer season. The photographs here feature the Meta House’s reroofing. It was a complete tear off requiring sheet metal installation, pushing the job to last four days. The manufacturer, John Manville, generously donated the membrane.

Support Meta House

Lindner describes Meta House as a holistic substance abuse treatment program for women with a special focus on ending the intergenerational cycle of addiction. The agency offers inpatient residential services, outpatient treatment and transitional housing, complete with 27 apartment units for women and their families. The new roof was installed on the largest of the transitional housing buildings, home to 11 individual apartment units. Clients typically reside in Meta Housing between one and two years with their families while they work to build a life in recovery and become economically self-sufficient. While at Meta Housing, women work to complete GEDs, enroll in job training programs, take parenting classes, and complete substance abuse treatment.

Felicia, a Meta House resident, describes Meta House’s impact this way, “(Transitional) Housing gives my family stability, structure and safety. It makes putting recovery to work in the real world a reality, but it gives me a chance to continue working on my parenting… and (I can) figure out next steps like employment. Meta House saved my life and my daughters’ lives. They’ve shown me that a new life is possible. We now have a healthy, joyous life, free from the power of addiction.”

Donations can be made at

For inspiration, resources and more information about Meta House, click here.

Meta House Board of Directors Honored by Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee

Meta House Board of Directors Honored by Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee

The Meta House Board of Directors was honored December 4, 2015 with the Nonprofit Excellence Award for Board Governance.

The “Spirit of the Nonprofit Sector” event, which in 2014 celebrated its 20th anniversary, drew hundreds Milwaukee’s most prominent nonprofit leaders. The awards celebration highlighted innovation and exceptional organizational performance in five categories: Board Governance (Meta House); Collaboration (Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County); Community Organizing (League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County); Diversity (Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers); and Fiscal Integrity (SaintA).

Brent Tischler, Meta House Board Chair, noted in his acceptance remarks that, “this recognition gives us the chance to celebrate the accomplishments Meta House has made thus far, but it also comes with great responsibility to continue this vital work.” Meta House President and CEO Amy Lindner said of the Board, “I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with our Board; they are immensely committed to delivering the promise that recovery is possible to so many women and families in our community.”


The Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee advocates for and advances the mission of nonprofit organizations in the greater Milwaukee region.

Meta House Board Member Debra Koenig Accepts Wisconsin Hero Award from First Lady Tonette Walker

Meta House Board Member Debra Koenig Accepts Wisconsin Hero Award from First Lady Tonette Walker

Meta House Board member Debra Koenig on November 25 accepted the Wisconsin Heroes Award, presented by Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker.

The Wisconsin Heroes award honors an individual each month in recognition of his/her exceptional compassion and commitment to making Wisconsin a better place to be through volunteerism, advocacy and strategic community building.

Debra was joined at an intimate award presentation by an array of her support team, including family, dear friends, colleagues and Meta House staff. In her acceptance remarks, Debra noted how inspired she is to be advocating for the women and families of Meta House who every day work diligently to overcome addiction and build a foundation upon which to grow and prosper.

At the ceremony, First Lady Walker read some of the narrative included in Meta House President & CEO Amy Lindner’s nomination of Debra, “Debra has demonstrated a prolific philanthropic commitment to the Milwaukee community by engaging with organizations such as the Milwaukee Jewish Day School, Carmen High School of Science and Technology, Growing Minds, Inc. and Meta House to make a meaningful difference.” She continued, “Debra’s focused, strategic approach to nonprofit leadership has impacted organizations and inspired those with whom she’s worked… Debra has made an indelible mark on Meta House and the greater Milwaukee community. Her lasting impressions on those she touches speak volumes of her character, one certainly deserving the title of “hero.””

In recognition and appreciation for her work, Debra joined the First Lady at a Governor’s Mansion celebration earlier this month.

Debra Koenig is a shareholder and member of the Tax and Employee Benefits team at Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.. She’s been on the Meta House Board of Directors since 2009, of which she was elected to chair beginning in 2015.

More information about the Wisconsin Heroes award is available at

Group photoAward photo



Meta House Board Member Raejean Kanter Recognized by BizTimes for Lifetime Achievement

Meta House Board Member Raejean Kanter Recognized by BizTimes for Lifetime Achievement

Raejean Kanter was honored November 24 at a BizTimes Media luncheon as its 2014 Nonprofit Excellence Awards Lifetime Achievement winner. Raejean has been a tireless advocate and Board member for Meta House since 2009.

Taken from BizTimes
By: Alysha Schertz

Raejean Kanter

Raejean Kanter, 68, serves as the executive vice president of The Falk Group Public Relations – but her expertise and generosity extend far into the community. For the past 40 years, Kanter has dedicated her life to helping others. In the process, she has improved the lives of thousands of people throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Kanter was the founding director of the Forest County Potawatomi Community Foundation, and during her seven-year tenure, the organization gave more than $3 million to local charities annually.
She has also chaired or co-chaired fundraising campaigns for Go Red for Women, Repairers of the Breach, Circle of Women (YWCA), St. Ann’s Center for Intergenerational Care, Susan G. Komen and many others.
Kanter’s knowledge and expertise have guided other nonprofit organizations with basic leadership needs, and through economic hardships and rebranding initiatives.
“Raejean is a renegade for the voiceless; a compassionate soul. She inspires me to reach for greater heights and believe I have a voice that can truly be heard within our community,” said Michelle Schuerman, executive director of southern Wisconsin at the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Kanter believes in giving not only of her time and talent, but also of her treasure. She has made significant monetary donations to several organizations and is also in the process of building the James Kanter Family Foundation in honor of her late husband, Jim.
Raejean joined The Falk Group in 2011 and has since helped launch “Light Shine” a service that matches businesses with nonprofits to benefit the organization and the community.
With all of this, Kanter still finds time to transform herself into Mrs. Claus each holiday season to visit with children at local nonprofits.
“Raejean is truly special and our community is stronger, better, kinder and richer for the work that she does and the people she inspires,” said Joel Brennan, executive director of Discovery World.

Meta House a BizTimes Media Finalist for Large Nonprofit of the Year

Meta House Named a Finalist for BizTimes Large Nonprofit of the Year Award
BizTimes Media announced the finalists for its inaugural Nonprofit Excellence Awards Program.
More than 100 nominations were submitted for the first year of the program.The program is designed to shine a light on the community impact of southeastern Wisconsin businesses and nonprofits. The program also salutes the work of for-profit organizations, executives and professionals who donate their time, talent and treasure to community causes.

The finalists for the program are:

Nonprofit Organization of the Year (Small) * College Possible * Make A Difference Wisconsin * Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee

Nonprofit Organization of the Year (Large) * Junior Achievement of Wisconsin * Meta House * Penfield Children’s Center

Nonprofit Collaboration of the Year * Discovery World & Journey House * Faye McBeath Foundation, Hunger Task Force, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs & Salvation Army * Menomonee Valley Partners & Urban Ecology Center

Nonprofit Executive of the Year * Bonnie Bellehumeur, president of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin * Lynda Kohler, president of SHARP Literacy Inc. * Sister Edna Lonergan, president of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care

Nonprofit Social Enterprise * GPS Education Partners * The Water Council * United Community Center

Corporate Citizen of the Year * Emery’s Cycling Triathlon & Fitness * Hunzinger Construction Company * Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Corporate Volunteer of the Year * Kevin Behl, Madison Medical Affiliates * Peggy Groth, Tri City National Bank * Maureen McGinnity, Foley Lardner LLP

In-Kind Supporter of the Year * Core Creative * Schroeder Solutions * WISN-TV Channel 12

Next Generation Leadership * Jesse Daily, CORE Consulting * Pam Evason, Windermere Wealth Advisors * Dimas Ocampo, R.C. Insurance Services Inc.

Lifetime Achievement * Norman Doll, Pieper Electric * Sylvia DuBois, Standard Process Inc. * Raejean Kanter, Falk Group Public Relations

The finalists were selected by BizTimes Media with consultation from Amalia Schoone, president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Southeastern Wisconsin, and Jill Van Calster, president and CEO of Donors Forum of Wisconsin.

The finalists will be celebrated and the winners will be announced during a Nov. 4 breakfast and ceremony at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Events Center in Milwaukee.

The awards presentation will be preceded by a panel discussion about the status of southeastern Wisconsin’s nonprofit industry and strategies for connecting business leaders and companies to charities. The panelists will include: Thomas Shannon, president and CEO of The BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc.; Ken Hanson, founder and CEO, Hanson Dodge Creative; Alan Petelinsek, CEO of Power Test Inc.; and Maria Nicholas Groves, director of business development at The Novo Group and president of Feeding Mouths, Filling Minds. The panel discussion will be moderated by Kimberly Kane, founder and president, Kane Communications Group.

Ullstrup to receive inaugural Woman of Courage Award

From BizTimes  (click here to view full story)
Christine UllstrupChristine Ullstrup, vice president of clinical services and programming for the Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization Meta House, will receive the first-ever Woman of Courage Award presented by the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health. Ullstrup, along with two other winners, will be recognized at the WAWH 10-year anniversary celebration on Friday, Oct. 10 at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery in Madison.Ullstrup was nominated in recognition of her outstanding leadership and commitment that has transformed the lives of thousands of women and families in the Milwaukee community. Meta House helps women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction to reclaim their lives and rebuild their families.

Her nomination included the following testimony: “Seeking treatment is a courageous decision that should be celebrated, and through her own personal story and her professional excellence, she demonstrates that recovery is real and possible. She offers us hope for a brighter future.”The WAWH will also present the Woman of Commitment Award to Carousel Bayrd, the vice chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, and the Woman of Character Award to Alice Skenandore, the executive director of the Wise Woman Gathering Place in Green Bay.

The mission of the WAWH is to advance comprehensive women’s health in Wisconsin by engaging, educating, empowering and mobilizing individuals and organizations.

Amy Lindner accepts HPGM’s Community Leader Award

The Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM) today honored Amy Lindner as the Community Leader Award recipient at a luncheon at the Pfister Hotel. The award honors Amy as an inspirational leader who is strengthening our community through her extraordinary contributions as President & CEO of Meta House, a nonprofit that ends the generational cycle of addiction by healing women and strengthening families.

Other award winners included Ivan Gamboa of Tri City National Bank as a Future Leader, Lupe Martinez of UMOS as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Rolando Rodriguez of Marcus Corp. as the Executive Leadership Award recipient and BMO Harris Bank as the Corporation of the Year.

HPGM creates a dynamic environment for Hispanic professionals to thrive by fostering leadership, mentoring, education, networking, and new initiatives that support Hispanics and Hispanic businesses. More information about HPGM is available here.

Teaching Children to Calm Themselves – A Blog Published in the New York Times

Here is an article that is particularly relevant to our treatment philosophies, recently published in the New York Times Opinion Pages:

When Luke gets angry, he tries to remember to look at his bracelet. It reminds him of what he can do to calm himself: stop, take a deep breath, count to four, give yourself a hug and, if necessary, ask an adult for help.

Luke is 5 and he has been practicing these steps for half a year at school and at home, thanks to a program called Head Start Trauma Smart that currently serves some 3,300 children annually in 26 counties in Kansas and Missouri. “We used to have to do these steps four or five times a day,” said Connie, his grandmother (who requested that I change her grandson’s name and omit her surname). “Now we’re down to four or five times a week.”

Luke’s difficulties stem from his earliest experiences. Before and after his birth, his parents regularly used drugs. His mother was unable to attend to him and his father was sent to prison shortly after his first birthday. Now he lives with his grandparents.

Children like Luke, who experience neglect, severe stress or sudden separation at a young age can be traumatized. Without appropriate adult support, trauma can interfere with  healthy brain development, inhibiting children’s ability to make good decisions, use memory or use sequential thought processes to work through problems. “Kids who have had significant chronic adversity become hypervigilant,” said Janine Hron, C.E.O. of the Crittenton Children’s Center, which developed the Head Start Trauma Smart program. “Their emotions overwhelm them. They have difficulty sleeping, difficulty tracking in class, they act out, and then they get kicked out of school. The numbers of people who are experiencing these traumas are really epidemic.”

As I have reported in this column, chronic childhood adversity is now understood to be far more prevalent than researchers have imagined. More than 50 percent of the children served by Head Start Trauma Smart have had three or more adverse childhood experiences. The list includes a family member incarcerated, an unexpected death in the family, depression, violence, abuse or drug use in the home, or periods of homelessness.

The education system responds bluntly to kids with these challenges. The standard arsenal of disciplinary measures — from yelling and “timeouts” to detentions and suspensions — are not just ineffective for children who have experienced traumatic stress; they make things worse. By some estimates, preschool expulsions are 13 times more common than K-12 expulsions — a finding that, given the bleak future it portends for these children (and the associated costs for society), should send alarm bells ringing across the nation.

In his Head Start class, Luke would explode into rages, screaming, pushing or hitting other children or his teachers. It inhibited his ability to learn and caused considerable distress to his classmates, teachers and grandparents.

Luke is receiving individual therapy. But he is also surrounded by caregivers who understand his needs and know how to respond when he needs help. Through the Head Start Trauma Smart model, teachers, parents and even the bus drivers and cafeteria workers who interact with children receive training in trauma.

This allows them to respond more skillfully, rather than reacting out of anger, frustration or resentment. Indeed, one of the biggest lessons for teachers and parents who undergo this training is that the very first step is learning how to calm, and care for, themselves, especially when they are overstressed.

The Head Start Trauma Smart program is still in its early stages, but the evidence is highly promising (pdf). To date, the program has produced significant gains as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, an instrument for gauging the quality of classroom relationships, as well as emotional and instructional support.

And using another standard assessment tool, the Achenbach system, parents and guardians of children who are receiving individual therapy (like Luke) have reported gains in a variety of areas: kids are less anxious and emotionally reactive, and less aggressive or withdrawn; attention deficit, hyperactivity and “oppositional defiant” problems have decreased; and parents report overwhelmingly that their children are sleeping better. The scores indicate that many kids have moved out of a “clinical range of concern” on several factors to within a normal range — a sign that they are better prepared to succeed in kindergarten.

That has been Luke’s experience, too. “Before the program, Luke was constantly in trouble, either off by himself or hitting other kids,” Connie said. “Now he can sit right next to others and he doesn’t bother them. Before he had no friends because other kids were scared of him. Now he’s got three friends. He knows his address and his ABCs and colors and we’re working on counting to 20.”

Head Start Trauma Smart is based on an evidence-based trauma intervention framework known as ARC (Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency) developed by Kristine Kinniburgh and Margaret Blaustein at the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Mass. Trauma interventions can be highly effective, but the challenge today is extending them from therapeutic settings — which are limited and expensive — into the broad systems that serve larger numbers of children.

Through the Head Start Trauma Smart training and mentoring programs, teachers, parents and others come to understand how trauma affects the brain and manifests itself in daily life. “Every behavior communicates a need,” said Kinniburgh, the co-developer of ARC and co-author of “Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents.” “The question is, how do we help caregivers and teachers tune in and understand the messages that kids are really sending through their behavior?” And how to do it in real-time in a classroom with two dozen children or the checkout counter at Wal-Mart?

One key is remembering that children who have experienced trauma feel profoundly unsafe. When they are acting out, their primary need is often to feel a sense of connection. Instead of yelling, “Stop!” when a child is throwing a tantrum, or making the child sit alone in the corner, teachers learn to notice and name the child’s experience. (They wear bracelets, as reminders, too.)

“The minute you say to a child: ‘I can see you are so angry. Your fists are balled up and your face is scrunched up,’ they can relax because they know they’re being attuned to,” said Avis Smith, who directs the Prevention and Early Intervention Programs for the Crittenton Children’s Center.

At that point, the teacher can validate the child’s emotions by saying, “I’d be mad too if somebody took my block,” added Suzee Schulz-Marks, a Head Start teacher who has taught for 18 years and has found the trauma smart model — a new approach for her — to be highly effective. “You can let them know it’s O.K. to have those strong feelings, and that they are not alone with them.”

Next, the teacher, or parent, can help the child find a way to shift. Together, they problem-solve. The teacher might say, “‘Maybe you can use your words and say that everybody should get a chance to play with the blocks?’” added Schulz-Marks. But the child may not be ready for that. Or: “Would you like to go to the safe spot or sit on my lap? Take some deep breaths or use the breathing star?”

Breathing stars (playful breathing aids made out of file folders) are invaluable, teachers say. So are safe spots, or “calm-down corners,” with shoeboxes filled with sunglasses, pinwheels and tactile things: nail brushes with soft bristles, bendy Gumby animals, or pieces of burlap or velvet. (Some parents create their own calm-down corners at home, as well.) The main thing is for the children to discover the tools and methods that work for them. Through this process, they learn over time that they can gain control over themselves and return to an emotional place where they can enjoy playing and genuinely benefit from learning opportunities.

“Many adults are skeptical that kids can learn to respond to themselves,” said Lauren Clithero, a therapist who delivers the program’s training sessions in mid-Missouri. “It’s a big paradigm shift in how adults think they are supposed to take care of children. We think our job is to jump in and take control, but it’s much better to give kids choices and control over themselves.”

Another common misunderstanding, said Avis Smith, is when adults say: “He’s just looking for attention. I’m not going to give it to him because it will reinforce the behavior.”

“There’s a big difference between attention-seeking behavior and children seeking connection,” she added. “Validating children’s feelings and connecting with them on a personal level is a core need.”

It’s not just something for teachers or parents to do. Any adult can play a part in helping to heal a child, or anyone else, for that matter. One of the core goals of the Head Start Trauma Smart model is to create a common context so that everyone understands the impact and extent of traumatic stress, not just on children’s lives, but also on their lives of their friends and colleagues, and perhaps on their own lives, too.

Stephanie McIntosh said the training has changed the way she looks at the world. McIntosh has been a bus driver for more than 20 years. “I deal with preschoolers,” she said. “I’m the next adult the kids see in the morning when they go to school.” Sometimes the kids get on the bus in the morning carrying heavy feelings from home, fears about school, crying, sometimes acting out.

“I used to be the kind of person who said, ‘The way it looks is the way it is.’ But I don’t look at it that way anymore,” McIntosh said. “There are things that happen to people that we don’t know about. Now, I watch the kids better, their body language. I’m not the grouchy person who yells, ‘Sit down!’ or gets angry. I give them reassurances. They always want to give me hugs before they get off the bus. It makes my work more enjoyable.”

“I use my trauma training all the time,” she added. “I use it to calm myself down better. I use it in my home atmosphere and with adults in my church setting.”

The problem that Head Start Trauma Smart is trying to address is so widespread and so essential to human well-being that it’s hard to imagine an intervention that could yield greater payback for society — if the model proves to be scalable and transportable from community to community. Those are big questions, of course, and I will be tracking this work carefully as the answers emerge.

“What trauma does is steal from people the ability to feel safe and navigate relationships successfully,” said Chris Blodgett, who directs the Clear Trauma Center at Washington State University and is the principal researcher for the Spokane Safe Start program, which is similar to Head Start Trauma Smart. “Three- or 4-year-old children who have been exposed to trauma are at much greater risk of lacking the biological foundations or the behavior skills that will allow them to succeed in school and in life. The trauma keeps stealing their opportunities moment by moment and day by day.”

“If we can strengthen the sense of safety and the relationships around children, it creates a foundation for the natural process of development to get back on track,” he added. “We’re built to succeed as human beings. If that normal process gets disrupted, we need to do anything we can do to put it back on track.”

For Connie, the impact has been direct: “Before, I was always the bad guy. Whenever I made Luke sit quietly by himself, he said, ‘Grandma, I hate you.’ Now I know that’s not what was needed. And he’s also able to step back and look. He even says, ‘Thank you, Grandma,’ and gives me a hug after he calms down. He’s a very intelligent person if he can get past the anger.”

Access the article here:

BizTimes features Meta House YP Collaborative

Featured in June 6, 2014 BizTimes E-Newsletter

Meta House forms YP Collaborative

Meta House has taken the first steps of organizing a young professionals’ volunteer group to help the nonprofit organization make greater strides in supporting women overcoming substance abuse.The new movement, known as the YP Collaborative, launched on Saturday, May 31, with a service day held on the grounds of Meta House in Milwaukee.

Through the collaborative, Meta House aims to connect young professionals with meaningful opportunities to donate their time and talent. While professionals just starting their careers may not have the funds to make significant financial contributions, they have the energy and enthusiasm to impact their communities in a more hands-on capacity, said Amy Lindner, president and CEO of Meta House.

During the nonprofit’s service day on May 31, about 25 young professionals from the Milwaukee area rolled up their sleeves to complete renovation projects including interior painting, redecorating, landscaping and organizing.
A second service day will follow on Saturday, June 7, with similar projects planned for a new wave of young professional volunteers. Meta House expects at least 35 participants and currently has about 10 spots open for interested volunteers.

While Meta House is not yet certain how it will roll out additional programming within the collaborative, it plans to consult its individual volunteers about ways they’d like to invest their time into its mission.

“I think it’s just a chance to meet each individual person where they’re at, and if they’re moved by our mission as I am, maybe they’ll want to get involved in a way that makes the most sense for them,” Lindner said.

The organization is open to the possibility of other group volunteer projects, board and committee service from young professionals, advocacy work with young professionals, and partnerships with participants’ workplace charity efforts.
Figuring out how to give back to the community is a “really important part” of professional development, Lindner said.
“If we can be part of that journey for some people, that feels really good,” she said.

To bring all YP Collaborative volunteers together, along with any other community members interested in joining the initiative, Meta House will host a networking event on Thursday, June 12, at Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Dr. in Milwaukee. The event is free to service day volunteers and costs $35 for other attendees.

Sponsors of the new YP Collaborative include the Bartolotta Restaurant Group, Johnson Controls, First Business Bank, MillerCoors, Indulge Studios, and 88.9 Radio Milwaukee.

Access the article here.

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Covers Meta House Reading Room Opening

New reading room gives women in recovery a place to relax with kids
May 20, 2014
by Karen Slattery

Who doesn’t love a good story?

Now the children of women in recovery for drug and alcohol addictions at Milwaukee’s Meta House will have lots of stories to hear and to read.

The new reading room at Meta House’s transitional facility was a gift to the women and children who live there, created by a group of five volunteers as a class requirement for the Future Milwaukee leadership program.

Future Milwaukee, affiliated with Marquette University’s College of Professional Studies, trains leaders to make change through civic work. Chris Welker said his group had two interests in mind for their project, “childhood literacy and women’s housing.”

Meta House offered a room in the basement of its transitional facility, a large, red brick apartment building. The room was sparsely furnished — tables, chairs and a couch. Women met there to visit or play cards.

Now the walls are decorated with artwork.  Bookcases full of stories, including “Let’s Catch Stars,” “How Do Lions Say I Love You?” and “Joshua’s Song,” line the sides of the room.  Throw pillows, bursting with bright colors, on the couch and beanbag chairs invite mothers and children to sit down and open a book.

Mothers in treatment at Meta House are allowed to live with their children, ages 10 or younger. The private, non-profit organization served 423 women suffering from addiction in its residential, transitional and outpatient facilities last year. According to spokesperson Sarah Pollack, the program offers daycare for children who need attention while their mothers are in group sessions or meetings with counselors.

The reading room project began last fall. Since then, the Future Milwaukee team has collected money, toys, pillows and more than 1,500 books. The team comprised Walker, Marisol Alamo, Sherri Jordan, Chelsea Johnson and Ryan Sawall.

At a recent reception, Meta House President and CEO Amy Lindner thanked the group for transforming the room, which she called “brand new and beautiful.”

Lindner also told mothers that the space will help them repair the physical and emotional relationships damaged by drug and alcohol dependence. She encouraged them to reread a favorite book, help their children with homework and “build warm and lasting memories” in the reading room.

Before the food was gone and the celebration ended, mothers and children had seated themselves on the couch, in the beanbag chairs and on the floor to look at books.

Timothy, age 2, sat on his mother Denise’s lap as they worked their way through a copy of  “I’m a Little Teapot.”  Said Denise, a Meta House client,  “We will be down here a lot more to sit and read.  My children will learn to like reading.”

A toddler named Storm, in a client’s arms, kept herself busy with a book called “Choo, choo.”  Said Storm’s mother, Shelonda, “It is so nice to have more to do with the children.” Added her friend, “All these books at our disposal. This is great, just great.”

Timothy and Storm were both too young to say much about the books that had grabbed their attention, but 5-year-old Gaely, sitting next to her mother, was quick to speak her mind.  Said Gaely enthusiastically, “I love books!”

See the article here.