Edwina’s Success Story

I had been homeless for three years. I called Ms. Donna at the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, Inc., and asked if she could help. I was so excited to know someone wanted to give me another chance, or just to hear me out. Ms. Donna showed me an apartment. It had been so long since anyone had asked me or shown me an apartment of any kind.  Ms. Donna asked me how I liked it and I said, “This is really nice.”  She said, “It is yours.” I was so shocked, I was lost for words; I just cried.

Some days have been very overwhelming. But I have persevered, continuing my hard work in school. I will graduate in December 2015 with an Associate’s Degree in Human Services as an Alcohol, and Substance Abuse Counselor. I have taken my state exam and passed!! I am now a substance abuse counselor in-training! I will also be getting married later this year. Oh my goodness, who would ever thought that my life would change so much with the help of the SHIFT [Supportive Housing For Individuals And Families In Transition] program through Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin. I pray that this program will stay in existence to continue to help others. I never would have been able to do all these things without being given this chance to better my life, and without me giving myself the chance.

Tanya Beyer Earns RN Degree with Help from WestCAP

Sometimes, stopping to read what’s on a bulletin board can make a real difference in your life.

That’s what happened to Elmwood native Tanya Beyer in January of 2010. “I was taking classes at Chippewa Valley Technical School in River Falls when I noticed a WestCAP (West Central Community Action Agency) flyer on the bulletin board in the hall,” she said.

Beyer had earned her Medical Assistant Degree from Minneapolis Business College following graduation from Elmwood High School and at the time was working toward her Associate Degree in Nursing.

After reading the flyer, Tanya contacted WestCAP and asked if they could help her. They could, and with their encouragement, Tanya enrolled in West CAP’s Skills Enhancement Program which provides case management and financial assistance to individuals at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

“They helped me with mileage costs for attending school as well as daycare expenses. They paid the daycare directly. It really helped me out,” she explained adding, “I already had financial aid. If I hadn’t, I could have gotten help from WestCAP for those expenses as well.”

Tanya was working as a Medical Assistant for Hudson Physicians when her husband, Twain was injured on the job. “He hurt his back at work in 2008. At first Workman’s Compensation denied his claim, so we were way down in income. That was eventually resolved, but then his back surgery left permanent nerve damage leaving Twain unable to hold a full time job, so now he’s a stay-at-home dad,” said Tanya.

Obviously the loss of income caused an economic hardship for this family with two small children, Pride age 8 and Kalena age 6.

It was then that Tanya decided to go back to school to earn her Associate Degree in Nursing to increase her income. “I graduated in May, and now I work as a registered nurse in Hudson. I have basically the same responsibilities in my position as Assistant to Nursing Supervision, but I have gotten a pay raise because of my education,” said Tanya.

Currently she is enrolled in online courses at Capella University earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. “I’m so used to going to school now, that I just decided to keep going, so I enrolled in this program,” she said with a smile. “It will be a year and a half before I complete my degree, but if I were to ever leave Hudson Physicians, I’ll have this additional education.”

The chances of her leaving Hudson are pretty slim. “I just love my job. I’ve been there for 17 years. The people I work with are like my family,” she added.

Stephanie Stark, West CAP Literacy & Skills Enhancement Coordinator, said, “Tanya has worked very hard to accomplish her goals and help her family. It was a pleasure to have some part in helping her attain her goals.”

She then provided additional information on what WestCap has to offer. “The West CAP Skills Enhancement Program is designed to assist low-wage, working adults to access short-term training programs that will provide an opportunity to increase wages and gain access to employer provided health insurance.

Short-term training is defined as two years or less for a technical school program, or a condensed training program such as CNA or CDL training. It is not intended for individuals who are enrolled in a four-year degree program unless they hold at least a junior status and will graduate within two years.

Skills Enhancement participants may be eligible for assistance with tuition related expenses, training related transportation costs, and assistance with child care costs incurred while attending school. The Skills Enhancement Program is designed to be an on-going partnership with the client, not a source of one-time assistance.

Skills Enhancement Program participants can benefit by attending classes part time so that they can continue to work. They can also increase their earning potential and gain access to employer sponsored health insurance benefits, and increase their wages.

With her new job, Tanya has increased her wages and now is able to support her family. They no longer need financial assistance,” noted Stephanie.

If you would like additional information, you may contact Stephanie at 715-410-4735.

Congratulations to Tanya on her accomplishments and much appreciation to WestCAP for this valuable program.

Article thanks to MyGatewayNews.com http://mygatewaynews.com/Content/Default/Homepage-Rotator/Article/Tanya-Beyer-earns-RN-degree-with-help-from-WestCAP/-3/635/9359

Central Wisconsin CAC Helps Business Survive Despite Crisis


On Friday, June 13, 2008, Glenville Timberwrights, a timber frame home builder in central Wisconsin, was devastated by the loss of their business’ building due to massive flooding. The loss occurred during the height of the construction season and Glenville Timberwright had signed contracts that needed to be filled, deadlines to be met and clients and subcontractors depending on their business. The business struggled to find space for their materials to keep their business afloat. Then, at the peak of the crisis, the economy and the construction industry took a nose dive.  Banks stopped lending no matter what the business’ legacy or great credit history. In dire need, Glenville Timberwrights turned to Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency (CWCAC).  CWCAC had received funds from the USDA for flood-impacted businesses. By the anniversary of the flood, Glenville Timberwrights’ new building was erected. Fast forward to 2015.  Glenville Timberwight’s has a beautiful, energy-efficient building are proud to say that our core group of employees is still working full time with the company. To date, a large amount of the loaned money has been repaid and Glenville Timberwrights has successfully survived its crisis. Continue reading

WI Skills Enhancement Participant Wins National Contest, Speaks in Washington DC

Amy Treptow, participant of West CAP’s Skills Enhancement Program, is the winner of the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty Storyteller Contest, sponsored by the Half in Ten campaign and the Coalition on Human Needs. The contest was part of the Our American Story project, which connects people who have experienced poverty with political leaders, media, and advocacy organizations—an ongoing effort to raise the visibility of those who don’t have a high-profile lobby representing their interests during policy debates.

Read the full article here:  http://www.thenation.com/article/178084/if-members-congress-hear-americans-living-poverty-will-they-do-something-about-it


Amy Treptow, participant of West CAP’s Skills Enhancement Program, is the winner of the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty Storyteller Contest, sponsored by the Half in Ten campaign and the Coalition on Human Needs. The contest was part of the Our American Story project, which connects people who have experienced poverty with political leaders, media, and advocacy organizations—an ongoing effort to raise the visibility of those who don’t have a high-profile lobby representing their interests during policy debates.

Read the full article here:  http://www.thenation.com/article/178084/if-members-congress-hear-americans-living-poverty-will-they-do-something-about-it


Cindy Rockette grew up in Tomah, Wisconsin, knowing the ways of the cranberry marshes, the ever-present military personnel, the intimacies of small town life.

She has always worked for a living, making sure that the payment on her vehicle is up-to-date and that her rent is current. She takes care of her one daughter still at home, and keeps up with her older daughter. She volunteers with the Friends of Veterans, which built five homes in Tomah for vets last year. Cindy lives close to the financial edge, but she makes it work.

That is, it worked until something out of her control went wrong. One cold January day in 2011, Cindy received a call at work. A friend had stopped by Cindy’s rental home to check on a new puppy and the carbon monoxide alarm was going off. The puppy was removed, the furnace-repair guy called, and the result: the furnace was malfunctioning and needed to be shut down immediately. It couldn’t be fixed and it needed to be replaced. In some ways, this was a lucky catch. The repairman said that Cindy and her 15-year-old daughter were likely being slowly poisoned by carbon monoxide.

“He said we were lucky to be alive,” Cindy says.

Suddenly, the weeks of headaches made more sense. Okay, Cindy thought, we’ll just go stay with my parents (who also live in Tomah) until the landlord replaces the furnace. After all, Cindy had submitted an offer to buy the home, and the owner had accepted the offer, so figuring out the furnace should be a small thing.

But sometimes, a small thing can rock a world to the point of breaking.

In Cindy’s case, the malfunctioning furnace had left her with a huge heating bill for the month of January. The landlord also decided that Cindy was responsible for the full cost of a new furnace. Cindy said that the price of the new furnace should be taken off the price of the house.

The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, and ultimately, the landlord not only ripped up the accepted offer, but said Cindy and her daughter had to leave the home for good. He gave them just enough time in their home to pack their belongings. Suddenly Cindy was essentially homeless: living with her parents, responsible for a large heating bill. Not only was that stark reality something to deal with, but her dream of owning her first home was dashed.

Practically speaking, there was no way that Cindy was going to be able to secure a new place, and pay the heating bill, all the while keeping up with her other expenses. It took just one emergency to change her relatively stable life into a crisis that threatened to spin out into a much larger and longer-term problem.

Cindy had never relied on any government or other agency help before. She graduated from Tomah High School and went to a technical college in La Crosse while she raised her two daughters. She lived with her parents for a few months and then she remembered hearing from several people with good experiences with Couleecap, and that the organization had all kinds of ways to help people, so she did some checking.

What she found was an organization designed to help people in just her kind of situation. Cindy wasn’t sure what kind of help she would find, but she figured she would ask. She got more than she expected.

Couleecap’s Homeless Prevention program gave her a list of people who had rentals and who had worked with the agency in the past. Finding a place was streamlined. Couleecap also provided financial help with the first couple months of rent once Rockette secured a place. And finally, Couleecap’s People Helping People fund was able to help her by paying a substantial portion of the heating bill as well.


Cindy is now back on track. She and her daughter are established in their new place, and Cindy can focus again on her work and on other important things, like getting her daughter to summer camp. Cindy was thrilled with the support she received.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” she says. “It’s great.”

Cindy says that everyone she dealt with from Couleecap was really easy and respectful.

“They’re awesome,” she says. “A lot of people have the impression that if you have to ask for help, there’s something really wrong with you. Couleecap doesn’t make you feel like a failure, like you’re worthless. They just help you.”

Cindy is thankful for that kind of attitude from the people she worked with at Couleecap. She wants everyone to know about the programs that Couleecap offers.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she says.

Couleecap, Inc. logo

Couleecap, Inc.
201 Melby Street
Westby, WI 54667
Ph. (608) 634-3104
Fax (608) 634-3134
Serving: Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties


Gus Quertermous spent the past many years roaming, working when and where he could find work, and sleeping wherever he could find a place to lay his head.

So, while some people walking into his tiny apartment in Tomah may find it a humble and sparse abode, Gus is so grateful that he knows where every single item in the place came from.

“That chair and table was here when I got here, this chair a woman I work with gave me. Someone gave me the blow-up mattress. Someone else gave me a microwave. Someone gave me a mop, but I bought the broom and dustpan.”

The careful inventory comes after years of having no real home to furnish. Now, for the first time in years, Gus has a place to keep such things as a reading lamp.

Gus moved to Tomah in May 2011, for a job in the grocery store on the base at Fort McCoy. It’s a 24-hours-a-week job and Gus usually bikes the nine or so miles from his apartment in Tomah to the base. He hasn’t been late or missed a day once.

That’s saying a lot, considering that for the first two months that he was on the job, Gus lived out of a dumpster. Now, with the help of the Couleecap Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, he’s settled in his studio apartment, and he’s hopeful that those days are over.Couleecap Success Story - Gus Quertermous with bike

Gus was born in Indiana, where he lived until he finished high school 30 years ago. After high school, he left for Kentucky, where his dad’s side of the family lives. Two months after high school, Gus’s father died. A year later, his mother died as well.

For several of the past 10 years, Gus worked at Yellowstone National Park. He loved the work and he carries with him the one thing that remains from that time: a beautifully carved wooden walking stick with a whistle at the top.

Working at the national parks was a pretty good gig. He stayed in dorms with other workers and he got to feel like a part of something good. When the park season ended, it was time to look for another job.

He received an email from a government worker responding to his inquiries about an opening in Tomah. He began the elaborate process of applying for a job on a U.S. military base: fingerprinting, background checks, testing. He managed all of these pieces online and got a bus to Tomah, where he arrived on May 10. He had no place to stay, but he would figure that out when he arrived.

“When I had a chance to get this job, I jumped at the chance,” he says. “What was I going to do, turn down a job? I don’t think so. I had to do something to make things better. Granted, it’s a part time job, but I could be in worse shape. I am very thankful.”

He looked for someplace to stay, but the two shelters in the area are for veterans, and Gus is not a vet. He asked a few churches if there was someplace he could stay until he got on his feet, and they referred him to the sheriff’s office. The only public shelter is in La Crosse, but that is too far away from his job, his entire reason for coming to the area. It was cold, and he needed to sleep. So he did what he had to do.

“I was staying in a metal container,” he says. “It’s where they put cardboard recycling at. I stayed in there, I didn’t bother anybody. I didn’t have the funds to do things at that time.”

Living on the street is stressful, and it can get dangerous. Gus says that he lives a life that avoids trouble, including staying away from things the sometimes lead to conflict.

“I’ve seen, from a very early age, that drugs and alcohol aren’t the way to go. I try to stay away from all of it. I’ve seen alcohol destroy individual’s lives,” Gus says.

A church in Sparta lent him the bicycle that he uses, most days, to get to work. One day, Gus saw an ad for Coulecap. After he started his job, he put in an application looking for help with housing. Gus started searching for a place to live. He found a studio for rent on Craig’s List. Couleecap came and inspected the place, and then provided rent and a down payment for Gus’s first three months.

“I’m grateful that there’s somewhere there for people to get help,” he says. “Once, when I was at the Couleecap office, the receptionist said, ‘Thank you for persevering in this.’ That meant a lot. I’ve had to work to get what I’ve had to get.”

In his little studio, library books are stacked under the one lamp in the place, the air mattress he uses as a bed is propped against the wall in daytime mode, so he can walk through the room. Gus continues his explanation of each item, he shows the dish set he bought: metal plates, cups, and bowls. There is no china. Everything he’s purchased could be made immediately road-ready, if it comes to that.

“You know what they say, ‘You hope for the best, but you prepare for the worst.’ Just in case, you have to be ready,” Gus says. “I liked traveling for a while. I want to settle down now.”

He says that the help from Couleecap will allow him to do just that, to catch his breath, and to establish his life. It’s been a long way home.

Couleecap, Inc. logo

 Couleecap, Inc.
201 Melby Street
Westby, WI 54667
Ph. (608) 634-3104
Fax (608) 634-3134
Serving: Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties

Couleecap chart

Flavor 8 Bottling LLC – A Job & Business Development Success Story

Dave Talo along with his wife and two sons live in Outagamie County. Dave first contacted CAP Services in April 2010, e-mailing asking if “CAP Services could help make my small business idea a reality.” The previous fall, he finished a business plan for a small bottling production facility, Dave’s Bottling LLC, that would create one full-time and two part-time jobs at start-up. He was having trouble finding financing, with comments that he lacked the experience for this type of business. He asked for help to re-write his business plan to better demonstrate his experience, skill set, and knowledge.

In October 2010, CAP Services successfully competed for a new business assistance product—the USDA’s Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program (RMAP). It would provide rural businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees a source of affordable and flexible capital with no income limits for either borrowers or their employees. Staff contacted him and found he continued to work on his marketing research and re-write his business plan. He needed $150,000 to open the business. He had acquired a new business partner, John Mathison; and, each partner contributed $30,000 to the project for a total of $60,000. This allowed them to obtain the remaining $90,000 in total loans from CAP Services, the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation and Associated Bank.

Flavor 8 Bottling LLC was established in February 2011 and began full production and distribution of their product, Flavor 8 Soda Pop, in August 2011. Talo and Mathison grew up in the 60’s and 70’s drinking great tasting, sugar-based sodas at family-friendly prices. The glass bottled, multiple-flavored soda was brought to most family functions, served iced cold and enjoyed by both kids and adults. Flavor 8 Bottling wants their soda pop to be the type of treat that will not only remind people of how things tasted during simpler times, but will be something to share for generations to come. The soda will be produced using a restored, vintage line that was used during the 60’s and 70’s.

Flavor 8 Bottling, located in New London, Wisconsin, produces and distributes its multi-flavored soda to specialty stores and various other outlets in the Northeast Wisconsin region. To purchase Flavor 8 soda, visit www.Flavor8Bottling.com. You can also purchase directly from the Flavor 8 production facility in New London.

Feedback from customers has been very positive and interest from specialty stores to carry this product is high. Two additional part-time floor production staff have been hired and their account base has grown from 32 to 60 major re-sellers. Their distribution area now stretches as far as Slinger and Jackson, just north of Milwaukee and west to Stevens Point. Dave and John distribute through Johnson Distributing in Stevens Point as well as TV and radio advertising.

They are in the process of purchasing their next filling line, which will more than double their per hour output; again, keeping it vintage and repurposing an early 1960’s vintage bottling line. Their passion for this industry is evidenced by the work they are doing counseling other around the country who also want to start returnable bottle soda facilities. Dave will be attending the New England Independent Bottlers Association meeting in Massachusetts in April 2013 to feed his growing thirst for knowledge of this industry. As Flavor 8 Bottling’s business continues to grow, Dave and John are finding themselves thinking about a larger, tailor-made facility that will help them bring the product to a new level.

Dave Talo and John Mathison, owners of Flavor 8 Bottling.

Dave Talo and John Mathison, owners of Flavor 8 Bottling.

 Flavor 8 Bottling LLC
1207 West Waupaca Street
New London, WI 54961
Dave Talo: (920) 419-0207
John Mathison: (920) 470-7484
Self-Employment: RMAP

Business Start:  August 2011, Waupaca County

Garcia & Wilson Property Management, LLC – A Job & Business Development Success Story

Gustavo Garcia and Joseph Wilson own Garcia & Wilson Property Management, LLC. A local bank referred the business owners to ADVOCAP’s Business Development staff after they were turned down for financing (due to being a new business and having no outside employment). Neither one of the business owners were able to take home a paycheck at the start. In addition, the bank wanted to see a business and financial plan, which the owners had not completed prior to meeting with the bank.

Garcia & Wilson Property Management, LLC refurbishes real estate that has experienced foreclosure or is in need of major repair. In many cases, owners simply walk away from their property during foreclosure, leaving behind their belongings (as they oftentimes have nowhere to go with their items). Often, the foreclosed homes or apartments are left in substandard condition.

Garcia & Wilson salvage items and materials from these projects to be repaired or refurbished for use in new projects. They have also opened an outlet for repaired and refurbished items, making these items available at an affordable price for low-income individuals. In addition, the outlet is helping to keep items that can be re-used out of our landfills.

While Garcia & Wilson were able to secure good contracts, clients were paying them very slowly. The business was at the point of needing additional financing or closing. With the help of ADVOCAP, they were able to develop a solid business and financial plan, which helped them get the funding they needed to bridge this ‘cash gap’.

Through ADVOCAP’s assistance, not only were the owners’ original two jobs saved, but they have now created four additional jobs. Garcia & Wilson currently have three full-time employees and one part-time employee. The owners also completed financial literacy training in November 2010 and received grant monies to help them purchase their building. At this time, Garcia & Wilson have over 70 houses in inventory in Fond du Lac, Winnebago, Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.

GW Property Management

Garcia & Wilson Property Management, LLC
385 W. Arndt Street
Fond du Lac, WI 54935
Owners: Joseph Wilson & Gustavo Garcia

A Job & Business Development Story - JADE Spring

In a bottled water industry dominated by big corporations like Nestle and Coca-Cola, JADE Spring is unique. Since 2003 this woman-owned business near Osseo, WI has been bottling water that flows naturally from its own artesian well. JADE Spring collects the water, filters it, and bottles it-nothing more. And because of the purity and good taste of the water-nothing more is needed. Today they bottle and ship over 6000 bottles a month, most to regional businesses.
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