The 2020 WISCAP Annual Awards was held virtually yesterday, July 30, 2020. WISCAP presented these awards on behalf of its network of sixteen Community Action Agencies, the Foundation for Rural Housing, and UMOS so as to recognize individuals or organizations who have gone above and beyond in helping to improve and further the goals of Community Action in Wisconsin in fighting poverty. In attendance was the Lieutenant Governor, Mandela Barnes, who presented the 23rd Annual Governor’s Excellence in Community Action Award.
Gaylord Nelson Human Services Award
The Gaylord Nelson Human Services Award recognizes a Democratic lawmaker for outstanding support of Community Action and low-income families. This year’s recipient is Senator Janet Bewley, who was nominated by Millie Rounsville, Executive Director of Northwestern Wisconsin Community Services Agency.
Senator Bewley has a distinguished career serving the people of Northern Wisconsin as Senior Community Development Officer at WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority) City Councilor on the Ashland City Council, two term member of the Assembly representing the 74th District, and current Wisconsin State Senator and Minority Leader.
As a member of the Committee on Education, Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families and the Committee on Utilities and Housing, Senator Bewley has championed greater investments in infrastructure, schools, skills training, rural transportation and affordable housing. She was also a co-sponsor of comprehensive anti-poverty legislation, the Wisconsin Opportunity Act (SB 467/AB 508), in the 2019 session.
To watch the Gaylord Nelson Human Services Award and hear Senator Janet Bewley’s acceptance, watch the video below.
William Steiger Human Services Award
The William Steiger Human Services Award is given in recognition of a Republican lawmaker for outstanding support of Community Action and low-income families.
This year’s recipient at the 2020 WISCAP Annual Awards was Representative Jim Steineke and he was nominated by Nicole Harrison, CEO of CAP Services.
State Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) has emerged as a leading voice in the Wisconsin State Assembly to address the issue of homelessness. He was instrumental in the formation of the state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness and, in 2019, he took the lead on efforts to secure greater investments in emergency shelter, case management, and workforce development. As both author and organizer around bi-partisan legislation designed to support local efforts to fight homelessness, Rep. Steinke has helped to elevate the severity of homelessness in our communities while forwarding meaningful solutions.
“Just a few years ago, homelessness was not on anyone’s radar, Republican or Democrat,” Rep. Steineke has observed. “I am incredibly proud that our work has created a bipartisan wave of support, allowing us to really home in on the best ways we can help those in need find a place to call home.”
To watch the William Steiger Human Services Award and hear Representative Jim Steineke’s acceptance, watch the video below.
The Self-Sufficiency Award recognizes an individual who, with the aid of their local Community Action Agency, has overcome poverty and achieved self-sufficiency. Caroline Grover was the recipient of this award and she was nominated by Krista Heinz, Work N Wheels Program Specialist at Couleecap. Caroline has overcome multiple obstacles in recent years, just one of them being transportation issues. Couleecap was able to assist her with a car loan in the Work-N-Wheels Program to ensure Caroline’s continued success.
To read Caroline’s moving story, read her nomination below and watch her receive her award at the virtual awards ceremony.
Outstanding Friend of Community Action Award
The Outstanding Friend of Community Action Award recognizes an individual or group outside of the CAA Network, whose actions have promoted or enhanced the efforts and services of community action. This year’s recipient was Michele Engh, Pastor of the Immanual Lutheran Church. Michele was nominated by Hetti Brown, Executive Director of Couleecap, for her passion towards community action. She has been a tireless advocate for ending poverty in both her current position, and in her past work as an employee for Couleecap (2007 to 2014), her various roles in county government, and her work with other nonprofit organizations. You can read the entire nomination below, as well as watch her receive the award at the virtual awards ceremony.
23rd Annual Governor’s Award for Excellence in Community Action
In order to highlight the critical work Community Action Agencies are performing during this unprecedented time, the 23rd Annual Governor’s Award for Excellence in Community Action was changed slightly at the 2020 WISCAP Annual Awards to recognize an outstanding program or project that especially exemplifies the spirit of community action during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes presented Couleecap with the award for their COVID-19 Response Plan – Action is Our Middle Name. [You can visit a list of Couleecap’s current resources here]
Couleecap (who serves Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties) launched their response plan in March with three principles:
1. To quickly mobilize resources to respond to sudden, unexpected unemployment and business closures;
2. Distribute those resources broadly across the community and make accessing them as barrier-free as possible;
3. And lastly, to invest additional resources and effort into targeted programs serving the most vulnerable populations.
Couleecap was extremely successful in launching a quick and innovative response to COVID-19. To learn about all of their unique efforts and accomplishments, watch the Lt. Gov’s speech below.