The Washington Park Neighborhood of Milwaukee is one rich with history. A community that came to be through the development of both a city park and industrial growth, Washington Park carries a legacy of a diverse community of people from all walks of life, with the city park as a cornerstone of the community.
But Washington Park faces challenges too, and they are ones that reflect many other parts of the city of Milwaukee. With an unemployment rate of over 15%, and almost 50% of the population living below the poverty line, families in this neighborhood struggle with finding a sense of stability and hope.
Poverty is a deep and complicated issue that has many interconnected causes. There isn’t one easy solution to solve the problem of poverty and one crisis can affect a whole host of needs in a family. Many families struggle with meeting their basic needs, and often these needs become dependent upon each other. For example, having adequate & reliable childcare affects a single mother’s ability to sustain employment. Or a family that struggles to maintain family sustaining employment may have difficulty providing enough food for their family. Because many families have struggled with maintaining basic needs in the past, they find additional barriers to meeting these needs today. For example, a family that has previously been evicted from an apartment due to mental health or other issues will have a difficult time finding, safe affordable housing.
Regardless of the constraints of poverty, families desire sense of stability and hope forthe future, yet lack the skills to overcome the barriers and navigate thechallenges that they face.
Based upon our fundamental belief in God’s love, United Methodist Children’s Services of Wisconsin, Inc. values the dignity, potential, and worth of each individual, and creates a nurturing environment and sense of community in which miracles happen.
We understand the interconnected nature of poverty and use a multi-faceted approach to address the struggles families face. UMCS reduces barriers to basic needs so that families can focus on developing roots in the community, building capacity, and meeting their individualized goals.
Through housing, childcare, resources, and community engagement, we act as a stepping stone for families on their way towards stability.
We address the interconnected nature of poverty through reducing barriers to basic needs in 4 focus areas:
With 72 units of housing, individualized case management, and a positive living environment, UMCS helps individuals and families create stability for their everyday lives and set goals for their future.
The Growing Tree Children’s Center offers 1st shift childcare to families in our housing and the surrounding neighborhood so that children can be cared for while parents work or meet other basic needs. Our center is a 3-star, state licensed facility that offers quality childcare, age-appropriate activities, and early literacy programming.
Families in poverty struggle with meeting many basic needs. Our Family Resource Center focuses helping families with a number of needs including an emergency food bank, clothing bank, hygiene products, access to food share and other resources.
Developing community and sustainability within a community is a challenge when dealing with poverty. Through initiatives such as the Washington Park Partners and other community projects, UMCS works to help families used to transiency put down roots and develop connections and support systems within the community.