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Regular hours resume Tuesday, May 28


WayForward was proud to nominate Roots & Wings as Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation and Christian Huber for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy for the National Philanthropy Day Awards.

Both were honored at a ceremony at the Overture Center in November.

Roots & Wings Foundation is an essential partner that has generously donated nearly $500,000 in unrestricted funds to WayForward, increasing their funding over time to reflect the increased needs for food and housing access.

“The trust Roots & Wings places in us to carry out our mission is incredibly valuable,” says WayForward Executive Director Ellen Carlson, who accepted the award on behalf of the foundation.

Huber, now 14, started his journey as a philanthropist when he was eight years old, operating a cookie and lemonade stand in the summers to raise money for nonprofits.

The last few years, Christian has supported WayForward. “I like helping so many people be part of doing something good,” he says.

A year-end message from WayForward Executive Director Ellen Carlson

At WayForward, we believe that when everyone has access to key building blocks for stability, we can transform our community into the kind of place we want it to be. 

This year has presented many challenges to this vision of our community. When I sat down to write this letter last year, our food pantry was providing the equivalent of 54,000 meals per month. Now we’re distributing 115,000 per month. We see the same pressure on our housing stability programs, setting a record for the amount of financial assistance we provided in November.

When I look ahead I see no sign of the demand plateauing.

Numbers like these can be overwhelming. But I’m sharing them with you because they tell us a lot about what is happening in our community. And these numbers represent the experiences of people in our community: people who are standing in line outside in the cold two hours before our food pantry opens and people who are sitting in our lobby waiting to meet with case managers to discuss housing assistance. 

Experts report the rise in demand is due to the end of pandemic-era support, general inflation and the steep increase in housing costs in our community, which causes people to focus even more of their income on paying rent. We have never turned anyone away from getting food, but we have had to put some limits on the amount of food people can take. We worry about how we and other local food pantries can continue to ensure that everyone in our community has access to nutritious food.

It is hard to hear these things. But this challenging moment also includes milestones to celebrate. 

In the week prior to Thanksgiving, about 3,000 people received food from our pantry, including additional ingredients needed to make holiday meals for their families. We are on track to distribute the equivalent of more than one million pounds of food this year.

More than 600 households received financial assistance last year. As the Madison area continues to experience some of the highest rent increases in the country, this support allowed families to avoid eviction and stay in their homes, where they can eat dinner together and have a place for kids to do homework at night. In addition, the first participants have graduated from our Connections program, which means over the last year they have transitioned from doubled-up housing into homes of their own and no longer need financial assistance.

Your support is how we have continued to meet the need up to this point and stay focused on our mission. You ensure that families have access to nutritious food, including the nearly 3,000 people who received food for holiday meals. Your support also meant more than 600 students started the school year with backpacks loaded with the supplies they needed and 1,700 people received gift cards to help stretch their dollars a little farther this holiday season.

Every day, I am grateful for our volunteers, who have grown in numbers and put in more hours this year than last year. They adapt to our changing needs and adjust their to-do lists to tackle what is needed. We see so much patience and generosity as they work to help ensure people have critical access to food. I’m also thankful for the people in our community who recognize the impact of our work and serve as powerful advocates for WayForward and the people we serve. We will continue to need your strong voices in the year to come so our neighbors can go to bed at night knowing local food pantries – the last safety net for the most basic of all needs – will still be able to serve them.

There are a number of ways you can still make a tax deductible financial donation this year. Donations of your time and food can also make an immediate difference, including buying items directly from our wish list listed on our website, to help us continue to offer a variety of options to the people who visit our pantry.

By joining forces to provide our time, expertise, and resources, we can provide more people access to nutritious food and stable housing.


We are grateful to everyone who has provided generous financial support to WayForward Resources this year.

As you make your year-end giving plans, please consider talking with your tax or other financial advisors about joining our community efforts to provide food access and housing stability in one of the following ways:*


Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from your individual retirement account (IRA) are still tax-free. Anyone age 70 ½ or older may receive QCD treatment for certain transfers of up to $100,000 from their IRA directly to a qualified charity. Transfers qualifying as QCDS are not included in taxable
income and reduce the balance of your retirement account (on which you and your heirs will ultimately pay tax). You can direct your QCDs to one or more qualified charitable organizations of your choice.

Note: Be sure to confirm with your advisor that the transfer meets the requirements to be treated as a QCD.


If you want to retain flexibility in the causes you support, consider establishing a donor-advised fund. You can plan a charitable tax deduction this year and retain the flexibility to distribute gifts to charities later or over multiple years.


Gifts of appreciated securities may provide an increased tax deduction. If you have stocks or other securities that are worth more than you paid for them, and you’ve owned them for at least 12 months, consider giving those to charity. This may avoid capital gains tax and allow a charitable deduction for the securities’ full fair market value. Your deduction for donations of appreciated stock or securities to public charities is limited to 30% of your adjusted gross income each year, but you can carry over any excess deductions for up to five additional years.

Note: Since gifts of appreciated stock can take time to process, coordinate with your financial advisor as soon as possible to ensure a transfer can be completed by year end.


*Thank you to Madison Community Foundation for providing this information.

The Mulcahy Family is providing a #GivingTuesday challenge gift this year in hopes of motivating future generations to give back.

“WayForward as Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) provided a way for my family to participate in our community’s care for those who found themselves in need of support,” says Patricia Mulcahy. “When our children were young, I served on the MOM Board of Directors representing my parish and provided transportation for an elderly woman through the Project for Older People. Over the years the organization’s outreach has evolved and broadened and the community has continued to step up. Our children now have children of their own and this gift is to encourage them to support others through their communities.” 

Gina Patel, President & CEO of Patel Kwan Consultancy, has a strong and personal motivation for supporting WayForward Resources.

Patel’s company donated and packed 35 kindergarten backpacks for this year’s Back to School Program. Members of her team also volunteered to organize school supplies and get them ready for distribution, joined by her own kindergartner, Hari (in photo at left with Patel Kwan intern Grace Liew).

“Way Forward provides much-needed resources to families in our area,” says Patel (at left in photo at top).

“I am originally from the UK, but as a child I received free school lunches, uniform, etc. As a family we received about 40 GBP per week in ‘benefits’ to use for food, heat, transport, and anything else needed. That is approximately what it ended up costing for these backpacks including supplies. Having this extra cost burden can mean the difference between families going without heat or food and being able to send their kids to school with backpacks ready for the school year. There is a lot of drive in our community to support one another, so thank you, WayForward for facilitating this.”


Members of St. Bernard Catholic Church’s Human Needs Commission devised a simple plan for a food drive that yielded amazing results. 

During the weekend of October 7, they handed out paper grocery bags with WayForward’s shopping list stapled to them and encouraged families to fill them with items from the list. Churchgoers were invited to return the bags the following weekend and drop them in food barrels stationed at the entrances to the church parking lot. That weekend the barrels were overflowing.

“The participation was great,” says commission member Barbara Roberts, who delivered the results of the church’s drive along with Dick Seifert (pictured above).

The group handed out an estimated 200 bags and about 170 came back. The drive collected 1,212 pounds of food for WayForward’s pantry, the equivalent of more than 1,000 meals.

Roberts says she thinks giving people a physical reminder to take part was the difference in making the food drive a success.

“What people have told us is that it’s a visible reminder during the week,” she says. “You see it on the kitchen counter and you’re reminded, ‘I’ve got to stop at the grocery store.’”

You can hold a food drive in your office, school, team or organization. Our shopping list includes: breakfast cereals/oatmeal, rice, pasta and sauce, mac and cheese, peanut butter, canned soup, snacks, condiments, canned chicken and tuna, flour and sugar, cooking oil, toiletries, diapers and wipes.

Our Clothing Center offers free clothing and household items thanks to your generous donations. As we continue to adapt to the need in our community, we recently updated our guidelines for what items we can accept due to space and volunteer capacity.

Please review the list below before you bring donations and remove items we cannot accept. Otherwise, we have to dispose of these items, which unfortunately adds to our costs.

We CAN accept these items:

We CANNOT accept these items:

Circle of Hope, WayForward’s group of monthly givers, makes it easy to increase the impact of your donations over a longer period of time.

Are you a current donor? For a few dollars more per month, you can provide a critical source of sustainable income that allows us to deliver food and housing assistance where most needed. A first-time donor? For the cost of several lattes per week, you can help more neighbors remain in housing and keep our pantry shelves stocked with nutritious food. 

“We give to WayForward because we truly believe their efforts help improve the lives of our community members. By giving on a regular monthly schedule, our hope is that WayForward will be able to plan their resource allocation more accurately when looking at future financial  commitments,” says a Circle of Hope donor. “We feel blessed to have an organization like WayForward in our community because helping one of us helps all of us!”

Join us in creating food access and housing stability with your monthly donation. Click the DONATE button and choose a monthly amount that is comfortable for you. Thank you for your support!


WayForward Resources was so excited to receive a donation from Metro Market and Pick ‘n Save stores of $30,000 of food and personal essentials weighing nearly 18,000 pounds to help fight hunger in our community. Staff and volunteers were thrilled when the truck filled with 20 pallets of everything from diapers and formula to spaghetti sauce and canned goods arrived. With the huge increase in demand we’ve seen, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Staff and volunteers were there to receive and then later sort the food. “The timing is perfect,” said Laurie Baker, long-time WayForward volunteer. “We needed the food desperately.” One volunteer who helped receive the donation was Kevin Walther. Kevin used to work at the Middleton Pick ‘n Save (now Metro Market) for five years bagging, stocking, and facing items. He’s been volunteering at WayForward for one year. Kevin wore his red cape because it reminds him of staying positive, working together, and helping others who need assistance. “You’re a hero for helping people out,” Kevin said.

“Inflation and the end of Covid-era assistance has led to us serving the equivalent of more than 90,000 meals a month, a 130% increase from last year,” said Ellen Carlson, Executive Director of WayForward Resources. “We are so excited about this donation from Metro Market and Pick ‘n Save stores because not only does it help fill our shelves with nutritious food for people in our community, but it will make available a huge variety of food, allowing people to select food that makes sense for them and their families.”

The generous donation received media coverage from News 3 Now, WKOW 27 and the Middleton Cross Plains Times-Tribune.

We are thankful for heroes like Kevin and Laurie and our friends at Metro Market and Pick ‘n Save stores who make it possible for more people in our community to access healthy food.

Did you know for just $25 a month you can provide hundreds of nutritious meals a year? By joining Circle of Hope, a dedicated community of monthly givers, you provide a critical source of sustainable income that allows us to deliver food and housing assistance programs when they are most needed. Your generosity and consistent support ensures that we can help more families and individuals remain in stable housing and keep our pantry shelves stocked to provide a reliable source of nutritious food. It’s easy to become a member and you can update or change your gift at any time. Just visit, click the DONATE button and choose any amount to donate monthly.

Your commitment makes a difference: