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Stock the Pantry


I’ve volunteered for MOM’s Food Pantry for 22 years and have served on the board of directors in the past. Right now, I volunteer as a greeter for in-person shopping and with the mobile food pantry at a local apartment complex and I appreciate the opportunity to meet new people and see MOM’s impact. Stepping out in that role as a volunteer really gets me in touch with what’s going on in the community that I wouldn’t otherwise see. I’m in awe of MOM and its ability to keep providing help to people.

Luis and Alejandra left behind an unstable economic and political situation in Venezuela with dreams of a better life for their 8-year-old daughter and the baby they were soon expecting. They did not have the references or credit history required to rent an apartment, so they doubled up with another family from their home country. But Alejandra didn’t feel comfortable living with strangers and her daughter couldn’t play freely without Alejandra worrying she was making too much noise for their hosts.

Luis found work after the family’s first week in the community, and Alejandra started working at the same restaurant when they quickly realized one income would not be enough to pay rent. But landlords still wanted evidence of at least a month of income before they would offer them a lease. Once a social worker in their daughter’s school connected the couple with a MOM case manager, things started to look up. Their case manager has developed a strong working relationship with a management company, which agreed to accept a letter from the couple’s employer as proof of their employment and income. MOM’s Connections housing program covered the family’s security deposit and other move-in costs. And thanks to the generosity of MOM donors who purchased items from our Connections wish list, Luis and Alejandra had the basic items they needed to start making themselves at home when they moved into their new apartment this fall, including sheets, towels and dishes.

The family visits MOM’s Food Pantry and Clothing Center to make sure their daughter has warm clothes to wear this winter and nutritious food to eat. Alejandra feels genuinely welcomed and supported by the volunteers when she does her shopping. The family is grateful for the generosity of their new community where they are beginning to put down roots and begin to thrive. Their new baby boy arrived this fall.

Terri’s life was in a downward spiral in the months following the death of her husband from a seizure. Not long after, her car was totaled when she was involved in an accident with a drunk driver. Things got even worse when she was robbed after withdrawing money from an ATM near her home. Following this unimaginable run of bad luck, Terri moved to Middleton from Illinois. That’s when Terri says her life changed, thanks to MOM.

Once Terri connected with a MOM case manager, she started to see a brighter future for herself. She became a client of our housing assistance program, which focuses on helping neighbors find stability in their lives and avoid eviction. With financial assistance from MOM, she was able to recover from the domino effect of events following a tragic loss. After a few months, she was on more secure financial footing and able to pay her rent on her own. In the meantime, she was grateful for the opportunity to get groceries from MOM’s food pantry and items from our clothing center. She also felt welcomed and supported by the volunteers who assisted her while shopping. “I’ve never met genuinely nice people until I moved here,” Terri says.

Thanks to the support MOM gets from our community, Terri has reached a place of stability in her life after a difficult journey.

Volunteering at MOM connects with my values and gives me an opportunity to give back to the community. This year, I sorted school supplies for MOM’s Back to School Program so kids could start the school year prepared to learn and have the chance to succeed. I know that supporting MOM makes a difference for our neighbors.

Akilah was living on a tight budget with dreams for a better future when a car accident left her injured and without a way to get to work. After lost wages and medical bills sabotaged her finances, she fell several months behind on rent for the apartment she shares with her young son. The prospect of being evicted loomed large and Akilah couldn’t find a path forward to solid ground. When she most needed support, her community was there for her.

Akilah’s landlord referred her to one of MOM’s case managers and she started building stability for her family. Thanks to the generous support our community provides, MOM provided her housing assistance and negotiated a payment plan for the rent she owed, along with funds to fix her car so she could drive her kids to school and get to work on time. While her car was being repaired, Akilah received deliveries from MOM’s food pantry and her elderly mother was able to get to her medical appointments thanks to volunteers who provide rides through MOM’s Seniors Program. In the months after Akilah first reached out to MOM, she set personalized goals with her case manager to increase her work hours to a full-time position, pay off her debt and save money.

With food prices rising, Akilah can keep up with her rent and make sure her son has nutritious meals with groceries from MOM’s food pantry. Thanks to our Back to School program, her son received a backpack filled with school supplies to start the school year ready to learn. And with support from our community, she and her family will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal and exchange holiday gifts through our Winter Wishes program. Akilah can now focus on getting her GED and training to become a dental hygienist to secure a job with full benefits. Today, she can see a future where her family will thrive.

Janet wasn’t behind on rent when she reached out to MOM for financial assistance, but her fixed income was barely keeping up with the rest of her bills after her husband died. The 57-year-old is unable to work due to her disability and ongoing health issues and her monthly SSDI income is $1,352 per month, just barely enough to cover her rent. She has been wanting to find a different apartment to cut costs, but she has been too ill to move for the past several years and has no family to offer assistance. A MOM case manager worked with Janet to provide financial assistance to pay off her past due utility and internet bills and connected her to federal energy assistance to cover the cost of her winter heating bill.

Many of the older adults MOM serves have seen their rent continue to go up while their incomes remain stagnant. For seniors in our community like Janet, MOM’s programs are a key factor in creating stability.

I started with MOM this summer after I volunteered with Second Harvest at the Alliant Energy Center during the pandemic. I volunteer in the food pantry – I greet guests, answer questions and stock shelves. Every day is going to be different. As long as I’m able, I enjoy helping people in need – it’s fulfilling to be able to do that. I appreciate how our team is a mix of experienced volunteers and newcomers because we help each other. It’s an opportunity to meet people who have a common interest that you have, which is to help.

Ray first met with Case Manager and Seniors Program Manager Laurie Horton in summer 2020, when our offices were closed to clients due to the pandemic. The 64-year-old had been referred to us by a property manager she had once worked with. Ray had lost his job and didn’t have any family. He also had limited education and didn’t have access to a computer or smartphone. With our offices closed for the pandemic along with the rest of the world to help keep the community safe, he stood outside Laurie’s open office window while she helped him fill out the online application for unemployment benefits. For a few months, MOM’s housing assistance programs helped Ray pay rent and secure some COVID funds available for renters to avoid eviction. Despite all of Laurie’s efforts, by September 2021 Ray could no longer afford his apartment and began living out of his truck.

Over the next year, Laurie would reach out, calling him whenever she got information about available apartments for seniors. She helped him with applications for different housing, but nothing came together and he continued to live in his truck. Laurie remained committed and she reached out again in the spring when she heard about new affordable housing for seniors in a neighboring community. She worked with Ray to submit his application and he was accepted. He got his keys and moved into his new apartment in September. Laurie says that typically MOM connects people who are unhoused to services aimed at people experiencing homelessness. “He needed a lot more personal touch because of his situation,” she says. “Everybody’s story is different and everybody needs a different touch. What made the difference is MOM being able to be flexible enough to help in the way that he needed.”

When you donate to MOM, you support our housing stability programs and the work of our case managers like Laurie, who make a huge difference in the lives of neighbors in our community.

A donor advised fund (DAF) is a powerful way to build or continue a tradition of family philanthropy by establishing a charitable investment account that supports the charities you care about. It allows you and your family to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction and then recommend grants to your charities of choice over time. The investment growth is tax free.

Long-time supporter and volunteer, Gerry Klump, stresses the benefit of DAFs to accomplish his personal charitable giving goals.

“I was brought up to help others in any way that you can,” Gerry says. “As members of one of the original churches that helped establish MOM (Middleton Outreach Ministry), my family and I have been involved since 1997, volunteering at their early community dinners and delivering meals as well as making regular donations to support a variety of programs.

“I was looking for ways to continue to contribute in a way that not only provided greater tax benefits but grows my investment to provide more dollars to grant to charity. A DAF accomplishes that by giving you the ability to receive larger tax deductions over time and still  control where and when you give. And it’s easy to set up.”

You can join Gerry in supporting WayForward through a Donor Advised Fund. Your generous donations will help provide case management, referrals, and housing stability assistance; support the food pantry and clothing center, among the largest in Dane County; and offer ride and chore assistance to area seniors.

Please consult your financial advisor to learn more about setting up a DAF to benefit WayForward or contact Peggy at 608-826-3402.

You Can Help

Build Stability in Our Community

Now, more than ever, your support helps ensure that people in our community have enough nutritious food to eat and can remain in stable housing.