Sunday, November 9, 2008

milwaukee props: FUEL's adopt-a-nonprofit

While national issues have been of great importance and excitement lately, the title of this blog is after all, The Accidental WISCONSINITE and I realize I need to give you more insight into my opinion of what's going on in this great state.

Though there's always plenty of grumbling about making a change at the local level and regional cooperation, one program that launched this week out of the political sphere will hopefully make a difference.

On Thursday night I was torn between attending the Milwaukee Film event and the launch of FUEL Milwaukee's Adopt-a-Nonprofit. As a Creative Council member I was obligated to attend the latter, and the torrential downpour that evening confirmed that I would not be schelpping around town to anything else beyond quick walking distance of my home.

The sacrifices one must make in rockin' the car free lifestyle.

At any rate, I was glad I got to attend the event in its entirety. The purpose of the program is to connect FUEL's 6,000+ member base of young (and young-minded) professionals with volunteer opportunities (at all levels--from manual labor to strategic planing) with eight adopted non-profit organizations.

What is FUEL? If you're not a Milwaukeean, you may be asking:
FUEL Milwaukee is an economic development initiative of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). The MMAC is working to strengthen the region’s economy with strategies to attract and retain quality jobs and top talent. FUEL is the leading organization addressing talent attraction, retention and engagement for the MMAC and Milwaukee 7.
FUEL was formerly known as Young Professionals of Milwaukee (or YPM) and served as a shining example for other YP groups that have started around the country. Yours truly has been involved in the organization since November 2003 when I was just a wee recent grad.

ANYHOO, in my many years with the organization I'm truly excited to see such a cool program as the Adopt-A-Nonprofit come to fruition. This spun out of the Service Circuit program which trained then-YPM's most active members for community engagement. I went through that program a few years back. However, it did not include the entire membership and the Creative Council (leadership council) didn't have input over the opportunities offered by the non-profits. This program has a strong social media aspect (everything will be managed through FUEL Online) and each non-profit chosen fits with the Creative Council's eight different teams:
I am a member of the Healthy & Green team and am very excited to get to work on helping the Park People. Milwaukee County Parks have been in the same boat as transit for the past several years and were on the same approved funding measure on Tuesday night. With or without funding though, there's much to be done in the parks system from cutting out invasive species to organizing communities to take back their neighborhood parks. As an avid bicyclist I have gotten to experience the beauty of many of our area's parks and am personally engaged in this organization's mission.

Additionally, I'm enthusiastic about getting to know all of these organizations. I had the pleasure of working on a project for PEARLS a couple of years ago with Ad2 and am really thrilled for the Talent & Attraction team, as they're in for a real treat.

One of the benefits of staying at the entire event on Thursday night was hearing Jane Kaczmarek speak. I admittedly had my doubts as sometimes those celebrity keynotes can be a bit over-hyped, but luckily Ms. Kaczmarek truly has not forgotten her Wisconsin roots and was engaged with the audience and really passionate about giving back to the community. She not only plugged her own organization, The Clothes Off Our Back (which she actually did much of the legwork for initially, instead of just hiring people), but also touched about several other non-profits of note. Raised Catholic, she mentioned the concept of tithing in regards to setting aside 10% of your income to go to charitable causes. I wish I could do that instead of having more than that go to evil credit card companies. At any rate, she gave shout outs to Heifer International (one of my faves), Smile Train, Second Harvest/Feeding America, and The Art of Elysium.

So while I was really bummed I couldn't make the film event, I am glad I got to be there for the entire launch of this new project. I hope that you locals will take some time to look at the non-profits mentioned and consider getting involved.

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