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Success Stories

Community Advocates serves 65,000 vulnerable Milwaukee residents a year. Learn how these individuals achieved success.

Community Advocates sprang into action over the holidays. Staff revamped an underused conference room at the Autumn West Safe Haven so that it could operate as a warming room for up to four individuals at a time. “We wanted to get them to come inside and save their lives — quite literally,” said Andi Elliott, Community Advocates CEO.

Annette had been abused by her husband for over 20 years. One time, he hit her so hard in her head that she sustained severe hearing damage. This required her to wear hearing aids – which were later destroyed by her husband in another attack.

Wanting to end the abusive life she was living, Annette left her husband. Having no means to support herself, she became homeless.

In the summer of 2014, Carol* reported to an adult daycare staff member that she did not want to stay in her home because she was being abused by her husband of 25 years. He kept her confined in the house and she didn’t know how much income she had because he controlled all the money. Her story was reported to a nurse who referred her to the Milwaukee Women’s Center (MWC) shelter.

Donny had been addicted to cocaine for more than 19 years.

When he was 37 years old, he realized his addiction would be a never-ending problem for the rest of his life – even though he had always considered himself a functional user.

He was fed up with his current life, and he says his four children motivated him to make positive changes for his and their future.

In June of 2014, Erica* made an appointment at the Bottomless Closet. She was a resident of the Cathedral Center shelter and was in need of some clothing for interviews. She explained that she was 34 years old, no longer had custody of her children, and had no family able to help her. When she went to her only friend’s house for help, the man who answered the door said her friend had moved out but that she could stay on the couch if she needed. With no alternative, she accepted his offer. After some time, the man began to make sexual advances on her so she left. Thankfully she was able to move in to the shelter soon after.

Ericka was recently divorced, a single mom with five kids, including a brand new baby. She and her children were staying at a local emergency shelter, which referred her to Community Advocates for help finding new housing.

She lost everything in the divorce. Most importantly, she lost her house. She worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant, but her paycheck did not provide enough income to maintain the housing she and her kids needed.

Eugenia lives alone. She is elderly and owns her own home.

She had always tried to keep her home adequately heated, but even so, she was constantly cold. She did not have many friends she could ask for help or advice.

She didn’t think of applying for energy assistance because someone had told her once that she was ineligible.

A nurse from the Homeless Outreach Nursing Center (HONC) met Frank* by coincidence in the winter days of January 2013 as he was getting a dinner at a local meal site. At that time, Frank shared that his goals were to rent his own apartment and get a hat with a wide brim.

James cannot read or write, because he is cognitively disabled. His caretakers have guessed that this is because he drank kerosene as a kid.

He gets confused very easily, and when he is confused, he gets defensive and aggressive.

James was living in a dark, narrow, moldy basement apartment. He kept saying he wanted to move out of this “raggedy old house” (his way of referring to his sub-par rental unit).

In January of 2014, Nancy* was referred to the Bottomless Closet by the Cathedral Center shelter. She was 57 and had had a very successful job as an executive assistant for 20 years before she met a man who promised to support her and quit her job. Not long after, her boyfriend left her for a younger woman. Jobless, she spent all her savings and retirement money until she ended up out on the streets.