Like many Milwaukeeans who can meet their needs, Bryan House didn’t know much about Community Advocates because he didn’t use our services. But once he was introduced to our leadership and learned about our programming, he wanted to get involved.
House, a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, had been volunteering with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County when he was approached in 2011 to serve on Community Advocates’ board. At the time, Community Advocates had just acquired and renovated an old warehouse at 728 N. James Lovell St. in downtown Milwaukee to serve as our central offices, a “one-stop shop” that could meet the diverse needs of our community members, whether they needed help with their utilities bill, unstable housing, disability issues, or behavioral health.
“I didn’t know a lot but I knew enough to know that it was something good for me to get involved in. I’d been involved in United Way for a long time but I wanted to dig a little deeper into a particular organization,” House said.
House said Community Advocates’ strength is in meeting the basic needs of those we serve. Instead of specializing in one or two issues or individuals who meet very specific criteria, the organization focuses on the fundamentals that we all need.
“There are a lot of organizations that do a lot of different things for people with specific problems, but Community Advocates works on very basic, fundamental, roof over my head, electricity, substance abuse issues—all the very basic things that the rest of us take for granted,” House said.
House said serving on the Community Advocates board has taught him more about these fundamental needs and strengths in our community.
“I’ve learned how serious the problems are in the community, but also how many people are willing to help,” he said. “Through good times and bad times, and there have been some rough spots for us, the staff has just been incredible. They love their jobs and love what they’re doing. The dedication of the staff and the management team—it’s really incredible.”