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Success Stories

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

“I’m not a conventional artist,” Willis explained. “People like my work because it’s different from what has been shown all the time, I guess. I have to be different. I have no other choice.”

Isabelle was at her wits’ end. She and her husband had just called it quits. On top of that, he left her with an outstanding We Energies bill in his name. She agreed to take over the balance, but had no success putting the bill in her name. “I was in a hole and only saw the dark,” she said.

Jim Liedtke, who is enrolled in our Project Bridge program and also serves on our board of directors, says Community Advocates' work is truly life-altering. “Community Advocates itself, its mission, is changing the fabric of society,” Liedtke said. “It’s changing the way people think. It’s amazing.”

Imagine dealing with a spinal injury and the many grueling surgeries you must have to be able to walk again and live without pain. Now imagine recuperating from those surgeries while you are experiencing homelessness and living in a shelter. That’s the unimaginable situation Michael found himself in a few years ago.

Finding a good apartment wasn’t a big dream, but it seemed to be out of reach -- until Kaia sought help from Community Advocates’ Housing Department in December 2017.

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.

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.