• Monarch House

WIMA's First Year

A table display from the annual meeting with flowers, gift bags, and a table cloth with the WIMA logo. In the background are trees and grass.
A table display from the annual meeting with flowers, gift bags, and a table cloth with the WIMA logo

September marked the one-year anniversary of the founding of Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance (WIMA). An annual meeting was held at Menomonie's Wakanda Park, where board members, staff, their families, and members of the community enjoyed a potluck with brats donated by Menomonie Market Food Co-op. The meeting included reports from the Board Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Peer Run Respite Director, and Executive Director. Here are some excerpts from some of those reports:

Board Chair Mel Smith-Tourville:

On September 3, 2018 a small group of committed volunteers met together with the goal of setting a solid foundation for this new organization. In that all-day meeting we selected a name, filled out the online forms to incorporate with the state of Wisconsin as a non-profit organization, drafted bylaws, and began the arduous process of completing the IRS 1023 form for our 501c3 status. In the week that followed we secured board members, created our first anticipated budget, gathered all the documents required by the IRS, finished the 1023 form and got it in the mail. In the two months that followed, we signed a lease on the peer run respite house, hired and trained the staff, decorated the home, created policies and procedures for the house, purchased furniture and essentials, and organized an open house. By December, Monarch House was up and running with a full staff and serving our community. To suggest this was a remarkable feat is an understatement. ...
WIMA is more than just a community organization. It invites each of us to become our best selves through living out values that make the world a better place. The core values of self-determination, authenticity, wholeness, unconditional high regard, mutuality, and transformation call upon us to fully see one another and be seen. Indeed, it is through connection that we heal.

Vice Chair Sam Ahrens:

The commitment and creativity of this group is amazing and inspiring. I deeply appreciate my fellow board members, the WIMA staff, and our Milkweed partners for all they have contributed this year. I am proud to be part of the WIMA community. ...
More than 100 people have received eCPR training through WIMA this year. To give a sense of the impact, here are a few participant responses:
I see application when dealing with my children. I always want to fix them or send them to a specialist. Let them find their own path.
This is definitely something I will practice at home with my kids and spouse to diffuse situations and be more present.
I feel like the experience of the last 2 days cannot be “unlearned,” so to speak. There is no way my personal & professional life will not be positively affected – on many levels. This is the first training of any kind where I’m actually happy to fill out an eval form. Amazing 2 days!
It takes a “village”/community to help each other through a crisis. We are not alone.

Treasurer Dan Soler:

As a treasurer, I must say this has been a great year. It always feels wonderful in a nonprofit to have enough income to do your vital work effectively and not run any deficits. I want to send out my heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported the organization this year including my dedicated fellow board of directors, our capable administration team, all the passionate people who work at the respite (Monarch House), our valued guests, and our fantastic community at large.
In addition, I really want to express my gratitude and thanks to Mark Wacek, our financial manager. He has been instrumental in keeping us on track with our accounting, budgeting and finances in general. His phenomenal work, guidance and attention to detail has been so critical in aiding me in my role. Thanks, Mark!

Peer Run Respite Program Director Victoria Welle:

Since opening in December 2018, Monarch House Peer Run Respite has welcomed 77 people for a stay, with 13 people returning for an additional stay. Monarch House fielded over 1,550 calls, with significant time spent providing peer support via the warmline.
Feedback from guests provided verbally and via departure surveys continues to be positive.
Comments included valuing “the opportunity to connect with peers without any expectations. Being able to make art freely and socialize, being able to go outside and spend time with peers.” Others replied that “They are compassionate and very helpful and understand what you've been through,” “Great emotional support,” and “the activities were awesome!!!"

Executive Director Kate Laird:

When I reflect upon the past year, I am filled with awe at the talent and resiliency of the people who are part of the Milkweed family. I feel blessed to have developed deep connections with many of the most incredible people I have ever met, right here in Menomonie. To the casual observer, it may seem incredible (and perhaps impossible!) that our group has accomplished all it has in the past year. To me, though, it seems impossible that this group of great people could band together and not accomplish near miracles. ...
This has been a year filled with a LOT of hard work, and a LOT of success. With all that we’ve accomplished this past year, I think many of us are ready for a quiet period of rest and reflection. Yet, we continue to look forward and envision how else we might serve our community.

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