FOX VALLEY (NBC 26) — In this part of our Celebrating Volunteers Series with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, we're not just highlighting one individual making a difference. This story is about two groups working together, one more behind the scenes, to make sure people in our area have a roof over their heads and a pathway to getting back on their feet.
"Every night we have 45-55 people out at our adult shelter on College Avenue; and every night we have 60-75 people at our adult family shelter on Division Street; and every night there are another 200 people living in our housing programs who are that next step of homelessness," said Joe Mauthe with Pillars.
Those numbers may sound shocking for people living in the City of Appleton, but because of a local nonprofit, these community members do have a place to go and shoulders to lean on at Pillars. But like most nonprofits, they need a little help too.
"This is work we can't do alone," Mauthe added.
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One of their big helping hands, working more behind the scenes, is Capital Credit Union. The two have been working together for about five years, not only offering financial and some building help, but marketing efforts to get their message out.
"We've always found through our philosophy with financial things, we look for those that really need help," said Lydia Lynch with Capital Credit Union Not just people with ace credit score ratings. So we, way back when, took the philosophy of how does that equate to our community giving. From that aspect we're looking for people who needs the greatest amount of help and often have the most stereotypes."
Their relationship proving to be a strong one that's made a huge impact in the Fox Valley, earning them the 2020 Business Partnership of the Year Award.
"We were excited and surprised," Lydia said. "Pleasantly surprised."
"Anytime you can have an award you share with somebody because of the work you've done together, we're just grateful," Joe chimed in.
By winning, a joint award of $5,000 was given from SECURA, in which they invested right back into Pillars, helping them keep their doors open during the pandemic.
"So people over this last year who may have been experiencing housing instability or homelessness for the first time because of economic, health or the pandemic's impact, we've been able to continue to serve."
A partnership founded to help community members get back on their feet to "live the life they were intended too."
"We totally believe in their mission, their energy," Lydia said. "It's often overlooked. People don't think there's an issue in Appleton with homelessness or in other areas in the state of Wisconsin. Maybe because of winters, who knows those perceptions. That's one of those reasons we were looking, it's often an overlooked topic."
Lydia's advice for other businesses looking to partner with nonprofits is to try and think outside the box. She said to try and partner with a group that one of your employees is passionate about.
If you can think of a business and nonprofit, doing the same thing to make a change, nominate them for this year's Celebrating Volunteers awards.