August-September 2021
Community Advocates Connections

Happy autumn! I hope all of you are enjoying the new season. We are focusing on helping our community members who need a helping hand while they cope with the pandemic and economic uncertainty. As you will read in this newsletter, we are once again partnering with Milwaukee County to deliver energy assistance benefits during the heating season, and we are administering rental assistance funds in Milwaukee County and Waukesha County to prevent eviction. We’re also grateful for the many staff members, volunteers, donors, and supporters who help to make this happen. Stay safe and be well.

In gratitude,
Andi Elliott
Chief Executive Officer
Community Advocates
CA Recognizes National Hispanic Heritage Month
In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we’re drawing attention to the work being done by our Milwaukee Women’s Center staff who serve in the Family Intervention Program (FIP). FIP is a nontraditional no-cost outpatient substance use disorder treatment program that serves Latinx and their families in English and Spanish, as well as African Americans. Unlike office- or facility-based programs, FIP counselors can see their clients in their own homes, which removes a significant barrier to seeking treatment.

"We do therapy with the individual or the whole family as needed," says Hilda Sandoval, a licensed Substance Abuse Counselor who typically has an active caseload of eight or nine FIP clients. "We see either only Spanish speaking or those Latinos who only speak English."

Best Wishes to MWC’s Earnestine Gray & Myrtle Dillon
This season we are celebrating and saying farewell to two dedicated, longtime staff members of the Milwaukee Women’s Center. Earnestine Gray, a Client Support Specialist at the Family Support Center, served for 30 years and Myrtle Dillon, the Program Coordinator for the Older Abused Women’s Program, began at MWC in 2002. These two women guided countless domestic violence survivors and families experiencing homelessness as they rebuilt their lives after crisis.

"We’ve been very fortunate to have Earnestine and Myrtle at the Milwaukee Women’s Center for such a big portion of their careers," said Community Advocates CEO Andi Elliott. "They are wonderful advocates for guests and clients, as well as role models to the newer staff. On behalf of everyone at Community Advocates we thank them for their commitment to serving adults and families in need. We will miss them and wish them the best in the new chapters of their lives."
Earnestine Gray
Myrtle Dillon
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
This October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Milwaukee Women’s Center would like to honor and celebrate the individuals and families we help to heal after violence or other abuse in their relationships. We have served thousands of survivors through our emergency shelter, 24/7 crisis line, wraparound services, substance use treatment, job-readiness resources, community outreach, and specialized programming for older survivors, children, and batterers. You can learn more about the Milwaukee Women’s Center’s services on our website; if you need help, please call 414-671-6140 anytime, 24/7. You are never alone.
The Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center was honored with a Northwestern Mutual Collaboration Award during the 2021 MANDI Awards for “serv[ing] as an example that organizations that appear to have disparate interests can find common ground.” Community Advocates is among the nine founding members of the RHRC, which brings together diverse rental housing stakeholders to address the needs of tenants and property owners through rent assistance, legal advice, mediation services, and much more. The MANDI award celebrations were virtual this year, so we held a watch party with our partners at our downtown offices, where Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin (UEDA) Executive Director Kristi Luzar and Community Advocates COO Maudwella Kirkendoll accepted the award. We’re grateful for this recognition and the grant award made to fuel the RHRC’s work. 
CA Continues Support for Tenants and Landlords
The federal eviction moratorium has ended and has tenants and landlords on edge. But Community Advocates continues to support tenants and landlords in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties who are struggling to pay their bills. To apply, go to, call 414-270-4646, or email
We also understand the frustrations and anxiety of landlords who may be considering evicting a tenant who owes back rent. Along with the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin and other rental housing stakeholders, we encourage landlords to consider alternatives to costly and time-consuming eviction, such as neutral mediation services, rental assistance, and tenant relocation assistance provided by the Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center. Property owners should contact the RHRC at, by emailing or by calling 414-895-RENT (7368).
Hunger Task Force Names New Site after Advocate Alicia Williams
Hunger Task Force opened a new FoodShare outreach site and it’s named after a familiar face at Community Advocates. Alicia’s Place, located at Midtown Center, 4144 N. 56th St., honors the work of Alicia Williams, who conducted FoodShare outreach for Hunger Task Force at Community Advocates’ locations, and now serves in Community Advocates’ Project Bridge supportive housing program.

"Alicia is always willing to help someone out," said Matt Raymond, Community Advocates’ Supportive Housing Program Director. "We're so happy she’s being recognized for the positive impact she’s had on individuals and families in Milwaukee."

Alicia’s Place is open to the public Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to receive one-on-one assistance with FoodShare and all other federal nutrition programs in English, Spanish, Hmong and Burmese. You can also call 414-988-6501 for assistance.
Energy Assistance Benefits Season Begins October 1
Community Advocates is proud to continue our partnership in the Milwaukee County Energy Assistance Program. The new benefits season begins October 1 and, as we did last year, we will be meeting with all clients on the phone to ensure everyone’s health and safety. You can get details about the program at and schedule your appointment now at that website or by calling 414-270-4MKE (4653).
New Supplies for Autumn West Safe Haven &
MWC Emergency Shelter
Two of our programs received much-needed kitchen gear from the federally funded The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which was requested by the Hunger Task Force. The Autumn West Safe Haven received a commercial freezer and utility carts, while the Milwaukee Women’s Center Emergency Shelter received two commercial freezers, a cooler, and additional supplies. We gratefully accepted these items on September 24.
Fogo de Chão Donated Delicious Meals
Guests and staff at the Milwaukee Women's Center Emergency Shelter and the Autumn West Safe Haven were treated to delicious meals provided by the Brazilian steakhouse restaurant Fogo de Chão, which was organized by Hunger Task Force. More than 150 meals were served and enjoyed. Thank you!
More Help for SSI/SSDI Applicants
Community Advocates is happy to announce that we have added a new SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) Social Security Benefits Specialist to help our Supportive Housing Program participants apply for SSI/SSDI. For more information on SOAR services at Community Advocates please contact Lisa Ferch at 414-433-7625 or
Needed Items for Our Emergency Shelter &
Autumn West Safe Haven Guests
The Milwaukee Women’s Center Emergency Shelter serves adults and families who need a safe place to stay and wraparound care after experiencing homelessness or domestic violence. Our guests would greatly appreciate:

  • New pillows
  • New twin sheets
  • New blankets

In addition, we are also looking for individuals or groups who would like to either purchase, provide, and serve dinner or simply serve dinner. Dinner is served at 6 p.m. seven days per week. We have a commercial kitchen so the meal can be completely prepared on site or brought in to warm up.

Our Autumn West Safe Haven, which provides apartments and supportive services for individuals who have a disabling condition and had experienced homelessness, is in need of these items:

  • Furniture for the day room, such as a full-size sofa, love seat, arm chair, or recliner
  • Warming Up for Autumn supplies, such as throw blankets, bedding, warm clothing or coats, coffee makers, and tea kettles
  • Cleaning supplies and housewarming items

Please contact Jeri Kavanaugh at if you are interested. Thank you!
Child Tax Credit Resources
On July 15, as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, parents began receiving advance payments of the expanded Child Tax Credit, a historic program that has the power to cut childhood poverty in half. The payments have increased and more families are eligible to help them cover the costs of raising kids in an uncertain economy. More than 1.1 million kids in Wisconsin will receive this benefit—with no strings attached.

Parents or caregivers who filed federal income taxes in 2019 or 2020 or received a stimulus check should receive their monthly advance payments mid-month for the rest of 2021. The balance of the payments will be made when they file their 2021 taxes.

However, parents or caregivers who are not required to file federal income taxes will have to fill out a form so they can participate in this program.

Community Advocates aims to connect with these “non filers” so they can receive their tax credit.

We’ve provided resources in English and Spanish on our website and we’re partnering with organizations in Milwaukee and nationally to get the word out.

Please share these resources widely and send questions to Julie Kerksick at
Community Advocates’ Services and Resources during COVID-19
While Community Advocates' sites are closed to the public due to COVID-19, we are still providing services and resources to our community members on the phone and via email.

You can get in touch with us in the following ways:

Community Advocates
2021 Board of Directors
President: Jodi Wire | We Energies
Vice President: Bryan House | Foley & Lardner, LLP
Treasurer: Sandra Samse | Johnson Keland Management
Secretary: Sharon Jordan | Direct Supply

Board Members
Sheree Dallas Branch | The Salvation Army
Anne DeLeo | Community Volunteer
Natasha Dotson | Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative
Valerie Gabriel | Community Volunteer
Erin Henry | Northwestern Mutual
Betsy Hoylman | Northwestern Mutual
Gary Ingram | Igary Events
Pamela Klein | Community Volunteer
Jim Liedtke | Community Volunteer
Ashley Pavlic | Medical College of Wisconsin
Noceeba Southern | United States Social Security Administration
Alexandra Urrutia-Comas | Advocate Aurora Health
Kate Venne | Brady Corporation
Lisa Kaiser | Community Advocates | 414-270-2999  | |