"I had heard about Grand Avenue Club when I was working at Cardinal Capital Management as the Impact Investments Officer. Then in 2016 I met Rachel Forman when she came to Cardinal to speak with Erich Schwenker, the President and Founder, about some pro-bono work that Cardinal was doing for GAC's building.

Rachel and I became friends; we'd meet for coffee every other month or so and talk about our shared commitment to community work that made Milwaukee a better place. When I moved on to become the Director of Philanthropy at Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, we continued our friendship. To learn more, I came down to the Clubhouse for a tour in 2018 and fell in love with what I saw happening at GAC, largely because of my family history of mental illness.

The Clubhouse Model opened my eyes to its powerful impact on the lives of its members,, something I had never seen before. I attended Grand Event 2019 and on November 21, 2019 I came to the Gala Opening of Water St. Boutique.

All my life I wanted to be a Madison firefighter like my dad. This almost happened, but I came to realize that there were other ways to help people. In 2021, I decided to return to school to pursue an M.B.A. in Non-Profit Management at the Lubar School of Business at UWM. My goal is to prepare myself for leadership and responsibility at a non-profit organization critical to the quality of life in Milwaukee.

I was also interested in a part-time job that would complement my studies. Fortunately GAC was looking for someone who could be involved in several projects, including doing an inventory to prepare for the annual audit, readying fourth floor rooms for programming, and assisting with the acquisition and record-keeping associated with major in-kind donations. I have also gotten to know several GAC members and have worked side-by-side with them on these projects.

It's been a pleasure getting to know both staff and members and to directly experience GAC's communal and familial atmosphere. I will be attending GAC's March 9th board meeting, which will be very interesting and is likely to bring some context to what I am learning about boards of directors of non-profit organizations.

I really like working and being at GAC and look forward to continuing what I am doing here. I have come to realize that many families experience mental illness, as does mine. A Clubhouse like GAC is needed in every community:

I am proud to be part of the GAC. It is indeed a GRAND place!"
Ben, second from left, with several Retail & Business Management Unit colleagues with whom he works closely each day.

The Colleagues of Grand Avenue Club