UCC Celebrates 47 Years of Service to Community

MILWAUKEE  – The United Community Center’s (UCC) Anniversary Dinner is an annual event that allows the agency to thank our supporters, acknowledge our successes, and lay out the roadmap for the future. This year, UCC will celebrate 47 years of service on Friday, May 5, with a reception beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:00 p.m.and a program at 7:00 p.m. The gala will feature performances by the Latino Arts Strings Program, Proyecto Bembe, and Bruce-Guadalupe Community School Jazz Band, and the program will recognize all of the members of the “UCC family,” showcasing that we are all “linked” together.

UCC has focused on the community’s needs since it was founded as “The Spot” in 1970, as its growing and vast programming continued to expand each decade. With the acquisition and development of Bruce-Guadalupe Community School (BGCS) beginning in the early 1990’s, UCC took on the opportunity to bolster educational opportunities for residents of Milwaukee’s south side. From the growth of BGCS to include middle school grades in 2001, to the addition of UCC’s Teen Center in 2002, to the development of the Early Childhood Education Center in 2007, through the development of the Pre-College Program and Abriendo Puertas, which pairs college students with professional mentors to aide in the development of soft skills necessary for the workforce, UCC pushed the importance of education in creating the next wave of Milwaukee’s leaders.

Last fall, UCC opened a brand new middle school, UCC Acosta Middle School. This nonprofit charter school focuses on technology and skilled-trades and equips students with the skills to be competitive in dynamic future job markets. UCC enrolled 56 students in this year’s 6th grade class and anticipates a full incoming class next school year. Bruce-Guadalupe Community School continues to strive for excellence and was recently recognized by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for achieving remarkable academic success with students from low-income households, ranking in the top 25% of high-poverty independent charter schools and traditional district schools statewide. This is the sixth year that BGCS has achieved this recognition.

In addition to education, UCC provides healthcare to their students at the UCC Health Clinic, which offers students basic medical examinations free of charge. The clinic is fully operated by nursing student interns from Carroll University and run by a full-time nurse supervisor, Allyson Rennebohm. Because of her implementation of the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition (WAC) school walkthrough program over the last year, Allyson will be recognized and receive an award at the Wisconsin Association of School Nurses (WASN) Conference.

Finally, UCC’s Human Services department opened its second residential treatment facility, Latinas Unidas II. Modeled after its predecessor, Latinas Unidas, which opened on UCC’s campus in 2014, this new facility houses an additional fifteen women, providing them with treatment for substance abuse, group support and counseling. This past year, UCC served more than 700 clients, housing 200 individuals in residential facilities. With the new facility, they hope to expand their services, reach more clients and create a larger impact in the city of Milwaukee.

UCC celebrates all of the achievements that each member of the UCC family has contributed to the agency and recognizes the critical role that donors, supporters and volunteers play in keeping our “family” linked together, all working towards building a stronger community on Milwaukee’s south side.

47th Anniversary

Celebration & Awards

At each year’s Anniversary Celebration, the United Community Center proudly announces the recipients of the Friends of the Hispanic Community Awards, which recognize individuals that have made immeasurable contributions to the development and well-being of the community at large, and the Badger Mutual Wall of Fame, honoring outstanding achievements of the community’s youth by selecting five exceptional students in collaboration with Badger Mutual Insurance Company. Honorees will be celebrated at UCC’s 47th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, May 5 in the BGCS Ted Friedlander Gymnasium.

JoAnne Anton, Director of Charitable Giving, Herb Kohl Philanthropies

For more than two decades, JoAnne has been a small business owner in the heart of Milwaukee’s Hispanic community, employing hundreds of area residents. During this time, she also maintained a position as State Director for Senator Herb Kohl, traveling the state meeting with constituents on behalf of the Senator and advancing opportunities for Wisconsin residents. She has continued her work on behalf of community members in her current role as Director of Charitable Giving for Herb Kohl Philanthropies. The foundation has provided over 200 middle school students the opportunity to experience first-hand our nation’s capital with week-long trips to Washington, DC, where they learn about the role of government and national history. The foundation also provides scholarships to low-income students and recognizes the contributions of teachers to student success. JoAnne is instrumental in leading these efforts for the foundation.

Julie and Mark Darnieder, Community Volunteers

Julie and Mark are Milwaukee attorneys with a long history of community service and pro bono work on behalf of individuals and nonprofit organizations. As graduates of Marquette University Law School, they value education, particularly Catholic high schools, and are invested in the community by assisting clients with legal matters across a broad spectrum of needs. They have led fundraising efforts for scholarships to Dominican High School, a high achieving college preparatory school. As a result, graduates of UCC’s BGCS have moved on to Dominican and have advanced to higher education institutions such as Alverno College and Marquette University. Additionally, as Founder and Director of the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic, Julie was instrumental in bringing the weekly clinic to the United Community Center in 2014. The UCC Clinic is staffed with attorneys and law students who provide a range of legal advice on civil matters. Coordinating about 50 attorneys, law students and interpreters, the clinic sees 80-100 clients per month, with about 60% Spanish-speakers. Both Mark and Julie are regular volunteers with the clinic.

Bill O’Toole, President & CEO, Catholic Financial Life

Bill has dedicated his life to Catholic causes.  His early career focused on ensuring Catholic education was available to all families.  As the largest public school feeder to Catholic high schools in Milwaukee, the United Community Center provides scholarships to many of our BGCS graduates.  In recent years, Catholic Financial Life has been a lead supporter of the annual scholarships fund.  Additionally, with more than 80% of the Hispanic community identifying as active Catholic faith members, ensuring the financial futures of these members is consistent with the company’s mission and purpose.  Under Bill’s leadership, Catholic Financial Life has helped to grow and support both the company he leads and the community it serves.

Nick Turkal, MD, President & CEO, Aurora Health Care

After a decade leading Wisconsin’s largest health care provider, Dr. Turkal has demonstrated a strong commitment to the community, especially Hispanics. Dr. Turkal and the Aurora team ensure that patients and clients receive the best care possible, with attunement to language and culture. By establishing the Aurora Better Together Fund in 2015, Dr. Turkal led the $10 million investment in Milwaukee’s primary and behavioral health services, along with support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. UCC was a recipient of grant funds in 2015 and used the funds to expand the BGCS health center, serving more than 1,300 children and their families with preventative health care.  As UCC looked to expand residential treatment services for women breaking away from substance use, the Aurora Better Together Fund provided vital resources as we doubled our program capacity in 2017.

Badger Mutual

Wall of Fame

These young achievers will be acknowledged on stage at UCC’s 47th Anniversary Dinner, and their pictures, as well as brief overviews of the students’ accomplishments, will be framed and hung on the hallway walls of the UCC and BGCS. UCC is proud to recognize the following students:

Enrique Aldape is a dedicated musician, always striving to be a positive role model to his peers. Enrique has participated in the Latino Arts Strings Program since age five, currently serving as the Concertmaster in the Latino Arts Strings Orchestra, and a member of Mariachi Juvenil. Enrique is also a member of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin School of Music Honors Orchestra, and a three time gold medalist at the WSMA District and Stage Solo Festivals.  Outside of music, Enrique serves on Student Council, works as a peer math tutor, and plays youth basketball and soccer. Enrique hopes to attend an Ivy League university and become a criminal defense lawyer.

Gabriela Cardenas struggled early on in her childhood with hearing challenges, putting her behind in language and social development. This setback helped her to realize that she had the power to change her situation and has led her to become a cellist in the Latino Arts Strings Program, building her confidence and self-esteem. Throughout her 11 year career in the String Program Gabriela was the lead cellist, a member of Mariachi Juvenil, featured on the Grammy nominated album “Buenaventura,” and a participant in the WMSA State Orchestra. Gabriela works to give back to her community, both as an active volunteer and a tutor. She hopes to graduate from Marquette University with a degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Spanish for the Health Professions, becoming the second person in her family to graduate college.

Francisco Hernandez is a dedicated advocate for social justice, sharing the importance of social equity and multiculturalism with the community. Francisco created the Unity Council at Marquette University High School, in addition to utilizing his musical talents to demonstrate the beauty of multiculturalism through Latin American folk music. As a member of the Latino Arts Strings Program Francisco was a three-time gold medalist at the WSMA District and State Solo Festival, and a principal guitarist in the Latino Arts Mariachi Juvenil. Francisco will continue to challenge himself in college, hoping to pursue a career in computer engineering or political science, while always maintaining music as part of his life.

Viviana Sanchez

never shies away from a challenge, working hard to maintain a high GPA while balancing all of her extracurricular activities, including participation in the Dance Academy of Mexico for the past six years. Viviana is a member of Student Council, is looking forward to participating in Preparing and Advancing Students for Opportunities in Science Program at Carroll University (PASOS), and plays volleyball, basketball, and soccer. Viviana hopes to one day become a Labor and Delivery Nurse in order to help bring future leaders into the world.

Lazaro Vegara never does anything halfway, maintaining a strong commitment to achieving his goals. Lazaro is a starter on the Junior Varsity football team at Marquette University High School, an honors student, a member of the Spanish Honor Society, and an active member of Desatar Ministry. Lazaro also participates in the PASAS Program, and hopes to one day work at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in cardiology. Lazaro puts school first, working to maintain his high academic standards. He never compromises his values and morals, and works to help others whenever possible, serving as a positive role model for those around him

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