Our Vision: A thriving community where all are valued.
Our Mission: Waunakee Neighborhood Connection provides programs and resources that engage neighbors to support and empower one another.
Once upon a time, a woman saw a need. A single mom was asking for help to find a safe home for herself and her two boys. Children were walking to school without warm winter coats. Another mom was undergoing intense medical treatment, limiting her ability to care for her family and herself.
In 2003, when our founder, Genna Eaton, observed these needs, she organized an effort to meet those requests by reaching out to her community neighbors. The mission of helping neighbors was embraced by the community. Before long, volunteers came forward and step-by-step developed a process of helping neighbors – first, through the schools and then by partnering with Dane County Social Worker, Bob Blankenhagen. From there, it grew quickly. Programs were developed based on the needs observed. Next steps included obtaining a space, formalizing the organization, creating a Board of Directors, coordinating efforts with other area resources and developing and cultivating community partners including schools, churches, businesses, individual families and other service organizations.
Since Waunakee Neighborhood Connection received its 501(c)(3) non-profit status on February 14, 2007, the organization has served more than one thousand families. We provide numerous free need-based programs and services, and volunteer opportunities that result in thousands of volunteer hours and lives touched each year. We moved into our current building in 2014 following a successful capital campaign that provided the resources to purchase and renovate the space. It houses our free store along with work and meeting spaces for staff, volunteers, and clients.
Who We Serve
Oftentimes, people are surprised that an organization such as Waunakee Neighborhood Connection exists in our community because they look around and do not see much evidence of need. However, we know that nearly 4% of our neighbors are living below the poverty line and another 15%, which is more than 2000 individuals, live below what is known as the ALICE threshold. ALICE stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed, and the threshold is currently $19,848 for a single adult and $61,620 for a family of four. Thus, we have many neighbors who are working one or more jobs yet not making enough income to meet their expenses of daily living.
Some families are with us for a very short time during an unexpected crisis, while others are with us for many years. Regardless of the timeframe, we are here to provide programs and resources that empower them to create a life where they can feel stable and secure.
Lisa Humenik -
Lisa joined Neighborhood Connection as executive director in August, 2018. She jokes that while her husband got the career ladder, which took their family to a number of cities around the country, she got the career jungle gym. This interesting and varied path has allowed her to acclimate quickly to new communities and settings, create connections and partnerships, and gain a wealth of skills and knowledge that she applies to making organizations sustainable and impactful. Lisa has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management and leadership. She has served as the CEO of the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona; as executive director of a K-12 public school foundation, community gardening organization, and a school-based mentoring program; and as director of volunteer services for hospitals and hospice programs. In her free time, she volunteers for a variety of organizations including the United Way of Dane County and the Sigma Kappa Foundation.
Stacey Dudley -
Client and Volunteer Services Manager
Stacey Dudley joined Neighborhood Connection as our client and volunteer services manager in November, 2018, and has been working in the field of human services for 18 years. Stacey has a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. She has served as a case manager for at-risk youth and families, a family support worker and child development specialist for first-time parents and their children, and a case manager for a managed health care organization. In her free time, Stacey volunteers for organizations like the United Way, Special Olympics, Human Rights Campaign, NAMI, TC Foundation for Kids, and the Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. She is an avid Green Bay Packer fan and loves time with her family, especially her seven nieces and nephews. She enjoys hiking, biking, reading and writing poetry. Her personal and professional mantra is to leave a legacy of loving others and she is excited to do so in her role as client and volunteer services manager at Neighborhood Connection.
Vivi Velasquez -
Client Services Specialist
Vivi Velasquez has joined Waunakee Neighborhood Connection as our bilingual client services specialist. She is currently a senior at Edgewood College studying Criminal Justice with a Human Services concentration. She was born in Honduras and arrived in the U.S. when she was about a year old. She has two siblings, ages 17 and 13.
Her interest in helping people and making a difference started when she volunteered at Waunakee Neighborhood Connection where she initially translated and advocated for the needs of Spanish-speaking families and assisted with monthly shopping events at the age of 10.
Vivi gained experience working with refugee and asylum seekers when she interned for Jewish Social Services of Madison. She also has experience working with undocumented youth, college students and DACAmented individuals, creating safe spaces to foster community, mentorship, and advocating for change in policies, both locally and nationally.
She is very excited to be working for Waunakee Neighborhood Connection and be involved with a community that has the potential to empower, generate a sense of belonging, and create an everlasting change for generations to come.
In her free time, she loves to watch movies/shows, listen to music, and play soccer. She also loves trying new foods with her partner. Her two favorite things in the world are bubble tea and ramen!
2021 Board of Directors
Anna Lezotte | Chairman
Michelle Acker Nell | Vice Chairman
Amy Sampson | Secretary
Cathy Sheffield | Treasurer