Are You Looking for a Way to Make a Positive Difference in Waunakee? Volunteer with Neighborhood Connection!

Here at Waunakee Neighborhood Connection, we continue to experience tremendous growth in the number of clients we are serving. This week, we reached a milestone of 250 registered households (800+ individuals). With growth comes opportunity and, in our case, that means new volunteer opportunities!

All of our programs and services are powered by volunteerism. With our “neighbors helping neighbors” approach to providing support to those in need and to addressing challenges in the community, we have a variety of ways to get involved that can match your interests, skills, goals, and schedule.

Visit our Volunteer page for more information about the opportunities we currently have available and how to get started — and feel free to contact us if you have an interest that you don’t see listed that you’d like to explore with us.

Be a Part of Building Connections in Waunakee

The “Building Connections” program series is designed to do just that by introducing neighbors in Waunakee to each other and to lived experiences that may be different than their own. The purpose of the series is to promote community engagement, build relationships, and foster conversations – all with a goal of continual learning and growth.

Programs are FREE and open to anyone age 16 and older who lives or works in the Waunakee area. They are scheduled to be held in-person at the Waunakee Public Library but will move to Zoom, if necessary. Please be sure to register to be notified of any changes. 

You are welcome to register for individual programs or for the entire series.

Program Schedule | 2021-2022

Book Discussions (see below for full descriptions)

Tell Me Who You Are:

Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity

by Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo

Part 1: Wed, Sept 29 | 6:30-8 PM

Part 2: Wed, Oct 13 | 6:30-8 PM

The Undocumented Americans

by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Thur, Jan 20 | 6:30-8 PM

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

by Cathy Park Hong

Thurs, May 5 | 6:30-8 PM

Workshops and Experiences (see below for full descriptions)

Skills for Bridging the Divide

Presented by Braver Angels

Thur, Nov 18 | 6-8:30 PM

Poverty Simulation

Facilitated by Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice

Sun, March 13 | 1-5 PM

Waunakee Is Home – LIVE!

Sat, July 16 | 10 AM-12 PM

Program Descriptions

Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity

by Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo

Chapters 1-5: Wednesday, September 29 | 6:30-8:00 PM

Chapters 6-10: Wednesday, October 13 | 6:30-8:00 PM

In this deeply inspiring book, Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi recount their experiences talking to people from all walks of life about race and identity on a cross-country tour of America. Spurred by the realization that they had nearly completed high school without hearing any substantive discussion about racism in school, the two young women deferred college admission for a year to collect first-person accounts of how racism plays out in this country every day–and often in unexpected ways.

Skills for Bridging the Divide

Thursday, November 18 | 6:00-8:30 PM

In our current polarized political environment, many people avoid or dread conversations with friends or family members whose politics differ from their own. Braver Angels Skills for Bridging the Divide workshop teaches skills for having respectful conversations that clarify differences, search for common ground, and affirm the importance of the relationship. They also give participants a safe environment to practice those skills. This workshop is presented in partnership with Braver Angels, a nation-wide organization that works to bring Americans together to bridge the partisan divide and strengthen our democratic republic.

The Undocumented Americans

by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Thursday, January 20 | 6:30-8:00 PM

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST – One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

Poverty Simulation

Facilitated by Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice

Sunday, March 13 | 1:00-5:00 PM

This four-hour immersive learning experience is designed to help participants glimpse the realities of life when it is difficult to make ends meet. Over the course of the simulation, participants will be presented with a series of challenges that mimic the complex, everyday obstacles that billions of men, women, and children grapple with as they deal with financial insecurity. It will help to build empathy for families living in poverty and prompt strategic thinking and conversations about possible effective responses for our community.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

by Cathy Park Hong

Thursday, May 5 | 6:30-8:00 PM

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche—and of a writer’s search to both uncover and speak the truth.

Waunakee Is Home – LIVE!

Saturday, July 16 | 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

This fun and engaging experience will be a mash-up of Create Waunakee’s “Waunakee is Home” Facebook series that introduced us to neighbors with a variety of backgrounds and experiences and The Human Library®, a library of people where you can borrow a human for conversation. It will give participants the opportunity to meet with neighbors who may have different lifestyles, diagnoses, beliefs, disabilities, social status, or ethnic origins for “open book” conversations to build understanding and connections. 

Introducing Our New Client Services Specialist

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! 

Vivi will be in the office on Wednesdays from 2:00-7:30 PM and Fridays from 8:30 AM-1:00 PM. She will be available via phone and email to work with clients throughout the week. She can be reached starting September 8th at vvelasquez@waunakeenc.org and (608)849-5740.

Octopi’s Newest Brew Celebrates Waunakee and Supports Neighborhood Connection

Valley Low IPA available now at Octopi Brewing in Waunakee

Octopi’s newest brew from The Giving Brewery, Valley Low IPA (5.1%), is available now in the Taproom at Octopi and online for $12/six pack. The delicious low ABV Wisconsin-style IPA celebrates Waunakee’s 150th birthday and supports Waunakee Neighborhood Connection with 100% of the profits being donated to the organization.

The beautifully designed can depicts the path of Six-Mile Creek through the Village and the name is derived from the definition of Waunakee as “fair and pleasant valley.”

Six-packs can be ordered online at https://orderoctopi.square.site/.

Our thanks go out to Octopi, the Village of Waunakee, and Create Waunakee for designating Waunakee Neighborhood Connection as the recipient of this collaborative anniversary offering!

The Giving Brewery is the charitable branch of Octopi’s business – each quarter they partner with a different, local organization to craft a beer in support of their efforts 🍺 100% of the profits go back to the partner organization

It’s Time to Fill the Bus with School Supplies!

Waunakee Neighborhood Connection kicked off the annual Fill the Bus school supply drive on July 26th. The drive will last through Friday, August 13th and will provide needed school supplies for students in the Waunakee School District whose families may have difficulty affording them.

New school supplies* can be dropped off in the Lamers school bus parked in the Waunakee Neighborhood Connection parking lot at 208 S Century Avenue.

The weekend of July 31-August 1, the bus will be at Crossroads United Methodist Church at 5901 Hogan Road in Waunakee. Hours for the weekend collection are 10 AM-3 PM Saturday and 8:30-10:30 AM Sunday.

Most needed items include composition notebooks, 24-count colored pencils, 5″x8″ pencil boxes, 7″x10″ zippered 3-hole pencil bags, backpacks for older students with a compartment for a Chromebook, and calculators (TI-30xa, TI-30xs, or TI-84). For ideas on additional items that are needed, see the district’s school supply lists on their website.

Families needing school supplies should contact their child’s school to make arrangements to receive them.

* We are collecting new school supplies only for this drive with the exception of calculators which may be gently used and in good working condition.

Waunakee Social Services Directory

In cooperation with several organizations in the community, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection has published a Waunakee Social Services Directory. It includes listings and contacts for the nine social services organizations that are based in the community along with information about emergency services and faith communities.

“We hope that this community Social Services Directory will be helpful in learning about the many wonderful services that are available in the community,” said Lisa Humenik, executive director at Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. “Whether residents are in need of assistance or looking for a place to get involved as a volunteer, the directory will provide them with a good overview of their options.”

The directory is available for downloading in both English and Spanish on the Programs and Services page of Neighborhood Connection’s website, www.waunakeeneighborhoodconnection.org. To request a printed copy of the directory, area residents can call (608)849-5740 or send a message to wncteam@waunakeenc.org.  

June 2021 | Updated Mask & Distancing Guidelines

With the lifting of all county-wide health orders on June 2nd, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection is implementing the following health and safety guidelines:

All staff, volunteers, clients, and visitors will be required to wear masks through Friday, June 18th, which is two weeks following the date that many of our constituents will receive their second dose of the vaccine at our vaccine clinic.

Starting Monday, June 21st:

  • Masks will be optional in our building for anyone who is fully vaccinated. However, masks are recommended for those who will be here for an extended period of time and have contact with others while here.  
  • Those who are not yet fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing a mask in our building.
  • Social distancing guidelines will change to allow for multiple volunteers to be in the sorting room and storage room and for multiple clients to shop in the store at any one time.

We will continue to monitor public health guidelines and make adjustments to our policy, as necessary.

Garage Sale Days – Donate your unsold items!

Your unsold garage sale items can help a local family! We’ll be open accepting donations on Friday, May 7th from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM and on Saturday, May 8th from 9:00 AM-2:00 PM. We accept gently used clothing and household goods that are then made available in our Community Store, free of charge, to area individuals and families who are experiencing financial insecurity. We’re located at 208 S Century Avenue in Waunakee.

If you have furniture that you would like to donate, please email a photo of the item(s) to wncteam@waunakeenc.org. We’ll then work to match it with a client who has a need for the item(s) and coordinate with you to get it from your home to the client’s. Since we don’t have storage space at our facility for large items such as furniture, please do not plan to drop it off at our building.

Items can also be donated during our regular hours in the weeks following Garage Sale Days:

Mondays and Fridays | 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Wednesdays | 9:00 AM-7:00 PM

4th Saturday of the month | 9:00 AM-2:00 PM

COVID Vaccine Clinic at Neighborhood Connection!

We are excited to share that we will be hosting a COVID vaccine clinic here at Waunakee Neighborhood Connection on Wednesday, May 12th for the first dose and Thursday, June 3rd for the second dose. Appointment times are available between 4:00 and 7:00 PM. We’ll add earlier times if the late afternoon and evening appointments fill up.

To make an appointment, call us at (608)849-5740. Spanish-speaking clients can call Nikki, Spanish language interpreter, at (608)235-7525 to make an appointment.

The vaccine will be from Pfizer and will be administered by a pharmacist from Vaccine Mobile.

Everyone age 16 and older is eligible to receive the vaccine. You will only need to show a photo ID from your country of citizenship such as a driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID to receive it. If you have a health insurance or Medicare card please bring that, also, though you need not have insurance to get the vaccine. Once you make an appointment, we will send you the consent form to complete. 

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Nos complace compartir que organizaremos una clínica de vacuna COVID aquí en Waunakee Neighborhood Connection el miércoles 12 de mayo para la primera dosis y el miércoles 2 de junio para la segunda dosis. Los horarios de las citas están disponibles entre las 4:00 y las 7:00 p.m. Agregaremos horarios más tempranos si las citas de la tarde y la noche se llenan.

Para programar una cita, llámenos al (608) 849-5740. Los clientes de habla hispana pueden llamar a Nikki, intérprete de español, al (608)235-7525 para hacer una cita.

La vacuna será de Pfizer y será administrada por un farmacéutico de Vaccine Mobile.

Todas las personas mayores de 16 años son elegibles para recibir la vacuna. Solo necesitará mostrar una identificación con foto de su país de ciudadanía; como una licencia de conducir, pasaporte o identificación emitida por el estado, para recibirla. Si tiene un seguro médico o una tarjeta de Medicare, tráigala también, aunque no es necesario que tenga seguro para recibir la vacuna. Una vez que programe una cita, le enviaremos el formulario de consentimiento para que lo complete.

We’re open for donations, volunteering, and shopping!

We are open Mondays and Fridays from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM, Wednesdays from 9:00 AM-7:00 PM, and the 4th Saturday of the month from 9:00 AM-2:00 PM. We accept donations, welcome clients in for shopping, and have volunteer opportunities available during these hours. General COVID-related safety guidelines that we have in place include the following:
  • Social distancing practices will be used throughout the office and store.
  • Staff members, volunteers, clients, and donors who have been exposed in the past 14 days or are sick should not come to the building.
  • Frequent handwashing and/or use of hand sanitizer is required.
  • We will provide masks and gloves for those who need them.
  • Cleaning supplies and disposable utensils and cups for the kitchenette will be provided.
  • Everyone will be required to wear a face mask when in the building. The only exception is for staff when they are working in their private office and no one else is near them.
  • Frequently touched surfaces including door handles, desks/counters, phones, light switches, faucets, kitchenette, coffee bar, and restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
  • Instructions on the proper use of face masks, gloves, and cleaning supplies will be provided.
  • Staff members, volunteers, and clients who enter and leave the building will sign in and out in case this information is needed for contact tracing.
Store Donations
  • Donors should place their items in the purple bins in the lobby. Ideally, only one donor should be in the area at a time. Others will be asked to wait outside for their turn.
  • Items stay in the bins for at least 48 hours before being moved to the sorting room for processing.
  • During open hours and as weather permits, the inside foyer door will be set to the “open” position to minimize contact with the door handle.
Staff
  • Our team is working in the office on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; they may continue to work at home on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Any meetings with groups larger than 10 people, or fewer if there is no space that will allow for social distancing, will be held online.
Volunteers
  • All volunteers must register for shifts online.
  • We are limiting the number of volunteers allowed in the building at any one time to five – one in each of the following areas: Welcome Desk, Sorting Room, store, back office, and storage room (downstairs). Note: If family members live together, they can volunteer together in the same area.
Clients
  • Clients who are older than 60, medically vulnerable, ill, or who have been exposed in the last 14 days can continue to request items for pick-up or delivery rather than coming in to shop.
  • Any client who is not feeling well should remain at home and can request items be delivered to them.
  • Clients can shop, by appointment, anytime during our open hours. Appointments for shopping can be made online or by calling us at (608)849-5740.
  • Client families are asked to send only one family member for shopping, if possible. We realize there may be times when more than one family member needs to look for clothing or other items that only they can select, but we will encourage the families to keep the number low.
  • Clients will be required to use hand sanitizer upon registration, before starting shopping.
  • If a client touches an item for an extended period or tries on a piece of clothing or an accessory, it should be placed in a designated bin and will not be placed back out on the floor for 48 hours.
If Someone Who Has Been in the Building Becomes Sick If a staff member, volunteer, client, or donor who has been in the building is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, the following procedures will be followed:
  • The impacted individual will have to remain at home until they meet the requirements to discontinue home isolation per CDC recommendations and/or the guidance of their health care provider.
  • We will close off any areas that were used by for a prolonged period of time by the individual. After 24 hours, the area will be cleaned and disinfected. Surfaces will be cleaned with soap and water prior to disinfecting. The individual(s) cleaning the area will wear gloves and a face mask.
  • We will notify others who may have come in contact with the person of their possible exposure, but maintain confidentiality of the person who is ill.
  • Those who may have had contact with the person who do not have symptoms should remain at home and practice social distancing for 14 days.
  • We will provide all necessary information to the county public health department for contact tracing, as required.
  • We will evaluate staffing and open hours should an illness or exposure leave us too short-handed to remain open.

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All of these procedures will be monitored, evaluated, and updated as guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and state/county public health departments are modified.