Book Discussion – So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Building Connections| So You Want to Talk About Race book discussion

Thursday, July 23 | 6:30-8:00 PM

Video conference via Zoom

Please join us for a virtual discussion of the book So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. As part of the Building Connections program series, we will use this work to discuss systemic racism and white privilege. We welcome all voices to engage with these topics as a community.

This title is available as an always-available audiobook, accessible with your library card through OverDrive or Libby. The Waunakee Public Library also has a small number of print copies available in its walk-in Lucky Day collection. For questions on how to access this title, call the library at (608) 849-4217.

Register to participate at:

Please Note:

  • This will be a safe space to ask questions and discuss current events in relation to this title, and no hate speech or personal attacks will be tolerated.
  • The facilitators of this discussion are white. Many Black leaders and other leaders of Color are asking that white people not rely on Black people and people of Color to educate them about systemic racism and white privilege. As we have questions about race and racism, we will research answers together to make sure we are learning from the wisdom of Black leaders and other leaders of Color. 

About the Building Connections Program Series

With a vision of “a thriving community where all are valued” and a mission to “engage neighbors to support and empower one another,” Waunakee Neighborhood Connection is committed to bringing people together to strengthen the community. We recognize that individuals become empowered through knowledge and connections, and the first step in valuing others is to understand others.

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. Through the series, we’ll explore topics such as racial and social justice; diversity, tolerance, and inclusion; poverty and the working poor; and the power of connectedness and community.

We are excited to partner with the Waunakee Public Library and Create Waunakee on this series, as they share a common commitment to building community connections and engaging minds through learning and creativity.

Our hope is that you will find something through your participation that will introduce you to neighbors you’ve not yet met, spur your thinking, increase empathy, and move us all toward creating a more just and equitable world.

Our message to the community: What we can do to combat racism

Last year during our community impact planning process, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection’s board of directors created our vision statement, “A thriving community where all are valued.” During this time when our community, nation, and world have been shaken by recent events, it seems particularly relevant. We recognize, though, that for our vision to be realized, we must first confront and do our part to eliminate racism.

The senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are only the latest additions to a much too long list. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color due to a variety of health and socioeconomic factors. We have seen a white woman accuse a black man of threatening her, when he was not, and then threatening to weaponize the police against him. And, recent local situations in Waunakee have exposed bias and racism that exist in our own community.

These events, on top of the stress of changes to our lives brought on by the pandemic, may have you feeling angered, sad, tired, confused, frustrated, or hopeless. We realize that the culmination of these events has created a perfect storm that must lead to lasting change. However, it can be difficult to know how to best respond and move forward in a positive way.

When we adopted our vision statement, we knew that achieving it could not be accomplished overnight. It would be a journey that would require ongoing listening, education, deep and difficult reflection, collaboration, advocacy, and action. It would stretch us beyond our flagship programs of the free store and holiday programs, and it would make a greater contribution to building the strength of our community.

Our mission of providing programs and resources that engage neighbors in supporting and empowering one another gives us guidance in determining a way forward toward the vision. Individuals become empowered through knowledge and connections, and the first step in valuing others is to understand others.

As we continue this work internally with our board and team, we also want to be part of the solution in the community. We had already planned to launch community education programs this year and have decided to broaden our scope of topics. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing resources and opportunities to help you increase your understanding of those who may have different lived experiences than yours. We’ll explore topics such as racial and social justice; diversity, tolerance, and inclusion; poverty and the working poor; and the power of connectedness and community. You’ll find these in our newsletters, Facebook page, and other materials. Our hope is that you will find something that will spur your thinking, increase empathy, and move us all toward creating a more just and equitable world.

If you have thoughts or ideas that you’d like to share with us on these topics, or are interested in collaborating in some way, please reach out to our executive director, Lisa Humenik, at or (608)849-5740.

We’re Open for Donations & Onsite Services!

After closing our building from March 25th through May 26th during the Wisconsin and Dane County Safer at Home orders, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection reopened for onsite services on Wednesday, May 27th. Though Neighborhood Connection fit the criteria of an “essential business” and could have remained fully open during #saferathome, we made the decision to modify our programs and services to protect the health and safety of our donors, clients, volunteers, and staff. However, our services including case management, supplies from our free store, resource referrals, and financial assistance continued uninterrupted to more than 170 area households.

In developing our reopening plan, we have used recommendations in the Reopening Guidelines published by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Cushman & Wakefield’s Workplace Readiness Essentials.

General guidelines in place throughout these phases include the following:

  • Staff, volunteers, clients, and donors over age 60 and those who are medically vulnerable should continue to stay home, thus will be encouraged to continue to stay home and not come in.
  • We have implemented the following procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

– 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.

Phase One (May 27th – TBA)

Store Donations

  • We will be open for donations Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM.
  • 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.
  • Upon being filled, we will place a sign in the acrylic holder on the bin indicating the day it was filled and move the bin to a storage room where it will sit for at least 72 hours before being moved to the sorting room for processing.
  • During open hours, the inside foyer door will be set to the “open” position to minimize contact with the door handle.


  • Our team will work 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.


  • 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.
  • Only three volunteers will be scheduled to work during shopping times: one for registration, one for the Corner Store, and one for checkout.


  • 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.
  • Shopping hours have been extended by one hour to better allow for social distancing. Daytime shopping will be from 10:00 AM-1:00 PM, evening from 4:00-7:00 PM.
  • 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.
  • Only five clients will be allowed in the store at one time and only one person should be in each shopping room at one time. Those waiting outside can remain in their cars or stand in a line on the front walk staying at least six feet apart.
  • To facilitate social distancing, clients will be asked to come to shopping days in June based on the first letter of their last name: A-E 10:00 AM/4:00 PM; F-J 10:30 AM/4:30 PM; K-N 11:00 AM/5:00 PM; O-R 11:30 AM/5:30 PM; S-V 12:00 PM/6:00 PM; W-Z 12:30 PM/6:30 PM. If these times don’t work for a client, s/he can request a different time from Stacey.
  • Any client who cannot make it during a designated shopping time may contact Neighborhood Connection to make an appointment for a day/time that works for their schedule.
  • 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 72 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 as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • 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.

* * *

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.

UPDATED 4/6/2020: Our COVID-19 Response

Dear Neighbors –

The health and safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff – and that of all our neighbors – is our top priority. Therefore, based on public health recommendations, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection will be changing our procedures until the state’s stay-at-home orders are lifted in order to do our part in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Here is a summary of the changes:

  • We will suspend the acceptance of clothing and household good donations for our free store, though we will continue to serve clients with items that we have currently available. Should a need arise for something that we don’t have on hand, we’ll put the word out for specific donations.
  • Staff and key volunteers will be working from home unless there is a situation that requires us to meet a client, volunteer, or donor at our building

If you need assistance

Whether or not you are a current client, if you have any question or need during this time, please reach out and let us know – even if you’d simply like someone to talk to. We know that the events of the past few weeks and the uncertainty of how this will continue to develop is stressful for everyone and we will continue to be here for the community.

How to contact us

  • To leave a message on the office phone, call (608)849-5740. Staff members are checking messages remotely at least hourly Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM-5:00 PM.

·      To reach us quickly with an urgent need or question, call (608)535-9357. This a temporary direct line that we have set up that one of us will answer. You may get voicemail on this line if we are taking another call at the time, so leave a message and we will get back to you.

·       Email us with less urgent needs at

Facilitating community volunteerism

We will continue to facilitate community volunteerism with neighbors helping neighbors. If you are willing to be called upon to help, please learn more about this effort and register at

Monetary donations

Over the coming weeks and months, we anticipate that our programs will adjust and shift to meet the community’s most urgent needs. This will likely result in unplanned expenses, both for our operations and to assist our clients directly. Donations to either of the following funds will make a tremendous positive difference in supporting your most vulnerable neighbors:

·       PULSE Fund – Supports the operation of our store, client programs, and case management

·      Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund – Provides direct financial assistance to clients experiencing a short-term hardship

Donations to these funds can be made at

Neighborhood Connection Celebrates Anniversary with New Logo and Website


On February 14, 2020, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection turned 13 and is celebrated by introducing an updated logo and launching a new website. It was Valentine’s Day of 2007 when the organization’s founder, Genna Eaton, received approval from the IRS for its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, which seems fitting since Neighborhood Connection was created with so much love from, and for, the community.

The new logo incorporates the heart connecting two people, symbolizing the neighbor-to-neighbor approach that Neighborhood Connection takes to supporting the most vulnerable families in our community. The full name of the organization is now part of the logo, as opposed to only “WNC,” so that it will be more recognized and understood by those who may not be familiar with the acronym.

Along with the new logo, the organization has adopted a new tagline – “The heart of the community.” Neighborhood Connection’s board of directors felt that this phrase captures the essence of the vital work being done by the organization to both support families in need and create meaningful connection among neighbors through volunteerism and service together.

Neighborhood Connection’s updated website features new navigation and more concise content that should make it easier for visitors to the site to find what they are looking for. It also marks a change to a .org extension for the URL, which more clearly designates that Waunakee Neighborhood Connection is a nonprofit organization. The new website can be found at

Staff and volunteers at Neighborhood Connection will be fully incorporating the new logo into the organization’s publications and materials over the next few weeks.

Christmas Meal Delivery

Waunakee Neighborhood Connection, in collaboration with Waunakee Intermediate School, Piggly Wiggly, and the Waunakee community, is proud to offer our annual Christmas grocery delivery FREE to individuals and families who are in need and would appreciate some extra help this Christmas. The meal includes a ham, ingredients for side dishes, and a pie to serve 4-6 people.

Register to receive a meal

We offer our annual Christmas dinner grocery delivery FREE to individuals, families, and seniors who live in the Waunakee School District or Town of Dane, are in financial need, and would appreciate some extra help this Christmas. To register to receive a meal, please call Waunakee Neighborhood Connection at (608)849-5740 or Register online here by Friday, December 13th.

Volunteer to deliver meals

Join us on the morning of Saturday, December 21st, from 10:30 am-noon as we deliver the meals to families. Volunteer shifts fill quickly, so please sign up soon! Register to deliver meals here!

Horrible Holiday Sweater Shuffle

Grab your family, friends, and favorite ugly holiday sweater and join us for the 6th annual Horrible Holiday Sweater Shuffle fun run/walk!

About This Event

The 6th annual Horrible Holiday Sweater Shuffle kicks off at The Lone Girl Brewing Company and takes you through the streets of Waunakee on a fun-filled Christmas excursion. Festivities include a pre-shuffle warm up, candy stations along the route, and a post-shuffle holiday party including awards for the best Horrible Holiday Sweaters. This family friendly event has something for ALL!

NEW for 2019! – We’ll have both the 5K fun/run walk AND a 1-mile family fun walk

Event Schedule

7:30-8:45 AM – Check in at The Lone Girl Brewing Company — have your photo taken on the Jingle Carpet; cash bar will be open

8:45 AM – Warm-up

9:00 AM – 5K Run & Walk Start

9:10 AM – 1 mile walk start

10:00 AM – Post-Shuffle Party at The Landing (upstairs at The Lone Girl)! We’ll present awards for individual, family, and team “most horrible” sweaters. The Lone Girl will have a Bloody Mary bar, hot cocoa, beer, wine, and cocktails, along with their NEW brunch menu available for purchase. 10% of the proceeds will be donated to Waunakee Neighborhood Connection.

Registration – Includes event t-shirt this year!

$35.00 Adults

$30.00 Youth (up to age 12)Register Now!

Packet and Apparel Pick-up

Pick up race numbers, sponsor coupons, and apparel on Friday, November 29th, from 4:30-7:30 PM at The Landing (upstairs at The Lone Girl). We’ll also have some horrible holiday sweaters available for purchase in case you don’t have one.

Race Route

The Horrible Holiday Sweater Shuffle takes place on city sidewalks and the paved paths in Waunakee. There is one moderate hill about 2 miles into the Shuffle with holiday candy stations along the way to keep you going! The event starts and finishes at The Lone Girl.

About Waunakee Neighborhood Connection

Waunakee Neighborhood Connection is a nonprofit social service agency that provides comprehensive programs, services, and case management to families in the Waunakee area who are experiencing financial hardships. It also provides numerous opportunities to Waunakee residents of all ages to get involved in volunteer service that makes a positive difference right here in our community! Visit our website to learn more.Event SponsorsClark Griswold Sponsors

Super Selfless Shuffler

Waiver and Release of Liability

A waiver will be required for each participant and will be available to sign at the Packet & Apparel Pick-up on November 29 or at event registration on November 30. You can also print the waiver and bring the signed copy(ies) with you to turn in.

Other questions? Visit our FAQ page for more information.


As we approach winter and the holidays, it can be especially difficult for families financially – heating bills are starting to kick in, kids have extra projects at school, an unexpected medical need arises, or the general cost of living rises. Your generosity will be a huge blessing to a family, relieving much of the burden by providing gifts they would not otherwise be able to afford. It will make a tremendous difference in the life of a grateful family right here in our community!

We invite individuals, families, organizations, and businesses to adopt a family this holiday season.

Here’s how the program works:

  1. Complete the online registration by Friday, Nov. 8th with your contact information and preferred family size. We recommend that you choose a family size (1,2,3, 4, 5+) based upon your desired financial commitment (the guideline* is to spend up to $100 per family member).
  2. Once we receive your confirmed family size, we will match you with a family and send their wish list to you. This will be completed by November 22nd so that you can take advantage of Thanksgiving week and Black Friday sales. Wishes generally include items such as the following: Coats, winter apparel, clothing, pajamas, undergarments, pillows, bedding, towels, boots, kitchen items, personal toiletries, DVDs, books, movie rentals, video game, gift card, toy, and 1-2 wishes for the family as a whole: board games, gas card, laundry soap, toiletries, cleaning supplies, kitchen item NOTE: We ask families to provide specific sizes, gender, and color to help you in selecting items 
  3. Purchase your gifts for the individual/family.
  4. Wrap all packages, labeling each package per the family list you received (i.e., 12-year old girl, mom, 4-year old boy, etc.).
  5. NEW this year – Deliver your gifts to the Adopt-a-Family distribution at the Waunakee Village Center, 333 S Madison Street, on Saturday, December 14th, between 9:00 am and noon at the Village Center. If you are not able to deliver the gifts during this time, please contact our office at (608)849-5740.

* We have the guideline to spend up to $100 per family member to keep the program as equitable among families as possible. Many of the children go to school together and adults know each other through work, church, and as neighbors,  so when one individual or family gets more than another, it can cause hurt feelings. If you, or your family/group, are wanting to be more generous, we recommend purchasing and donating gift cards to Waunakee Neighborhood Connection that can be given to families throughout the year as needs arise. Gift cards of $25 for stores such as Piggly Wiggly, Target, Wal-Mart, Fleet Farm, and gas stations are especially helpful. The cards can be dropped off along with your gifts on December 14th

Make Volunteering A Family Activity!

If giving back and raising compassionate children are priorities for your family, we have a new way for you to do so right here in your community. Starting this summer, Waunakee Neighborhood Connection will be offering monthly volunteer opportunities that are appropriate for parents and their children to do together.Each month’s activities will have a different theme that will correspond with events happening at Neighborhood Connection, National Days of Service, and holidays that have a service component.Sign up now to receive the monthly e-newsletter that will highlight not only the family volunteer activities happening at Neighborhood Connection, but also other opportunities happening in the community and things you can do at home to make a positive difference as a family.