MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary
What's New at MBHS
We are so happy to welcome Adekola Adedapo to our Sanctuary Family as MBHS’s part-time Performing Arts Coordinator. She joined us for the first time on Friday Nov. 18 at our Fantastic Friday at Hephatha.
Adekola will primarily bring performances for the stage of our new pavilion on N. 24th Pl in 2023 and also engage our guests in artistic endeavors.
"The Sanctuary community and neighborhood is graced to welcome Adekola and her many gifts. She will multiply our equation of Hope," said Sister MacCanon. “The people we serve are over 95% African American. She will honor their heritage by bringing music and storytelling from that history.”
On June 11 visitors enjoyed a tour and presentation about our future aquaponics system. They marveled at the prototype and had many questions for presenter Josh Wankowski, a 2021 MSOE graduate who majored in software engineering and designed the system with fellow student Nick Brnot. Josh has continued to work on the project after graduation. He said, “This system was built for the community with the community in mind…. We can include community members in jobs, opportunities, and trainings as well as producing food they can eat. We’re doing that in this building, and with everything else going on here, we’ll be able to grow tremendous amounts of food, which extends the mission.”
6.7.22 Visit from Loyola Academy
Students from Loyola Academy, a Jesuit high school north of Chicago, combined a day of service with an immersion experience at MBHS. Sr. Jean Ellman, Urban Immersion Coordinator from Milwaukee’s Casa Romero, arranged the visit. Merryn, who has participated in several immersions through Campus Ministry at Loyola, said, “It’s amazing to me that everyone is able to keep such a positive attitude and so much kindness towards each other. I could kind of feel it when I walked in, but it took a few minutes. Everyone works together and knows each other’s name because they’re open to knowing.”
6.17.22 Tutoring Team
MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary (MBHS) is delighted to share that Friday, June 17, a dynamic team of leaders convened to start planning a new tutoring program for (MBHS).
Our previous tutoring was on hiatus during the pandemic, and some of the tutors had to move on. It’s with deep gratitude that we introduce our 2022 team to you. Welcome Laura Harvancik, ED of Rising Stars; Joan Carey, ED of First Fruits; Mary Jo Nott, First Fruits volunteer; retired teacher Carol Underkoffer, Mary Walz-Chojnacki, trainer/teacher at UWM School of Education; and retired teacher Holly Morse, MBHS Board Secretary.
4.22.22 Building a Stronger Milwaukee
Sister MacCanon was a member of the keynote panel at Alverno College's bold Community Conference on Building a Stronger Milwaukee on April 22. It was a space for Truth and Vision.
Addressing the attendees, Sister MacCanon said, "The emerging organization I lead is gradually experiencing deepening support from the larger philanthropic community....It was truly an honor to join voices with Marjorie Rucker and Dr. Howard Fuller in this panel convened and facilitated by James Causey (whom I respect as a major catalyst for needed change in our City). To the conference attendees as they go forth to create a ripple effect from it all -- may the force be with you!"
5.16.22 Fresh Cuts!
Our guests face daily challenges to self-esteem because of housing and food insecurity, joblessness, and lack of access to health and hygiene care. Because appearance plays a role in how people feel about themselves, MBHS has welcomed Ken Brown, co-founder with his wife Harriet, of Haircuts Mobile, to join our Fantastic Fridays ministry at Hephatha Lutheran Church and freshen up our guests with a fresh cut.
MBHS Program Coordinator Connie Moorer connected to Haircuts Mobile by chance. “I think it’s important for them to be here,“ Connie said. “Ken and Harriet are a married couple, and they look just like the people they serve. They're entrepreneurs, so they give our guests hope that they can achieve something similar.."
5.16.22 Welcome Back Tzu Chi
We were delighted to welcome back the Milwaukee Chapter of the Buddhist Tzu Chi International organization to our Fantastic Friday on May 13. They provided a delicious vegetarian hot meal, the first sit-down meal we have served at Hephatha Lutheran Church since before the pandemic. They also brought face masks for us to distribute. To date they have donated 5,860 face masks.
Shu Jen, the Milwaukee Office Director for the local Tzu Chi chapter, sees many similarities between their work and the work of the MBHS, which values interfaith and intercultural inclusion. Sister MacCanon Brown said, “Their community brings hearts of compassion. They connect happily and gracefully with our ministry guests. Language and cultural differences do not matter when they are with us.”
5.16.22 Water Tanks for MBHS' Community Gardens
The finishing touches have been added to the MBHS Community Gardens, We now have water from our own tanks that collect rainwater, making MBHS more sustainable and reducing water bills.
Our gardens produce vital nutritious and culturally-appropriate vegetables that provide nutrients and combat lead poisoning. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “When there is nutritious food in the body, it may be more difficult for lead to be absorbed.” They specifically mention green leafy vegetables, including kale and turnip, mustard and collard greens, broccoli, peppers, and spinach.
5.16.22 MBHS Partners with Festival Foods
On April 3rd, a small coach bus filled with Festival Foods staff came from Green Bay and La Crosse to tour our facility and meet with us, thanks to our dedicated volunteer Dave Liccione. We are now in partnership with them, and in recent weeks fresh meat and other essential food pantry items from a Festival Foods food pantry have made more bountiful our Tuesday Doorway Ministry food distribution.
We continue to be grateful to the team who have been bringing fresh produce from Feeding America since early in 2015 under the leadership of Tom Bohmann. Their contribution has been and continues to be transformational to the people we serve.
5.8.22 Getting Ready for Summer: Toy Giveaway and More
We did out best bring on the fun for 300+ guests at our 2nd annual MAKE SUMMER FUN toy giveaway and community event. Kids received toys, sidewalk chalk, kites, hula hoops, bubbles, basketballs, bikes, and more. donated by Firstfruits, local church groups, and individual donors. Basket balls were donated by Burghardt Sporting Goods. Gruber Law Offices was one of the generous sponsors.
Guests also enjoyed basketball with members of the Pius High School boys’ basketball team, a demonstration by Milwaukee Firefighters, and a petting zoo. Lily Bell's 'IS" Fine Dining, sponsored by the Urban League, brought the food truck. Katie Doss educated guests about lead in the water. The event came to a close with a community Speak Out Against Gun Violence.
4.29 Fantastic Friday with St. Boniface
Our friends from St. Boniface Catholic Church in Germantown, led by Fr. Mike Petrie, provided take-out meals to our guests as part of MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary’s ministry in the 53206 zip code, where hunger is an epidemic.
“It is part of our vocation as Christians to be one with each other in this circle of life, no matter where we are, no matter where we live,” Fr Mike said. The meal was provided by St. Boniface’s Human Concerns committee. St. Boniface has worked with Sister MacCanon Brown since the 1990s.
4.2.22 Jahmes Finlayson Joins MBHS Staff
We are happy to announce that Jahmes Finlayson, noted performing artist, musician, teacher, Reiki practitioner, and community activist is the newest member of our dynamic staff as Cultural Coordinator #1.
By providing drum circles, Jahmes has brought healing and unity to the Sanctuary family,” Sister MacCanon said. "The people we serve are 97% African descent. It is very fitting that he creates a celebration of the giftedness of African legacy and culture. He is also a living bridge of connectedness for people of disparate lifestyles. He adds to the spirit of unity as our organization grows."
4.24.22 Our Garden Team is Back
The dedicated MBHS Garden Team began work on the 2022 gardens, which promises to be better than ever. For the third year our 20 raised beds will produce fresh, nutritious produce to residents of 53206, one of the country’s most extreme food deserts. We will also continue our partnership with Tricklebee Café’ on North Ave. and 44th St. Tricklebee is Wisconsin’s first pay-as-you-can restaurant.
An exciting addition this year is the water-collection system adjacent to our newly-built gazebo. The collected rainwater will be used in the gardens, deepening our commitment to go green.
4.12.22 DSHA Students Visit Sanctuary
A dozen Divine Savior Holy Angels (DSHA) students participated in our Doorway Ministry: greeting guests; distributing food, household items, and hygiene products; and sorting donations, as part of a day-long retreat that involves faith talk, prayer, and service. .
Maggie and Emerson, DSHA sophomores, staffed the outdoor distribution of dried goods. Maggie noted that she has learned a lot about her community and became more aware of her own privilege. “I’ve learned so much that I just didn’t know about,” she said. “I’ve never been exposed to this community. I definitely want to do more of this.”
4.12.22 Bucks Championship Trophy at MBHS
It was a slam-dunk today when members of the Milwaukee Bucks’ staff and the official mascot of the Bucks, Bango, displayed the 2021 NBA Championship Trophy during our Doorway Ministry.
“Today the Milwaukee Bucks brought a vitamin shot of happiness to our Sanctuary Community,” said Sister MacCanon Brown. “Our people are depressed and discouraged due to the long bitter winter, Covid, and all the violence. But today, everyone was happy and excited.” About 75 people gathered to greet Bango and have photos taken with him and the trophy.
Quinn Otero, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility at Milwaukee Bucks, said, “We have a close partnership with Sister MacCanon. We also want to make sure we bring the trophy to all different neighborhoods so people across the city can celebrate with us.”
4.21.22 Dale Wilburn Joins the MBHS Staff
We are pleased to welcome Dale Wilborn to our staff as a part-time Security Associate. Dale will have a key role in the staffing of the new Welcome Center.
Dale has been a dedicated volunteer for approximately one year. He lives very close to the sanctuary. His previous jobs have been in restaurants, custodial, and metal recycling. Dale loves being part of Sanctuary family. "The Sanctuary is one of the biggest impacts I’ve seen in the neighborhood in a long time. It’s been beneficial in so many ways. It is truly a blessing to have the Sanctuary here," he said.
"What I have witnessed in Dale is his sincere interest in helping others,” Sister MacCanon said.
4.5.22 Here Comes the Sun!
Students from MSOE have taken on a project to install multiple solar panels on the roof of our building at 2461 W. Center St. They will spend the remainder of this Spring semester planning and expect to begin installations in the Fall 2022 semester.
Abby Gventer, Senior, has volunteered with us many times, serving meals and collecting donations. “Right now we’re looking at how many solar panels we can place and what type of solar panels," she said. "We’re also looking at different layouts.”
MBHS volunteer, Dave Engsberg, an MSOE alum and an electrical engineer, heard about the project and volunteered to help in an advisory project. “I’ve never done a solar project like this,” he said, gesturing over the 60’ by 80’ rooftop.
4.3.22 The Street Angels Become MBHS Partners
Shelly Sarasin and Eva Welch, co-founders and Co-Executive Directors of Street Angels, toured our Welcome Center, and met with MBHS Executive Associate and Board V.P. Karen Dubis to discuss a partnership.
Like MBHS, Street Angels is a non-profit outreach program that works to get resources into the hands of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable population. Among other services, they take to the streets every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evening to distribute food, clothing, and other necessities from their Outreach Bus.
Sister MacCanon Brown, “This was a stepping stone in preparation for the opening of our Welcome Center.” Karen Dubis added, “We are very excited to be partnering with them.”
3.9.22 CPR Training for Staff and Volunteers
MBHS staff and volunteers participated in CPR training on March 9 and became certified by the American Red Cross. We engaged Ignation Volunteer Corps (IVC) of Milwaukee to arrange this event, coordinated by Marihelen Hoppa-Willbrandt. MBHS staff Carol Starr and Karen Dubis hosted.
Fifteen MBHS volunteers and staff participated in the all-day training and received additional training in first aid, choking and blood borne pathogens and enjoyed participating in a team building exercise. The training was in preparation for the opening of our Welcome Center.
3.22.22 Fantastic Fridays Reopening
With Spring comes rebirth and revival. A FANTASTIC revival took place Friday, March 18 as we reopened our Fantastic Friday tradition at Hephatha Lutheran Church.
For five years prior to the pandemic we held this popular weekly event, which included hot meals and other great activities to support and enrich our guests. Over the last several months we have offered a walk through distribution with masks and social distancing there.
2.23.22 Welcome to Katie Doss, Lead Program Coordinator
Katie Doss is a dedicated long-time volunteer who recently was hired into the Lead Program Coordinator position. Katie will provide awareness, education and prevention activities around lead hazards. This is work that comes directly from the heart; Katie’s granddaughter was hospitalized at age four for having high levels of lead in her blood and still suffers the effects.
Katie feels good being part of the mission of the Homeless Sanctuary, in part because she can relate to our guests. “As a single mother, I’ve seen what it’s like to struggle and to make ends meet the best ways you can,” she said.
2.7.22 Our Pavilion is Completed!
We are so excited to announce the latest wonderful addition to our Ministry! The pavilion / gathering space is now erected in the southeast corner of our Community Gardens at 2652/2658 N. 24th Place. While gatherings are at a minimum these days, MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary (MBHS) continues to move forward in bringing people together. “The pavilion will be a gem in our community-building in a neighborhood where people have been so disconnected,” said Sister MacCanon.
The pavilion was designed by Ryan Bourland from Nagel Architects and constructed by Groundwork Milwaukee, who were instrumental in creating our community gardens.
2.7.22 1,000 Additional Masks to Distribute
MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary (MBHS) began distributing the 1,000 masks that the Milwaukee Health Department delivered to us.
Many thanks to MBHS’s nursing team co-leaders, Mary Jo Mance and Sharon Garret, were responsible for procuring the masks.
1.20.22 Vietnamese Sisters to Intern
MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary (MBHS) welcomed Sister Trang Y. and Sister Nal Y., from the School Sisters of Notre Dame community in Vietnam to our Doorway Ministry on Thursday, 1/20/22. The Sisters are both students at MATC working on their associate degrees in Human Services and will complete a portion of their internships at MBHS.
1.17.22 MBHS Representative at MLK Celebration
MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary (MBHS) was proud to be represented by dedicated Frontline Volunteer Anthony Carter at the ceremony for renaming Milwaukee’s Old World Third St. to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. This is a continuation of the existing MLK drive, in honor the life and work of the much loved Dr. King. Anthony Carter said "This will inspire the community for years to come...we all should give a tip of the hat to Alderwoman Milele Coggs for making this happen."
1.11.22 MBHS Faces Frigid Temperatures
The official temperature in Milwaukee showed a high of 22˚ with winds recorded at 22 mph. But that didn't deter us from keep our Doorway Ministry open.
Nineteen heroic volunteers and staff served 35 guests in frigid temperatures, united in "where there is despair, bring hope." Guests received a week's worth of food, blankets and sleeping bags, and winter coats, hats, and gloves,
Shown are Julie S. and Ann L., ready to provide coats to our many guests who have inadequate outerwear.
1.7.22 New Washing Machine for Doorway Ministry
John and Missy Murray of Milwaukee have made the MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary more divine with the gift of a high-end, commercial Maytag washing machine that will be used in our hygiene ministry.
“The gift of this brand new washer heralds the new day for people to have showers and the dignity of good grooming in our Welcome Center,” Sister MacCanon said.