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Building community, sharing hope, and standing for justice since 2004

Upcoming Events

Please join us for any of these upcoming ESTHER events!

  • To learn more about a particular event, click on its title
  • To see the complete ESTHER calendar, click on More at the bottom left of the listing
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 11:00am Clergy Caucus First United Methodist, 108 West Doty Avenue, Neenah
Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 4:30pm ESTHER Leadership Board First Congregational UCC, 724 South River Drive, Appleton Downstairs River Room
Monday, December 16, 2019 - 3:00pm ESTHER Communications Committee First Congregational UCC, 724 South River Drive, Appleton Upper Lounge
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 9:00am ESTHER Finance Committee First Congregational UCC, 724 South River Drive, Appleton Pathways Room
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 6:30pm ESTHER Transit Task Force CANCELLED- will resume in January first United Methodist Church, 325 East Franklin Street, Appleton - Conference Room

Facing Challenges Together

Facing Challenges Together

Prison Reform Sidewalk OutreachESTHER has just received word of a $5,000 challenge grant that can double the amount of new contributions we receive in the remainder of 2019. In these times, when there are so many negative challenges, it’s wonderful to have this positive challenge—an opportunity to help make ESTHER stronger for the work of the future.

Now beginning its 16th year, ESTHER has an impact far out of proportion to its modest finances. Within our $90,000 annual budget, we support a full-time organizer and part-time office assistant, train members to work for systemic change on issues that matter to them, host public events on topics of common concern, and collaborate with other Wisconsin organizations focused on positive change.

We want to build our financial strength as an organization so that we can train more leaders, partner with more non-profits, build stronger relationships with elected officials and policy makers, communicate better with the people of the Fox Valley and beyond, bring about more positive change.

Will you help us, by responding to our year-end challenge grant opportunity?

Yes, I'll Help!

See our progress here.

Make Holiday Giving Easy for Your Loved Ones

package with red bowWould you like to make holiday giving really easy for your loved ones?

When they ask you what you’d like, instead of saying…, “Oh, I'd love a Christmas tie!”…how about saying, “Would you donate to ESTHER? It’s an organization I love, and the contribiution will help us continue working to make our community a more just place for all!”

It’s a win-win: Your family members don’t have to fight the traffic to shop; you have the satisfaction of sparking a contribution to an organization that you love; and ESTHER receives funds that will allow us to forge the beloved community.

We would love to be the recipient of holiday gifts in your honor from your friends, family, co-workers.  Would you consider suggesting that they contribute in your honor to ESTHER at holiday time?

Become a Monthly Sustainer: Our Work Takes Time …

Bringing justice and equi­ty to our society will not happen overnight, or even in a year or two.

We have to main­tain our effort over the long haul, and that requires a de­pen­dable fi­nan­cial base. Monthly Sustain­ers pro­vide fund­ing we can count on for the long run … through automatic month­ly con­tri­bu­tions (of $10 or more) from their check­ing or savings account.

We invite you to become a Monthly Sustainer of ESTHER. Just download this form, fill it out, and mail it to ESTHER, PO Box 784, Neenah, WI 54957.

Thank you!

A Conversation about Green Bay Correctional Institution

Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 6:00pm
Saint Matthew Church, 120 Saint Matthew St, Green Bay

A Conversation About Green Bay CorrectionalIt is clear that, after 121 years, GBCI is nearing the end of its useful life. That means Wisconsin’s Governor and State Legislature have a big decision to make. Will we spend $1 billion on another prison, or will we invest $1 billion over the next 20 years on the programs that can uplift our people, reduce crime, and rebuild our communities.

Please come to the park and ride at Ballard Rd and I-41 at 5 pm on Nov. 21 to car pool to Green Bay to take part in this important conversation that affects prison reform for the whole state of Wisconsin. Message Lisa (920-989-2555) if you will be going.

The event will include presentations and testimony by David Liners, WISDOM state director; Sarah Ferber, EXPO (Ex-incarcerated Persons Organizing) Associate Director; and Carl Fields, EXPO Community Organizer. Legislative updates will also be shared.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Justice for Missing or Murdered Tribal Women and Girls

Posted in

Tribal members protesting missing and murdered indigenous womenAssembly Bill 548 and Senate Bill 493*, which would create a task force on missing and murdered tribal women and girls, were introduced into the Wisconsin legislature on October 14 and referred to Assembly and Senate committees for further consideration. This is an important first step!

Menikanaehkem logo Why These Bills are Important:

Homicide is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous Women. More than half of Native American women report having been raped or assaulted. The media have largely been silent or, worse, blamed the victims. It is time to shine a light on this atrocity, and come together to work to end it.

Next step: Legislative hearings!

Join the women of Menīkānaehkem in contacting these committee chairs and asking them to hold hearings on these bills:

  • Rep. Rob Swearingen, Chair, Assembly Committee on State Affairs
    (608) 366-7141 or (888) 534-0034 Fax: (608) 266-3634 [⇐ click to send email]
    Room 123 West
    State Capitol
    PO Box 8953
    Madison, WI  53708
  • Sen. Duey Strobel, Chair, Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection
    (608) 266-7513 Fax: (608) 282-3560 [⇐ click to send email]
    Room 18 South
    State Capitol
    PO Box 7882
    Madison, WI  53707 

Read more about the bill and the legislators behind it in this Journal-Sentinel article.

Read more about Menīkānaehkem here.

Help spread the word: Download and share the attached flyer.


* These bills were drafted by Renee Gralewicz, professor of anthropology and Native American Studies at UW-Fox Valley and a peacemaker of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Fond du Lac; and Lisa Hurst, Native Peoples Outreach Advocate at Reach Counseling in Oshkosh, and a member of the Oneida Nation.

2019 Individual Award Recipient: Fr. Joseph Mattern

Fr. Joe Mattern with Ghandi, King, Mother TheresaAt the 2019 ESTHER banquet on November 3, ESTHER Presented its Individual Award to Fr. Joseph Mattern, Director of Casa Esther and ESTHER president. As his term as president ends on December 31, he culminates – but, we hope, does not conclude! – a period of outstanding and deeply appreciated service to ESTHER.

Father Joe is what could be called a “spiritual entrepreneur,” and he has brought the qualities of hope, experimentation, and hard work to his involvement with ESTHER and the wider WISDOM/ Gamaliel network. Balancing his responsibilities to ESTHER with those to Casa Esther, the Catholic Worker House in Omro that he founded and serves as director, along with his musical commitments (flute and saxophone, mostly jazz), he exhibits high energy and a deep spirit of service.

2019 Community Award Recipient: Megan Kelley Foundation

Bev Kelley Miller Speaking at an EventAt its 2019 Banquet on November 3, ESTHER presented its Community Award to the Megan Kelley Foundation. The Foundation was created in 2016 by Bev Kelley-Miller to honor the memory of her daughter, who died of a heroin overdose the year before. Out of the pain of this loss, compassion, determination and hope have been raised up.

ESTHER is proud to shine a light on the example of Bev Kelley-Miller and the work of the Megan Kelley Foundation in combatting addiction, offering hope to families affected by it, challenging the stigma of drug addiction, and working on behalf of those addicted and their loved ones to challenge systems that criminalize drug users and withhold treatment.

“No Vacancy” – Less Incarceration: Smart Criminal Justice Reform

Monday, October 21, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
St. Bernard Catholic Church, 1617 Pine St, Appleton

IssueCover of Rep. Evan Goyke's No Vacancy Plan

Do we build more prisons and/or send people to out-of-state institutions at a high cost to taxpayers, or do we institute reform?

State Rep. Evan Goyke, District 18, Milwaukee, will make the case for criminal justice reform. This can be done in a smart way that will benefit our corrections system, save tax-payer dollars, reduce crime and increase public safety.

Presentation & Panel Discussion on:

Invest in Neighborhoods
Prevent Homelessness
Pay for Crime Reduction Without Raising Taxes
Reduce Prison Admissions
Increase Prison Releases
Increase Success on Supervision

Megan Novak, Legislative Dir., Americans for Prosperity
Bernie Vetrone, Dir., Outagamie Cty. Criminal Justice Treatment Services
Melissa Ludin, Expert Lived Experience & Regional Organizer ACLU Smart Justice
State Rep. Evan Goyke, Milwaukee District 18

Read about Rep. Goyke’s Plan here.

Fox Valley Thrives Issues Transportation Focus Group Report

Linking Health and Transportation: Voices of
Oshkosh Walkers, Cyclists and Transit Users

Images from Focus Group ReportThe Fox Valley Thrives Transportation Team conducted a series of focus groups in the spring of 2019 to understand user perceptions of the Oshkosh area’s transportation system. These focus groups allow for better understanding of the connections between transportation and health, identify what facilities enhance or impede a person’s ability to use walking, biking, and transit in the Fox Valley, and determine what changes might need to be made in the built environment to improve access to transportation.

Link to report: Linking Health and Transportation: Voices of Oshkosh Walkers, Cyclists and Transit Users

Fox Valley Thrives, a local chapter of THRIVE WI, is an alliance between East Central WI Regional Planning Commission, ESTHER, and Outagamie and Winnebago County Public Health Departments. Its mission is to advance health equity through aligned efforts, co-learning, and strategic action. The Fox Valley Thrives Transportation Team works to improve health equity and make healthier communities by focusing on the connections between transportation and health.