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

Shared Sanctuary Ministry Fund - Call for Contributions

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ESTHER is pleased to bring attention to a recent letter from two ESTHER member congregations: The Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and the Winnebago Worship Group, Religious Society of Friends (Quaker). These congregations have both gone on record in declaring that they will house those threatened with deportation should the need arise. Their letter says, in part:

The Winnebago Worship Group, Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) and the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship are the two congregations in the Fox Cities that have declared themselves to be Sanctuary Congregations. While no individuals are currently living in sanctuary, many in our community are relying on us to provide support in other ways …[including] showing up in the wake of immigration raids and providing financial support for legal services and a range of household needs. We are running out of money to do this critical work.

Madison Action Day 2019

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 9:00am - 3:00pm
Madison Masonic Temple, 301 Wisconsin Ave, Madison

Save the Date!

More than 1,000 people, from affiliates of the WISDOM network and many others, will gather in Madison on March 26, 2019, to learn about issues in the proposed state budget, meet with legislators and administration officials, and advocate for a state government and policies that reflect the humane values we hold. Join us!

Buses will be transporting people to the event. Save the date now, and stay tuned for details about transportation and schedule.

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

Follow Madison Action Day 2019 on Facebook.

2018 Banquet Sets New Record

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Leonard Pitts, Jr., speaking with banquet guest Sharyn GawlickMore than 350 people—a record!—gathered at Liberty Hall in Kimberly on Sunday evening, November 4, for ESTHER’s 15th annual banquet. The room was full, and overflowed with an amazing spirit. During the program, ESTHER recognized Lisa Hanneman for her Individual Leadership in prison reform work, focusing on medication reform at the Outagamie County Jail (story here). Mayor Tim Hanna and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Karen Nelson accepted the Community Leadership award for bringing the national Dignity & Respect Campaign to Appleton (story here).

Keynote speaker Leonard Pitts, Jr., in a powerful and personal talk covering racism, immigration, the #MeToo movement, and our hope for change, challenged us to act, but first to listen. The Appleton Post-Crescent covered the event in a story you can find here.

And there’s more….

Lisa Hanneman Recognized as a Post-Crescent Person of the Year

Lisa Hanneman, chair of ESTHER’s Prison Reform Task Force, has been named one of the Appleton Post-Crescent’s seven 2018 People of the Year in recognition of her work to improve conditions at the Outagamie County Jail. In an article dated December 25, the editors note that they are featuring seven people who made a difference in the Fox Cities during 2018. In Lisa’s case, they explain, “It was her dogged determination in pressing for changes and advocating for people who couldn't advocate for themselves that led to her selection by The Post-Crescent as one of the Fox Cities’ people of the year for 2018.”

Lisa is a shining example and an inspiration to those of us who know her through her involvement in ESTHER. We appreciate her quiet, focused determination. And we admire how she drew from her grief over the loss of her son to form a vision and a determination to bring positive, humane change in place of the carelessness that contributed to his death.

Lisa was also honored by ESTHER with its 2018 Individual Leadership Award. You can read more about that award here.

2018 ESTHER Leadership Award: Dignity & Respect Appleton

Appleton Diversity and Inclusion Director Karen Nelson and Mayor Tim HannaWith the launch of its Dignity & Respect Campaign on January 16, 2018, the City of Appleton became the 101st city in the country, and the first in Wisconsin, to participate in this nationwide program. ESTHER has chosen this campaign to receive its Community Leadership Award for 2018, recognizing both Mayor Tim Hanna and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Karen Nelson for their imagination, leadership and sustainedDignity & Respect Campaign Appleton Logo support to build a community that celebrates inclusion of all ages, cultures and backgrounds. The City of Appleton is the 101st municipality in the country, and the first in Wisconsin, to participate in this nationwide program, which brings new focus to the city’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion….

Introducing Melissa Ludin, EXPO Fox Valley Organizer

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Melissa LudinEXPO (Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing, a project of WISDOM), under the leadership of previously imprisoned women and men, works to end mass incarceration, eliminate all forms of structural discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, and restore formerly incarcerated people to full participation in the life of our communities.

Melissa Ludin is the new EXPO organizer in the Fox Cities. She works closely with ESTHER and its Prison Reform Task Force, as well as providing state-wide support. Here is how Melissa describes herself and her work:

I have been a leader and a board member of the organization since May 2016. As a formerly incarcerated woman, I lead with an unrelenting passion for criminal justice reform and reentry peer support…. My goal is to build trust and provide support, a mission I am still pursuing.