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2-Day Leadership Training: August 17-18 in Green Bay

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Click here to download the Leaders for Justice training flyer

Read more and register on-line now: Click here




























Stephanie, ESTHER Organizer, named to Oshkosh Northwestern's 4 under 40 emerging leaders


Stephanie Gyldenvand, ESTHER organizer, receives recognition for her strong leadership and justice work through ESTHER and other community involvement!


Voices of Hope Forces Us to Take a Stand

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Sometimes a work of art presents a moral question so starkly that we cannot avoid confronting it, and ESTHER’s “Voices of Hope: Life Stories of Latinos” is such a work. It throws the moral and legal issues associated with immigration into high relief, and it forces us to take a stand. This reader’s theater presentation, directed by Kris Clouthier, is based on interviews from Peter Geniesse’s book Illegal: NAFTA Refugees Forced to Flee.

“Voices of Hope” tells the stories of several Latino immigrants. Among them are two young women who are high school seniors in Appleton, Wisconsin. Both of the women are good students. Both are leaders in their graduating classes. Both hope to attend the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, but one will be able pay in-state tuition and receive scholarship help, while the other must pay out-of-state tuition and is ineligible for scholarships. One is able to get a driver’s license that enables her to drive to Oshkosh. The other is not. They are different because one of them was born here of an undocumented mother who was pregnant when she arrived, while the other was brought here as an infant. Thus, one is a legal citizen, while the other is an illegal alien because her parents came here after she was born. Is this just?

“Voices of Hope” skewers us on the point of this question. From one point of view, we can say that this is a country of laws and the law must take precedence. The student who is here illegally cannot claim the rights of a legal resident of Wisconsin. If this causes her pain, that is unfortunate, but her parents should have thought of that before they brought her here.

On the other hand, we also believe that the law should be just. The girl who is here illegally has the same human rights as anyone else, and we should not punish her for a crime she did not commit merely because her status – which she did not choose – is illegal. We can go further. We can say that the girl’s parents came here to work in response to our economy’s clear demand for workers. Through the parents’ work, the economy grew, and we all benefited. How can we accept such benefits from a system that causes this girl’s suffering? Do we not have a responsibility to change the system to alleviate the suffering?

“Voices of Hope” brings these questions alive for us and forces us to take a stand.

The final performance of "Voices of Hope" will take place on Tuesday April 24, 2012 at 7 PM at the Appleton Public Library.

ESTHER Treatment Instead of Prison, 11x15 Task Force

ESTHER will kick off its Treatment Instead of Prison Task Force that will work on offering alternatives to incarceration in our community.  This task force will also be part of the 11x15 campaign, for more informaiton about this new initiative, visit


What: ESTHER TIP Task Force

When: Monday, May 7th

Time: 6:30-8:00 PM

Where: St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Neenah (140 South Green Bay Rd)

All intereseted in taking action to bring more justice to the state corrections system through this monthly task force are encouraged to attend and participate. 


This task force will meet the first Monday of each month from 6:30-8:00 PM at St. Mark's Luthearn Church in Neenah.

We did it!

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We won a public hearing for a Fox Cities RTA bill!

A public hearing has been scheduled with the Senate Transportation Committee for a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) for the greater Fox Cities region (SB456)!

We need your help! ESTHER will be arranging a carpool to Madison for the hearing that will be held on Thursday, March 8th at the state capitol.  A time has not been given for the hearing. We will keep you posted on the time of the hearing and the and location for our carpool.

Time is running out. This session is scheduled to end in March. There IS NOT going to be another floor period scheduled for the rest of the year. This is our last chance to get something through at the state level this year. Without the flexibility afforded by a RTA, public transportation in the Fox Cities is likely to cease to exist by 2013.

What: Fox Cities RTA Public Hearing

When: Thursday, March 8th at 10:00 AM

Where: State Capitol in Room 411 South

Carpool Leaves: 7:45 AM from First Congregational UCC in Appleton (724 East South River Street)

Carpool Returns: Before 4:00 PM (estimated time) most likely earlier.

Let us know if you will be part of the carpool, call Stephanie at 920-216-0891. Additional information will be provided for those attending the hearing on Thursday as we depart Appleton for the State Capitol in Madison. 


Can't make it to Madison?  Your voice is still important.  Please these three members of the Senate Transportation Committee to share with them how critical the RTA is to our community. Call now! A few important points are listed below.

Senator Lazich (chair of committee): (800) 334-1442

Senator Leibham: (vice chair of committee): (888) 295-8750

Senator Lasee: (608) 266-3512

A few simple points about what a Fox Cities Regional Transit Authority (RTA) would do:

  1. Create a vibrant, modern transit system is a fundamental part of a successful and sustainable economy in the greater Fox Cities.
  2. Allow for a permanent regional transit authority in the greater Fox Cities is critical to providing regional coordination, creating a united voice across the region, and advancing efficient regional linkages for jobs and economic growth.
  3. Provide a dedicated funding source for transit to provide adequate, stable funding for transit and prevent significant cuts in service.
  4. The dedicated sales tax voted on locally by the community of up to but not greater than 0.5% for transit will provide property tax relief by removing local transit costs from the property tax.


Public transit is important to too many in our community. Let's work together to keep our buses moving.

Join hundreds of faith leaders across the state in the WISDOM 11x15 Kickoff

ESTHER and JOSHUA along with all WISDOM Affiliates Call to Reduce Wisconsin’s Prison Population by 11,000

A press conference will be held on Tuesday, February 21st at 10:00 AM in front of the Brown County Court House in Green Bay to kick off the statewide 11x15 Campaign, calling to reduce the incarceration rate to 11,000 by the end of 2015.

What: Press Conference with Faith Leaders to kick-off 11x15 Campaign
When: Tuesday, February 21st at 10:00 AM
Where: In front of Brown County Courthouse (100 South Jefferson St. Green Bay)


Our state’s incarceration rate has grown dramatically in recent decades (over 22,000 inmates).  The return to an 11,000-inmate system would only take us back to 1995 levels.  

We pay a huge human price for our overuse of incarceration.  Families and communities have been destroyed. The cost of Corrections in Wisconsin has risen from under $200 million per year in 1990 to more than $1.3 billion in 2011.   

The majority of inmates in our prisons have no history of violence.  Many suffer from mental illness and/or addictions.  Most are people of color and an inordinate number come from backgrounds of poverty.

The good news is that alternatives to incarceration that are being proven effective every day in our state.  Counties have established numerous programs:  drug treatment courts, mental health courts, day report centers, universal screening, and more.  

“We can’t punish people into being healthy. We need for families to stay intact and for offenders to be responsible to their communities. We are all better off when people can be healed and made whole through these effective programs; bringing accountability to the offender and the to community. Alternative treatment programs work better than incarceration,” says Gwen Gibson, ESTHER President.

Wisconsin has the experience and the expertise necessary to cut our prison population to 11,000 by 2015.  We need only the will and the courage to act.

Visit for more information on the 11x15 statewide WISDOM campaign.




image of the globeStories of personal faith journeys can communicate across the doctrinal differences that separate our faiths from one another.  We can all understand the transformation of Malcolm X’s faith during the Haj to Mecca, and we are moved when after a life full of narrow escapes, King David sings, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” 

Because personal stories can communicate so powerfully, ESTHER and the Clergy Caucus are sponsoring an interfaith event in which Jewish, Muslim and Christian speakers will tell of their personal, religious journeys.  The event is a part of the observance of United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week, and we hope that everyone will join us.  Those who come will have the opportunity to share their personal journeys.

Place:  Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church, 140 South Green Bay Road, Neenah

Date: Thursday, February 9, 2012

Time: 7:00 PM

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