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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

ESTHER to receive prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Award

Martin Luther Kind, Jr.The 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Award will be presented to ESTHER during Wisconsin’s 32nd Annual Tribute and Ceremony honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the State Capital on Monday, January 16th.

ESTHER is being honored with the Heritage Award in recognition for its past and continued work for social justice, collaborative efforts with faith communities to create positive change, and community service.

The Wisconsin annual Martin Luther King Heritage Award recognizes and affirms those who have made significant contributions in the areas of race relations, justice, and human rights and exhibit an edifying passion and onus to lifelong community service.

We are humbled and deeply honored to receive this award, which reflects the legacy and character of Dr. King. Through his understanding, compassion, and courage, Martin Luther King, Jr., demonstrated how we each can take action to bring about a more just world, where all persons are treated with dignity because of their intrinsic worth. We hope that all are inspired by the legacy of this great man.

In the past year ESTHER has successfully developed and trained leaders to work for a more just state budget, engaged immigrant youth and strengthen relationships between immigrant and non-immigrant students, worked to keep families who are facing foreclosure in their homes, and brought together community leaders and elected officials to tackle critical public transit issues facing the Appleton and Green Bay regions.

The annual tribute will be held on Monday, January 16th, at Noon in the State Capitol Rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin. Musical performances, guest speakers, elected officials and dignitaries, and the greater public will come together to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and honor individuals continuing the work of civil rights and social justice. The tribute and ceremony will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Pubic Television.

ESTHER and JOSHUA Work With Congressmen to Preserve Our Public Transportation Systems

ESTHER and JOSHUA are working with Congressmen Tom Petri and Reid Ribble to preserve public transportation in the Fox Valley.  Because of population growth in the Valley, we are in danger of losing the federal subsidies that support the bus systems in Green Bay and the Fox Cities. JOSHUA and ESTHER have collected 1000 petitions, which were delivered to the staff of the area’s congressmen today to support the congressmen as they work with fellow members of Congress to pass legislation to change the formula by which federal transportation funds are allocated in order to maintain funding for operation of the Green Bay Metro and Valley Transit systems.

At a public meeting held by our organizations the congressmen made a commitment to make transit a top priority in their offices. We support their efforts to help to maintain federal support for public transit in the Fox Valley and Green Bay. Without federal support, our transit systems will each stand to lose about $1.5 million annually, and that loss will result in cuts of more than half of the fixed routes and to other transit services. Leaders in JOSHUA and ESTHER are working with Reps. Petri and Ribble to solve this problem before services are cut to more than 25 municipalities in Northeastern Wisconsin.

Preserve Your Right to Vote! Learn About the New Voter ID Law!

Don’t Lose Your Right To Vote!

The League of Women Voters and UW-Fox Valley are sponsoring an informational forum on the New Voter ID Law on November 30 at 6:30.

The new law will require each voter to present a photo ID when he or she goes to the polls, and in order to avoid losing your right to vote, you should understand what types of ID will be accepted. A valid Wisconsin driver’s license will of course be accepted, but what should you do if you don’t have one?

The forum will answer questions like these:

  • What if I don’t have a Wisconsin driver’s license?
  • What if my license has expired?
  • How do I get a valid Voter ID if I don't have a Wisconsin driver's license?
  • What if my Is a student ID an acceptable form of identification?
  • How can I get a copy of my birth certificate?

So, if you have questions about how you can preserve your vote under the new Voter ID Law, please attend this Informational Forum where Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board will present information and answer your questions.

    Place: UW-Fox Valley Union, 1478 Midway Road, Menasha 54952

    Date: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Time: 6:30 to 8:00 PM

We look forward to seeing you there!

Exciting Banquet Stimulates Commitment for the Coming Year

View of ESTHER 2012 Annual BanquetESTHER’s annual banquet was a smashing success. Attendance was the best ever, and we could all feel the excitement and dedication in the room.  The awards that were given helped to broaden everyone’s view of the wonderful things that are being done in our community by people who care about social justice.

The ESTHER Community Leadership award went to Thedacare’s Community Health Action Team (CHAT). The team’s members conduct an annual “plunge” in which they learn about health care problems in our community. This year CHAT’s plunge helped the team to learn about the health problems facing individuals because of our nation’s broken immigration system, and over the past year, the team has continued to work on issues that were identified during the plunge.  ESTHER Individual Leadership Awards went to Kathy Groat for her outstanding work with ESTHER’s Housing Task Force and Carrie Korb for her work that has inspired LUNA’s young leaders in the group’s mural project.  Way to go Kathy and Carrie!

The dedication of these award winners have helped us all to renew our commitment to work for social justice in our community.  The inspiring keynote speech by John Nichols reminded us of the many things that still remain to be done.  The banquet was an inspiring kick-off for a new year.  Let us all pray that the excitement it generated will support us all as we work for social justice in the Fox Valley.

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