Skip to main content

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
Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm
ESTHER Environmental Justice Task Force Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - 4:30pm - 6:00pm
ESTHER Executive Committee Meeting
Monday, February 1, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
ESTHER Prison Reform Task Force Meeting Zoom Meeting
Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Oshkosh ESTHER Zoom Meeting
Monday, February 8, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
ESTHER Mental Health Task Force Zoom Meeting

The Fragility of Democracy

This post was written by ESTHER organizer Bill Van Lopik and ESTHER president Gary Crevier.

On Wednesday afternoon, 1/6/21, we watched with shock and sadness the unfolding events from our nation’s Capital, events that reflected the fragile nature of our democracy. We saw before us how unchecked lawlessness resulted in death and destruction. The members of ESTHER decry these events. While our elected officials were attempting to carry out the will of the people expressed in the Presidential election, they found themselves needing to flee and hide, fearing for their lives. They were afraid not only of the lawless mob banging on the doors outside of their chambers, but also of the noise within, the clamor of false claims that the votes cast in the election by the people were fraudulent.

Hours later, returning to work as the Capitol was being cleared, our representatives certified the results of the 2020 election. The coup was thwarted. American democracy prevailed in the face of perhaps its most serious threat since the Civil War.

In the aftermath, we are left with many questions, as well as a strengthened sense of the importance of ESTHER’s work.

Praying Through the Presidential Transition

Date: 
Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 9:30am - 10:30am
Date: 
Monday, January 18, 2021 - 9:30am - 10:30am
Date: 
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 9:30am - 10:30am
Date: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 9:30am - 10:30am
Location: 
Facebook Live or Zoom

Praying Through the Presidential Transition: An Interfaith Response to ViolenceA Wisconsin Interfaith Response to Violence

Beginning January 17th, 9:30am via Facebook Live or Zoom, we will hold 4 days of interfaith prayers, reflections, songs, and sacred readings calling for a peaceful and purposeful transition of power.

Sponsored by Wisconsin Council of Churches, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, MICAH, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, and ESTHER

Join in at Wisconsin Council of Churches Facebook, for the live-streamed programs each day, or to view the recorded sessions later.

Sunday January 17, 9:30 am “Finding Strength When We are Fatigued”

Monday January 18, 9:30 am “What Needs Protection”

Tuesday January 19, 9:30 am “Healing, Accountability, and Responsibility”

Wednesday January 20, 9:30 am “Holding Space for Community”

Members of ESTHER’s Religious Leaders Caucus will help lead these daily gatherings.

Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration

Date: 
Monday, January 18, 2021 - 6:00pm
Location: 
Virtual Event

“Living an Abolitionist Life: Resistance, Creativity, Hip Hop Civics Ed, Intersectionality, & Black Joy”

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Bettina Love

Dr. Love will discuss how intersectionality and Abolitionist teaching creates a space where Black livesDr. Bettina Love matter and sensibilities are nurtured to engage communities in the work of fighting for visibility, inclusion, and justice. Her talk will end by calling all of us to engage in critical dialogues about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in our communities. She will challenge us to envision a world built on Black joy, creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.

Featured Musical Performance: “Agitate: A Story Through Song,” performed by Griot B

Sponsored by African Heritage, Inc., Lawrence University Diversity and Intercultural Center, and Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee

Everyone welcome. No charge.

Advance registration required for this
online event.

Register here.

⇐ Or register with your phone
by scanning this QR code.

Memorial for COVID Victims in Wisconsin Prisons

Date: 
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 5:30pm
Location: 
State Prisons Around Wisconsin

For incarcerated lives lost to COVID Candlelight VigilPresident-elect Biden has asked the nation to mark a national COVID victims memorial on the eve of the Inauguration. See here for more about the memorial. WISDOM and EXPO leaders will lead Memorial Services in front of seven of the 14 Wisconsin prisons in which men and women have died of the virus. Prisons at which vigils will be held are listed below.

Details for all locations are the same:

Tuesday, January 19
5:30 pm
Masks are required and social distancing will be honored
.

Please bring your own candle.

Please try to arrive by 5:15.

The memorial services will be brief and prayerful.

A Seat at the Table of Power

This post was submitted by Penny Robinson

ESTHER encourages an African American to apply for appointment to the Grand Chute Police and Fire Commission

Background of racist social-media posts by police officer

Last summer ESTHER Organizer Bill Van Lopik was informed that Grand Chute Police Officer Laluzerne had posted racist comments on social media. Most of the posts were from high school, but a more recent one referred to Boogaloo, a white supremacist movement.

After connecting with a Black Lives Matter group, Bill and others from ESTHER joined a protest, at which Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson agreed to meet with ESTHER President Gary Crevier. News surfaced that the department was conducting a thorough investigation of Laluzerne. Some wondered if an outside, unbiased individual or group should conduct such investigations. The officer was thoroughly questioned and “put on notice,” but was not disciplined or fired.1

ESTHER’s 2021 Yearbook Available for Viewing/Download

ESTHER 2021 Yearbook CoverThis year, ESTHER’s yearbook, until now a printed publication, has “gone digital!” We have been able to make this transition to a new format because of the generous technical support we received Weidert Group, LLC, and the editorial leadership of ESTHER member Jill Smith. We are excited to be able to offer

  • a full-color interior
  • more extensive descriptions of ESTHER’s goals, values and accomplishments
  • more photographs
  • profiles of our annual award winners
  • feature essays about ESTHER people making a difference in the Fox Valley and beyond.

The yearbook also contains fact and figures about ESTHER, recognition of financial donors and collaborative partners, and notices and ads sponsored by almost 100 friends of ESTHER in business, non-profit, and government circles.

The 2021 yearbook is available online now for you to review, or to download and read at your leisure (PDF). Click on the cover image (to the left), or use the button below to check it out.

View ESTHER Yearbook

We are enormously grateful to our financial sponsors, who are listed in the book. Please show your appreciation for their support of ESTHER by patronizing them or participating in events they sponsor. We are making plans to list our sponsors and display their notices and ads as part of this web site.

Changing the Narrative

Posted in

This post was contributed by Bill Van Lopik, ESTHER Community Organizer

Bill Van Lopik Teaching Social Justice

I am a social justice advocate. I fight against systemic policies, narratives and attitudes that hurt people and silence their voices. Recently I found myself confronting one such attitude that surfaced in my own house. Last week when I was talking with my 7-year old granddaughter she stated, “I was told that bad things happen to bad people.” There was a time in my life when I might have tacitly agreed with this sort of moral commentary and quickly brushed it off. However, this time the narrative which I know is very pervasive in our society provoked a much more critical response. I was not upset at her, but rather, at the confusion that this type of comment plays in her head. You see, her father is incarcerated, and I am sure in the back of her head she was trying to decide how she should feel about him. Is he really a bad person because he did a bad thing? Is he a bad a person even though he calls her several times a week to talk to her and tells her he loves her and can’t wait to see her?

ESTHER 2020 “Banquet”: The Rest of the Story

Posted in

Thumbnail of ESTHER 2020 Banquet video on YouTubeOur 2020 virtual “Banquet” celebration started out strong, with an amazing program and an audience of over 220 people registered to participate. As the event began on November 1, however, we realized that the “livestream” on YouTube was neither live nor streaming.

All efforts to fix it failed. IRL (in real life), the program was actually taking place at the scheduled time, but no one could see it! The live program was recorded, however, so we are able to share it with you.

On November 8, a large and enthusiastic audience watched the recorded “Banquet” video premiere together on YouTube. And now we are making it available to all.

In Search of Writers and Editors ...

We are looking for writers for ESTHER’s new blog.

If you would like to participate in building our on-line presence, please let Bill Van Lopik know.

  • If you like to write, you can be a blogger. We will help you to learn about how to write a good blog post.
  • If you are not sure about your writing skill, we can provide editing help.

We also want to put together a team to manage our blog. Our goals include:

  • Publicizing ESTHER’s work
  • Explaining the importance of the work of our task forces.
  • Showing ESTHER’s expertise and credibility in the areas where we work.

If you want to participate, let Bill know right away. We will schedule a meeting to plan how we will work together.