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Emily’s Fund: Serving Women who have Served Us

Before we break for the holidays, we’re eager share about our newest program at WWHF: Emily’s Fund! This fund aims to meet the unmet needs of women veterans in Wisconsin through financial scholarships.

militaryWe all can relate to needing an extra financial “boost” when this time of the year, but the situation becomes much more urgent when you’re struggling to find housing, attending physical therapy, or being treated for mental health issues after returning from active duty. The financial stress placed upon women veterans returning home often hinders their recovery and transition. Scholarships through Emily’s Fund have already been provided for a wide variety of veterans’ needs, including medication bills, winter clothing, gas money, and even a hotel stay for one woman who would have had to travel hours upon hours to make her Veterans Affairs appointments in one week.

“I had to wait three months before receiving my Army retirement check. Without Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation coming to my rescue, my immediate future looked bleak! THANK YOU!” – Melissa, US Army 1989-2013

The fund continues to grow, too; the application is being spread throughout a network of social workers in Wisconsin. Currently, Emily’s Fund has helped eight veterans and will continue to review and accept applications until December 30th or until funds run out. Next year, the fund will open again – including more revisions to make it accessible to more women. This fund is meeting direct, immediate needs of very deserving members of our community; if you are still looking to donate to a cause during the holiday season, Emily’s Fund may be a great fit for you. For more information about the fund and how to contribute, contact Amanda Verbrick at 800-448-5148 x 104 or averbrick@wwhf.org.

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Sue Ann Says: Community Health Grants

Sue Ann Says: Non-Profits Use WWHF Grants to Support Women’s Health

The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF) is committed to providing crucial health education to women throughout the state of Wisconsin.  Knowing that WWHF can’t do the work alone, WWHF provides the Lisa A. Cudahy Community Health Grants to outstanding non-profit organizations to allow them to deliver health educational programs to Wisconsin women. I am so thrilled to reveal that as of February 2013, WWHF has awarded $160,969 in community health grants and scholarships to promote women’s health. This month I want to share with you some exceptional work that is being done by the recipients of the 2013 Lisa A. Cudahy Community Health Grants.

Two Non-Profits Take a Stand to End Domestic Violence

The first grant is being implemented by The Indianhead Community Action Agency for their program called Creating Community Awareness about Domestic Violence. The agency developed and distributed a brochure about the Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) program which provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence. Through the LAV program, attorneys help women find community services that assist with housing options, utility assistance, and food. Training was given to In-home-visitors focusing on domestic violence awareness, signs of abuse, and how domestic violence impacts children.

Kris Porter, the Executive Director & LAV Coordinator, described how LAV was able to support a woman who was in a violent relationship.

            A disabled mother who lived in a rural community was in a highly violent relationship with an abuser who had been previously charged and convicted of domestic battery.  The mother did not have access to resources in this rural community.

Because she was disabled, it was difficult for her to seek assistance.  After a long night of drinking, the abuser took her and their 8 month old baby hostage, along with two other individuals in the trailer house that they owned together.  The police and SWAT team were called. He was finally arrested.  During the incident, the abuser held a knife to my client’s throat and a gun to her head.  My client decided that it was time to leave the relationship.  She sought legal representation through the shelter, and I was able to assist her in getting sole legal and physical custody of her child. 

The second grant with a focus on domestic violence, child abuse and youth violence was awarded to the Milwaukee Center for Children and Youth Incorporated.  A strong collaboration was developed between several county justice systems, the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare and Marquette University’s Law School to provide advocacy, restorative practices, youth leadership and intervention program to clients.

Mental Health Initiatives Reach Out to Wisconsin Women

Two grant recipients are supporting mental health issues in Wisconsin.

M & S Clinical Services of Milwaukee organized a one day mini conference to help reduce the stigma of mental illness in the African American Community with its grant monies. Local professionals were trained to provide education and resources to encourage families and individuals to openly discuss mental illness.

Mental Health America of Wisconsin (MHA) based in Milwaukee is targeting the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse. Various educational services can now be accessed and an anonymous mental health screening is available to allow online users to assess their risk for mental health disorders.

Cancer Support Groups Benefit Wisconsin Women

Stillwaters Cancer Support Services in Waukesha used its grant monies to form the Making Sense of Life After Cancer Support Group.
Their free group is open to citizens who have been diagnosed with any type of cancer. Discussions are led by a licensed counselor and center on nutrition, exercise, body image, stress reduction and fear of recurrence.

Support for Wisconsin Families Struggling with Diabetes

The grant funding the United Community Center, Inc. of Milwaukee is supporting the dissemination of a video program titled Dulce Secretos (Sweet Secrets) about a multigenerational family struggling with diabetes. Dulce Secretos premiered on Telenovela in May, 2013.

Finding Homes for Wisconsin’s Homeless Citizens

Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter, Inc. of Reedsburg put its grant money to work with the Hands on 5-step Program. The program works with clients to set goals to find a home. The clients learn job hunting, budgeting, health, and nutrition skills. The program provides access to assistance programs and the first month’s rent.

Cardiovascular Exercise Helps Smokers Quit

Milwaukee’s Meta House Inc. assisted staff and clients with smoking cessation. They integrated a cardiovascular exercise component to their Tobacco Cessation Project. Carla Myers of Meta House shared this information.  A client, who uses the treadmill two to three times a week, said the exercise is a big part of her recovery from substance abuse, and it has helped tremendously in aiding her to quit smoking. “It’s a good way to start the day,” she said. “I feel better for the day if I do this.”

These Wisconsin non-profits provide a significant role in the health of Wisconsin Women. WWHF is proud to support their efforts and programs.

Because it all begins with a healthy woman…

Sue Ann Thompson is founder and president of the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF), a statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to help Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential. WWHF provides programs and conducts forums that focus on education, prevention, and early detection; connects individuals to health resources; produces and distributes the most up-to-date health education and resource materials; and, awards grants and scholarships to women health researchers and related community non-profits. To learn more, visit wwhf.org or call 1-800-448-5148.

Winter Exercise

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following key guidelines for physical activity[1]:

  • Avoid inactivity.  Some physical activity is better than none and adults that participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • Adults should do at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week (22 minutes a day).  For even more health benefits, increase this time to 5 hours a week (43 minutes a day) and add varying degrees of exercise intensity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done on 2 or more days a week.30375439

The health benefits of physical activity are vast and occur for every age group and across all racial and ethnic groups.  Physical activity can help[2]:

  • Control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight
  • Lower your “bad” cholesterol and raise your “good” cholesterol
  • Prevent heart disease, colorectal and breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes

Wisconsin’s winter can make outdoor exercise more difficult, but there are ways to get physical activity in.  Here are a few tips for safe winter exercise:

  • Bundle up if you head outside to exercise.  Dress in layers, protect your hands, feet and ears and pay attention to the temperature.  If the temp dips below 0° or the wind chill is dangerous, consider an indoor activity.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Staying hydrated is just as important in cold weather as it is in warm weather.  Drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • Exercise in a safe environment.  If you venture outside for exercise, be sure that you are in a well-lite, shoveled and salted area to avoid injury.  Wear reflective gear for exercise after the sun goes down.
  • Embrace winter.  Wisconsin offers many unique opportunities for winter activities that will keep you healthy.  Try cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding or even shoveling.  There many low or no cost indoor activities you can try too, like mall walking, exercise videos on YouTube or fitness classes at your local YMCA.

Don’t let the falling temps or falling snow get you down – start your New Year’s resolutions early by starting your fitness routines now!

 

Check Out Our Fall Newsletter!

Click HERE to check out our 2013 Fall Newsletter!

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Popular Toys in 2013 and Toys to Avoid

The holiday gift giving season is in full swing and you may be wondering what to buy for the kids on your list.  You may also be wondering what to avoid.

Every year big retailers like Toys R Us, Amazon and Walmart, compile lists of what they expect to be the most popular toys during the holiday season.  This year’s lists include the following “must-have” items:

Toy safety should also be a concern and for that, there’s another list.  Here are a few of this year’s biggest offenders, according to consumer safety group, U.S. PIRG Education Fund:

So while you’re out playing Santa this year, keep these tips in mind:

  • Bigger is better when it comes to toys with parts and pieces.
  • No small balls or balloons for young children.
  • Read and heed warning labels.
  • Avoid PVC plastics.
  • Avoid toys that contain lead.
  • Stay away from toys with powerful magnets.
  • If it sounds too loud, it is.
  • Be aware of strings and cords.
  • Be informed.  Stay up to date on recalls and report any dangerous toys.

Happy Holidays!

Hunger and Food Insecurity

family_services_food_bank_new

‘Tis the season of giving!  If you’d like to donate your time, money or other resources, look no further than your local food pantry.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 14.5% of American households face hunger[1].  What does this mean?  This means that some Americans experience “food insecurity” or that access to adequate food was limited by lack of money and other resources[2].  Food insecurity is experienced by 10% of households with children[3].  In Wisconsin 11% of households experience food insecurity.  Many of the people facing hunger are hard working adults, children and seniors who are struggling to make ends meet and go without food.

Poor nutrition impacts all areas of health.  Insufficient nutrition increases the risk of illness, weakens the immune system and negatively impacts cognitive development in children.

What can you do?

  • Get involved.  Volunteer or donate to a food bank in your community.  Click here for a listing of food banks in Wisconsin.

 For more information, check out Feeding America.


  1. Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, Mark Nord, and Anita Singh. Household Food Security in the United States in 2012, ERR-155, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.

 

Handwashing Saves Lives!

Frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness.  Handwashing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — a cleanser that doesn’t require water.

What’s the right way to wash your hands?

handwashing

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.  Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Always wash your hands before:

  • Preparing food or eating
  • Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses

Always wash your hands after:

  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes, or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes

 
Check out NSF International’s Scrub Club website for some fun ways to talk to kids about the importance of proper handwashing.
 

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day, observed on December 1st, is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and to honor people who have died.
 
 
 
Why is World AIDS Day important?

Globally, an estimated 34 million people are living with HIV1.  More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and almost 1 in 5 are unaware of their infection2.  About 8,000 people in Wisconsin are currently living with HIV3.  And while there have been many medical advances in the treatment of HIV, many people do not know how to protect themselves and others from HIV.

So what are the facts?

  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.  It is a virus which attacks the immune system.
  • AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.  A person with HIV is considered to have developed AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off diseases.
  • HIV can be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions or breast milk.  The most common ways HIV is passed on are:
    • Sex without a condom
    • Sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment
    • There is no cure for HIV, but people on HIV treatment can live healthy and active lives.
    • To protect yourself against HIV, ALWAYS use a condom when having sex and NEVER share needles or syringes.

What can I do to honor World AIDS Day?

  • Get tested.  Click here to find a testing location near you.
  • Wear a red ribbon.  The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV.

 

Sources:
http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/world-aids-day/
http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/statistics/
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aids-hiv/
http://www.hivaware.org.uk/be-aware/about-hiv/

 

WWHF is Thankful

leaves

When we asked our staff what they were thankful for this holiday season, these are some of the responses we received:

 

Janet: “I am thankful for the people I have in my life.  I have wonderful, loving family, friends and co-workers!!!”

Marilyn: “This year I am so very thankful for my mother’s uncomplicated adjustment to her new living situation in an assisted-living facility in Rochester, NY. My mom is 86 and mentally sharp as a tack. She has such a great attitude about life which is supported by her faith. Mom takes every opportunity to be independent and take good care of herself (eating wisely and walking regularly). After enjoying her own apartment and her autonomous lifestyle for decades, Mom has decided to “go with the flow” at Heather Heights despite the fact that, “Not everyone has the best manners.” Isn’t that just putting it mildly? Thank you mom for your strong and graceful spirit—your example of aging with dignity and positivity.”

Carl: “I am thankful for good health.”

Kristin: “I am deeply grateful for my husband and two boys.”

Amanda: “While I’m thankful for many, many things, I am definitely thankful for all my coworkers! You all keep me continually learning, even now that I’m out of school; everyone always has new ideas from a conference, health news they recently read, advice on how to approach a difficult situation, expertise on technology in which I’m inexperienced using, or just a funny web link to share. It keeps the work days fresh, exciting, and motivating. I’m thankful for my WWHF family and their passion for our work!”

Susan: “I’m thankful for everything I have!  It may not be much, but all of it makes me feel blessed”

Amy: “I am thankful to be back home in the USA J.”

McKaye: “I am thankful for every opportunity I have been given. Those around me (friends, family, and complete strangers) have all afforded me opportunities for development, advancement and self-reflection. Because of those closest to me, I have found some of my passions, experienced unconditional love, and have been able to explore new experiences; these affordances have become more clear to me as I graduate college and dive into ‘the real world.’ What more could I ask for!?”

Nora: “I am thankful for the love of my family and friends.”

Chelsea: “My coworkers J!”

Tommi: “A wonderful family whom I love more than I can put into words… and an amazing staff, whom inspire me daily and who I feel are an extension of my family…I am truly blessed!”

 

What are you thankful for this year?

A Healthy Thanksgiving

When WWHF decided we wanted to post about a healthy Thanksgiving side dish option, we knew exactly how to ask. Our dear friend, Cammie, who writes Polka Dotted Peony has graciously provided us with a delicious Wheat Berry Salad recipe! Read on:

healthy holiday side dishes

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for healthy holiday side dish options that showcase bright and delicious flavor, appealing texture, and requests for second helpings.  As a hostess (or as a guest that’s offered to bring an accompanying dish), I hope to provide family and friends with yummy food that leads to happy bellies, and the wonderful thing is we can be thankful there are lots of great alternatives to traditional not-as-healthy holiday dishes.

 
Enter the beautiful wheat berry.
 
My mom, introduced me to wheat berries several years ago, and like most things, she was exactly right when boasted their nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture.  Yum.
 
Our family makes her version of the wheat berry salad for various occasions, and it’s always a hit.  It’s festive and just a little different. It’s also dairy-free, so if you have loved ones with dietary restrictions, this could be a really nice option.
 
Joan’s Wheat Berry Salad
Serves 4
healthy salad
The recipe:
 
// ingredients //
1 cup uncooked wheat berries (I like Bob’s Red Mill brand, mainly because I can find it at Target)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 large fresh red pepper, diced (any color pepper would be lovely)
1 medium red onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
 
// instructions //
Cook wheat berries according to the instructions on the package (usually cooking in several cups of water under a rolling boil, covered for 45 minutes or so).
 
While the wheat berries are cooking, caramelize one medium red onion with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Saute them on lowish heat (3-4 worked well on my stove) until they’re iridescent and soft.  Set aside.
 
Drain the water off the berries, and while they are still hot, pour on the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This will help the dressing absorb into the berries. 
 
In a medium bowl, combine dressed wheat berries with diced red pepper and caramelized red onion. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.  
 
Serve at room temperature.
 
Side note: This recipe is so flexible, which is part of the reason I love it.  Try adding dried cranberries and slivered almonds for a festive twist. If you like a little more heat, up the cayenne pepper a bit.  Love those peppers? Add more!