LSS Selected Milwaukee’s 2021 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®

Organization receives high marks in a majority of areas, including diversity and inclusion, employee recognition and achievement, and company performance

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (February 16, 2020) – Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) has been officially recognized as one of the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR). The non-profit social services provider earned the 2021 award as an organization that delivers “exceptional human resource practices and an impressive commitment to their employees.”

LSS was one of 47 Wisconsin companies to receive this award based on the assessment of numerous categories, such as diversity and inclusion, employee enrichment, community initiatives, compensation, benefits, and many others. According to the NABR, through determination, exceptional leadership, and daily ingenuity, these workplaces are seen as ideal organizations that “epitomize Better Business. Richer Lives. Strong Communities.”

“We are extremely excited to be recognized as one of the best companies to work for,” said LSS President and CEO, Héctor Colón. “Every day, the people in our organization work hard to create a Servant-Leadership culture that focuses on a commitment to the growth of our clients and one another, and building community throughout our two-state reach. We are humbled to receive this honor and will continue to strive towards becoming a Workplace of Choice.”

Overall, LSS scored above the median 60 percent of the time across all categories when compared to thousands of companies in its region. Among the variety of areas assessed to determine the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For,” LSS received some of its highest scores in the following categories:

Meanwhile, in the “Strategic Company Performance” category, LSS was rated 83 percent above the median – the largest margin over its peers. This is due in large part to the LSS financial turnaround in recent years. For the three-year period prior to Colón becoming CEO at LSS, the organization incurred losses of $4.3 million. During the subsequent three-year period with Colón (2018-2020), LSS has had operating gains of $8.1 million – a cumulative $12.4 million turnaround.

Nominations for the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” are accepted across the United States and broken down by various regions. Employees then complete a survey to calculate an organization’s score to compare with its peers in a particular geographic location.

Milwaukee’s 2021 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For®

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan: Opens community-based residential facility in Waukesha as needs increase

CONTACT: Steve Jagler, steve@kanecommgroup.com or news@lsswis.org, 414.405.8398

LSS Aspen Center offers diverse treatment options for substance abuse

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (Oct. 15, 2020)  – Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS), in partnership with Waukesha County, opened the LSS Aspen Center, a comprehensive medically-monitored treatment center for women and men from throughout southeastern Wisconsin. The 23,000-square foot community-based residential facility is located at 2000 W. Bluemound Road, Waukesha. LSS Aspen Center will begin accepting referrals immediately.

The 22-bed center offers a wide range of substance use disorder rehabilitation and therapeutic services in two gender-specific wings with the capacity to grow to 34 beds based on need. LSS Aspen Center anticipates serving approximately 125 individuals from Waukesha County and southeastern Wisconsin annually.

“LSS believes healthy communities happen when we eliminate barriers to services and resources for those in need,” said Héctor Colón, President and Chief Executive Officer of LSS. “As we see substance abuse increasing at dramatic rates locally and nationally, now is a critical time to be providing accessible and affordable drug and alcohol treatment offerings to our Waukesha residents.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that COVID-19 presents unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and in recovery. The pandemic has heightened stressors for many individuals and disrupted daily routines and health care services, causing many Americans to turn to substance use. The Wisconsin Department of Health reported that deaths in Wisconsin related to drugs have been increasing over the past decade. Substance misuse and addiction pose significant health, social, public safety and economic problems in Wisconsin.

LSS Aspen Center serves as a residential substance use disorder treatment center for both men and women. Previously, women were referred to locations outside of Waukesha County due to a lack of affordable, high-quality options in the area.

“Many of our female clientele who we work with during their treatment for substance use are responsible for children, household obligations and work commitments,” said John Kettler, Human Services Supervisor for the Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services. “When you compound those challenges with women who choose to leave their own community to get help in a treatment facility far from home, it is clear why opening the LSS Aspen Center here in Waukesha will be exceptionally helpful.”

LSS Aspen Center provides the needed space and resources for successful treatment such as:

“More than ever, these types of services are needed in our community as our residents face compounding crises and substance use is on the rise,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “While individuals are on their road to recovery, it’s so important to have them close to their support networks and a community they call home. We’re especially glad that LSS Aspen Center provides refuge for women so they can receive treatment in our county.”

LSS Aspen Center is an evolution of the Genesis House in Waukesha, a 12-bed residential treatment facility for men. Individuals currently at the Genesis House will now receive support at the LSS Aspen Center.

Click here to download more images of the LSS Aspen Center.

Photo credit: Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

About Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Inc.
Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan strives to build healthy communities filled with people using their God-given gifts to serve. For more than 100 years, this has been our goal. At LSS, we value compassion, co-creation, change and courage, instilling these core values in every community and residential program we offer. We believe in the infinite worth of every individual and because of this, we are committed to the growth and empowerment of others. To learn more about how LSS acts compassionately, serves humbly and leads courageously, visit www.LSSwis.org.

 

Servant Leadership Informs Inclusion

Racial injustices, such as the murder of George Floyd, often lead to discussions about equity, diversity and inclusion.

https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/07/10/servant-leadership-informs-diversity-inclusion.html

 

Full Statement:

How Servant-Leadership Informs Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
by Héctor Colón
June 19, 2020

How Servant-Leadership Informs Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Racial injustices, such as the murder of George Floyd, often lead to discussions about equity, diversity and inclusion. Well-intended business leaders change policies, develop affinity groups, and require training. Research literature demonstrates that these traditional workplace programs do not significantly achieve intended goals.

At Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS), we look to Servant-Leadership and Larry Spears’ ”Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders” for inspiration. This article offers ideas on how to enhance your program with five of these characteristics: Awareness, Listening, Healing, Empathy and Commitment to the Growth of people.

Awareness involves understanding individual strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and biases. The better you know yourself, the better you can foster meaningful connections with others. Self-awareness is foundational to authentic relationships requiring meaningful dialogue and a willingness to grow and change.

To create an environment that encourages awareness for others, self-reflect on your own personal behaviors and biases and make a commitment to learn about how to change them for the better.
Listening includes actively receiving someone’s words, feelings and body language. In order to discover and meet the needs of others, we need to listen rather than mandate a top-down approach to solutions for all.

Co-create a diverse and inclusion

ve environment with your employees through active listening and asking questions. Reach outside of your organization for help with facilitating these meaningful conversations
Through open dialogue, listening and awareness, you can hear when a person needs to heal from past hurts. Without healing, wounds and scars might resurface unless addressed.
Find your safe places and people with whom you can share your wounds and scars. Then work to create a trustworthy environment for employees that offers healing and opportunities to become their best selves.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another without judgment. It expresses awareness of what it’s like to live in the shoes of others and offer support to aid in their healing.
Find ways to connect with others that have faced experiences different from your own. You can show empathy by expressing a desire to know someone more deeply so you can better understand their challenges and pain.

When addressing a commitment to the growth of people, Servant-Leader Founder Robert Greenleaf shares the following: “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And what is the effect on the least privileged in society…?”

Employees will know of your commitment to their growth when you choose to self-reflect, actively listen, make space for healing and show empathy. Putting others’ interests before your own will help unleash the greatness of individuals, your organization and the community at large.
A Servant-Leadership approach develops a culture over compliance, awareness over assumptions, and leadership over legislation. Join me in this movement to respond to the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in our society today.

About the Author and LSS:

Servant-Leader, Héctor Colón, is the current President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS). Within his first two years at LSS, Mr. Colón co-created with his leadership team and boards of directors to realize a significant $4 million financial turnaround for the social services organization. Colón was named 2019 Nonprofit Executive of the Year by BizTimes Media in Milwaukee. He currently serves on the University Of Wisconsin Board Of Regents and is an independent director on the board of USA Boxing. Mr. Colon is set to release his first book, “From Boxing Ring to Board Room” later this summer.

LSS empowers people to live their best lives by offering a path to recovery from addiction or mental illness, a home that’s safe and affordable, a family to thrive in, independence and a life that is truly their own. Every year, nearly thirty thousand people in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan come to LSS with incredible odds stacked against them. LSS innovates services and compassionately delivers them with…

To support LSS and their work with clients especially impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, please visit www.lsswis.org/responsefund or Text LSSGIVE to 41444. For questions, please contact Jackie Harcourt at jackie.harcourt@lsswis.org or 414-246-2701.

LSS and Waukesha County Continue to Provide Critical Birth to 3 Services During COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT

Katharine Foley

katharine@kanecommgroup.com or news@lsswis.org

414-635-7008

Waukesha County residents receive essential child support during public health pandemic

Waukesha, Wis. (July __, 2020) – Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) continues to offer Birth to 3 early intervention services for Waukesha families with children experiencing developmental delays and disabilities during this public health crisis.

“As more parents and guardians work from home and spend increased time with their children, they may recognize signs of developmental delays exhibited by their young loved ones,” said Héctor Colón, President and CEO, LSS. “We want people to know our Birth to 3 program remains an available program individuals can turn to for developmental screening and support.”

The LSS Birth to 3 Program offers families in Waukesha County with resources including, but not limited to, screening, eligibility evaluation, ongoing assessment, and service coordination. It is free to call and individuals can speak with a clinical specialist who will answer their questions and determine if their child qualifies for services. Referrals are welcome from anyone with concerns about a child’s development, including but not limited to, parents and guardians, friends, doctors, neighbors and childcare providers.

“During these challenging times, it’s important that parents and guardians feel supported and have someone to talk to about their concerns,” said Linda Wetzel, Birth to 3 Program Manager, LSS. “Our families throughout Waukesha County build strong relationships with our early intervention team and we’re thankful that we can continue offering resources to the community.”

LSS takes a holistic approach dictated by each child’s individual development opportunities. The Birth to 3 program currently offers telehealth visits with service coordinators, speech, physical and occupational therapists, and early education teachers who work with parents and guardians on strategies and activities to help their child reach various developmental milestones.

“Our son, Elijah, was diagnosed with epilepsy and we noticed he was showing signs of developmental delays around the eight month mark,” said Meghan Kuehl, a Birth to 3 client. “Our doctor recommended we work with a Birth to 3 program and since we began working with LSS, Elijah has made tremendous progress. While the telehealth visits with our PT and OT therapists look a little different, it has allowed us to be more engaged and hands-on in the therapy process.”

“Waukesha County values the strong partnership we’ve built with LSS over the years, working together to seamlessly provide support to families and children in need of critical early intervention services,” said Lisa Roberts, Children & Family Services Manager for the Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services. “Now it’s more important than ever to work with our community and make sure they’re aware of the resources available.”

In order to receive services, children must meet the following eligibility requirements: age birth to third birthday; diagnosed condition that is likely to result in a developmental delay or exhibits a delay of 25% or more in one area of functioning (cognitive, physical, communication, social and emotional or self-help skills) on standardized developmental testing or demonstrates atypical development that is likely to affect overall development.

If you are a Waukesha resident and have questions about your children’s 0 to 3 development, please call 262-548-7212 or visit www.lsswis.org/LSS/Programs-Services/Youth-Programs/Birth-to-3 to learn more about resources available. There is no cost to call or have your child screened.

About Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Inc.
Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan strives to build healthy communities filled with people using their God-given gifts to serve. For more than 100 years, this has been our goal. At LSS, we value compassion, co-creation, change and courage, instilling these core values in every community and residential program we offer. We believe in the infinite worth of every individual and because of this, we are committed to the growth and empowerment of others. To learn more about how LSS acts compassionately, serves humbly and leads courageously, visit www.LSSwis.org.

 

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Gold Medal Lofts Grand Opening

Milwaukee-based J. Jeffers & Co. developed the project in partnership with Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. The 77 apartments include market-rate units, and those reserved for people making less than 60%, 50% or 30% of the area’s median income levels.  Read more

Héctor Colón LSS Statement Regarding George Floyd

“Please…..I can’t breathe….Mama……my stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts,……Please…….Don’t kill me!” Like so many, I can’t get these words out of my mind. More than seven minutes passed as Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck. George moaned and groaned while three other police officers stood there doing nothing as George took his last
breath on May 25, 2020. Today his family stands without a son and brother, his kids without a father and the community without a person that displayed a commitment to make lives better.

Why did this happen? My heart pains to see the videos or read the news relating to this injustice. Unfortunately, racial and ethnic disparities continue to exist in our society. The research literature well documents that people of color and specifically African Americans are treated differently in the criminal justice system. Who would have thought that the alleged use of a counterfeit $20 dollar bill could result in a senseless homicide? When I looked into the eyes of Derick when watching the video, I personally felt the cold and reckless act that slowly and painfully took George’s precious life.

As a person of color, I can identify with the racial and ethnic injustices I have faced in my life. By no means would I compare my situation to the injustice of George, nor am I comparing my situation to the experiences of African Americans in this country. However, I will share a few points to demonstrate how I can relate. These moments never leave your memory. One time on a nice summer day I went to pick up my girlfriend, who is now my wife. Within blocks of her home we were stopped by four police officers in two cars. The officers shouted, “Get out of the car.” I said, “Why?” They repeated, “Get out now!” They roughly ransacked my car, going through my glove compartment and trunk, leaving a mess as they calmly walked back into their vehicles with no explanation of why they did this.

Another time I was working for a mail carrier and was entering the back of a department store in Racine to pick up their mail. An individual next to me shouted, “Get away from my car you Mexican N….” I went on to tell him why I was there but he kept on shouting at me angrily. After being taunted several times, I picked up my mail and left.

Yet another time, I went out with some friends to go dancing, something I rarely did in college because I was focused on getting my degree to pursue a career. Two friends and I were prohibited from entering the establishment. I asked, “Why are you not letting us in?” White patrons were walking right in so it was not because of crowd control. I asked three times and then they said very aggressively, “You better leave or else we are calling the cops.” Since I knew this conversation was going nowhere, I left.

The way I reacted in these situations, walking away, may have saved my life. Had I reacted differently, maybe I would have gone to jail, obtained a fine, lost my job and even died the way George did. The unfortunate thing here is that George did react the way I did. He was polite and did not resist arrest and yet he is gone.

Justice needs to be brought to Derek Chauvin, but he is not the only one responsible. The other police officers who were on the scene are also responsible. Why didn’t they do anything? Did they agree with what they saw? On the other hand, maybe they were fearful. I say they were cowards. They chose not to use good judgment and common sense or to enact the aim and purpose of their police profession which is to protect and serve. Courage is acting even when you are afraid. Courageous people will do the right thing even when it is difficult. These police standing by were the only ones that could have saved George’s life and they should have consequences measurable to their silence and inaction that led to this tragic situation. Despite my personal experiences, I believe the overwhelming majority of law enforcement act with integrity in fulfilling their duties to protect and serve. The actions of the police officers in the George Floyd tragedy did a grave disservice to all the men and women who put their lives on the line and whose countless daily positive actions go unreported. It is my hope that as a society we do not get clouded and turn against the individuals who choose to protect and serve. If we are to get to the root cause, we must look to the systems and policies that foster conditions where the actions of these officers can occur.

While George is gone his story lives. The pain and discomfort many feel is real and it will last a long time. Nevertheless, how can we use this unfortunate tragedy to move us closer together versus further apart. We need to peacefully end the racial and ethnic disparities that continue to exist in our criminal justice system, in our healthcare system, and in other systems and institutions in our society.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that; hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” And the Floyd family agrees. Terrance Floyd said recently, “We’ve been down this road already. He [George Floyd] would want to seek justice the way we are, the way we’re trying to do. But channel it another way. The anger, damaging your hometown, it’s not the way he’d want.” Let us follow the advice of Martin Luther King and George’s brother in moving forward demanding change through peaceful efforts. There is no place for violence against police officers, protestors, businesses and communities. We must lead with peace.

Everyone is created equal and has a right to live in a healthy community filled with people using their God-given gifts to serve. At LSS, we are called every day to enact our mission to act compassionately, serve humbly and lead courageously in solidarity with all people from white to black to brown and in-between. And we will stand in support of the infinite worth of black lives.

Those with substance use disorder facing challenges amid virus

Lutheran Social Services asking for monetary donations, face masks

WAUKESHA — Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is asking for donations in response to the coronavirus, with Waukesha services specifically needing face masks and monetary donations.

The Genesis House is a supportive 12-bed Transitional Residential Treatment for men with substance use disorder. Residents typically stay between 30 to 180 days with nine hours of therapy a week while they work to transition back to independent living. Also needing donations is the Cephas House, which provides services to adult males referred through the Department of Corrections that have a history of substance use disorder.

Patrick Reilly, program supervisor at the Genesis House for LSS, said they have been responding to the coronavirus and its many challenges. He is unaware of a coronavirus case in their facilities.

“What we’ve been doing to the best of our abilities is following all CDC guidelines … but like any organization in our area, PPE is hard to come by,” Reilly said. Reilly said they are asking the community to donate 60 cloth masks, for both staff members and residents at the two houses.

One of the greater challenges the alcohol and drug treatment centers are dealing with is the lack of available community support meetings. Reilly said they support each individual on the path to recovery through outside support.

“What we’ve had to do with a lot of organizations is really embrace the Tele-Health or Zoom meetings … we’ve been able to put together a pretty good list of outside support meetings that our residents can be involved with,” he said.

Reilly said there couldn’t be a more difficult time for individuals to find sobriety than right now. “Purely the fact that they’re in treatment, I think is amazing … I don’t think the Zoom meetings are as effective as let’s say individual, and to be in the same room as someone, but I’d rather have that than none,” Reilly said.

Another challenge is boredom, which can be a trigger for individuals working towards sobriety. “Boredom and down time is dangerous for my threeyear- old, but it’s also extremely dangerous for alcoholics and drug addicts,” Reilly said.

LSS Response Fund

Katharine Foley, LSS advisor, public relations, said they are also looking for monetary donations towards their Response Fund, created in response to the coronavirus.

The LSS Response Fund helps counselors provide direct support to the over 5,000 people who rely on LSS, including families that may not have access to mental health counseling, addiction recovery, affordable housing, daytime shelter, food and more.

Foley said the LSS Response Fund helps with many of the needs they are working to solve.

“Some of the families just need a gas card so the parents can still work, or they need additional school supplies to help keep their kids busy,” she said. “For housing, if it is additional food for the week just to get by if they have to pay their rent check.”

The fund has a $25,000 fundraising goal set and has raised just under $5,000 so far.

To donate masks, Waukesha residents can sew cloth masks and donate them to either the Cephas House or the Genesis HouseTo donate cloth masks, people can email donorservices@lsswis. org.

To donate to the LSS Response Fund, people can visit lsswis.org/LSS/lssresponsefund. For questions related to services offered, people can call 414-246-2300.

“This is the safest place for people with a substance use disorder to be right now,” Reilly said.