Leaders Inspire Others to Become More

When it comes to anniversaries, we always seem to focus on the number, don’t you think?

It’s as if we haven’t really succeeded in our commitment as a couple, professional or organization unless we hit that 25, 50 (or longer for businesses) mark.

As LSS is just getting into celebrating our 140th anniversary year, I actually wonder what 1883 was like for our founder, Rev. Evan Johnson (E.J.) Homme – just one year after opening the “Homme Homes”.

For reference, a lot was going on in the world at the time of our inception – The first electrical plant started by Thomas Edison in lower Manhattan…The passing of the 1882 Immigration Act by U.S. Congress…P.T. Barnum buying his world-renowned elephant “Jumbo” in anticipation of the first-ever Circus opening in Baraboo, WI that following year.

All very cool and relevant historical facts. And yet, while all of this was happening, Rev. Homme, then in his thirties, used his God-given gifts to realize his dream — providing social services for (in his words) “orphans, the aged and Indians in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility”**

It was 1879 when Rev. Homme, under the sponsorship of the Lutheran Church of America, successfully petitioned the then Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Railroad to change the area station’s name from Carbonero to Wittenberg. With the blessing of his Synod, Rev. Homme successfully established the new town — originally deemed in his petition as a “wilderness” — saying it was “dark” and “lonely” and “devoid of the habitation of man.”

Literally, in that first decade, Rev. Homme convinced his family, friends and church members to move there. He built a church and the Homme Homes, and according to The Historical Marker database, he ran a farm, published three newspapers, operated four schools and engaged in other entrepreneurial endeavors – all to cover the hefty costs associated with the social services he provided to people in need.

Someone once said (and I don’t believe it was John Q. Adams), “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” That would make Rev. Homme the ultimate Servant-Leader as his dream to serve others is now alive in every Wisconsin County and in Upper Michigan with LSS’ Homme Youth and Family Programs standing mere feet from the original Homme Homes.

** Although the terms in this quote were acceptable at the time, LSS has evolved in our understanding and practice of equity, diversity and inclusion and do not use these or similar terms to identify the people we serve.

 Fun fact: Rev. Homme named Wittenberg, Wis. after the university town of Wittenberg located in north-central Germany on the Eble River. There, Lutheran Church founder, Martin Luther, worked as a philosophy teacher at Wittenberg University and began his Reformation in 1517 by nailing his renowned Ninety-five theses to the doors of a church.

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In 2022, LSS will celebrate 140 years of service to Wisconsin and Upper Michigan residents. If at any time LSS made an impact on your life or the life of someone you love, please share it here.

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