January 30, 2015
Dear Friends of Agape:
In response to the growing and evolving needs of the community, Agape Community Center is responsibly adapting its programming to serve more people in the neighborhood. Today, we are delighted to announce the growth and expansion of the food program. Access to food is the cornerstone of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother’s original vision for Agape. Additionally, we are planning to grow our new health center partnership with the Columbia College of Nursing, our Ascension Health partner. We believe it is our responsibility to adapt so we can meet the changing needs of the neighborhood and impact the lives of more families and individuals. We will also continue to focus on adult literacy/job skills as well as neighborhood revitalization.
Since 1986, Agape has been serving residents of Berryland and the surrounding community with a wide range of programs and services. Our first family-style community meal was served to 54 guests, and we now serve more than 19,000 hungry children and families each year.
The mission of Agape is to “…work with northwest Milwaukee neighborhoods so everyone can thrive.” As the neighborhood changes, the needs are also changing. Food insecurity is increasing; a need for job skills training and adult literacy is growing. Healthcare support is still a significant need despite the Affordable Care Act. However, the need for after-school care is declining.
Agape will continue to meet the current needs of the community through expansion of food service, growth of the health center, enhancement of adult literacy/job skills programming, and continuation of neighborhood revitalization. However, significant change will affect our youth programming services. It is anticipated that Agape’s After-School Program will end effective June 12, 2015, to coincide with the last day of the Milwaukee Public School traditional class calendar. However, depending on staffing, an earlier closure date may be necessary. There will be no 2015 Summer Camp Program. Agape will assist families to identify other childcare alternatives for the after-school program and summer camp.
What’s the reason for these changes? Currently, three of the four local schools (kindergarten through eighth grade) offer after-school programs, and the participation rate in Agape’s after-school program has dwindled to the point of unsustainability. As a result, we will redirect our efforts to respond to other community needs, reaching a greater number of families through our food service: community meal, summer lunch program, food pantry and stock box distribution as well as community health center services, literacy and neighborhood revitalization. Agape will continue to grow and serve the community.
We understand that a decision of this magnitude is always difficult and may create a few challenges for some of our families in the short-term. However, it is the right thing to do for the long-term stability of Agape and our future ability to serve as many people as possible.
If you have questions, please contact me. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you.
Executive Director, Agape Community Center