Success Stories


These stories have been provided to us by the 2024 United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties Partner Programs.  Names have been changed to preserve the identities of the subjects.  Please feel free to use these stories for any promotional pieces you may have, such as newsletters, emails, payroll stuffers, etc.



Aspirus Riverview Dental Clinic

A young boy age 10 had been getting teased by his older siblings as he had become terrified to get his teeth worked on. This child needed rather extensive work done to correct crooked teeth, cavities, and generally poor dental hygiene. Dr. took his time with the patient by doing a small exam to start. Then it was the Hygienist's turn for the cleaning. The Hygienist was amazing and before too long laughter could be heard coming from the hygienist room. When it came time for this boy's next visit he was much more relaxed. After several visits Dr. was able to complete the work that needed to be done and the little boy was not only relaxed and full of smiles, he was more than happy to show off his "new" smile!


Boys and Girls Club of the Wisconsin Rapids Area

A general success within the youth unit this year is the implementation of our SEL programs and tools. We have started running 2nd step’s after school program for K-5 aged youth. This has helped youth to develop and learn how to implement different social emotional learning skills. It has also given youth the opportunity to learn more about other members and develop relationships with them. This program will continue through the new year to continue to develop skills for youth.


Career Closet of Wisconsin Rapids, Inc.

In November, a homeless man came to the Career Closet. He was wearing most of the clothing he owned, carrying an extra coat, and a backpack with the rest of his belongings. He said he was living outdoors. He said he'd had some problems but was beginning to look for a job. He had been to Job Service. He needed pants and a couple shirts. He asked if he might also take a bottle of shower gel. Said even though homeless he needed to be clean. We offered other grooming aids but said he didn't need anything else. He said he had looked for shelter but did not have a good experience with the agency. This is not a success story, rather a story of needs that the Career Closet could not provide, and we could not tell him who might help him. We gave him what he asked for, and a $25 Goodwill because we did not have the size pants he needed. Then he was gone with our good wishes and a few candy bars.


Childcaring, Inc. – Good Start Grants

A family of 4 from the Wisconsin Rapid area applied to GSG because their assistance with Birth to 3 was ending. Their youngest child was born with a rare genetic condition called Angelman Syndrome. He is very happy and healthy, but with this condition comes a lot of additional costs that were not expected. Diapers and wipes well beyond the age of two, medical bills, adaptive equipment, etc. Both parents work full time, but have stressed that GSG helps take the burden of child care costs off their shoulders and makes things easier in all other areas of our lives so that we don't fall behind on electric or other bills.


Childcaring, Inc. – Provider Recruitment/Retention

Childcaring staff reached out to welcome a newly certified provider from Wisconsin Rapids to welcome her to the Early Childhood Profession and to offer some next steps as she begins. Information was shared about YoungStar application, the Child Care Provider Portal, FIS, as well as our agency information and listserv. The provider was so happy to have the reach out as she was left feeling a little defeated and lost as to how to move forward now that she was certified. She was already caring for a family that qualified for WI Shares and wasn’t sure how to start receiving payments. Staff shared contact information to return her YoungStar Contract and advised that the family could request an authorization as soon as that was entered. Staff also shared the links to CCPP and FIS so she could get started with those pieces right away. The provider got to work on her accounts but ran into a stopping point as no FIS ID had been established. Staff explained that she would need to wait until the YoungStar Contract was entered and that ID would be generated automatically. Once we verified the contract was entered, we reached back out to the provider to share the FIS number so she wouldn’t have to wait for that to come in the mail. At this time, she still had questions about CCPP, so we reviewed the process of gaining access again, and shared the step-by-step user guide. The provider shared that she was regulated many years ago and was thinking that the paper system was easier. We agreed that as providers are starting out, there are a lot of things to get set, but also shared that once she gets her access all set, that current practices should make things easier in the long run, and that we would be here to help guide her and answer any questions that she may have.


FOCUS Family Backpacks

A Kindergarten student's family uses FOCUS Family Backpacks. One week, the volunteer who packs and distributes the backpacks at the school level was unavailable at the last minute, so the backpacks were packed and distributed by school staff and went out later than usual. The student was packing his gear for the end of the day and was out in the hall at the same time as school staff was about to drop off his meal. She saw the student check his cubby area, look for his meal, and burst into tears. He was so worried that he wasn't going to be able to bring his meal home that day. The school staff quickly gave him his meal backpack and reassured him that he would be getting the meal that day. The student immediately calmed down and smiled as he received his backpack meal. Another student whose family uses the backpack program had to leave early from school. He was immediately panicked at having to leave early, since there wasn't food in the house for lunch: "What am I going to eat for lunch? Our frig is empty." School staff wrapped up the meal he would have had in the school cafeteria and sent it home with him for lunch; since it was the end of the week, the backpack meal was also sent home with that student. The student was relieved to take home both the cafeteria meal and the backpack meal. These stories, while heart-breaking, truly show how needed and important those backpack meals are to both the children and adults that are served by FFB.


FOCUS Food Pantry

FOCUS programs have gone through considerable changes this last year, particularly with staff changes. One of the positive changes noted over the last year is the bloom in teamwork and shared volunteers between programs. Some FOCUS volunteers that typically volunteered with one of the three programs are now volunteering in the others, getting a better sense of how the other programs work and FOCUS as a whole.


FOCUS Neighborhood Meals

A few days before Christmas FOCUS was contacted by a family requesting help to make a special Christmas Wish come true. The family's son, 11 years old, had written a letter to Santa and had a special Christmas Wish to help serve 100 hungry people in our community. FOCUS Neighborhood Meals was about to celebrate its 20th Anniversary Meal on December 28th and felt that the Christmas Wish would be a wonderful addition to the anniversary meal. The family was delighted for the opportunity to participate in this special event. The whole family came to help and stayed for the entire meal as well as clean up afterwards. It was a special day with a story that touched the hearts of all of us at FOCUS as we ended 2023.


Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes – South Wood County

Troop 6231 in South Wood County built a buddy bench at Kennedy Elementary to promote kindness and friendship within the school. Buddy Benches invite children to sit on the bench when they are looking for a friend. When the child is asked to play, that child is encouraged to look at the Buddy Bench, in case another child needs a friend.


Nekoosa School District - Backpack for Kids

In December, the Academy students put together an extra bag for families that we call our "Holiday Baking Bag." The bag contains ingredients and recipes for a variety of traditional holiday cookies and treats. We typically receive notes of gratitude from some of the families. This year one mother sent us this note of thanks: "Thank you. So appreciate the Holiday Baking Bag. The time and thoughtfulness the students put into our family holiday. Thank you!"


North Central Community Action Program (CAP)

R.H. and his wife reported to NCCAP after becoming homeless when a fire displaced them from their home. The couple have 4 children and were living in a camper in a campground. NCCAP had been contacted by the children's school, the owners of the campground, and several concerned people in the community. R.H. was very hesitant to come into NCCAP as his family had been told my other organizations that they were not eligible for assistance, he was also concerned that a referral to child protective services would be made because they did not have housing, and cognitive delays with both parents heightened their concerns for losing their children. After months of talking on the phone with R.H. he came into the NCCAP office. It was discovered the biggest barrier to obtaining housing, was the only income in the home was SSDI. This is a very limited income, and the household would not be able to live in anything other than subsidized housing. Winter was fast approaching, school was about to start, and this family had nowhere to live. After discussion it was learned the family had a Section 8 voucher, but did not know how to apply for housing, or where to begin as they had the same landlord for years prior to the fire. NCCAP assisted R.H. with completing applications for housing that was available. NCCAP then worked with a local landlord to get this family housed. NCCAP also assisted with an application to another partner program for assistance with a security deposit. NCCAP used United Way funding to assist with first month's rent. This family of 6 that has been homeless, living in a camper, was able to secure permanent, stable, affordable housing, prior to the school year starting. Without case management for this family, they would have likely continued to struggle to obtain housing. Because of cognitive delays, and lack of income this household would have likely ended up on the streets in winter. United Way funding is imperative in these situations as it allows staff to walk the road with these families, all while providing minimal financial support. It ensures that the most vulnerable receive the supports and assistance needed to be stability housed, and not entering the homeless system.

Opportunity Development Center, Inc. - Daily Living Skills Training

Kaylee was our featured success story in our second quarter report. At that time she has just secured her own housing and was thrilled to be living independently but needed some support and assistance to build her confidence and independence. ODC staff supported Kaylee to develop and implement a routine cleaning and laundry schedule along with meal prep and planning. Over the last 6 months Kaylee has been able to reduce the support she receives from ODC by 42%!

Park Place Adult Day Services, Inc.

J.P. is a participant of Park Place who had been attending since July 31, 2019. She started her visits at 3 days/week until these past 2 years when her days were increased to 5 days per week. She lives with her daughter, who is her primary caregiver. J.P attends our Adult Day Services for socialization and the time she spends at Park Place allows her daughter to work during the day. Her daughter says than J. P. enjoys coming to Park Place and looks forward to each of the days that she is here. When she first started coming she was very apprehensive and resisted participating in the Bathing Program. After hiring a new employee, whom J.P. had known for a long time, this employee was able to make J.P. feel comfortable and even allowed her to wash her hair during shower time and participate in many of the activities provided each day.Her diaughter was very happy and hoped we would continue with the goals we are working towards and have set for all participants who attend our Adult Day Care Services.


Samoset Council Boy Scouts – South Wood County

A quote from a parent as part of our early January 2024 survey: "My oldest went from shy and awkward to outgoing and confident due to the program (Samoset Scouting). Involvement in the Order of the Arrow, National Youth Leadership Training and Scout camp staff have created an outgoing, pleasant, respectful young man ready to be a contributor to society."


South Wood County YMCA - Membership for All 

We have a senior couple (asking us not to use their names), who started at our Y with our Membership for All program. The wife is battling stage 4 cancer, and wanted to use the Y to help in her battle. Medical costs for cancer are significant, so having the ability to adjust our rates to meet her families financial needs was crucial. It wasn't long after joining that the wife signed up for our Livestrong program, which is a free program offered to those battling cancer. This 12 week program allows this couple to work together, with the support from Livestrong members, to keep battling this terrible disease. Once the 12 week program is completed, they will again be part of our MFA program, so the Y can continue to support this couple and their journey.


The Family Center

Jane (name and identifying information changed for protection) is a 37-year-old female who came to The Family Center with her 6-year-old son, Jon (name and identifying information changed for protection) after years of domestic abuse from her partner. Upon her arrival Jane was very emotional and outspoken as she did not know how to properly express how she was feeling. Jon was acting out as he was a child witness to domestic abuse. While staying at The Family Center, Jane worked with Shelter Advocates and was very appreciative to have someone to talk to 24/7. Jane had commented numerous times that the advocates were very helpful in assisting her as she learned how to deal with her emotions and express how she was feeling. The Legal Systems Advocate helped her with child custody issues and was able to assist her in understanding the pending criminal charges against her abuser, possible outcomes and how the criminal justice system worked. Our Domestic Violence Housing First Advocate assisted Jane with housing resources and accompanied her to view potential housing options per Jane’s request. Jane started counseling and attended support groups offered at the Family Center. Jane was able to finish her degree and get a great job that will provide future financial stability as she cares for her family independently. Jon worked with our Children and Youth Services Coordinator regularly. With her help, and the tools she was able to teach him, he was able to express himself in a more positive way and the negative behaviors previously seen began to dissipate. When Jane and Jon moved out, they were able to move into their own home thanks to the assistance of the Domestic Violence Housing First Program at the Family Center. The Family Center and Love Inc. helped Jane to furnish her new home. Jane still calls to check in occasionally and it is great to hear how well she and Jon are doing.




Adams-Friendship Area School District – Community Learning Center (CLC)

This year's success story is one of our 2nd grade students had struggled most of her life socializing with her peers and adults. She is autistic and really only interacted with those closest to her like family. She really has bloomed this year and now seeks out to say hi to adults and asking students to play with her. This is huge since her disability really impacted her socially in the past. I believe her attending the program and the staff have helped her grow.


Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, Inc. – Crisis Rental Assistance

A single mother contacted Central Wisconsin Community Action Council (CWCAC) and requested assistance with housing. She presented with very low income, children, and explained that can qualify for housing; however, it would be extremely difficult to maintain the home with such low income. She wanted stability for herself, and moreover, she was determined provide a safe and stable home for her children. She expressed that her situation was further complicated as she recently returned to the community after successfully completing a 120-day drug treatment service. She was experiencing the discipline required in AODA recovery, while working on overcoming the hardship of homelessness. With her permission, a CWCAC Case Manager administered a barriers-related assessment tool to determine whether she qualified for homeless-related programs. Also, the Case Manager provided active listening, empathy, problem solving, and homeless-related services. Funding through United Way of Woods County provided a temporary hotel voucher to begin stabilizing her family's homeless situation. Then, CWCAC was able to leverage other program resources and case conference with community partners to assist this family. The Case Manager learned from the barriers assessment that her family qualified for other homeless-related programs. With this, her family was placed on a homeless priority list. The Case Manager was available to provide basic needs resources to this family as needed (food, clothing, and more). After a few weeks, the family was accepted into a long-term housing program that offered Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) for up to one year. This client demonstrates that with extensive barriers and challenges, resilience happens with support of services offered by the United Way of South Wood & Adams County and its partner agencies, such as CWCAC..


Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, Inc. – Food Pantry

The second half of 2023 included both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Many customers visting Adams Food Panty expressed sincere thanks to the pantry staff for their helpfulness, the selection of nutritious food, and the blessing of having the Adams Food Pantry available to help them.


Faith In Action Adams County – Transportation Today

What we consider success, is being able to drive over 20,000 miles on behalf of those in need. We have one volunteer that drove almost 4,000 alone. Another volunteer drove approximately 2,600 miles in 2023. Without the support of the United Way Transportation Grant and being able to gift gas cards to our volunteers, we wouldn’t able to provide the transportation that we do. We are so thankful.

Faith In Action Adams County – Volunteer Coordination

Joe was doing a wonderful job being his wife, Cathy’s, care giver while also taking care of their beautiful home. The commitment was tall but Joe was up for it until his health took a downward turn. After receiving some medical intervention, Joe’s prognosis was good but his journey back to being strong would take some time. Since family resides too far away to help on a daily basis, Cathy contacted Faith in Action for help. As luck would have it, our volunteer Sandy was available and was up for the task. Living just a few blocks away was definitely and huge benefit for all.During our assessment, we found out there were pretty big shoes to fill. Our volunteer would be tasked with light housekeeping, managing garbage which includes taking it to the local dump, watering the plants and boy they have plants, laundry, getting the mail and picking up and delivering the groceries. As the days and weeks went past, Sandy became fond of her new friends and neighbors and they of her. Joe and Cathy looked forward to not just the help from Sandy’s visits but they looked forward to the companionship of their new friend. After a few months, Joe’s health was really improving but sadly Cathy’s was deteriorating. Cathy passed away shortly after Christmas. We continue to help Joe with chores but more importantly he still has Sandy for his companion and his friend not just a volunteer. Joe’s not sure if he will remain in his home or relocate to live with family but until he decides he knows he can count on Sandy and Faith in Action to be there for him.


Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes – Adams County

Girl Scouts in Adams County created a flower to display both their similarities and what made each of them unique! Each petal was created by an individual who shared the traits that made them unique- and in the center were the entire group’s commonalities. In this healthy relationships curriculum, Adams County Girl Scouts were able to honor their differences and come together as a group.


Samoset Council Boy Scouts – Adams County

The Cub Scout Pack in Adams Friendship is continuing to attract more female youth participants. 2023 is the first year that there are more girls registered in the Cub Pack than boys at about a 53% of the pack's membership. Increasing our female youth participants has been a strategic plan goal of Samoset Scouting since females became first eligible to join Cub Scouts in 2017.


South Wood County YMCA - Membership for All, Adams County 

Lisa, who is a mom of 5, joined the Adams Y back in September of 2021. She is a single mom who uses the facility as a way to stay active, socialize with others, and work out some of her frustrations from being a single mom. She's grateful that we're able to scholarship her membership so that she can afford it not only for herself, but her kids as well. As Lisa mentioned, there aren't any other gyms that will discount a monthly fee by 70%... or even 10%, so having a YMCA in town has been a blessing.