St. Marcus Community Engagement Programming Improves the Lives of Both Students and Parents
When Colette enrolled her children in St. Marcus Lutheran School in Milwaukee, Wis., she never dreamed it would lead to owning her own home, one that she herself helped build.
In 2021, St. Marcus was awarded a $300,000 joint grant from We Raise Foundation and Siebert Lutheran Foundation. The grant helped the school go forward with their community engagement programming, a strategy that empowers staff and parents of St. Marcus scholars to provide stability and prosperity for their families and the Harambee neighborhood in which they live.
Parents who sign up for the programming attend classes and workshops to help them balance budgets, get out of debt, develop emergency funds, and sometimes take the powerful steps to creating generational wealth through home ownership.
The idea behind this unique, holistic approach is that it’s not enough to prepare children for success without focusing on the whole family. A stable home, employment, and abundance of food all affect a child’s academics. St. Marcus disciples children for Christ and prepares them for excellence and leadership in their communities, yet it’s a crucial benefit when the whole family can be successful.
Colette is a mother of seven, three of whom are currently enrolled at St. Marcus. Colette has been attending the community engagement programming there since 2021. She meets monthly with Life Coach Moe Lawrenz. Together, they review spreadsheets, keep track of Colette’s finances, and make new goals. And it’s through this programming that Colette got involved with Habitat for Humanity.
“I didn’t know if I was ready yet to sign up for Habitat,” said Colette, “but when I asked Moe, she said, ‘I don’t see why not!’”
That was about a year ago. Since then, Colette has helped build her home, gaining skills and working on siding, dry wall, and painting. She also worked many hours at Habitat’s resale store in addition to her full-time job as a resident service specialist/certified nursing assistant at St. John’s on the Lake in Milwaukee.
Now, having been a renter her whole life, Colette is weeks away from moving her children into their brand new home. It’s a tremendous source of pride for her and her family.
“I grew up in the projects of Chicago,” she said. “It was a nightmare living there and I never want my children to experience that. I’ll be showing them they can do anything they put their minds to.
“God is the head of all of this,” Colette continued. “I wouldn’t have made it without Him. And I’m grateful for all the support from We Raise donors. These people gave me a push and did things for me that people I see on a daily basis couldn’t do. This is a huge deal for my family and I appreciate everyone who prayed and worked to make sure we have a better life. It gives me chills just to think about it.”
Thanks to the vision and generosity of We Raise donors, hard-working parents like Colette can realize financial stability, build self-confidence, and even achieve the very impressive accomplishment of home ownership.