International organization has connection to fighting Wisconsin poverty

International organization has connection to fighting Wisconsin poverty

People across the world are dealing with poverty and insufficient housing accommodations even in the 21st century.  It may not seem like it, but in the United States, millions of workers cannot afford good shelter.

One international organization that deals with helping combat these problems is Habitat for Humanity, which has a UW-Whitewater chapter.

According to the main site for Habitat for Humanity, good housing is needed not just for shelter, but also for health-related reasons.

The campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to helping the people who live in poverty in southern Wisconsin, specifically those in Walworth County.

General member Cass Gibbon, who is also president of the UW-W chapter, explained how Habitat started in the 1970s.  This information is also on the main website.

“Habitat for Humanity was started by Millard Fuller and his wife,” Gibbon said.  “They were wealthy, but gave it up.”

Habitat originated in Georgia, and is now all over the world.

Gibbon further explained that starting in the 1980s, Habitat for Humanity slowly got more into setting up college campus chapters, and that was around the time the UW-W chapter was founded.

Different people involved have different motivation for joining Habitat and helping its cause.

Advisor Brian Zanin, the Catholic Campus Minister, explained that his position came as part of his job.

“I have been an advisor for 14 years,” Zanin said.  “I did not seek it out; it was part of my job.”

Despite that, Zanin said he enjoyed working with Habitat from the beginning.

“I have been part of Habitat since my freshman year,” Gibbon said.  “I first joined for the social aspect, but enjoyed the work and stuck around.”

General member Kelley Agnew had experience with the organization before arriving at UW-Whitewater, as she had previously been involved with Habitat for Humanity in high school.

“There was a chapter at my high school, so I knew I wanted to join in college,” Agnew said.  “I joined right away during my freshman year of college.”

Despite mainly working in Walworth County, the campus chapter does not limit itself to that location.  There are not just college chapters in the United States, but city affiliations as well.

Gibbon explained how the UW-W Habitat chapter helps other chapters when needed.

“We do not work with other college chapters, but we do help the affiliates in Rock and Jefferson Counties,” Gibbon said.

According to the main Habitat for Humanity website, the houses built “are simple, decent, and affordable to low-income families.”  In addition, homes built in the United States have mortgage loans that have no interest and do not go toward profit, as stated on the website.

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organization, but the website states that anyone can help “regardless of religious preference or background,” and people are assisted “regardless of race or religion.”

According to the main website, the philosophy of the organization is that everyone “should have a simple, decent place to live in dignity and safety.”

Jobs speaks at Stanford University commencement

Jobs speaks at Stanford University commencement

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs spoke June 12 at the Stanford University Commencement ceremony.

Jobs spoke on three stories of different parts of his life.  These three stories were about what Jobs referred to as “connecting the dots,” “love and loss,” and “death.”

He explained why he dropped out of college after attending Reed College for six months and then “stayed as a drop-in” for approximately 18 months.  During his time as a drop-in Jobs took a calligraphy class on typeface, learning about serif and sans serif type fonts in the process.

10 years after taking the class Jobs and his close friend Steve Wozniak, nicknamed Woz by Jobs, started designing the Macintosh computer in Jobs’ parents’ garage in northern California.  The lessons on typography Jobs had taken back in his drop-in time at Reed College paid off.

“When we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me,” Jobs said.  “It was first computer with beautiful typography.”

The road was not always smooth for Jobs.  In 1985, one year after releasing the Macintosh, Jobs was fired from his own company.

This part of the story began when Jobs had hired John Sculley to be chief executive of the Apple Company back in 1981.  In 1984 the Macintosh had good reviews but poor sales, which led to “a falling out” between the two men, as Jobs described it in the commencement address.

The Board of Directors at Apple sided with Sculley, and Jobs was fired.  Despite that, he chose to go on with what he liked doing.

“I had been rejected, but I was still in love,” Jobs said.  “And so I decided to start over.”

During Jobs’ new start, he founded the company known as NeXT, helped develop Pixar and met his future wife.  Eventually, Apple bought NeXT, and Jobs was back at his old company.

As he looked back on this time in the middle of his speech, Jobs encouraged the graduates present to never give up on what they want to do with their lives, even during tough times.

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick,” Jobs said.  “Don’t lose faith.”

Jobs’ final story of the speech focused on a health scare and how it made him realize how short life is, even for him.

In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The cancer was first thought to be incurable and the doctors told Jobs that he had three to six months.

However, when a biopsy was performed that same evening, the cancer was found to be “a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery,” Jobs said.

Jobs underwent the surgery, and now he is healthy again.  He called it “the closest” he had ever “been to facing death,” and he hopes it stays that way for a while.

Jobs’ overall message to the graduates at Stanford University was not to waste the limited time one has “living someone else’s life,” and that everyone part of the commencement should follow their hearts.

Weekly religious group shows dedication in attendance

Weekly religious group shows dedication in attendance

As it does each week except during Thanksgiving and Spring Breaks during the UW-Whitewater school year, the Catholic Student Coalition met for its regular meeting Wednesday night at the Campus Ministry Center on Prairie Street.

*The Catholic Student Coalition is, as its name suggests, an organization of Catholic college students that attend University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  The group meets every Wednesday night at 8:15 p.m. at the Campus Ministry Center for regular meetings.

At each regular meeting, the group discusses different aspects of the Catholic faith; such as martyrs, the Apostles, and saints, with selected students leading selected meetings.  The students do so through small group activities and prayer sessions among other methods of learning.

Besides the regular meetings, the group frequently plans special gatherings and events throughout both the fall and spring semester, such as its Cookie Bake fundraiser and weekend retreats to religious place like Holy Hill, among other things.

The current Catholic Campus Minister, Brian Zanin, elaborated on the history of the organization and the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater’s Campus Ministry.

“Campus Ministry goes back to the 1960s,” Zanin said.  “The organization goes back to the 1970s.”

Zanin further explained that the Catholic Student Coalition has had different names over the years, among them the Catholic Student Association and the Newman Club.  The current name, the Catholic Student Coalition, was coined and started being used in the 1980s.

Different students have attended for different ranges of time, often during their whole college career.

Students Melissa Freeman and Tyler Woelfel have both been at the organization for two years now.

Maureen MacCready, a five-year student, has attended Catholic Student Coalition since she arrived.  She said it had to do with the friendly people that attend the meetings.

“I have been here five years,” MacCready said.  “I guess it is just the people here that keep me coming.”

Freeman attends the meetings on a similar note:  due to the nice people that join and regularly attend.

“The people keep me here,” Freeman said.  “I feel very welcome.”

Woelfel expanded on a different idea for his reasons for continuing to attending the organization, which included having fun with friends that attend, and the cookies from fundraising.

“I think what keeps me here are the fun and the food,” Woelfel said.  “The cookies are delicious.”

Whatever their reasons for attending, the members of the Catholic Student Coalition appear to be dedicated.

Interview Assignment

Wisconsin resident remembers unusual Great Depression situations


Most people know the basics about the Great Depression, which started after the stock market crash of 1929 and caused many families to lose everything they had.  However, there were situations in which a family was luckier than most.


Judith Poshepny, born in 1927, is one of those people born before the Depression.  Although she is now 86, she remembers what she and her family went through during the height of the Depression.


Poshepny’s memories include having her extended family moving in with her immediate family in Kenosha, Wis. due to the extended family losing their house.


Despite the hardships, Poshepny’s family was one of the lucky ones.  Her father had a job throughout the Depression and was able to keep his house “at a mortgage of $11 a month.”


As President Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda progressed, Poshepny’s grandmother went to work for the Works Progress Administration, and her uncle worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Both her grandmother and uncle were among the extended family that moved in after losing their house.


In addition, food was a major issue for the majority of Americans.  However, Poshepny and her family were luckier than most in this area as well.


Poshepny mentioned that she “always had enough to eat.”  This was partially contributed to by the fact that her father owned two acres of land and used them to grow vegetables that would be canned and saved for the winter.


Despite Poshepny being one of the few that had plenty of food, it was not what people today would call glamorous.


“People could not afford expensive cuts of meat, so organ meat was eaten,” Poshepny said.  She also mentioned that animal bones were boiled with vegetables to make soup during the harsh times.


The Depression was lifted with World War II, but it left a legacy that usually older people born before the start only understand.


Poshepny lives in Milwaukee today and still has friends that lived during the Depression who remember being through tough times, but she said only a few of those friends believe it made a lasting impact on them.


She thinks it has impacted her throughout her life because of the fact she was born two years before the stock market crash.


Hi Everyone!

Welcome to my blog.  I like to take pictures of trains, watch sci-fi movies and play video games.  Here is a sample of one of my photos before the blog gets serious.

A small steam locomotive switching cars at the Illinois Railway Museum.

 As you may guessed, I frequently visit the Illinois Railway Museum.  Here is a link to there website.