Neighborhood House alums include…
• Congresswoman Gwen Moore
• State Legislator Daniel Riemer
• Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Martin Joseph Donald
• Urban Farmer and MacArthur award winner Will Allen, who launched his life’s work at Neighborhood House in 1995 with a program called Farm City Link, which later became Growing Power.
Who’s that woman in the red hat in the maple sugar shack? Who’s name is on that bluebird box? Who’s name is on the arbor in the playground? Chris Reynolds is a Neighborhood House veteran who has been educating and nurturing children here for decades in the Early Childhood Program, and at the Neighborhood House Nature Center: Listen to her story.
Kelley McClendon (Harris): I attended NH beginning with nursery school in 1966 at age 4. What memories I have – where do I start? There was a round bike path that was in the back that we rode our 3 wheelers on during outside play time. We also had sandboxes that we played in. I remember a man named Ace who worked there – he had a long white beard. Also Judy and the cleaning lady Ms. Mercle. The memories are so vivid and pleasant as I grew up there. We played in the gym, had family dinners in the dining room, rollerskating in the rink and played in the playroom. I then began summer day camp until age 12 each summer. What a ball – we would ride the bus to Greenfield Park also to the Farm on occasion. I could go on and on. NH helped to shape my future and that of my 12 brothers and sisters. We grew up in the area which at the time was very integrated. All nationalities attended NH – we all got along and loved one another. What a great memory.
I am now a certified Occupational Therapist. Working with mentally challenged adults for Milwaukee County.
I hope NH will strengthen families as It did mine, instilling integrity and also wisdom and courage to be the best you can be.
Bruce Steinmetz: I came to Neighborhood House in 1973 as a graduate student with no background or experience in social work, my undergraduate degree being in science. I had the privilege of working under Jane Thompson and Ray Richardson, who encouraged me and helped me learn, and allowed me to come back for a second field placement so I could implement ideas I had developed. I was fortunate to be hired by Ray after graduation.Working with the ethnically diverse families, teens and kids of the NH neighborhood was rewarding. I built relationships with many neighborhood folks, and am still in touch with some of them. My fellow staff members were great. We worked long weeks, then socialized and vacationed together as friends. I have many great memories of outings with teens and the group processes we went through at the center. The NH farmland was a special place for me and families. There were, of course, conflicts and hard times as well, but they helped me grow, and I hope the patrons involved learned as well. My work there gave me a way, I hope, to matter in ways that improved the lives of others.I left NH and Milwaukee in 1985 to see more of the world by bicycle. My NH experience – including day camp games! – helped me relate to kids when there was little shared language, which proved valuable in getting to know people in other countries. After travels through then-communist Eastern Europe and parts of the U.S., I wound up in Oregon 16 months later. I worked a collection of part-time jobs with youth until becoming the Child Development Specialist (counselor) at an elementary school on a river in the Cascade Mountains. From 1997 to 2013 I developed two Teen Courts for the city of Eugene and trained middle and high-school kids to conduct peer-run hearings for first time juvenile offenders. I guided the offenders in completing their peer-assigned consequences and clearing their juvenile records, but the youth volunteers were the real program. I was able to apply my group work training from Neighborhood House to matters such as jury deliberations and youth trainings.
Whether it’s professional or personal, Neighborhood House is always part of me.
Cain Oulahan: I attended about every youth program NH offered. I went to preschool there. I went to the summer camp every summer. I was in the after-school program. I grew up right around the corner from NH so my family attended other special events there like Halloween. We took field trips to the NH farm where we took hayrides on the tractor, went maple syrup collecting, and searched for the “Hoadeg.” We sang so many songs on the bus on the way to Greenfield Park that I still remember many of them more than twenty years later and find myself singing them to my two year old son. I made many life-long friends there and had amazing teachers and counselors. My family and I went to Ray Richardson’s wake when he passed away after so many years of dedicated leadership. I enjoyed many basketball games in the gym, rollerskating in the basement, woodworking in the shop, and playing in the game room. NH was a huge part of my childhood.
I am now an immigration attorney here in Milwaukee. I have a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College in Minnesota and I graduated cum laude from Marquette Law School in 2011. I work at a small law firm where I represent immigrants from all over the world, helping them get their green cards, citizenship, and defending those facing deportation. I am married to a talented artist and we have one son.
NH provides important services that families depend upon. It is also a safe space that allows youth to engage in positive activities and helps them to stay away from the many serious problems that plague the inner city such as violence, gangs, and drugs. NH can be a place that celebrates diversity, allowing people of many different backgrounds to come together to achieve common goals and realize their similarities.
Audra Walker: I was a volunteer at the International Learning Center through a Multicultural course that I was taking at Marquette. With my background in Speech Pathology, I lead phonetics lessons once a week. I also worked with a group of blind men on songs using braille and instruments. Now, I work as a Bilingual Service Coordinator (Spanish/English) in Early Intervention and hope to be enrolled in a graduate program for Speech Pathology next fall.
Do you have a Neighborhood House story?
Neighborhood House has been a beacon of hope in Milwaukee since 1945! For our upcoming 70th anniversary, we’re reaching out to Neighborhood House alumni to reconnect and gather information about what they are up to today. Share your story now.
Share your story
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