Reblogged from Authors4Veterans.
On Friday, November 17, 2017, Stacey and I made the trip to Milwaukee to deliver the ThirtyOne bags to Fisher House. Some observations about the area are important to mention.
Stacey and I have both been to Milwaukee many times. As a matter of fact, Stacey lived there for 7 years. But as we turned onto the Zablocki Grounds it was like stepping back in time. The historic grounds still hold some of the original buildings from back in the day. You see, Abraham Lincoln, in 1865, authorized the first ever Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Asylum to help honorably discharged members of the Union and Naval troops convalesce. The Zablocki VA in Milwaukee was the first.
Now some of those historic buildings are in need of major repair, but since they’re on the historical registry, it’s insanely expensive to bring them up to habitable conditions. During our visit to Fisher House on Friday, Kathleen, one of our tour guides and the Volunteer Coordinator for Fisher House Wisconsin, told us HUD has agreed to help reform one of the buildings to be used to house homeless veterans. I’ll be watching that project come along, as its long over-due.
So, we made our way through the maze of buildings and roads and parked at Fisher House. Our first impression was that it was a beautiful house, but looks like it’s been there for years. Not so, Jennifer Kiefer – Fisher House Manager, told us. Fisher House Wisconsin is only one and a half years old. The $7.1 million dollar project took the community and VA time to organize and raise the funds. Determination on when and where a fisher House will be built is based on the need of the area.
So, let me tell you a bit about Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, the patrons of the Fisher Houses around the world. I’ll paraphrase, but please click on the link above and read all about them. Zachary Fisher was a builder, philanthropist and generous supporter of the military members. A need was presented to him and he jumped at the chance to help out. Both Mr. and Mrs. Fisher are now deceased, but their legacy lives on and its quite a legacy.
So, you’ve been reading about our generous author supporters and we’ve been telling you about the more than generous donations of these fabulous authors. Not just the books they’ve signed and sent, but socks, journals, snacks, bags, toiletry items, nail care and oodles of swag. We packed it all into ThirtyOne thermal bags (the donations were so voluminous that we had to be plastic bags to put the ThirtyOne bags in and remaining donated items. We loaded Stacy’s van and made the two hour drive to Milwaukee.
We met Jennifer and Kathleen and they gave us a tour of the facility and we were both awed. Beautifully decorated and appointed the house, though large, feels homey and comfortable. The expansive kitchen boasts two areas for cooking should families choose to make their own meals, but there are volunteers who come in and cook for the families as well. While we were there, Maggie, a volunteer was there making stroganoff and the gorgeous cupcakes she made and decorated looked too good to eat. The delicious aromas wafting out from the kitchen was a welcome home scent if ever there was one.
A library area, common area with sofa’s and a television and a large patio area are all available to military families while they stay at Fisher House. The pictures don’t do it justice, but you can get a good idea of what the home looks like. There are Queen bed rooms and twin bed rooms based on the need of the family staying, but both are gorgeous and comfortable.
We took the opportunity to take our picture with Jennifer and Kathleen after we brought all the bags in (not all are pictured). Spoke with them a bit about donations in the future and came home.
Stacey and I both agree that we’re very proud of our support of Fisher House and so proud of our author community for stepping up to help families of our veterans.
Authors – We’ll be organizing two donation drives per year, the next around Mother’s Day, so if you want to be made aware of the opportunity to be part of that sponsorship, please sign up for our mailing list.
Readers – stay tuned because we saved four fantastic bags filled with goodies for you. We’ll be giving them away on our site here beginning on November 27th.