For 170 years, Wellpoint Care Network has served children and families in Wisconsin. We were founded during Milwaukee’s cholera pandemic as an orphanage for children who lost their parents to the disease. In 2020, we found ourselves called again to help families, as a devastating pandemic swept our community. Like we did in 1850, Wellpoint stepped up to meet the needs of the community.
In 2020, Wellpoint celebrated its 170th anniversary of serving children and families in Wisconsin. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we transformed the way we worked, innovated our services and continued to meet the needs of the community.
When the pandemic hit the Milwaukee area, our immediate call to action was to prioritize helping the most vulnerable families, including people of color and low-income families and individuals. Many people in our care were the essential workers who had to operate in-person, while others had to balance work with care for children and family members. Prior to the pandemic, they were already struggling with housing instability or food insecurity, and those struggles were only heightened through the pandemic.
Our Five Pillars of Stability (Housing, Health, Caring Connections, Education, Employment) continues to be a guiding framework in understanding that we can only thrive, despite adversity, when our basic needs are met.
Wellpoint CARES was a staff-founded and -funded initiative, which focused on food insecurity with a goal to be an example of how we are an outwardly-focused, community-engaged organization. Wellpoint Votes was another staff initiative to rally the community to vote.
Deepening Our Connections
In 2020, Wellpoint was quick to adjust to the abrupt need to change how we serve those who need us most. We quickly pivoted to telehealth services and virtual family visits when safer-at-home orders were issued. Thanks to an ongoing relationship with the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, we were gifted a grant that allowed us to deliver tablets and internet services to 158 Milwaukeeans who needed assistance bridging the digital gap.
Although racial equity is always a focus at Wellpoint, this year we made it more important than ever before. As an organization, we pledged to speak out on racial injustice everywhere. We believe “the healing starts with us,” and held an all-agency gathering to strengthen our anti-racist stance within the organization. We declared Juneteenth Day an agency holiday, and are committed to standing as one organization against all forms of hate.
Each year, we are reaching new training milestones and are proud that close to 60,000 individuals have been trained in our Seven Essential Ingredients (7ei) of Trauma Informed Care Model.
Although our 170th anniversary in 2020 was put on pause, we are grateful to have been able to celebrate in May of 2021. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of our donors. Over the past year, we have received more gifts from individuals and foundations than ever before. We are thankful for our staff, who have worked tirelessly to make sure the people in our care have their needs met through the changes and challenges of the year. Together, we can continue to move forward to create healing and hope for the people in our care.
Thank you for your support and dedication in helping us provide so many resources and opportunities to the community.
Ann Leinfelder Grove
President and CEO