Since 1887, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee has served children from disadvantaged circumstances with quality after-school programs. 1999 was a turning point for the organization. Although they were already reaching 10,000 kids annually, they were only skimming the surface of need in the community. There were still numerous children at-risk for succumbing to the streets.
In response to Colin Powell’s America’s Promise – a challenge to serve more children – the organization set a goal of doubling membership to 20,000 by the end of 2000. To accomplish this strategic plan, known as Vision 2020, they were charged with raising a record $14 million. Without hesitation, Mary Ellen Stanek was asked to chair the campaign.
A member of the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee since 1997, Stanek wanted to deepen her involvement with the Clubs. Vision 2020 presented a perfect opportunity, so she signed on.
Stanek devoted herself to the cause, attending meetings, interpreting financial reports, and lending advice. She shared a gift for motivating others to get involved with Vision 2020. With her engaging personality, she helped secure some sizable contributions crucial to the success of the campaign. In addition, she served as a resource for her colleagues on the Board, offering help and insight in regard to their own fundraising efforts for the Clubs.
Stanek impresses everyone with her unwavering dedication to children. She never forgets that the Clubs are not about fundraising – they are about serving kids. She often visits the central-city facilities and is eager to talk to members, getting right down on the floor with them.
Through this gentle approach, Stanek calls attention to serious social problems (i.e., violence and poverty in children’s lives) in a unique, refreshing way. She humanizes what the Clubs are all about. She does not rattle off statistics or preach; instead, she shows people, through her actions and words, that children are worthy of attention. Again and again, Stanek turns heads and raises awareness with her straightforward and loving way of supporting Club members.
Without Stanek, Vision 2020 would still be a dream. In December 2000, the organization met its goal of 20,000 and also surpassed the financial goal, arriving at $18.2 million! They are now extending their services to serve neighborhoods where children have been in need. Moreover, the organization is financially secure, able to sustain its growth. These successes are due to Mary Ellen Stanek.
In addition to the Clubs, Stanek serves on the boards for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation, Safe & Sound, Junior Achievement and Marquette University. She is a past president and board member of Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Last year, she won the Marquette University Person for Others Award and the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award for her community involvement.