Julie Gilkay

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New book details the healing power of restorative justice

RICE LAKE — Local authors Monika Audette and Mary Hoeft have announced the release of their book, “From a Single Pebble: Barron County Restorative Justices Programs,” to tell the story of how the organization began and the impact it has had.

Monika Audette

“The book was more than a year in the making,” said Monika Audette, program operations leader of Barron County Restorative Justice Programs, a program of Goodwill NCW. “We hope it will appeal both to those wanting to start a program like ours and those interested in the touching stories that show how restorative justice heals.”

Mary Hoeft, professor emeritus of communication arts and French at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire-Barron County and a long-time restorative justice volunteer, said, “It was a work from my heart. I have witnessed the healing that comes to victims and offenders, and I want others to know about this powerful process.”

The book chronicles the impact Barron County Restorative Justice Programs has had on Barron County since the program’s inception in 1999, when Barron County Circuit Court Judge Ed Brunner set out to find a program that empowered victims and held offenders accountable in a new way.

Mary Hoeft

Mary Hoeft

Brunner sought a viable alternative to the incarceration of nonviolent offenders and found that alternative in a process called victim offender conferencing, which is now referred to as restorative conferencing.

Under the early leadership of then executive director Polly Wolner, Barron County Restorative Justice Programs began its work of restoring a community. Wolner expanded programming to include Victim Impact Panels, Teen Court, Prime for Life, and the School Community Outreach Program.

Twenty-one years after its formation, BCRJP’s menu of services also includes Safe Serve, Catch My Breath, Teen Traffic Violation Program and cognitive behavioral intervention programs for low- and medium-risk offenders.

Barron County Restorative Justice Programs, which became a program of Goodwill NCW in 2012, is considered one of the largest rural restorative justice programs in the country. Since its inception, more than 10,000 Barron County residents have felt the impact of restorative conferencing and another 10,000 residents have attended a Victim Impact Panel.

A 2008 study by UW-Eau Claire political science professor Dr. Eric Kasper confirmed the profound impact restorative justice had on Barron County, when he cited that the county’s juvenile arrest rate had decreased at a pace faster than the juvenile arrest rates in all of Wisconsin’s 71 remaining counties combined.

A 2019 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute confirmed the impact Prime for Life and Victim Impact Panels were having on the drinking behavior of Barron County residents. Between 2013 and 2017, Barron County ranked lowest in the number of alcohol-related driving deaths in Wisconsin.

Since the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd, community leaders across the country have called for an investment in community-based models of safety, support and prevention. Audette and Hoeft wrote their book so community leaders throughout the country could learn about the success of each of BCRJP’s restorative programs and discover that the programs fit their communities’ needs.

“From a Single Pebble: Barron County Restorative Justice Programs” is available for purchase online at Beginning Jan. 8, copies will be available to purchase at the Barron County Restorative Justice Programs office, 323 E. La Salle Ave., Barron. An open house and book signing will be held 1-3 p.m. Jan. 8. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go toward funding BCRJP.

Three business leaders join Goodwill NCW Board of Directors

MENASHA — Three business leaders have joined the Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin (NCW) Board of Directors.

As a member of Goodwill Industries International — a network of independently operated Goodwills, Goodwill NCW is governed by a board of directors made up of 11 volunteers and President/CEO Chris Hess and is led by Chairman Gregg Curry. Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization that uses donations and shopping purchases to fund job training and other opportunities as part of its mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment.

The three new board members are:

Autumn Anfang of St. Norbert College: Autumn has more than 25 years of experience providing financial, operational and organizational strategic leadership in for-profit, nonprofit and higher education institutions. She is the Vice President of Business and Finance at St. Norbert College, with direct responsibility for Finance, Human Resources, Digital Transformation, Risk & Property Management, Facilities and Auxiliary & Hospitality Services. She previously worked at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Before entering the higher education industry in 2011, she served in chief financial officer and finance leadership roles in the nonprofit, retail, telecommunications and banking sectors. Autumn has a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and earned her certified public accountant license upon graduation. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Georgia.

Michael Meinolf of Associated Bank: Michael Meinolf has been Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Associated Bank since September 2018. He joined Associated in April 2015 as Senior Vice President, Director of Business Solutions. With more than 20 years of information technology experience, Michael previously held the positions of Vice President, Technology Administration at The Clearing House Payments Co. and Director of Information Technology, PayDirect Government Solutions at FIS.

Jesse Ostrom of Thrivent Trust Co.: Jesse is the President and Chief Fiduciary Officer of Thrivent Trust Company. Jesse has worked in the trust and estate-planning industry for more than 20 years. As Chief Fiduciary Officer, Jesse leads the Advisor Services team, which includes Estate Planning, Personal Trust, Estate Settlement, and Fiduciary Tax. The Advisor Services team is staffed by more than 20 attorneys, CPAs, experienced trust officers and specialists who ensure services are provided in an effective and efficient manner. Jesse joined Thrivent Financial Bank in 2010. Before joining Thrivent, Jesse was a partner with a well-established firm where he practiced law for 13 years. A member of the Wisconsin Bar, Jesse holds a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit

Hess joins First Business Bank’s Northeast Wisconsin Advisory Board of Directors

NOV. 17, 2020 – First Business Bank, part of First Business Financial Services, Inc., today announces Chris Hess joined its Northeast Wisconsin Advisory Board of Directors.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Chris is joining the First Business Bank Northeast Wisconsin Advisory Board,” said Rick Hearden, President – Northeast Wisconsin Market. “He’s a true leader with a valuable perspective and experience building a community in which everyone can thrive.”

Chris is President and Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin. Since March 2018, Chris has been leading an organization that lives out its mission “Elevating people by Eliminating Barriers to Employment” through its programs, services, retail stores, and training centers across 35 counties.

Before joining Goodwill, Chris served as vice president of market development and sales for ThedaCare, a nonprofit healthcare organization. Chris also serves on the board of directors of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and has been named one of Wisconsin’s most influential Black leaders. He is a Kenosha native who graduated from St. Norbert College and earned an MBA from UW-Oshkosh.

About First Business Bank
First Business Financial Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: FBIZ) is a bank holding company and parent of First Business Bank focused on the unique needs of businesses, business executives, and high net worth individuals. First Business offers business banking, specialty finance, and private wealth management solutions, and, through its niche focus, provides clients with unmatched expertise, accessibility, and responsiveness. Member FDIC, First Business Bank is located at 3913 W. Prospect Avenue in Appleton, Wis.

Goodwill NCW program receives Targeted Impact Fund grant

MENASHA — Barron County Restorative Justice, a program of Goodwill NCW, has received a $5,000 Targeted Impact Fund grant through Johnson Bank.

As a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank, Johnson Bank, which has a branch in Rice Lake, nominated Barron County Restorative Justice for the grant, which provides direct support to organizations that are addressing racial equity disparities in Wisconsin communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and that promote equity and opportunity for communities of color.

The Goodwill NCW program was nominated in the category of empowerment services for its work in serving populations hardest hit by COVID-19, including rural communities.

“In light of the country’s elevated conversations regarding systemic racism and social injustices, we felt the restorative justice program offered here in Barron County would benefit most from this Targeted Impact Fund grant,” said Mary Schnacky, Johnson Bank market president-Rice Lake. “For our rural communities, Barron County Restorative Justice demonstrates how they assist in keeping us safer by inviting open communication, not only between the victims and the offenders, but also by including the impacted community. It is through these well-needed conversations and educational opportunities where people are given a second chance to make a positive change in their lives and in their community.”

The grant program seeks to provide targeted relief for maximum community impact, according to Federal Home Loan Bank.

“We are incredibly honored that Johnson Bank nominated our organization,” said Monika Audette, program operations leader. “COVID-19 definitely has had an impact on us, and the need is much greater now. While our work continued during the statewide Safer at Home order, once it was lifted we felt an immediate call for our services in the community, especially in assisting our school families. We are grateful for this partnership and special community support from Johnson Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank.”

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit

Consumers finding new ways to safely celebrate Halloween

MENASHA — While Halloween might look different this year, Americans are planning to celebrate and find ways to safely mark the fall holiday.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, more than 148 million U.S. adults plan to participate in Halloween-related activities.

“Consumers continue to place importance on celebrating our traditional holidays, even if by untraditional standards,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers are prepared to meet the increased demand for seasonal décor, costumes and other items that allow families the opportunity to observe Halloween safely.”

There is still plenty of fun to be had by following health and safety precautions and getting creative. We encourage you to check with your local government office to determine if there are specific safety guidelines around Halloween before planning events.

Here are some celebration ideas:

  • Rather than having kids come to your front door, set up a decorated table in the front yard and hand out individual bags or cups of candy to keep contact to a minimum.
  • Host a neighborhood trunk-or-treat and pass out candy. Consider having designated adults who have washed their hands and commit to applying hand sanitizer give out the candy rather than encourage hands to reach inside the bowl.
  • Host a themed virtual Halloween costume party.
  • Throw a Halloween parade so costume wearers can show off their look. Or coordinate with your neighborhood and hold a reverse trick-or-treating drive-by parade where people in the vehicle throw candy at kids in costumes in their yards, much like birthday parades.
  • Plan a party for those in your bubble, including immediate family or close friends you have socially engaged with during lightened restrictions. Keep invitees to a minimum and hold outdoors or in the garage and wear masks.

Overall Halloween spending is estimated to be $8.05 billion, according to the NRF. Forty-six percent plan to dress in costume this year compared with 47% in 2019. Here’s what is expected to be popular this Halloween.

  • Top costumes for kids: princess, Spider-Man, superhero, ghost, Batman, witch, vampire, “Frozen” movie characters, pumpkin and cat.
  • Top costumes for adults: Witch, vampire, cat, Batman, ghost, pirate, zombie, nurse, princess and doctor.
  • Costume choices often are influenced by what we see on TV or social media. This year what’s trending is “Tiger King”-, “Masked Singer”- and Broadway musical “Hamilton”-themed costumes.
  • Every year pop culture impacts what’s hot. Unicorns, which have been big the past two Halloweens, will be out in force again this year. Our increased time at home this year also is influencing our costume choices, with couch potato, nurse and doctor being popular picks.
  • Pets: Dressing our pets has become a big part of our Halloween fun, and 18% of pet owners plan to dress their pets in costume. Not only does Goodwill have pet-specific costumes but that onesies, tutus, jerseys and other accessories also can be used to dress your dog or cat. Popular pet costumes this year will be pumpkin, hot dog, superhero and cat.

Since 1971, Goodwill NCW has served as the Original Halloween Headquarters.

  • Score secondhand costumes that are ready to wear or create your own unique look that frights or delights.
  • Find new and ready-made accessories, masks, makeup, wigs and other fun items to complete your costume.
  • Not only do you get a one-of-a-kind look with our donated treasures or ready-to-wear costumes, you also are helping your local community by providing job training and opportunities to people with barriers to employment.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit

Free tax service found ways to stay open during pandemic

State of Wisconsin • DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

By Patty Mayers, Communications Director

When the pandemic hit earlier this year, Jackie Zolp and her Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program team were well into the 2020 tax season.

Zolp coordinates the Goodwill VITA site in Menasha — one of about 200 sites in Wisconsin — where they help qualifying taxpayers with free income tax preparation services.

The 50-person volunteer force started the 2020 tax season in January as usual with classes in preparation to work one-on-one with taxpayers. Everything was smooth until early March when news of the pandemic’s spread became real, and businesses and organizations started looking to scale back and shut down.

“We had 27 of our 50 volunteers continue on at that point,” said Zolp, as some volunteers decided to sit out the season for safety concerns. Of the 27 who stayed, some chose to work behind the scenes during morning hours, entering and reviewing tax returns before taxpayers arrived.

Another shift from normal business practices at the site was a move from in-person to mostly virtual tax preparation services. One-on-one walk-in meetings with taxpayers were replaced with taxpayers stopping at the Goodwill VITA site at appointed times to drop off tax documents and give necessary information. The new appointment system improved safety by creating a constant flow of visitors to and from the site, reducing backups and people waiting in proximity of one another. Volunteers and staff followed sanitizing and social distancing guidelines. Preparers worked tax returns alone and questions once answered by the taxpayer sitting across the table from them now occurred over the phone through a secure password process.

But even with all the new safety precautions, uncertainty remained.

“We knew things might shut down,” said Zolp, adding that the uncertainty motivated volunteers. “They put in so many hours so we could do as many returns as possible, knowing there might be a shutdown.”

The next shift came when Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order went into effect in late March. When the site closed, the team immediately began to work on a plan to reopen and continue providing service under the new guidelines.

“We needed something secure that limited taxpayer and volunteer contact while serving as many people as we could,” Zolp said.

The solution was to reopen with appointed drop-off and pick-up times along with masking and other safety precautions. To further limit exposure, they scaled back the team to two volunteers and two staff members. Even with the limited crew, they processed an impressive 313 returns from March 16 to July 15.

The 2020 tax season provided many takeaways and opportunities to try techniques they may have otherwise never considered. Zolp said she will meet with volunteers before next tax season to consider techniques they can use moving forward.

“It may be a hybrid system where those comfortable using technology can work virtually while we still offer in-person services for others,” she said.

Whatever changes, she says she is proud of what they accomplished this year and is optimistic for next year.

The VITA program is a cooperative effort by the IRS, nonprofit organizations including Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin and many individual states, including Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Board for People with Development Disabilities names Goodwill NCW a Partners with Business award winner

(Madison) — The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) has announced six awards statewide to service providers and employment organizations designed so they can help local businesses hire and support workers with significant disabilities.

The Partners with Business initiative was signed into law in 2018 and is based on a successful, cost-effective strategy from BPDD’s Let’s Get to Work youth employment project that shows businesses how co-workers can provide supports to employees with disabilities on the job.

Congratulations to Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin (NCW), headquartered in Menasha. Goodwill NCW plans to implement the Partners with Business model with people with disabilities who receive long-term care through IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct). By implementing the model with IRIS participants, Goodwill will learn how the strategies can be used effectively in Wisconsin’s self-directed services option. Goodwill employment professionals will be trained in the Partners with Business strategies and will support people with disabilities and their employers to use more natural supports, rather than paid job coaching, on the job.

Partners with Business supports workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be successful on the job by using a combination of natural and formal supports, both of which are provided by the employer. Using the Partners with Business approach, a school or vocational service agency works with an employer to provide initial job training for a worker with disabilities and develops on-the-job supports through co-workers. Once co-worker supports have been developed and job training is complete, the employer may receive funds from the long-term care system (i.e. Family Care, IRIS, Partnership) or other sources to designate co-worker(s), instead of agency-provided job coaches, to provide necessary ongoing supports.

“The Partners with Business approach has shown success reducing the need for outside job coaches and has demonstrated increased numbers of hours worked per week by employees. Overall, workers supported through Partners with Business have needed fewer public supports to get and keep their jobs. It’s a win-win employment strategy for people with disabilities in Wisconsin,” said Beth Swedeen, Executive Director for the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.

These grants are part of the 2017 Wisconsin Act 323, passed on April 16, 2018. To view the statutory language, visit:

Coronavirus expected to boost back-to-school spending to record levels

MENASHA — The coronavirus is impacting the back-to-school season in a way that’s never been felt before, and whether students return to the school year by being in school, at home or a combination of both, uncertain families are planning to spend a record amount on back to school as they prepare for the possibility of e-learning, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.

Parents with children in elementary through high school say they plan to spend an average of $789 per family, topping the previous record of $697 they said they would spend last year, according to the NRF. Total spending for kindergarten through 12th grade and college combined is projected to reach $101.6 billion — exceeding last year’s $80.7 billion and topping the $100 billion mark for the first time.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers say the coronavirus will affect their back-to-class shopping in some form, with 30 percent saying they will do more comparison shopping.

Families can stretch their dollar by shopping thrift. By doing so, families also are helping their community. The average purchase supports more than one and a half hours of job training and opportunities.

Here are our budget-friendly tips on shopping thrift for back to school:

  • Donated items with the color tag of the week are 50% off the ticketed price. Shop clearance racks for extra savings.
  • Look for donated merchandise that has the original price tag and pay secondhand prices for clothing that never has been worn.
  • Go often. Frequency and quick decision-making can pay off. Goodwill and other thrift stores are in the business of donations, and what is donated is one of a kind. That means if you see something you like, buy it. You might never see anything like it again. Plus, if you go often you’ll have a better chance of scoring some of those amazing finds.
  • Jeans are a back-to-school staple, and children’s jeans at Goodwill start at $4.99. Adult jeans start at $6.99.
  • Don’t forget to go beyond apparel. Check the racks for belts, purses, backpacks, dorm-room totes, shoes, desk décor, blankets and more.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit

Goodwill NCW to require shoppers to wear masks

MENASHA — Starting Monday, July 20, Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin (NCW) will be requiring shoppers to wear face coverings or masks in all of its 27 retail stores and training centers across its 35-county region, joining team members who have been required to wear face coverings or masks since reopening on May 26.

The Goodwill NCW Outlet Store in Appleton, which reopened July 15, also requires shoppers to wear face coverings or masks.

“As an essential human services organization with a retail operation that fuels our mission, it’s important for us to do our part to slow the spread in our communities,” Goodwill NCW President and CEO Chris Hess said. “Our top priority throughout this pandemic has been and always will continue to be to protect the health and safety of our team members, customers and communities.”

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization now recommend that people wear masks as a way to reduce community spread of COVID-19. As part of this effort, the National Retail Federation released a statement on July 15 encouraging all retailers to adopt a nationwide policy that requires customers to wear face coverings or masks to protect the health and well-being of their teams, customers and partners during the coronavirus pandemic.

Goodwill NCW retail store and training center team members will work with customers who come to the store without a mask to find a solution. Customers who cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition will be accommodated and are encouraged to wear an alternative option such as a face shield.

Goodwill NCW adjusting donation drop-off locations, hours

MENASHA — Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin (NCW) is adjusting its donation drop-off locations and hours across its 35-county region.

Goodwill NCW began taking donations last week with strict safety measures in place. Starting Thursday, May 7, the following retail stores and training centers will be open for noncontact donation drop-offs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, unless capacity is reached earlier: Darboy, Grand Chute, Green Bay East, Green Bay West, Lake Hallie, Marshfield, Onalaska, Oshkosh (20th Ave.), Plover, Rhinelander, Rib Mountain, Rice Lake and Wisconsin Rapids.

Donation Expresses at 2465 Lineville Road, Green Bay; 211 E. Ann St., Kaukauna; and 1033 W. Northland Ave., Appleton, also are open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily for noncontact donation drop-offs. The Shiner Center and Outlet Store in Appleton remain closed for donations.

The following locations will not be open to the public but will be used for sorting donations after they are held for 72 hours in accordance with recommendations from the National Institutes of Health: Antigo, Ashwaubenon, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Menasha, Menomonie, Neenah, Oshkosh West, Shawano, Stevens Point, Tomah, Waupaca and Weston. The De Pere Donation Express also is closed.

As a nonprofit human service organization, Goodwill NCW uses revenue from the sale of donations to fund job training and other opportunities as part of its mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment. In 2019, 91% of Goodwill NCW’s revenue was generated through the sale of donations.

The changes in locations and hours allow for Goodwill NCW to better care for its team members, ensure the safety of the community and team, and catch up with the generous donations it has received so far.

While stores remain closed to shoppers, Goodwill NCW’s noncontact donation drop-off features a drive-thru system follows social-distancing guidelines:
• Donors are asked to remain in their vehicles until they reach the donation doors and, once they exit their vehicles, to practice social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet of space from others.
• Donors should place items in the designated bins or boxes instead of delivering person-to-person. Donors will need to sort donations into the two labeled bins according to soft goods such as apparel, handbags, shoes, bedding and towels and hard goods such as books, décor, kitchenware, household items and artwork.
• Signage at donation drop-offs walks donors through the process.
• Online receipts are available at
• All donation attendants will be wearing gloves and a mask or face covering.

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