Community Dinner to Benefit The Ascend Initiative on April 25

Published Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities, Modern Woodmen of America, and members from Leadership Fox Cities invite the community to a dinner and benefit on behalf of, The Ascend Initiative. The event will take place April 25, starting at 6:00 p.m. at The Source Public House in Menasha.


The Ascend Initiative is a program created in response to a long-identified community need to quickly and dramatically increase the future life opportunities of at-risk young adults. The Ascend Initiative is a semi-independent living program for young adults coping with mental health challenges. The program operates under the umbrella of a collaboration between The Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities and NAMI Fox Valley. By leveraging the stability of safe, affordable housing in conjunction with mental health support, education, employment and basic living skills, program participants are prepared for a lifetime of success and self-sufficiency.   


The dinner will feature tapas prepared by the chef at The Source, live music from Kevin Mason, a brief program, raffles, and video to provide guests a deeper understanding of the Ascend Initiative. Proceeds from the benefit will directly support construction of a new kitchen for the Ascend Initiative. This is a group project conducted by members from Leadership Fox Cities. Modern Woodmen of America will match the first $2,500 raised during the event. Raffle prizes include a seaplane ride around the Fox Cities, tax preparation up to a $500 value, a handmade quilt, and more!


“The young adults in the Ascend Initiative come from varied backgrounds, including aging out of foster care, homelessness, unstable/unhealthy home environments, and various treatment centers,” said Program Director, Jen Kelley.


“The common thread with all of them is adverse childhood experience, trauma, and resiliency.  We know that a sense of connection and belonging is one of the greatest prevention tools against suicide, addiction, and continued catastrophic life events. The one thing that has and will continue to bring people together is food. In the meals we have shared together, there have been smiles for the first time in months, shared personal stories, and most of all, making connections with each other. Since we know that sharing a meal together creates memories with the good feelings associated with sounds and smells and tastes of the kitchen, the Ascend Initiative is thrilled to announce our new kitchen project,” Kelley added.


The Ascend Initiative plans to add 500 square feet to the existing property through a committed contractor and a detailed plan is already in place to make this a reality for the program and the whole community. The plan was kicked-started with a generous $25,000 grant through The J.J. Keller Foundation but needs continued donations and support to fund this innovative, important project. Thus far, close to $50,000 has been raised of the $106,000 necessary. Funds raised through The Source Public House event on April 25 will help The Ascend Initiative move closer to their dream of having a community kitchen to benefit program participants.

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