The unified mission of Wispact and the Wispact Foundation is to improve the quality of lives of persons with disabilities in Wisconsin.
Foundation Newsletter – November 2022
Partner Vendor Update: National Care Advisors
Adam Earl, President
Natalie Otten, Nurse Consultant
To support our beneficiaries who require a higher level of personal attention due to medical issues, Wispact has partnered with National Care Advisors (NCA).
NCA is a nurse case management and consulting firm that specializes in working with individuals who have complex medical needs. The services offered fall into two general areas: helping individuals with complex medical needs plan for current and future care and quality of life needs. NCA then implements those plans through case management services.
The work of NCA begins with thorough and thoughtful planning. According to Adam Earl, President of NCA, “Each case begins with understanding the individual’s unique vision for care and the quality of life. It’s important to understand what care support looks like now and in the future, whether it’s housing, caregiver support, transportation, medical providers and therapies or equipment.”
“Often we work with clients to advocate for benefits they’ve never had access to before. That can include direct financial assistance in the form of cash or other kinds of financial assistance including goods and services like caregivers or housing. The specific support services we advocate for can include Medicaid, Medicare, waiver services, social security, housing assistance, etc.,” Earl added.
NCA recently shared a very positive outcome with a Wispact beneficiary, and we’d like share that story with you. The case involved a 26-year-old male. He dropped out of fifth grade and his brother passed away from a drug overdose. Shortly thereafter, his mother passed away, also from a drug overdose. He was then left with his grandmother and then, unfortunately, she passed away. Then, it went further downhill for him because he had no support at all during that time. As a result, he had a mental health crisis and ended up in the hospital for quite some time until he was discharged home. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a home at that point but eventually secured an apartment sometime later and it was the first time he ever lived on his own.
It was at this time that Wispact engaged NCA for support.
Natalie Otten from NCA was assigned to the case and according to Otten, “He was very, very hesitant to speak with me; he was very cautious and wanted to know my agenda. It took a bit to have him warm up to me. This young gentleman had mental health issues, he lived in a family with multiple challenges which made it difficult to navigate a healthy lifestyle. He was witness to a lot of bad things at a very young age, and no child should have to deal with anything he dealt with.”
“I just listened to him. And afterward, I said, ‘Give me a chance. I want to try to help you because I know that there are things I can do for you,’” Otten added. That conversation was a watershed moment in Otten’s relationship with the young man and enabled her to work with him to get the support he needed.
As a result of the support provided to this beneficiary, he now has secure housing and receives rental assistance. He has been enrolled in the Wisconsin Food Share Program and has Social Security benefits pending. He has a new primary care physician along with specialists that can help treat and monitor his mental health diagnosis appropriately. To help further secure local benefits, a county case manager is now involved and helping secure additional benefits and resources including job placement. These are all benefits and resources he may not have received without the support of Wispact and National Care Advisors.
“We enrolled him in a tutoring program at Racine Literacy, so he can work on getting his GED. His goal is to go to tech school for IT once he completes his GED. He’s also working on getting his driver’s license. He’s doing really well. He still has some mental health concerns, but he now reaches out to me, and we talk often. He’s a really good kid and he’s doing everything he needs to be doing,” Otten concluded.
None of us is as strong as all of us and Wispact is grateful to have a strong vendor partners like NCA to help us fulfill our mission of enhancing the well-being of people of all ages with disabilities across Wisconsin.
2022 Legacy Grant Recipient, GiGi’s Playhouse, Madison
To enhance the lives of people with disabilities across Wisconsin, last year the Wispact Foundation awarded Legacy Grants to 22 non-profit organizations totaling over $168,000. Today, we’d like to share some background on one of our grant winners, GiGi’s Playhouse of Madison.
“Wispact has been a valuable partner not only from their financial support, but also by helping support family members with Special Needs Trusts going forward.”
— Kelly Antonson, Site Director GiGi’s Playhouse Madison
Gigi’s Playhouse is a Down syndrome achievement center and part of a network of three playhouses in Wisconsin. Madison is the 30th Playhouse among 56 across the U.S. and Mexico. GiGi’s provides free educational, therapeutic, and career development programming for individuals with Down Syndrome and is 99% volunteer run with just two employees and over a hundred active volunteers.
According to Kelly Antonson, Site Director GiGi’s Playhouse Madison, “We have a really robust and generous community that helps us stay afloat and allows us to run our free programming. Although, of course, it’s not free to run, it is always going to be free to our families. So, it’s really important to us that through the use of our volunteers and the funds our community donates, we are able to provide this life-changing therapy for families.”
Programming is offered in three sessions throughout the year and without charitable funding, GiGi’s would not be able to continue training volunteers, purchasing resources and conducting the outreach necessary.
“The funding that we’ve received from Wispact is key because it also allows us to make sure that we are able to continue funding those programs. So, the more funding we have coming in, the more people we can serve,” Antonson added.
Feedback from families continues to show that GiGi’s one-on-one programs, literacy and math tutoring have changed their child’s life because they’re not getting everything they need in the schools. Programs have enabled students with Down Syndrome to excel and skip grade levels in the reading and math.
“Wispact has been a valuable partner not only from their financial support, but also by helping support family members with Special Needs Trusts going forward. We’re just incredibly grateful,” Antonson concluded.
Attorney Feature, Margaret Hickey
“The way that it’s been managed has been impressive and thoughtful. And, I really think that it’s a tremendous legacy for the state of Wisconsin. We’re so very fortunate that Wispact is here. I sound like a champion, because I really am a champion of Wispact.”
— Margaret W. Hickey
Margaret W. Hickey, Attorney
Hickey of Becker, Hickey & Poster, S.C.,
To better understand the benefits of Wispact from an attorney’s perspective, we had the pleasure of interviewing Margaret W. Hickey of Becker, Hickey & Poster, S.C., Milwaukee. In each issue of this newsletter, we will feature an attorney specializing in helping their clients protect their public benefits though pooled trusts. If you’d like to be featured, or know an attorney we should feature, please reach out to us.
Hickey’s law partner, Barbara Becker, who’s now retired, sat on the committee that formed Wispact over 25 years ago. At the time, Wisconsin did not have a community trust that met the requirements of the federal law allowing people with disabilities to hold any savings while retaining their public benefits. Recognizing the need, a dedicated group of attorneys and advocates created the trust utilized by Wispact and secured federal approval to improve the quality of life for those with disabilities.
When asked if Wispact had fulfilled its intended goal, Hickey replied, “Wispact has fulfilled and exceeded that goal. We have a place where we can have funds held for our clients and they can continue to get their public benefits. They can have a professional manager of their assets, which they normally wouldn’t be able to afford. And of course, we have professionals to help process the distributions. It has, in my opinion, greatly exceeded expectations.“
“When you consider the thousands of people who have been helped by Wispact, you can’t but help wonder how many of those people wouldn’t have had the help that they need if Wispact wasn’t there for them,” Hickey added.
On a personal note, Hickey had a disabled family member who had a small amount of money in savings and was at risk of loosing his public benefits. Although Hickey was more than capable and willing to set up a trust she told her family, “I could set this trust up and I could be the trustee, but honestly, Wispact does such a wonderful job. I would like them to do it.”
When asked what she would tell any attorney in Wisconsin serving the disabled, Hickey replied, “I would say Wispact is a resource for your clients that can help them above and beyond. Even when their own resources are limited, they can get support through the retained fund. So, it’s a huge benefit to clients and helps them have a better quality of life. The way that it’s been managed has been impressive and thoughtful. And, I really think that it’s a tremendous legacy for the state of Wisconsin. We’re so very fortunate that Wispact is here. I sound like a champion, because I really am a champion of Wispact.”
Wispact’s mission is to improve the lives of people of all ages with disabilities across Wisconsin through the management of special needs trusts to provide more choice, more opportunities, and a better quality of life.
Our special needs trusts are created to help preserve the assets of people with disabilities without endangering their eligibility for public benefits or placement on waiting lists.
About the Wispact Foundation
The Wispact Inc. Foundation was established in 2021 in recognition of its dedication to provide a broader scope of service and create more opportunities for improving the lives of persons with disabilities across Wisconsin.
As an agency endowment fund established by Wispact Inc. and managed by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the organization endeavors to make lasting community impacts through grants to organizations that serve persons with disabilities.
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