The unified mission of Wispact and the Wispact Foundation is to improve the quality of lives of persons with disabilities in Wisconsin.
Foundation Newsletter – May 2022
Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin, Legacy Grant Recipient Profile
To enhance the lives of people with disabilities across Wisconsin, the Wispact Foundation awarded Legacy Grants 2021 totaling over $168,000 to 22 non-profit organizations.
We’re proud to profile one of our grant winners, The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin whose mission is to create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully.
” We really appreciate the funding. It’s been great and there’s a lot of need; we’ve filled our scholarships and stipends. The people who’ve received grants are very appreciative, so thank you.”
— Kirsten Cooper, Executive Director, Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin
Wispact’s Grant is helping support The Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin’s 2022 Wisconsin Autism Conference at the Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells, April 29th and the 30th.
“This is our 33rd annual conference and our first in-person event since 2019 and we’re really missing the in-person community feel of getting together,” according to Kirsten Cooper, Executive Director, Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin.
The Wispact grant is helping reduce financial barriers that some autistic adults might face in attending. “We have 15 conference scholarships to cover the cost of registration, and then we’re also able to offer a stipend for travel, hotel costs, meals or gas,” Cooper added.
Wispact’s grant is also allowing attendees to receive communication pins which is an accommodation that supports social interaction for people with a variety of disabilities. People can display a red, yellow, or green, pin informing others their comfort level with personal interaction during the conference.
Cooper concluded, “When I talk to adults and families that are new to autism, what I hear is just that this is a place that they come and be themselves — they really feel understood and welcomed. We appreciate all that Wispact has done to help us make this event even more accessible.”
Upcoming Grant Submission Due Date
Organizations who received grants in the 2021 grant cycle have post award reports due on July 8, 2022. Applications for grants to be awarded in the 2022 cycle are due on August 8, 2022.
For more information about applying for a grant: https://www.wispactfoundation.org/apply-for-a-grant/
Wispact Foundation and Wispact Outreach
Padres E Hijos En Accion – Wispact was recently honored to receive an award from Padres E Hijos En Accion for our support of Latino families with loved ones with disabilities. Padres e Hijos en Acción helps Wisconsin’s Latino families by providing Spanish-speaking children, with special needs, a community where they feel at home and opportunities to develop their fine and gross motor skills. They also help Spanish-speaking parents with children with special needs by providing informational workshops regarding tending to the needs of their children and networking for parents to have the tools to advocate for their children in school.
One City Schools – Wispact Foundation exists to support diversity, inclusion, and equity. As part of our outreach, we recently toured One City Schools. The agenda of One City Schools is to break the cycle of longstanding achievement and opportunity gaps that have symbiotically undermined the goals, aspirations, and potential of generations of children of color and under-resourced children in Wisconsin and across the United States. For more information, on One City Schools. https://www.onecityschools.org/
Attorney Feature, Peter Grosskopf
“If you compare Wispact with some of the other pool trusts around the country, people might get the impression that they’re all the same. And, they’re not. What I hear from people in other states is that Wispact has become the gold standard which they want to try to reach,”
Peter E. Grosskopf
Grosskopf Law Offices
Eau Claire, WI
Peter Grosskopf, one of the early members of Wispact, has more than 35 years of experience and works closely with clients in the areas of Elder Law, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning, Trusts, Trust & Estate Administration.
During his early tenure, Grosskopf served two terms, or about 12 years, on the Wispact board of directors. After his term as board member, he was asked to become the consultant to the board of directors and has served in that capacity ever since.
“When it started, we were hoping to get some clients and some trusts and do some good work. But then, the organization grew and added more and more clients and the amount of assets that are invested grew; it’s just incredible to think where it was when it started,” Grosskopf said.
When asked about specific value that Wispact fulfills, Grosskopf reported, “It’s just incomprehensible that there are wide gaps in the services that are provided to disabled individuals. Gaps in coverage of what Medicaid will cover, gaps in what SSI or Social Security Disability will cover. A big one is dental work. In theory, Medicaid will cover dental work. In reality, it’s very difficult if not impossible to find a dentist who’s willing to accept Medicaid. And so, having a fund available where an individual can get their dental work paid for is just priceless.”
To further explain the value provided by Wispact, Grosskopf added, “A common example I give is that somebody who’s on Medicaid might be in a wheelchair and they think they need a new wheelchair, but Medicaid doesn’t think so because the chair is only 10 years old. And with the fund available, they can get a new wheelchair. That’s just one example, but it’s this sort of thing that can be done with the trust just to make life a little bit better.”
Those with special needs are even more vulnerable during times of transition thus making a Wispact trust even more important to their well-being. “There are a whole lot of people who are looking at going into a nursing home or assisted living and having a pool of money available where they can pay for extra things is important. And by extra things, I’m not talking about luxury vacations. I’m talking about additional care or therapies that they might need including being able to pay a family member to be a caregiver,” Grosskopf added.
“I would find it very difficult to be that attorney who is serving the disabled and not familiar with Wispact. The cost to set up a trust is low and the rewards that the clients get are immense. I’ve got clients who have fairly small accounts, often it’s less than $10,000. We’re not talking about people who have half million-dollar luxury accounts. You’re talking about people who have relatively small amounts of money. They get the benefit of the pooled trust, investment expertise with a beneficiary specialist provided at no additional cost. So, I can’t imagine any attorney trying to work in this area without at least being familiar with Wispact,” Grosskopf said.
When asked about the future, Grosskopf concluded, “I think the current leadership has just taken it a notch above. And when I am done with my time at Wispact, I think it will be in good hands. I hope they never leave. But they’ve really done a fabulous job. I’m thrilled to be a part of the organization.”
In each issue of this newsletter, we feature an attorney specializing in helping their clients though pooled trusts. We will share their experience and relationship with Wispact. If you’d like to be featured, or know an attorney we should feature, please reach out to us.
Wispact Foundation Director Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary
Wispact is proud to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Eric DeGroot. Eric joined Wispact in 2011 as a Beneficiary Specialist. Within 2 years Eric was promoted to Manager of Beneficiary Specialists. In 2018 Eric took on the newly created role of Associate Director of Wispact. He has recently become Foundation Director and provides oversight of the management for the charitable work of the Wispact Inc. Foundation.
When asked about his history with Wispact, Eric said, “It’s been a joy working with people you share a mutual level of appreciation with. Wispact has a rich history and legacy, beginning with the smart, talented and dedicated folks that created Wispact. Not only are we serving those with disabilities in Wisconsin, in many ways, we are a model of how to provide pooled trusts for the rest of the U.S.”
Eric has recently been appointed the Inaugural President of the Alliance of Pooled Trusts (APT) and serves on the National Plan Alliance Board of Directors.
Here are a few comments from Eric’s peers:
- “Eric’s is dedicated to getting it right; he knows the details matter when we’re caring for the finances and well-being of people with disabilities — he sweats the small stuff.”
- “Eric doesn’t just work hard at Wispact, he works hard to develop the field of pooled trusts and has become a respected leader of national stature.”
- “Your passion and dedication to Wispact and those who work there is evident in all that you do. The Foundation is blessed with your leadership. We look forward to seeing where the next ten years take you!”
A Wispact Beneficiary, Brian’s Story
Although Wispact manages the Special Needs Trusts for more than 4,500 people throughout Wisconsin, our success is not about the numbers. Everyone served by Wispact has unique needs and a special story to tell. To add a voice to the people we serve, we’re sharing a recent interview with one of our beneficiaries, Brian.
“Me and my mom sat down with Lindsey Schilling [Wispact, Lead Beneficiary Specialist] and she told us what Wispact was all about and everything. I listened to her, but when people talk to me about insurance or whatever, sometimes it’s hard for me to digest. But, I would say they’ve steered me in the right direction. Lindsay is of the most competent people I ever met in my life. On a scale of 10. She’s a 15,” Brian said.
“Money can be very, very troublesome to think about and everything. I learned my lesson really, really quick about the value of a dollar when I took out two loans when I was younger. Wispact has been a blessing to have, it’s my money, but it’s a blessing. They’ve helped me out with financial burdens. I like the way that they took care of things,” Brian added.
Through Wispact’s pooled trust Brian is able to retain his modest savings while retaining his social security disability benefits.
His current expenses have included furniture and partial rent for his apartment. Shortly after he established his trust, Brian moved into a new apartment and needed furnishings. “And so me and Joy, my case manager, went to Slumberland and picked out some furniture pieces, because I had none. And so, I picked out a couch and a Lazy Boy and a queen size bed. I’ve never had a queen size bed my entire life and it’s super comfortable for sleeping on. I’m completely moved in now and loving every minute in my new apartment,” Brian said.
“I would strongly agree that, to me at least, Wispact’s been a very good company and I would recommend Wispact to anybody. I would say they’ve steered me in the right direction. They’ve helped me out with financial burdens in the past. In fact, I called her [Lindsey Schilling] back a couple times to just get her on the phone and say, “Thanks so much for everything you’re doing for me. You’re really, really helping me out, Lindsay,” Brian concluded.
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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QUESTIONS? PLEASE CALL:
Toll Free 833-653-6503
Toll Free Fax 855-588-2200
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