Compassionate Connections wins state award
Clintonville group recognized for partnership with police
By Bert Lehman
Compassionate Connections Center was awarded Organization of the Year by the Wisconsin Crime Prevention Practitioner’s Association (WCPPA).
The nonprofit group was created in 2021 in Clintonville, Compassionate Connections received the award at a banquet in Oshkosh on Oct. 20.
Leah Wojnowiak, executive director of Compassionate Connections, said she was notified about the award in early October when she received a phone call from a WCPPA board member.
“He informed me the Compassionate Connections Center had been selected as the organization of the year. I was stunned to say the least,” Wojnowiak said. “He further informed me that we had been nominated by our very own Chief of Police Craig Freitag and that Chief Freitag had written a nomination for our organization.”
She added, “That was incredibly exciting. It was such an honor and we were so humbled to not only be nominated, but selected as organization of the year.”
Partnership with police
Wojnowiak said that since its beginnings, Compassionate Connections has built a strong partnership with the Clintonville Police Department.
“It is through that partnership that a wonderful relationship has developed where we are able to work very closely together to help more people,” she said. “We were just so deeply grateful that he took the time to recognize our partnership and it is really working to make our community stronger.”
Because of its partnership with the police department, Wojnowiak said iwhen officers are aware of an individual or family who may need its services, they can refer them to Compassionate Connections.
“We are able to help fill some of the gaps that the police department cannot,” Wojnowiak said. “For example, if they see that a family may be in need of some basic necessities they may refer them over to the personal hygiene pantry, so they can come pick up some hygiene products. In addition to that, we have many other programs and services that can help with financial crisis, car repair program, home repair program. So, when they can’t fill some of those needs themselves, they can refer them to us to help with those needs.”
Wojnowiak said she believes the partnership with others in the community helped secure the award.
“We truly believe that it is the strong partnerships that we have created with local organizations, business owners, and community leaders that have really allowed us to grow and expand our services, ultimately to help more people,” she said.
Compassionate Connections serves the geographical area of the Clintonville School District. But since being nominated for and winning the award, Wojnowiak said more county services have reached out to Compassionate Connections. This allows Compassionate Connections to help people outside the Clintonville School District if a direct referral is received from a county agency.
“We’ve actually really increased some of our partnerships and we’ve been working with many more county agencies as partners on a referral basis,” she said. “Now many of the Waupaca services will reach out to us when they are working with clients in our community or across our county so that they can utilize our services or duplicate some of those services into their service areas.”
Serving with dignity
“We’re an organization who is just coming up on two years here,” Wojnowiak said. “We opened our doors on January 2021 in the effort to serve the Clintonville community and help individuals meet their basic needs. Our programs and services are designed around helping individuals who may be experiencing economic or personal crisis. Our programs range from an emergency funds program, a car repair loan program, a home repair program, a personal hygiene pantry, weekend food backpack program, as well as a back to school clothing restore.”
Compassionate Connections has three full-time employees.
“They are tremendous in the way that they serve others with dignity, respect, and compassion,” Wojnowiak said. “Though we are a small group of three we can certainly not do it without such committed volunteers that help support all the programs that we run.”
Those interested in learning more about Compassionate Connections, can visit the office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 26 10th Street in Clintonville, call 715-460-3517, or visit www.compassionateconnect.com.