Category Archives: Success Stories

Meet Jenni!

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If you saw our quarterly newsletter, SibNews July-September 2017, you met Jenni. Her older brother, Mike, has been a huge part of her life, including her career decision: special education teacher. What does she want every sibling to know? Find out Jenni’s story in this short video. Then be one of the first to subscribe [read more]

Jyll the Intern Says Goodbye

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Jyll and her brother Noah

Hi my name is Jyll Van Vooren.  I have been a WisconSib for over 5 years. Within WisconSibs I have been a counselor for SibDays of Summer and the Circles of Life Conference.

My brother is Noah Van Vooren. He is 22 years old and has Down syndrome. A couple of our favorite things to do together are taking walks, car rides with tons of singing, going to Miracle League, and watching football.  My favorite thing about Noah is his love for others and his genuine happiness that he radiates to those around him. 

In a blink of an eye the summer of being an intern for WisconSibs is wrapping up. I have learned an incredible amount in these past ten weeks. As an intern, I was able to partake in helping with fundraisers, special events, meetings, helping coordinate and run Teen Sib Leadership Day, and being an Assistant Director for the older campers at SibDays of summer. I have learned how to coordinate a fundraiser and other events with various companies to host events that benefit the WisconSib organization. Harriet has been a great role model and has taught me a great amount about nonprofit’s and how they are run. She truly is the heart of WisconSibs and it was amazing being able to learn from her.  I am extremely grateful to have been involved in WisconSibs in this unique way. It was truly a great learning experience and it was a great summer!

What’s next? – I’m returning to Concordia University of Wisconsin as a Junior, where I am focusing on Social work. I am also blessed to have a new position at school: ARD (assistant resident director) of two dorms. All of what I have learned from WisconSibs will be applied to this year of school and beyond!

Thanks to WisconSibs donors for making this internship opportunity possible. You make a big difference.


Thursday: Can you find them all? – Scavenger Hunt Day

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Campers and counselors learned lots about themselves today. The theme of the day was Scavenger Hunt Day. Not only were physical objects found, but personal emotions too. In their small groups, campers made Inside/Out Masks. Sometimes we all put on a face to hide what’s inside, but not today. Having a sibling with a disability can be a challenge. Most of the world does not see that side of a sibling.

 

Besides this emotional discovery, groups went on a Scavenger Hunt around Plamann Park. Some very special guests came to visit: Zoozort! Many unique animals made an appearance. We are very thankful for the Grade family in bringing Zoozort to us in memory of Alden Grade. We cooled off with water games and popsicles!

Reminders: Please bring: swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, water bottle, and lunch. Family reception is tomorrow at 2:30 pm. Come see all the things our SibDays campers have been doing this week! There will also be an ice cream social, thanks to the Thrivent Action Team!

Photos from yesterday (Wednesday!)

Sibs have fun at Curt’s Carnival, an event of SibDays and Camp Hope. Thank you to the Krull family for your generosity in memory of Curt. We are forever sibs. These sibs are capturing a moment in front of a photo booth!

Our organizer for SibDays, Michelle, just had a baby boy on Friday! She came to visit us for a little while and show off her adorable baby boy:)

Campers had a chance to play with the huge parachute today!

We had to do our famous “bug photo”. It turned out beautifully! Can you find your camper?

 


Wednesday: Our Most Favorite Day – Siblings Day

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We hope you remembered your T-shirt because today was picture and Siblings Day! 

It wasn’t quite Siblings Day because it is actually celebrated on April 10th. It was our SibDays Siblings Day. Siblings are very special and need to be reminded of that. Today was all about them. How can you make everyday Siblings Day? Lots of other fun activities happened as well. An art therapist came in and helped the campers create a fantastic firework hand project. Our camp was able to go over to Camp Hope for an annual favorite: CURT’S CARNIVAL! Campers and counselors love going over to visit and play many fun games.

Reminders: Please bring a lunch, swimsuit and towel, sunscreen, and a water bottle!

Friday is our Family Reception! Come at 2:30 pm and see all the things our campers have been doing this week.

Pictures from Yesterday (Tuesday)!

The campers and counselors alike were captivated by the facts regarding the turtle and snake! Many legends were dispelled.

We had some special visitors on Tuesdays, including Harriet the snake!

Along with Harriet the Snake came Tina the Turtle! The campers and counselors liked to feel Tina’s shell.

We had lots of favorite holidays displayed today: SuperBowl Sunday, Easter, Christmas, Earth Day and MANY, many more!

The campers had a chance to create their own holiday. This camper decided to create “National Cat Day”!

This camper liked using lots of foam stickers!


July-September 2017 SibNews Newsletter

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We are so excited about the July-September 2017 issue of SibNews. Check it out!

See articles about:

  • Cover story:  Jenni Oeftger shares her story about how growing up with her brother helps her be a better teacher.
  • Teen Sibs take on leadership roles and careers
  • Enjoy Noah’s Monsterous Cookies
  • Gratitude changes lives
  • Calendar, events, fundraisers, games… and LOTS of PHOTOS!

READ MORE ONLINE



Latest SibNews with April-June Calendar

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The April-May-June issue of SibNews is now available.

We’re very excited to bring you the third issue of our new SibNews newsletter.  This one features Sylvia Walentowski and her mom, Jennifer, on finding balance and healthy sibling relationships.

Click to download April-June 2017 SibNews

Plus a Easy Daisy Cake recipe from WisconSib Christiana Redman and her brother Phillip, just in time for Sibling’s Day or Mother’s Day, or any day.  YUM! Take me to recipe


Thank you volunteers for being wonderful Santa Helpers!

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santa-celebration-2016-21Santa relies on lots of helpers to bring joy and happiness to the children attending Santa Celebration each year and the volunteers at our event last Saturday really made him proud.

Thank you to the volunteers, including students from Appleton West High School, Freedom High School, Appleton North Key Club, Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Lawrence University, several therapy dogs from the Humane Society, The Learning Shop, Lanari Photography, the Down Syndrome Association of WI Fox Valley, Appleton Rotary, and many, many more.  Click here for a special message to you.

We also thank the Appleton Downtown Rotary and Fleet Farm for their generous support. Thank you to the hospitality of the staff at The Grand Meridian, the wonderful display by The Learning Shop and our friends at The Building for Kids for their help.

More photos from Santa Celebration 2016


WisconSibs Receives Award for Rebranding

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WisconSibs Rebranding Team pick up award

Left to right: Amanda Betts, Chris Linn, Greg Waters, Jeff Amstutz, Rich Redman, Harriet Redman, Ed Ruffolo

WisconSibs Rebranding Saluted by PRSA 

Recently, WisconSibs, Inc. received an Award of Merit from the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. It recognized our work of renaming and rebranding our organization from the Fox Valley Sibling Support Network to WisconSibs, which was introduced in November 2014.

One of the judges commented: “Very creative program . . . Its implementation was fantastic and I loved seeing how all of the pieces and parts fit together to create a strong program.”

This is a great opportunity to again say thanks to the key players in the project:

  • The Dialogue Partnershop (Rich Redman) – wrote creative brief and wrote/edited copy for brochures and website
  • A2Z Design (Jeff Amstutz, Michael Miller) – led renaming process and created new logo and display graphics
  • Angela Fulcer Design (Angela Fulcer) – designed introductory postcard and flagship brochure
  • Stellar Blue Technologies (Greg Waters) – designed and constructed new website
  • Red Shoes PR (Karen Schlieve Smith) – created video testimonials and initial news release
  • Eric Cates – T-shirt design
  • Chris Linn – former board chair, member of Marketing Committee, and strategic advisor

And thanks to all of you who have embraced the new name, and helped us spread the word about our organization to sisters and brother of people with disabilities across the state of Wisconsin!


This is BIG for siblings! Department of Labor Clarifies Leave Protections

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From the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Sibling Leadership Network:

Department of Labor Clarifies Leave Protections for Some Siblings Under FMLA

There are over one million aging caregivers caring for adult relatives with disabilities. When aging parents are no longer able to provide care, siblings frequently take over the primary caregiving role. However, there has been a great deal of confusion about their eligibility for leave protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) during this transition. In general, FMLA does not currently cover siblings. Over the past year the National Council on Aging, Sibling Leadership Network, and other disability partners worked with the Department of Labor to issue new guidance clarifying eligibility for this population of caregivers. Learn more about the new guidance, and check out the fact sheet on FMLA.