UU Church West’s “Split the Plate” program is one of outreach and generosity. Each month we give half of all undesignated offerings to a non-profit organization, to help us live our Unitarian Universalist values and serve our community.

Our Split the Plate partner for December is Running Rebels in Milwaukee.

In 1980, at the age of 19, Victor Barnett saw many of the young people of Milwaukee being pulled into the street life of gangs, crime, and violence. He used basketball as the tool to engage, mentor, and guide youth toward an alternative path that would ensure their future success. From this vision and action, Running Rebels Community Organization was born, with a mission to prevent youth involvement in gangs, drugs, violence, and the juvenile justice system. Today, Running Rebels is a mentoring organization that serves 2,500 youth annually.

Running Rebels’ Juvenile Justice Programs serve some of Milwaukee’s hardest-to-reach and highest-risk young people. These are young people who have been adjudicated and court-ordered for intensive mentoring. Running Rebels provides these young people with 24/7 mentoring and access to other positive arts, athletic, and academic programs, with the goal of getting them through their probation period and onto a more positive life path. Their professional mentors ensure that young people are attending school and acting responsibly at home and in their communities.

In after-school and summer programs, participants can take a creative writing course and learn how to write short stories, poems, and skits.  Another class offers lessons in photography, videography, and anything a person would need to succeed in the entertainment business, such as songwriting, rapping, and stage presence. Classes in drawing, painting, and collage-making are also offered.

Running Rebels coaches youth through their transition into college by providing emotional and financial support throughout their entire college journey, including annual scholarships.

Running Rebels establishes partnerships with businesses in local neighborhoods and beyond. The businesses commit to hiring young people, and Running Rebels provides soft skills training and support to remove barriers to employment.

To help support Running Rebels, you can go to the UUCW website’s Donate” tab and select “Split the Plate” from the menu provided or mail your donation to UUCW, 13001 W. North Ave., Brookfield WI 53005-5219 For more information about Split the Plate, contact Kathy Herrewig.