Each Sunday we invite people at our church service to split their offerings between the church and a not-for-profit group in the community who is doing something purposeful. We seek organizations whose work contributes in some way to a more just, equitable and compassionate community, one of our UUCW’s cherished values.

UUCW is proud to have We Got This as our Split the Plate partner now through the end of August.

We Got This begins with a man named Andre Lee Ellis. Inspired by an abandoned garden on a city lot and a passion to make a change in his neighborhood, Andre reached out to a small group of young men for help and to the city of Milwaukee for a start-up grant.

Five years later, that small group is an organization called We Got This. It’s a garden and a team— young men, their families, and lots of friends committed to making a difference in one of the most challenging places in Milwaukee.

The garden is open on Saturday mornings through the summer. To participate, boys and young men in the neighborhood have to be there by eight o’clock in the morning and they have to work until noon. At noon, each boy gets $20 for his morning’s work, a burger and sides, a homemade chocolate chip cookie, and an ice cream treat for dessert.

What’s so important about a neighborhood garden? We Got This is in Milwaukee’s zip code 53206 — the neighborhood made famous in film and news story for being the zip code that incarcerates the highest percentage of black men in America. The toll that this mass incarceration takes on the families of the community is huge. And Andre Lee Ellis can tell you that each boy or young man in the neighborhood, by the time he is just six or eight years old, knows the challenge he faces.

In the garden, there are rows of raised boxes with all sorts of green and growing vegetables. On a recent visit, a UUCW member saw about twenty-five boys and young men hard at work, surrounded by adult supporters and mentors. Andre Lee Ellis uses the small stage and microphone located in the garden to name those who have done something notable. Again and again, he tells these young men how special they are, how much they are loved, how sure he is that they can achieve their goals. We Got This grows vegetables, to be sure, but they also help young men grow their skills and confidence, and they are growing a sense of hope for the whole neighborhood.

Andre invites you to visit the garden and see for yourself what We Got This is doing. Come any summer Saturday between 8:00 am and noon at the corner of 9th Street and Ring, a block west of-I-43 and a few blocks north of Burleigh. It’s kitty-corner from the La Follette Public School. You’ll be glad you did!

To learn more, go to wegotthismke.com or contact Split the Plate Representative Judi Traband.