Advent Conspiracy

During the Christmas season, we participate in a movement called Advent Conspiracy, where we reflect on God’s extravagant generosity in giving us the gift of Jesus, and move towards being generous to the world around us. Our desire as a community is to move away from the consumerism of Christmas and to give to an offering that goes towards things Jesus would care about. Through generosity, we can remind people that we, the church, are on their side and that they are loved by God. We encourage all who are able, to experience the joy of generosity through Advent Conspiracy 2021.

Give

Give now until the end of the year online or by check. To give by check, please write “Advent” in the memo line and drop in the offering boxes at your site or mail to: Blackhawk Church, 9620 Brader Way, Middleton, WI 53562. Thank you for your generosity!

 

Projects & Organizations

Abolition WI

Abolition Wisconsin is an anti-trafficking men’s initiative based in Madison, WI. They are a group of men from several churches in the Greater Madison area acting to abolish the demand for paid sex through strategic prayer, direct intervention online with buyers at the point of sale and provide relational mentoring and assistance with men who want help coming out of sex addictions with local counseling and support resources.

Advent Conspiracy funding with go towards the purchase of technology and patrol software to create an additional cyber patrol team to increase their ability to disrupt the online market for sex in the Greater Madison area.

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Access to Independence, Inc.

Access to Independence is a non-profit organization that provides advocacy, services, and resources for people of any type of disability, and of all ages in south-central Wisconsin, serving all of Columbia, Dane, Dodge, and Green counties. Access to Independence provides an array of services, including Information and Referral, Peer Support, Advocacy, Independent Living Skills Training, Institutional Transition and Diversion, Youth Transition, Assistive Technology, and Accessibility Assessments. Additionally, Access to Independence engages in community-impact services such as education, outreach, collaboration, and technical assistance.

Advent Conspiracy funding with go towards the launch of their Accessibility Services Program to improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. Through this program, Access to Independence will work with businesses and organizations to provide accessibility assessments of buildings, spaces, and elements; site plans and blueprints; outdoor spaces; festivals and events; and programs and services. Additionally, the program will include technical assistance for entities to proactively address barriers to accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.

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African American Council of Churches

African American Council of Churches is an association of 18 predominately African American Christian congregations in the greater Madison area. Their mission is “united together, commissioned to go, anointed to serve.” They focus on providing space for pastors to grow by building strong relationships through prayer, fellowship, and training in order to handle the stresses of life and ministry.

Advent Conspiracy funding with go towards empowering and strengthening the churches that are a part of the council so they can continue their great work through the challenges they are facing with the current climate, pandemic, and moving to a hybrid world. They will send pastors to conferences that they haven’t been able to attend due to costs. In addition, some churches will be able to get the ability to be hybrid by purchasing cameras, lights, mics, and software and build their online presence with websites and social media.

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Centro Hispano of Dane County

Centro Hispano of Dane County, located on the south side of Madison, WI, is the largest non-profit with a mission of supporting the Latino community. Centro is innovative in its holistic, family center-approach to empowering youth, strengthening families, and engaging the community. They provide services, resources and programs that enhance the lives of children and family, while providing a bridge to greater-Madison and Dane County to engage with the Latino community. Centro envisions a thriving and vibrant Latino community that can aspire upward to reach personal goals because they feel engaged and strengthened with the tools for success.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards Centro Hispano’s communication strategy and staffing to strengthen them as an organization and in turn the Latino community. Over the last 5 years, Centro has engaged a network of close to 10,000 followers on social media platforms and during this time COVID, Latino families have sought encouragement and connection through Centro’s communication channels. The goal for the communication strategy is to continue to engage the community and utilize their networks and channels to provide messaging that maximizes healing and champions resilience through tough times.

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Jewish Social Services of Madison

Jewish Social Services of Madison (JSS) is a non-profit organization working to help Dane County residents get their basic needs met. JSS empowers families and individuals across generations and cultures to build community and self-sufficiency, with a strong commitment to the Jewish community and inspired by Jewish values. They offer services in the areas of short-term advocacy, long-term case management, Jewish spiritual care and immigration services. JSS is the only refugee resettlement agency in Dane County and they provide assistance to refugees and their families through a variety of services and resources to help them become self-sufficient and create a safe and stable life in the Dane County area.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards the purchase of a minivan to transport their clients, primarily refugees/immigrants and senior adults, who do not have easy access to transportation. As the only refugee resettlement agency in Dane County, JSS has primary responsibility for ensuring that refugees get to medical appointments, go to the Social Security office, enroll in benefits, enroll in school, apply for jobs, and enroll In ESL classes. In addition, the minivan will allow them to transport entire families which will reduce feelings of trauma that families already have from becoming separated when leaving their home/countries. The minivan will allow them to transport older adults to JSS’s programming. Many older adults have been socially isolated with COVID-19 and they do not have the technology to connect to their programs online. Having the ability to transport ensures that these individuals can come to their programs.

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Latino Academy of Workforce Development

Latino Academy of Workforce Development (LAWD) was founded in 2011 as a program within the Vera Court Neighborhood Center, a Madison nonprofit organization. They work with low-income, unemployed or underemployed Latinx community members who seek to improve their English language skills, complete their GED, and/or receive industry-certified training for family-sustaining wages in Wisconsin’s high-demand transportation, construction, or manufacturing industries. LAWD’s approach provides individually focused guidance and support to each of their students so that the student can define their own career goals and achieve what is needed to be successful. This support extends into the workplace, helping the graduates navigate the work environment and stay employed.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards the purchase of a used truck and truck-related expenses for LAWD’s Transportation Academy. There is a growing demand for workers who are trained in the transportation industry and hold CDL licenses. The Latinx community is an underutilized labor source, despite being Dane County’s fastest-growing demographic, and they are eager for upskilling and better-paying work opportunities. The additional vehicle to the Transportation Academy will allow them to expand to meet the demand, leverage existing job opportunities and assist in moving participants into living wage/family-sustaining jobs which impacts the wellbeing of families in Dane county.

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Living Water International

Living Water International, founded in 1990, exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and to experience “living water”—the gospel of Jesus Christ. They mobilize churches and communities to cultivate sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene programs, and an ongoing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are currently at work in 18 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and South Asia.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards coming alongside the people in Moyamba, Sierra Leone, Africa by providing water access, sanitation, health education and gospel resources. Sierra Leone has a population of over 6.1 million and is among the poorest countries in the world — ranked 18th poorest globally and the second poorest country where Living Water works in Africa. 53% of the rural population lacks basic drinking water access, and 91% lack basic sanitation service. Implementing Living Water’s work in Moyamba, Sierra Leone will help to increase economic opportunity while also increasing income security for households by reducing medical costs associated with unsafe water.

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Open Doors for Refugees

Open Doors for Refugees (ODFR) is a Madison non-profit organization that was created to help incoming refugees make a home in Madison. The organization is completely volunteer-run and works closely with Jewish Social Services. They help find initial housing, furnish apartments with basic goods, provide transportation to initial health and job interview appointments, link to ESL teaching opportunities, provide occasional childcare, help find jobs, and to do needed translations/interpretation for refugees who speak other languages. The crisis in Afghanistan and the influx of refugees to Fort McCoy has brought renewed focus on and concern about the plight of refugees, ODFR’s client population since they formed in 2016.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards assisting 20 refugee families from Afghanistan, as well as other countries, with a one-time financial gap coverage to be available upon their arrival and assist them with buying a car. As families settle in, many learn to drive, get a driver’s license, and look to buy an inexpensive car. Since 2016, Open Doors has helped pay for driving lessons for dozens of refugees. However, the lack of a car severely limits where refugees can look for work, and some individuals have lost their job because of excessive bus commute times. Assisting them with purchasing a car gives them mobility and reliability in the workforce.

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Questscope

Questscope is an international, non-governmental, non-profit organization founded in 1988 with the aim of ‘putting the last, first’. They partner with vulnerable women, youth, and communities in the Middle East to transform the trajectories of their lives. Their programs are designed and implemented by the marginalized communities that they serve to drive the most impact. Programs include mental health and well-being, emergency aid, entrepreneurship, juvenile justice, education, and mentorship.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards expanding their Music Therapy program and installing a sound studio to support the program at a new Youth Center for Syrian refugee youth in Za’atari refugee camp. Designed by one of the only certified Music Therapists in the Middle East, they provide a space where youth are emotionally accepted, loved, and acknowledged, unconditionally. The goal is not music, but to connect these young people more quickly and more deeply to what makes us all human. The therapy is particularly powerful for young people who are faced with challenges that alienate – those on the Autism spectrum, people with blindness, and people experiencing PTSD. In Jordan and throughout the Middle East, having a condition like PTSD or Autism carries a huge stigma, and can sometimes even be seen as contagious. Music Therapy provides a radical acceptance and welcome to these individuals that they’ve never experienced before.

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The Rainbow Project

The Rainbow Project is a trauma resource center that provides restorative healing and hope for young children and their families who have experienced trauma, helping them build a foundation for the mastery of life-sustaining skills. They provide individualized and responsive services including short- and long-term counseling, prevention and early intervention. 65% of people they serve are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) children and their families.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards the Rainbow Rapid Response Program, a program established to address the growing gap of an occasional community crisis situation to a regularly occurring, albeit unpredictable, service demand. It is a specialized program where a team of clinicians respond to acute crisis situations where young children & their families have been exposed to homicide, suicide, shootings, child abuse, domestic violence, kidnapping, commercialization and sexual exploitation of children, etc., to provide immediate crisis support and trauma screening as well as referral and follow up to ensure stabilization for children and families.

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World Relief

World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that brings sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems – disasters, extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement. We partner with local churches and community leaders in the U.S. and abroad to bring hope, healing and transformation to the most vulnerable. Over the course of their 75-year history, they have operated in 100 different countries and impacted the lives of nearly 100 million people.

Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards World Relief’s church empowerment program to equip churches around the world to bring lasting change to their own communities so that people can flourish where they are. Today there are nearly 80 million people around the globe who have been forced to leave their home. That number increases by 44,000 a day. That’s one man, woman or child every 2 seconds. On top of this, the most vulnerable people around the world are in an even more desperate situation because of the pandemic. About 10 years of progress reducing poverty and world hunger was lost due to the pandemic and now more than 100 million people are living in extreme poverty today. Empowering local churches to work together and improve the livelihoods of refugees and other vulnerable people will help their communities become more resilient and not suffer from poor health, nutrition, lack of food and water, and broken relationships.

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Stories from Advent Conspiracy 2020

Invisible

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS)

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services is an essential resource for victims of domestic abuse in our community, especially during a pandemic as rates of domestic violence increase due to people being confined together with their abusers.

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, DAIS was able to maintain a full staff and keep their doors open, programs running, and ensure the continued high-quality services so many survivors have come to count on. As of September 30, 2021, they have served 924 Individuals, 107 of them being children.

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Food for the Hungry - Bolivia

Access to clean water is very important, especially in a pandemic, to help keep children and families safe and healthy. For some communities, like Lajastambo in Bolivia, this is very hard because they lack clean water.

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Food for the Hungry (FH) walked alongside the community of Lajastambo to expand and improve their current water system. FH along with the local government and community leaders developed a plan to implement the water system and training for the community. The community participates from starting conversations to taking shifts to help work on the project to create sustainability, community participation, and empowerment for both the local government and community members. Once the project is completed at the end of December, the community will have an improved water system from source, to pump and distribution and 210 families will have access to running clean water in their homes.

JustDane

Like many communities, the people that JustDane serve were faced with additional challenges to overcome due to COVID-19 and JustDane wanted to be able to meet those needs. With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, they were able to purchase Chromebooks and WIFI assistance for eight youth/families in their children’s programs, rental assistance to help six families stay in their homes, and purchase a dough sheeter and ingredients for their Just Bakery program to make 14,000 loaves bread for area food pantries to help feed neighbors who are struggling. The dough sheeter is also giving JustDane and other organizations make a bigger impact in our community by being allowing other other organizations to use the dough sheeter to cut down expenses and increase production for their own food products.

Phil was a student in the very first Just Bakery cohort. He had just been released from prison in 2013 and was struggling, he needed employment, to repair relationships with family, and support for his ongoing recovery. He enrolled in Just Bakery in the fall of 2013 and he excelled and even assisted other students in the kitchen as they were learning to bake. Just Dane hired Phil in February of 2014, he’s still with them and he has taken the lead on baking bread for our pantries. Over the past seven years Phil has married, found full-time employment with Just Bakery that is meaningful, is an engaged dad and grandfather. At our recent staff appreciation cookout, Phil shared that of all of his accomplishments and success over the past seven years, baking bread for pantries during the pandemic, feeding people who are struggling as he once was, has been the most meaningful thing he’s ever done.

Lighthouse Church & School

When the pandemic hit, like most schools, Lighthouse School had to switch to virtual learning. 90% of Lighthouse Christian School’s families are at or below the poverty line. The majority of the families that they serve either didn’t have a computer at home or not enough for 2-4 children to be able to do virtual learning. In addition, many families were still trying to get caught up financially from months without work and purchasing a computer or tablet was not an option for them.

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Lighthouse School was able to purchase chrome books for all the 1st – 8th grade students, tablets for the 4k-kingdegarten students, and laptops for staff and build and furnish a new classroom and purchase extra individual desks for other classrooms to allow for social distancing when returning to in-person school. For the 2020 –2021 school year, 230 students and 50 staff were able to finish the year strong and our students continued to learn. They were also able to start the school year 2021-2022 with one step forward.

Senior Pastor Marcio Sierra said, “The day that we opened up the building for the parents and students to come and pick up their computers, many parents were crying of excitement when their kids were walking out of the building with a new computer. In the midst of a year full of darkness, it was beautiful to see so many families smiling, laughing out loud, and even crying tears of joy because their kids had a computer to learn with.”

Due to the new technology and space, 250 students are attending in-person school and they have incorporated curriculum that includes technology-based learning. This helps their students be competitive in an era where understanding and being familiar with technology is a must.

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Maydm

“Before going into the Maydm program in 2019, I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to [be] a programmer because I’m a woman who is also a minority. Thanks to Maydm, they helped push these thoughts to the side and helped me to become a programmer.” – Maydm Student

Maydm’s holistic approach prepares students from traditionally underrepresented populations to engage in and revolutionize the tech industry. In the summer of 2021, Maydm launched an internship program where students will be placed with area businesses in tech-based internships to provide opportunities to earn a living wage while helping to build the technical skills, confidence, and soft skills needed in the field.

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Maydm was able to create and hire for the position of Programs and Outreach Lead. Part of this role is to support the internship program was key to supporting the cohort of 12 internship students this summer, all girls and/or youth of color, and in building the structure for many years of paid student internships to come. This position brought Maydm to the next level in connecting girls and youth of color with STEM careers, and this internship initiative is now a key component of the Maydm .

Additional funds from Advent Conspiracy also supported general program and staff growth in 2021. This summer, Maydm hosted 4 summer immersive programs for middle and high school age students to engage with STEM. Two of these programs were hosted on the west side and northside. This decision allowed 87 students to join Maydm immersive programs, more than ever before. These funds made this growth possible and helped release a burden from many families to drive their students across the city each day.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

COVID-19 provided many challenges for all communities. It disproportionately impacted communities of color. For many, people leaned on their churches for hope and connection. Mt. Zion Baptist Church, one of the largest African American churches in Madison, knew they needed to find creative ways to support and engage with their congregation and their South Madison community especially those who experience loss of jobs and those in isolation.

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Mt. Zion Baptist Church was able to support their congregation and community through support for those suffering financial loss, their seniors and finding creative ways to engage their youth with the church. They provided 50 individuals with a $500 one-time relief stipend to support the financial challenges they were facing. They purchased 20 tablets for their seniors so they could stay connected to the church while continuing to stay safe at home. With the help of their youth, training sessions are planned to help seniors learn more about how to use the tablets. They were also able to purchase new equipment and furniture to create a media studio where they will be teaching their youth how they can be creative through the use of audio and visual techniques and use those new skills in the church and beyond.

Questscope

Since 2012, Questscope has supported alternative education programs, primarily for girls in local community centers in low-income areas of Aqaba, Southern Jordan. The population in these low-income areas are predominately Syrian refugees. Due to low income, many refugees are not able to meet their family’s needs which forces them to cut down on the most basic needs, including food and medication. The children of these families face rising risks, particularly related to child labor, gender-based violence, early marriage, and other forms of exploitation. Through the educational programs, they were able to identified a number of girls at risk of being “sold” as child brides. They were able to provide food and medical assistance to 120 families, thus preventing the sale and exploitation of their daughters. They wanted to expand this project by equipping young women in Aqaba with the tools and skills they need to support themselves and their families.

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, they were able to create two initiatives: a Learning Center and a Productive Kitchen. The Learning Center will offer International Computer Driving License (ICDL) courses to young women aged 18 and above. Aqaba is a business hub and the demand for computer skills is increasing and opportunities to earn extra income are numerous. The courses are designed to cover the key concepts of computing which can then be applied in the workforce or to the pursuit of educational programs. The Productive Kitchen is a catering center aimed at women age 35 and above. In Jordan, Syrian cuisine is highly regarded and in high demand. The Productive Kitchen will train them in basics of catering as well as teach women how to run a business and market their skills. These two initiatives will foster women’s empowerment in Aqaba. Many of them will become the primary breadwinners for their families, putting food on the table, enabling their children to attend school and providing a safe home for their families. In addition, as their businesses grow, many women will gain in self-confidence and take pride in their small businesses. They will have the power to make choices for themselves and their families, gain a voice among their peers and become advocates for other women in the community. Both of these initiatives and spaces have been set up and officially launched in November 2021.

Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin

Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin faced a variety of challenges during COVID-19 that raised the cost of their services including the need to purchase more food to fill the gap between donations and demand. Due to the economic crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people sought out food bank services for the first time. Margie was one that visited Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin’s mobile pantry. “It makes a big difference especially through these times. I have not been one to use food pantries or anything my entire life,” she shared. “I was helping other people when I was working. Since the pandemic I haven’t been working so it greatly helps me. And I pick up too for others who are in the same situation, retired seniors who aren’t able to work anymore and who are existing at the poverty level. I think it’s wonderful that you have this program and I think Second Harvest is doing a great job.”

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Second Harvest was able the fund extra costs and provide 250,000 meals to 5,000 households both locally and around Southern Wisconsin through their rural mobile pantries. Due to this generosity and others in the community, Second Harvest served an unprecedented 22 million pounds of food between March 2020 and May 2021.

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Water Mission

Water Mission Is a nonprofit Christian engineering organization that designs, builds, and implements safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas.

With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Water Mission was able to provide safe water and sanitization in the midst of COVID-19 to communities throughout Tanzania. When COVID-19 hit, 40% of hospitals didn’t have safe water to even wash their hands. Funding went to providing 50 handwashing stations into hospitals, schools, and marketplaces in Tanzania. These handwashing stations are not only helping to combat the virus but also providing permanent solutions to access safe water and prevent unnecessary diseases in Tanzania. Water Mission was also able to provide a safe water system for the community of Nayu, Tanzania. For years, the residents of Nayu got their water from seasonal streams, shallow wells harvesting rainwater, and even puddles. Most of the community members would leave early in the morning or very late at night to go a retrieve their water. Today, this project is providing access to safe water for more than 270 households, and 1,600 people in the Nayu Community using solar power technology. Julius Malogo, a farmer and father of four said, “I am very thankful…the abundant safe water to all at a very low price, available any time is the solution to stomach problems which has been a big issue in Nayu for a long time.”

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