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 give towards things Jesus cares about. Through this generosity, we can remind people that we, the Church, are on their side and they are loved by God.
Projects & Organizations
Beacon of Hope
Beacon of Hope, located in Kenya, was founded in response to the plight of the poor and vulnerable community experiencing the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Over the last 20 years, it has expanded to serve the whole community by providing youth education and programming, vocational training, and holistic and integrated health services. Its focus is on creating transformation in the spiritual, physical, economic, and social well-being of the people they serve.
Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards expanding the current Beacon of Hope Medical Centre. The expansion encompasses the design, construction, equipping and commission of a 36-bed medical facility with inpatient and outpatient primary and specialized services units. It is estimated upon completion the Medical Centre will serve over 70,000 inpatients and 300,000 outpatients annually.
Centro Hispano of Dane County
Centro Hispano of Dane County (Centro) is the largest non-profit organization in Dane County supporting the Latinx community. Centro provides invaluable services, resources, and programs that enhance the lives of children and families while providing a bridge to greater Madison and Dane County to engage with the Latinx community. Centro’s youth programs provide services for under-performing Latinx students in grades 6-12 through their Juventud, Escalera, and [Re]Generación programs.
Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards the Exito (Success) Project at Jefferson Middle School and Memorial High School. This program will provide wraparound and academic support for Latinx youth while exploring school culture and alignment with Juventud and Escalera programming with the goal of formally expand the program to these schools.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity of Dane County works to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing to low-income families in our community. Through their volunteer network, generous donors, and sales from two Habitat ReStores, they are helping families achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance to build a better life through shelter.
Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards building walls for three families’ houses. Building homes and completing home repair projects are a big investment, especially as the cost of land and construction materials continues to rise. These funds will supply the materials, training and supervision required for these three houses. Along with this, the Blackhawk community will get a chance to help build these walls in Spring 2023.
Lighthouse Church is a multicultural and bilingual fellowship of believers in Madison. Their mission is to be the light of Jesus in the community through service, unity, and discipleship. Lighthouse Church is a hub for many low-income and immigrant families in the Madison area providing also providing a childcare center, K-8 school, and hosting a food pantry in their parking lot that serves over 130 families weekly.
Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards building a permanent, indoor food pantry on Lighthouse Church’s property to provide hot meals and food boxes for families. Through the course of the pandemic the number of families they served has increased to nearly 150 a week. This space will allow them to better serve both the physical and spiritual needs of the community.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Mt. Zion Baptist Church is a Bible-believing, Christ-centered church on the south side of Madison, whose core values are to live their faith, love their family, and lift their community. They strengthen the African American community by cultivating academic learning, providing grief and mental health support, and food security assistance.
Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards the purchase of a handicapped-accessible van to transport their senior adults and others in their congregation who do not have easy access to transportation. Having the ability to transport these individuals ensures that they can come to Sunday programming and have access to their food pantry.
Salvation Army of Dane County
For more than 135 years, The Salvation Army has been serving our neighbors who struggle with poverty and housing insecurity. They provide a wide range of services in Dane County including two shelters, case management, a shelter diversion program, transitional housing, and medical respite. The Salvation Army works in collaboration with other local organizations dedicated to reducing poverty.
Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards building a new campus that includes an emergency shelter for women and families, and space for dedicated support services and medical, dental, and mental health clinics. The new campus will allow them to double the number of people who need shelter and strengthen the community support network to give our most vulnerable neighbors the foundation they need to start a better life.
Water Mission is a Christian engineering nonprofit organization that designs, builds, and implements safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions for people in developing countries and in response to disasters. Their mission is to honor God by deploying and sharing safe water solutions to transform as many lives as possible as quickly as possible.
Advent Conspiracy funding will go towards bringing safe water to some of the most hard-hit areas of Ukraine through providing water filtered and treated by best-in-class water treatment systems. Each system has the ability to provide for 500-2,000 people. Water Mission has installed 25 water treatment systems in hospitals, churches, and other key areas within Ukraine and is committed to bringing safe water to as many people in Ukraine as quickly as they can.
Stories from Past Projects & Organizations //
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
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.
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.
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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“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.
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 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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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. Additionally, Access to Independence engages in community-impact services such as education, outreach, collaboration, and technical assistance to improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.
With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Access to Independence was able to launch their Accessibility Services Program and engage in a partnership in the community. Through this program they will work with businesses and organizations to provide accessibility services including assessments of buildings, spaces, and elements; site plans and blueprints; outdoor spaces; festivals; and special events. They are partnering with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra to improve accessibility and inclusion in their Concerts on the Square concert series, which serves thousands of people yearly in downtown Madison.
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African American Council of Churches
African American Council of Churches (AACC) is an association of 18 predominately African American Christian congregations in the greater Madison area. 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.
With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, AACC was able to strengthen the churches that are a part of the council so that they could extend their great work despite the challenges of the current climate, pandemic and moving to a hybrid world. They were able to send pastors to three conferences and plan a pastoral retreat for the Fall of 2022.
“The conference (Kingdom of Growth) has enlightened and ignited the spirit in me to get up and go forward in my ministry.” – Bishop Dr. Godfrey A. Stubbs, End Time Ministries International
Additionally, ACCC was able to offer assistance to churches to have the ability to move toward a hybrid model by purchasing software and video to advance their online presence.
“The AACC is a much needed resource to the city of Madison, WI and I thank God for this life-giving community of brilliant leaders.” – Pastor Oby, Northside Christian Assembly
Centro Hispano of Dane County
Centro Hispano of Dane County is the largest non-profit organization in Dane County supporting the Latinx community. Centro’s vision is that Dane County will be a community where Latino families can aspire upward, to reach their personal goals and dreams because they feel engaged and strengthened with the tools for success. Centro provides invaluable services, resources, and programs that enhance the lives of children and families while providing a bridge to greater Madison and Dane County to engage with the Latinx community.
With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, Centro Hispano created and hired a full-time staff role designated to social media outreach in order to expand their reach within the Latino community. The pandemic, despite its challenges, brought about a positive environment for them online. Through social media, they were able to connect and create culturally relevant bilingual content. With this new position, they have a dedicated person to be able to connect and respond to families they serve, friends and supporters faster and expand their reach to learn and enroll in their programs using any of the social networks they are on. One highlight of since this new role was created was the ability to promote Centro Hispano’s mental health services and create material in this area that helps families who do not have access to health insurance.
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Jewish Social Services
Jewish Social Services of Madison (JSS) is a non-profit organization working to help Dane County residents get their basic needs met. 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.
With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, JSS was able to purchase a new 7-passenger van 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. JSS is very grateful, and the van is used constantly to help these new immigrant families.
Latino Academy of Workforce Development
Latino Academy of Workforce Development (LAWD) works 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. Their support extends into the workplace, helping the program graduates navigate the work environment and stay employed.
With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, LAWD is working towards expanding their Transportation Academy, a program that trains individuals for a Commercial Driver’s License and provides support in finding employment and onboarding with employers. A primary need to do this is an additional training truck. Funds are helping with leasing and eventually purchasing a truck upon becoming a certified driving school later this year. In the first half of 2022, eleven Transportation Academy program participants were placed in jobs with a livable wage and benefits. As the program expands, they look forward to seeing this number continue to rise.
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.
With the gift from Blackhawk’s Advent Conspiracy, ODFR has helped ten new arrival families to date which is nearly 20 parents and 40 children. The supplemental money helps families as they transition to living in Wisconsin. Additionally, ODFR has used the AC gift to offer grants to several families with transportation needs. These grants provide means to purchase a first car or repair a current car. The individuals ODFR serves shared their gratitude as it allows opportunity for work and a means to be able to tend to special needs and medical care.
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 serve to drive the most impact.
With the gift from Blackhawk Church’s Advent Conspiracy, Questscope was able to expand their Music Therapy program. This program provides 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. To date, this program has reached 276 children ages 8-16 in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. They have found this program to be particularly powerful for young people who are faced with challenges that carry stigma and create a sense of alienation – those on the Autism spectrum, people with blindness, and people experiencing PTSD. With the funding, Questscope is thrilled to be able to expand their reach and adapt the therapy methodology to the 15-24 year old population.
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.
The gift from Blackhawk Church’s Advent Conspiracy helped World Relief launch a comprehensive response across Ukraine and serve Ukrainians in the US. To date, they were able to serve 38,000 refugees in Ukraine through local partners and churches by providing food, supplies, aid and transportation. They also saw the need for mental health and trauma support and counseling and opened a permanently staffed Coordination Office to provide additional support and resources to their partners. In the US, they are anticipating serving a large percentage of Ukrainians in the near future in addition to helping Ukrainians here in the US reuniting with their family members here who were in danger.
Andriy is the pastor of small church in the western part of the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Throughout the current conflict, he, his family and his congregation have given themselves to sacrificially serve the humanitarian needs of their community. Because of the resources, food, and basic necessities made available by your partnership with World Relief, they have been a shining light of support and prayer during a very dark time.
One evening, Pastor Andriy’s home was hit by a Russian ballistic missile – but the rocket did not detonate. It was a miracle. Then the very next day, Pastor Andriy and his family, along with many members of the church, were back together packing boxes with food supplies, hygiene kits and other supplies for distribution to their church and the surrounding communities in Kharkiv.
We praise God for this answer to our prayers for protection for those on the frontlines of this conflict, and for the courage that He is giving to those serving.
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