With faces in boxes on a screen, our first-ever virtual annual neighborhood association looked quite different than our usual get-together at the Arbor Covenant Church. We missed seeing you all in person, and the small talk between neighbors as we file into the pews. But there were some good things about the virtual format, too. Rather than looking at the backs of heads, we could see faces with name tags underneath. It was easy to share information on the screen, like the proposed annual budget, and voting was simple with an online poll. All ran smoothly thanks to coordinators and Board members Samantha Castro and Jodi Wabiszewski.
The meeting began on a bittersweet note, with President Jim Cortada giving his final address as he’s retiring from the Board.
“I want to share that this Board is outstanding - it may be one of the best in the city,” Jim said. “I want to thank all of the neighbors who have stepped up as Board members, block captains, volunteers, and more. It’s been a privilege serving you. Dora & I will see you out and about as we walk around Arbor Hills.”
Attendees voted on new Board members, unanimously electing the following people to serve beginning in 2021:
President: Ashley Gibson
Corresponding Secretary: Rebecca Koerschner
Recording Secretary: Jackie Bastyr Cooper
Newsletter Editor: Michael Horecki
Block Captain Coordinator: Nicholas Griffiths
New board members will join an experienced team of people who have been representing our neighborhood for years.
Treasurer Neil Dinndorff presented the 2020 budget. He shared that the association is financially sound and will once again end the year in the black, thanks to revenue from your membership dues and newsletter advertising dollars, which are managed by member-at-large Josh Grotheer. The board’s biggest expense is the newsletter, though the cost was reduced this year as neighbor and graphic designer Page Campbell began volunteering her time and talents for design. This year we also had a large, one-time expense for grants that the board voted to give to four organizations that benefit our community. Attendees unanimously voted to approve the proposed 2021 budget, which is available at arborhills.org/budgets.
With 158 member households in 2020, membership was down slightly compared to recent years, which is likely due to turnover in the neighborhood and the loss of long-time members who have moved away. Starting now, we’re accepting 2021 membership dues – just $20 per household per year. You can pay online at arborhills.org (select the yellow “Pay Member Dues” button) or mail a check to Neil Dinndorf at 3314 Westview Lane.
Address from our Alder and City Council President Sheri Carter
Our Alder and Madison City Council President Sheri Carter spoke about a range of issues facing our neighborhood and South Madison. The Council is taking inventory of the changes that will take place as the Town of Madison is absorbed by the City. Balancing the budget is a key priority, which is proving challenging due to the effects of COVID-19. Policing is also a focus, and the Council is evaluating a model to help in situations where mental health support is needed. Sheri noted that violence prevention, neighborhood intervention, and a citizen oversight board will also be key tenets of the plan.
Guest Speakers: AHNA Grant Recipients
Three guest speakers representing four organizations that received grants from the association presented on how these dollars helped those most in need in our community.
The first guest speaker was Angie Oler, a 15-year resident of Arbor Hills, treasurer of the Leopold Community School PFO, leader of the Leopold Social Justice Fund, and parent of a Leopold student. The AHNA gave two grants to Leopold for a social justice fund and for a COVID-19 relief program. The social justice fund is a last resort when a Leopold family has exhausted other assistance options. Since May, the fund has raised over $18,000, most of which has already been distributed to 33 families to prevent eviction. To learn more and to donate, visit leopold.org/social_justice_fund or email Angie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gail Wiseman with One City Schools, another elementary school attended by children in Arbor Hills, presented on how the charter school was founded with the mission to help close the racial achievement gap that has plagued Madison for many years. Similar to Leopold, One City quickly established a COVID-19 relief fund for students and their families, which has helped with everything from childcare to food and housing. The organization relies heavily on support from volunteers. To learn how you can help, visit onecityschools.org or email email@example.com.
Chris Ziemba spoke about Second Harvest Foodbank, which distributes food through local pantries and across 16 counties. In 2020, they’ve seen a 61% increase in the number of people who are food insecure - now 1 in 8 people in southern Wisconsin. Usually, most of the food that Second Harvest receives is donated, but this year many of their sources, like restaurants, dried up. Donations like the one from the AHNA were even more important. From March 15 to October 10, Second Harvest distributed 11.2 million pounds of food - 56% more than the same period in 2019. To donate or find information about volunteering, visit secondharvestmadison.org.
Thank you to those of you who joined us at the meeting, and to our presenters who took the time to speak with us!