Madeline Pieschel
Photo Gallery

Community First raises awareness with “Burgers and Birdhouses”

The community group, which helps homeowners repair their houses and avoid foreclosures, held a benefit event Thursday, and TCD's Madeline Pieschel was there to capture the action.

By - Jun 4th, 2013 12:43 pm



A Community First volunteer grilling fresh burgers for benefit attendees. Photo taken by Madeline Pieschel.

A lively ”Burgers and Birdhouses” benefit was held last Thursday at the Public Market for the blossoming Milwaukee organization Community First.  The benefit was sort of a coming out party for the organization, which was formerly the YMCA-Community Development Center (CDC) prior to 2011. The YMCA-CDC Housing program decided that the program was no longer in its “core competencies,” so the program was cut. Milwaukee resident Rafael Garcia, Community First’s present Executive Director, and partner Lamont Davis, decided that this program was too critical to lose, so they took what they learned through the YMCA-CDC program and applied it to create Community First.

Community First’s mission is to provide low to moderate income homeowners with substantial home repairs to bring the housing stock up to code to better the quality of Milwaukee neighborhoods, and to preserve homeownership in efforts to prevent foreclosures. The Community First staff works directly with families to eliminate health and safety hazards, and assists them in receiving professional, insured, and licensed contractor services and resources, such as roofing and mechanical work, for ultimately no cost.

The “Burgers and Birdhouses” proceeds that were raised on Thursday will be used to further establish and strengthen Community First’s undertaking in supporting the neighborhoods and homeowners of Milwaukee, as well as providing funds for Community First’s future plans, such as acquiring weatherization, financial literacy education, home maintenance education, rain gardens, raised bed gardens for healthy, sustainable food production, and even solar projects for in-need homeowners.


Youth attendees painting away at the decorate-your-own-birdhouse table. Photo taken by Madeline Pieschel.

Thursday’s benefit was also a way for the organization to really get their name and mission out to the public, in hopes to gain further awareness and support from the Milwaukee community.  “Our goal changed from having this be our first fundraiser to a “friend raiser”, or a “coming out party” for Community First. We wanted to let people know where we are now and what we are doing,” said Garcia.  The eventful evening included live music from Milwaukee’s own Dead Bug Jazz Quartet, free Therapeutic Massages, gourmet burgers, cupcakes, and beverages, a raffle drawing which included items from local Milwaukee businesses, and a decorate-your-own birdhouse table, where children got to paint and transform plain birdhouses into their own decorative creations.

The evening also included some moving stories, in which recipients shared their inspiring accounts of the impact that Community First has made in their lives. Although this was Community First’s first ever ”Burgers and Birdhouses” benefit, the organization plans to make it annual.

Visit Community First’s website here to learn more about their happenings and up and coming plans.  To check out all of the photos from Thursday, click on the Flickr gallery set below.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us