BMO volunteers help build a mindfulness space for at-risk youth in Milwaukee
Recently, a new mindfulness initiative for at-risk youth was launched at Neighborhood House (NH) in Milwaukee – and BMO helped make it happen.
It all started when a teenage girl was found sitting by herself in a darkened storage room. A staff member asked her why she was sitting there when her friends were having fun in the room next door, and she replied that she just needed somewhere to be quiet. This inspired the staff to create a Mindfulness Room – a place where youth can go when they’re feeling overwhelmed, to help relieve stress and anxiety.
Founded in 1945, NH helps strengthen children and families in some of Milwaukee’s most underserved neighborhoods. Their award-winning programs serve infants & toddlers, school-age and teen youth, adults and families, refugees and immigrants.
NH needed support to transform the space, and BMO was there to help out, coordinating with United Way to get the job done. The bank bought all the supplies, and local business Bob’s Discount Furniture agreed to furnish the entire room. Finally, BMO provided a crew of volunteers to clean and paint the room, creating the calm and peaceful space it is today.
This marks the beginning of a new mindfulness initiative at NH. “The result of this donation and volunteer help is not just a beautiful, calm space – it begins a Mindfulness Initiative. This will help us prepare at-risk youth for a successful transition to adulthood,” says NH executive Director, Jeff Martinka. “With the creation of this space and use of mindfulness techniques, we hope to help our teens increase their self-awareness, emotional regulation and avoid toxic stress.”
Monica Genz, Vice President, U.S. Digital Channels, BMO Harris Bank and board member at NH, helped coordinate the volunteer effort at BMO. She says she knew her colleagues would be eager to help with this initiative. “At BMO, employee volunteerism is an important part of how we give back to the communities we serve, and we were very proud to play a role in creating the mindfulness room. The work NH does with kids and teens is so important, and we’re thrilled to have helped make this happen.”