Stories and Photos from St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus on Milwaukee’s near north side, 2450 W. North Avenue.

Delta Dental Offers Matching Grant to St. Ann Center Special Needs Dental Clinic

St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care has been awarded a $125,000 grant from Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation to support its Gardetto Family Community Dental Clinic. St. Ann Center will receive an additional $50,000 contingent upon finding matching gifts from new donors. The clinic is the only one in Wisconsin designed exclusively to serve people with severe physical and/or cognitive disabilities.

The unique three-chair dental clinic opened in August 2016 at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus, 2450 W. North Ave. Since then, the facility has provided dental care to 394 people whose disabilities prevent them from being treated in a standard private practice clinic. St. Ann Center, which has drawn national attention for its intergenerational model, provides child and adult day care and other community services at the Bucyrus Campus and its Stein Campus on Milwaukee’s south side.

“The day-to-day operational costs to run a special needs dental clinic are steep, and Medicaid fees we receive do not come close to covering these expenses,” said Dr. Russ Dunkel D.D.S., Dental Clinic Director. “This generous donation from Delta Dental will allow us to provide vastly needed dental care for patients with special needs who previously had nowhere else to go. Some families travel up to five hours to visit our clinic.”

The clinic was especially designed with the special needs of its patients in mind. Halls, doorways and treatment rooms are spacious, allowing for wheelchairs and scooters to maneuver and seating for a parent or other caregiver. An adjustable-height panoramic X-ray machine can be lowered to wheelchair level. One treatment room is designated as a quiet room, away from clinic traffic, for noise-sensitive patients.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services 2010 Burden of Oral Disease in the State of Wisconsin, individuals with disabilities have “significantly higher rates of poor oral hygiene and needs for periodontal disease treatment than the general public.” Many who live with disabilities haven’t visited a dentist in years because their caregivers have been unable to find a provider equipped to treat them or who accept Medicaid.

In order to be seen at the clinic, patients need a referral from a dentist or medical doctor and must be a resident of Wisconsin. The clinic sees patients with conditions including Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism and seizure disorders, to name a few. Many use wheelchairs, others are unable to hold their head still or keep their mouth open, some are afraid of the lights, sounds and touch associated with a typical dental visit and require prescription sedation and nitrous oxide.

“Dental services for individuals with special healthcare needs is in critically short supply due to many barriers,” said Ann Boson, executive director of Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation. “Our goal with this grant is to strengthen St. Ann Center’s ability to provide comprehensive dental care to one of our state’s most vulnerable populations and help encourage new donors to this partnership.”

St. Ann Center hopes to create a dental home for clients where staff can maintain a rapport and consistent care from early childhood through their elderly years.

If you’re interested in more information about the Gardetto Family Community Dental Clinic, call 414-210-2440. To donate toward the matching grant, contact John Jansen, St. Ann Center’s vice president of grants and community development, at 414-977-5031.

Danceworks Keeps Generations in Step

Things were really hopping…and leaping, twirling and spinning…at the Bucyrus Campus when the ladies from Danceworks paid a visit. The local nonprofit is dedicated to enhancing the joy, health and creativity of the community through performances, classes and outreach activities that integrate dance and the other arts.

Artistic Director Dani Kuepper and her team members Kim, Gina, Liz and Crystal turned St. Ann Center’s Intergenerational Park into a stage for graceful, energetic movement. Our childcare kids and adult clients sat mesmerized, watching as the dancers formed ever-changing shapes and patterns with their bodies.  Dani worked with the children to help them identify when the dancers were moving at high, medium and low levels of space. The kids caught on quickly, shouting “high” when the dancers jumped into the air, “medium” when they crouched and “low” when they stretched out flat on the floor.

Next, it was time for the children to try some high, medium and low moves of their own. After they got the hang of it, they teamed up with the dancers to teach the adult clients some movements. Sharing St. Ann Center’s belief in intergenerational benefits, Danceworks created a special community program—Danceworks Generations. This program partners with senior centers, public and private adult day centers and elementary schools within Milwaukee, using creative arts instruction to encourage school-aged children to build relationships with older adults in their communities.

One Honey of an Opera

Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera had the Bucyrus Campus buzzing during their March 6th visit. As part of their Opera on the Go! program, the Florentine Baumgartner Studio Artists performed a world-premiere opera based on the SHARP Literacy story, “A Busy Bee.”

The sweet saga tells the story of Bella the honeybee and the adventures she undergoes while trying to find her place in the hive. The theme reflects a bit of wisdom St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care is based on—everyone has a purpose, a reason that is true, a very special something that only you can do.

Throughout the opera, Queen Camille and Bella’s bee friends try to help her find her special calling. In the process, the audience learns about the various roles needed to keep the hive functioning, and the importance of teamwork. Finally, Bella discovers that when you “try, try, try” and encourage one another, you can accomplish your goal…which for her was becoming a flower scout and keeping her colonywell-stocked with nectar and pollen.

St. Ann Center’s children and adults were bee-witched by the voices of four artists-in-residence–soprano Rachel Blaustein, alto Ashley Puenner, tenor Edward Graves and bass, Nathaniel Hill. The opera was composed by Ruben Piirainen, Florentine opera staff accompanist.

All Ages Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even in the back row, the audience at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care-Bucyrus Campus was feeling the vibe of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

From the stirring rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” performed by the staff, clients and children at the all-ages day care, to a heartfelt reading of the “I Have a Dream” speech, the program honored the life and legacy of the civil rights leader on his 89th birthday.

“When I was a child in Mississippi, black people had to sit in the back of the bus,” an adult client told a wide-eyed group of four-year-olds from the center’s childcare program. “Now we can sit anywhere we want to, and we can take that bus just as far as we want to go. Martin Luther King, Jr. made it so.”

Inspired by King’s words, several of the clients shared dreams they had for themselves and Milwaukee. One dreamed of being able to walk again. Another dreamed of being independent and getting her own apartment. Winning the Powerball was on more than one list.

A highlight of the program was an energetic performance by Our Nation for Youth Arts & Healing (ONFYAH). Ranging in age from four to 19, the talented dance and drumming academy thrilled the audience with the traditional African Dundunba dance, demonstrating strength and courage. “We love putting smiles on people’s faces,” said the group’s Artistic Director Jo’Niece Monk. “It’s our way of keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.”

bucyrus campus ministry

January-March 2018 Newsletter Feature Story

Sister Act

Going to work is a family affair for Diane Beckley. As chief operating officer at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus, she oversees daily programming for nearly 300 children and adults, including her own sister, Menrose Johnson.

A lively 96, Menrose is one of the senior-most clients in the Simba adult day care unit. “I’ve been coming here since this place was built,” Menrose said about her Monday-Wednesday-Friday routine for the past two years. With a ready smile and tack-sharp mind, she’s quick to tell everyone within earshot that her little sister “is doing a very good job.”

Used to being busy, Menrose ran the historic Metropolitan Hall bar and restaurant with her husband, Aaron, for many years. An expert cook, she also contributed signature dishes to the menu of a restaurant owned by their son, Greg, with whom she now lives. “When Menrose first started coming to St. Ann Center, I knew we’d have to get her busy cooking right away,” Diane said.

As a result, “Cooking with Menrose” has become a popular intergenerational activity at the Bucyrus Campus. Adults and children circle up around the kitchen island in the Ubuntu Room as she takes them step by step through her recipes. So far, she’s demonstrated how to make spaghetti, banana pudding and her most in-demand dessert. “Everybody loves my peach cobbler,” Menrose said.

“A person shouldn’t just sit alone in the house watching TV. You have to get out and be with people.” – Menrose Johnson

This talented woman is also apt to become a fixture in the new Multi-Fiber Arts Room once it’s completed. The space will offer instruction in traditional handcrafts like knitting, crocheting, weaving, tatting and sewing. “I learned to make silk lampshades when I was a girl,” Menrose said, explaining the intricate stitches that go into their construction. She’d like to be able to pass along the time-honored technique to the next generation.

In fact, children are among the reasons Menrose likes coming to St. Ann Center so much.  “I enjoy watching them play—they’re busy as little bees,” she said. “They keep me feeling young.”


Read all the stories of our joyful intergenerational community in the January-March Issue of Seasons of Life.