Interview with Krista McNeil

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Krista McNeil, REACH Care Coordination Supervisor

Q: What is the name of your Department? What is the mission and vision of your Department?

The REACH department’s mission is to assist children and families in meeting their mental health needs in a strength based, family centered way. We believe that a strong community based plan helps keep families together.

Q: How do you feel your Department best serves our community?

We do our best to maintain connections the family already has within their own community as well as bring new connections in to provide sustainable and positive opportunities for children and families to receive support and comfort when needed. We also assist in helping children and families find ways to meet their needs in a safe way to encourage them to stay positive and hopeful for a bright future.

Q: What do you feel motivates your employees to be successful on a Daily basis

REACH Care Coordinators have the opportunity to see their children and families grow and meet their goals within a short time period; such as graduating high school, successfully completing programming for Delinquency services and seeing positive change within their family. These things keep us going and encourage us to continue working hard for the families we serve.

Q: What about your Department makes you the most proud?

I am personally so proud of the dedicated, motivated and inspirational leaders I have on my team. Their willingness to never give up; sticking to the values and philosophy of the program we are a part of and their ability to adapt to different situations allows them to meet the needs of their families and create lifelong relationships with the people we work with.

Q: What inspires you about APC?

APC offers opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds to work in a supportive and encouraging environment which has allowed me to feel like part of a family for the past nine years. The encouraging and motivating atmosphere keeps me working hard to meet the needs of the families we serve.

What motivates and/or inspires you at APC? We want to know! Feel free to share in the comment section below.

“The Art of Healing” by Melissa Meier

I have always been a perfectionist. I have always strived to be the best I could be and then some. In searching for perfection, I found, it often leads us to disappointment, depression, and anxiety. I have actually struggled with anxiety and depression for the majority of my life. The ups and downs of life can feel impossible to handle. If you add in the trauma that some of us may have faced, I found myself fearing the world. When you are anxious, you do not just fear the physical world. You can become a prisoner to your own mind. For me, I feared what my life would be in the future, I feared who I would become, what people thought of me, if I was perfect enough, I re-played everything in my head and it never ended.

Then one day, my sister who also struggles with anxiety and perfectionism, bought me a pack of brushes, a pack of canvases, and some acrylic paint. I laughed. I told her I was not an artist and she should not have wasted the money. Then something happened. I tried.

That day I learned that I painted like a 4 year old. 🙂 But what I also learned was it was okay. I enjoyed painting. I enjoyed creating. I did not have to be perfect and something beautiful could be created. Some days, my art resembles Picasso; other days, it looks like my preschooler painted it, but art allows me to escape, create, and be okay with the imperfections of life. Whether it is painting, drawing, or coloring in a coloring book; let yourself create without judgment and be free to let the art heal you.

By Melissa Meier, Auditor

How do you use creativity as a way to explore and relate to your feelings? We would love to hear from you! Please share your stories and wisdom in the comments!


Rob Bergeson- Youth Care Coordination Team Advocate

Please put away the smart phone and light up the grill; a recipe for co-worker camaraderie and conversation can be a perennial event throughout the year.

Here at APC our grill has become an ingredient for our health, fundraisers, celebrations, and the overall need to gather. People open their outside doors and windows to let the smell of charcoal permeate throughout the office atmosphere.  For real that actually happens, and they ask what is being grilled and when will it be done.

Bratwurst, hot dogs, chicken, tenderloin, or whatever the request is, our agency tries to keep within foundation of grilling experiences of all.  Folding chairs, easily folded tables, and dishes to pass are the steps of team assembly and accomplishment to support a pleasant outdoor office experience.

Too much frequency can spoil the experience and too little can sometimes be too late.  I like to offer up the experience whenever asked as that implies interest and need.  Create a team for each event and involve members from within and outside the agency to assist with the planning.

We are on our second charcoal grill here at APC– I lost all the flavor of the prior, however I have recycled the original and use it strictly for ribs.  The grill is loyal, dependable, and patiently awaits to fulfill purpose and pleasure.  I am now hungry for a flavor of smoke and outdoors.

Feel free to share stories, experiences, laughter, and above all great food at the Agency Grill.

-Rob Bergeson, Youth Care Coordination Team Advocate

What is your favorite food event so far at APC? What kind of fun food events would you like to see in the future? Please share in the comments!


Interview with Chris Stelzer

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Chris Stelzer, Director of Family Support Services

Q: What is the name of your Department?

Family Support Services Department – We provide welcoming, person-centered, recovery oriented, trauma informed services to children and families in Milwaukee County. We employ a staff of full and part-time Providers who do the services of Crisis Stabilization, Individual & Family Training & Support Services and Mentoring.

Our goal is to keep children in the least restrictive placement possible with a strong emphasis on helping children to live successfully at home with the services and supports they need to safely do so.

Q: How do you feel your Department best serves our community?

We strive to give children, who have mental and behavioral health needs, the services necessary to help them be safe and keep the community safe at the same time.  By serving youth in the home, and working with their families as well, we can reduce the amount of not only hospitalizations, but also reduce the time spent in institutional settings which is ultimately better for the youth’s success.  Building relationships is at the core of the work we do.  Responding to and preventing crisis situations from happening, by teaching youth to manage their emotions, and teaching the skills of coping, problem solving, anger management and decision making, enables everyone to be and feel more safe.  With those skills in place, youth are much more likely to do better in school, get and keep jobs, graduate and go on to live much more productive lives.

Q: What do you feel motivates your employees to be successful on a Daily basis?

Family Support Providers are passionate about children and families and the work that they do!!  They understand that children are not just “choosing to be bad” and that parents are often just grown-ups who have not had the assistance and intervention they needed to help them when they were younger.  Providers are trained well and equipped to understand and meet the youth and families where they are at.  In Family Support Services we aim to foster a culture of family, appreciation, open door policies and support so Providers can feel comfortable and are able to get the assistance and support that they need to do this very difficult work.  Family Support Providers care deeply about their clients and are patient.  They understand that change is often difficult and can be a painstakingly slow process.

Q: What about your Department makes you the most proud?

ALL OF THE ABOVE! 🙂 The Providers choose to do this work even though it doesn’t pay enough and is difficult because they TRULY want to make a difference and help change the lives of people.  They are committed and go through a lot personally during the process; still so many persist and do this work for years.  I am extremely grateful for and proud of the level of diversity, in all areas, in my department.  We are extremely successful because we are diverse and we understand that it takes EVERYONE to make it work.  We believe that we are a team, Providers and Admin, and that one group cannot succeed without the other.  What makes me most proud is the large number of Providers who come to tell me that they truly love APC and how they are made to feel here.  They feel HAPPY.  They feel like family, like they are appreciated, cared about, seen and heard.  If people do leave, they often come back.  I think that says A LOT about who we are and the culture that we have created and I am extremely proud of that.

Q: What inspires you about APC?

OMG, I just said it all!! 🙂

I too feel like this is home, that we are a family of sorts and that I am allowed to be myself.  Not just that I am allowed to be myself but that I am appreciated and cared about.  I am incredibly proud of our reputation in the Milwaukee community and that we are respected, at a very high level, by our contracted partners.  That is true because we work very hard to follow our contracts, putting in place best practice training, supervision and support, and because we truly care about the welfare of the people that we serve.

Last, but not least, I am so inspired by our leader Pam Fleider.  She is truly a leader in every sense of the word.  She is at the forefront of all of our growth, progress and positive reputation in the community and within the agency.  Pam leads by example and supports each of us to be thoughtful about what we’re doing, think about why and how we are doing what we’re doing, to always be our best and to do things in the most client-centered, welcoming way possible.  I feel lucky and proud to be here at APC! 🙂

We want to know what inspires you at APC as well! Please share in the comments.

“Oh, The Places I’ll Go”: Local Activity Ideas for Youth and Families

How many times have you struggled to find things to do with your clients or your family?  With having 4 children of my own I tend to look for inexpensive or free things to do with my family.  I have found many different places to look and find things to get us out of the house.

One example: I go on Facebook and enter drawings for free tickets to local events.  I recently was picked and won 4 tickets to the Big Bounce America (largest bounce house in America)!

One of the pages that I like to visit is the Lake Country Family Fun page on Facebook as they always have suggestions on things to do.  If you sign up to get their emails, which I have done also, the website has a week-end events list that they email out.

During the week my kids love to go on bike rides with their uncle; one place they tend to frequent is the Urban Ecology Center and there are multiple locations.  The one they go to it is located off of Pierce St. in Milwaukee. They are always having community events that are free or low cost.

I have found that the free days at the Milwaukee County Zoo can be fun to do with the kids as well as going to the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum on their free days. Those dates for the free days can be found on their websites. Sometimes I will even make the trek out to the Racine Zoo for a different atmosphere.

I also like to go to the local parks, especially Greenfield Park, there are so many activities to do there, and so much nature to take in. They have the awesome Cool Waters swimming pool, but a lot of other local parks have nice pools as well. I also like the fact that they have movie nights, too!

If we are feeling adventurous, we head out towards lake Michigan and take a walk around the seven bridges in Grant Park, South Milwaukee. I try to remember to bring my metal detector when heading that way– you never know what you will find.

If you are into music, like my family is, there are local festivals at neighborhood churches or events like Wednesday night live at the Wisconsin State Fair, Jazz in the Park.

On the weekend we will also check out Waukesha county as there is lots happening in that neck of the woods, too. For a list of events I tend to check their website which is

Another local place I love to go to in the fall is the Wehr Nature Center. They have so much going on and it is a very inexpensive place to go with my kids.

When we have a rain day I will take my children to the local library. There are so many different activities that I would have never known about if I didn’t check out our local library, like story time where someone volunteers to read to the kids.

This about sums up the places we go to for an inexpensive day out of the house! I hope you are able to utilize these to go to with your family or clients.

By: Michele Potrikus

Do you know of any other free or low-cost local activities for families? Please share your ideas and resources in the comments!

“Hey!!! While you’re at it, go check out the comment sections from our previous post and see what our readers are saying! Feel free to interact and add comments if you want! Remember that all are welcome!!” –Chrystal Williams

The Office Plant

op.jpgAs I am writing this I am in the process of growing my first office plant. I anticipate it to be both an adventure and challenge.

I have found a ledge just beneath my office window as a perfect location. I have purchased a decorated green clay pot for my new plant.

My co-worker has kindly brought in potting soil and a vine stem for me to transplant to my clay pot. The dirt is poured and vine stem placed deeply near the bottom of the pot.

What now I ask myself. Wait? Surely there must be some tricks and secrets to this plant growing business. Would staring at my plant every two seconds make it grow faster? Should I talk to my plant so that it knows it is loved? I stay determined and try the above strategies along with a measure of prayer.

I have a new-found excitement as I water and care for my new plant. I reflect on the reason I wanted to grow an office plant. I find that the answer is as simple as plants themselves. Plants are here to remind us of beauty and life.

Do you have a story to share? We would love to hear about your experience with plants and why you keep them. Tell us in the comments!

By David Dziegielewski, Operations Assistant 

Our first blog post!

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Who would have ever thought that APC would have a blog committee? Well, don’t think too hard about it because here we are! What better way to reach audiences than a fun employee-run blog that will supply more information, resources, and ideas, with a variety of interesting opinions on relevant topics as well as many other awesome reads?

As we all anxiously arrived to our first blog meeting, sitting around the large, somewhat intimidating black conference table, with our pen and paper ready and ideas galore, what would come of this meeting? Our ultimate goal, which you will see in upcoming blog entries, is to create a place to share our collective experiences at APC, whether it be through a blog about working in mental health, sharing community resources for families, keeping you up to date on agency events, or just having a good time getting to know one another.

What can YOU do to contribute?

This blog journey is pretty new to all of us and we welcome any  feedback and all levels of experience. And guess what? You don’t even have to be on the committee to contribute! If you want to submit a blog entry or have specific topics you’d like featured, please email co-chair Kaprice Gilbert at

There are a few guidelines, of course, to ensure  the blog is a safe and fun place for everybody (DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!):

  • Stay away from very controversial topics such as religion and politics
  • Be open-minded when sharing opinions based on your own personal point of view to avoid judgment of others
  • Be sure to give credit where it’s due: cite your sources if borrowing from someone else!
  • Be mindful of language– think PG-ratings!
  • Always keep comments positive(avoid negativity); use common sense to be polite to others
  • Last, but not least, have fun!

Hey! That’s what it’s all about, right? Please comment with any suggestions regarding article topics below, and don’t forget to reach out if you have the itch to write something. We can’t wait to hear from you!

By: Chrystal Williams, Family Support Services Auditing and Billing Specialist and Blog Committee Co-Chair

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