Foundation making a difference with Journey House

Journey House Graduates

For many families, the difference between a life of poverty and the ability to succeed is developing a rich set of life skills. Journey House, a social service organization supported by the A. O. Smith Foundation, helps provide these skills.

Since 1969 the Journey House has been serving the residences on the near south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Journey House mission is to empower families to move out of poverty by offering adult education, workforce readiness, youth development, and family engagement programs. Their mission is achieved by three methods:  education, relationships and exposure.  

Journey House Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Michele Bria, explained how the community has benefited from the program. “Every day, Journey House makes dreams come true for children and families on Milwaukee’s near south side. We annually serve over 7,000 people in our adult education workforce readiness, youth development, and family engagement programs.”

Journey House Girls Reading“Through education, relationships, and exposure, we empower families to move out of poverty and develop top talent. At the end of the day, if we are not moving our kids towards college/institutions of higher learning, full-time employment, or the military, then we are just playing a game. Journey House programs develop top talent through education and character development/life skills, reduce unemployment and crime, strengthen families, and revitalize neighborhoods,” Dr. Bria continued.

One of the Journey House success stories is Markesha Parker who began her involvement in eighth grade. Markesha came from a poor single-parent family. She was an active member in several of the leadership programs and college careers.

Through her hard work, Markesha was accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UW-P). She earned her Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering in December 2014 and won several awards for her leadership. Her biggest award was from the entire UW system for academic achievement, which was given to just three seniors. In January 2015, Markesha began her industrial engineering career at a Fortune 500 Company. She aspires to give back to her community and continues to volunteer at Journey House.

The Journey House adult education program helps people earn their General Educational Development (GED), as well as learn the English language, basic computer skills and financial literacy.

Youth development activities offered by the Journey House include extensive programs with an emphasis on life skills training. They also offer leadership, civic engagement, tutoring, homework help, college careers, workforce readiness and computer classes, as well as an athletics program.

In the workforce readiness program, Journey House offers training in soft skills, customer service, resume writing, financial and investment training, and office technology.

As Journey House is impacting many lives for the better, the A. O. Smith Foundation is doing the same to make its communities a better place to live and to work.