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December 20, 2019


Team Members Commit to Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Image Caption: Team members from ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano volunteer at the SAM25 “Empty Bowls-Caring Hearts” fundraiser.

December 20, 2019


Team Members Commit to Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

SHAWANO, Wis. – Caregivers in Shawano County understand the importance of supporting organizations dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in the area. One of the organizations helping community members is Shawano Area Matthew 25 (SAM25).

SAM25 was founded when a group of volunteers from church, service and civic groups as well as businesses, pulled together their time, talents and treasures to sustain an emergency shelter from November through April each year.

“SAM25 meets immediate and long-term needs for those faced with joblessness and without stable housing,” explained Maureen “Muffy” Culhane, a long-time ThedaCare pharmacist and now president of the SAM25 Board of Directors. 

They offer housing and job resources, mentoring assistance and educational programs on a limited basis in a temporary space. Its mission is to help people “affected by poverty improve their circumstances to become self-sufficient”.

“SAM25 is extremely important in addressing the social contributors to health and wellness,” said Jasmine Wiley, MD, family medicine physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano. “Not having a stable income or housing complicates any medical problem someone might have, not to mention having an adverse impact on mental and emotional health. You are less likely to take expensive prescription medications if you can’t afford to put food on the table for your family, or take your insulin if you don’t have access to a refrigerator to keep it cold.”

ThedaCare has supported the nonprofit since it opened its doors through meal prep volunteers as well as sponsoring fundraising events.

“We understand food and shelter are vital conditions to foster health and wellbeing, which directly ties into addressing our poverty and disparity priorities,” said Paula Morgen, director of Community Health Improvement for ThedaCare. “If people have food and shelter, they have security and that contributes to their health, or lack of health, if they don’t have it. We want to help people get back on their feet and be as healthy as they can by providing in areas of their lives that will help them move forward.”

SAM25 now has an opportunity to move into a new, permanent place that would offer services year-round.

“We recognize the need for additional space,” said Culhane. “The number of adults and children seeking shelter during the winter months has grown each year. Last year, we were at or over capacity 70% of the time and unable to house dozens of children and adults due to space constraints.”

Seeing the value of SAM25, some ThedaCare physicians have personally committed funding for the expansion of the SAM25 and services offered. They have designated a total of $15,000 per year for the next three years, with ThedaCare matching the amount each year, for a total of $90,000 coming from ThedaCare and providers.  

Part of the future plan is to open a free medical clinic for the uninsured, with the assistance of other organizations in the area. Dr. Wiley has helped with efforts to open a clinic at the site. 

“We want to better serve our underserved community members and improve the wellness of our neighbors,” she said. “In order to best serve the community, the SAM25 free clinic will focus on collaboration between ThedaCare and our other local clinics, including two tribal clinics and the other health system clinics in the area.”

The new medical clinic is expected to play a role in preventive care. Plans call for three exam rooms to meet basic health needs. There will also be resources to learn more about health insurance options.

The move into the new building, now under renovation, will start in the summer of 2020 with people in need able to access the new shelter next winter.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.