As you pull off Silver Spring Drive onto 64th Street, you may not think twice about the large building in the quiet neighborhood but once you walk through those front doors, you are greeted by smiling faces and a vibrant chandelier made by the kids that are part of the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center (SSNC). The community center is a nonprofit organization that services the people in the neighborhood through programs relating to health & wellness, education, and employment. At the heart of this organization are the people that work tirelessly to ensure these community members thrive in their city. “Whenever you are doing social service work, it is so critical. You go through a lot internally. It’s no easy job,” says Devin Hudson, the Development Director at the SSNC. The work they do at the neighborhood center opens so many doors for the individuals that take part in the programs.
The Silver Spring Neighborhood Center started in 1958 as a settlement house servicing the Westlawn neighborhood. The center was a resource for new residents to turn to as they started their lives in Milwaukee. Throughout SSNC's history, their partners have helped shape who they are and who they impact. So in 1986, the center partnered with the UWM College of Nursing, which allowed them to implement programs like health care services for people that are under-insured, classes to teach teens about choosing healthy foods, collaboration with the Childhood Development Center and the list goes on. At the core of these programs is the director Jean Bell-Calvin, who has been with the UW-Milwaukee Silver Spring Community Nursing Center since the start. “It’s a blessing to do the work that we do,” says Jean, “It’s about resources. It’s about how you advocate for resources in the community and it’s a challenge.” The lives Jean has touched in the community is hard to put into words, much less fit into a blog post.
The next major partnership happened in the early 2000s when SSNC joined with Browning Elementary School, part of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The two started their cooperative because MPS was focused on bringing neighborhood schools back to the city. A neighborhood of support is what binds these organizations together.
The core of the SSNC's programs have always been youth oriented, but they also have a number of programs for adults such as their GED program and the Transform Milwaukee Program which opens job possibilities for those with a criminal background or a child support order.
For those in the area needing guidance or a way to start over, the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center stands as a center for hope. The SSNC has quality employees that can work with you to make the program successful. As soon as you step onto the campus, you are confronted with encouragement and place of comfort away from the challenges of everyday life. The SSNC's impact on Milwaukee is overwhelming. Learn more about what they are accomplishing on their website: www.ssnc-milw.org