Women Changing Wisconsin: Fond du Lac woman empowers women experiencing trauma

Updated: Jul. 6, 2022 at 10:00 PM CDT
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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - A Fond du Lac woman is empowering women dealing with poverty, addiction, and domestic violence.

In Wednesday’s Women Changing Wisconsin, Taylor Neal introduces us to Theresa Menting, the founder and executive director of the Women’s Empowerment Series.

The Women’s Empowerment Series is a volunteer and donation-based program providing education and support to women experiencing trauma in the Fond du Lac area.

In 2017, Menting enlisted the help of 43 volunteers at the initial meeting. Now hundreds take part in the program.

“The beauty of Women’s Empowerment is seeing how all of these women – and men – have come together to help to serve women in the community and children,” said Menting.

During an annual 12-week period, women in the program meet for classes that teach job and life skills and self care.

Menting stresses the importance of inclusivity.

“I didn’t want it to be just domestic violence, I didn’t want it to be just mental health, I didn’t want it to be tied to a specific church and faith, where women who felt like they had lost their faith because of what they’ve gone through are now scared to enter that,” said Menting. “I wanted there to be a neutral place where women could walk in, not feeling like there were any ties to anything else.”

Child care is available on site.

A group of men called “The Muscle” provide security during meetings.

Menting says the women and volunteers are her motivation. Her main inspiration is her mother--a former Fond du Lac High School Special Education teacher.

“My mom always taught us when we were kids to always love everyone,” says Menting. “It doesn’t matter if you see a kid sitting by themselves at lunch. My mom said, ‘You sit by them. You go and sit with them, you have lunch with them.’ And that was instilled in me at a young age.”

Among the more than 400 volunteers who help each year is Carol Schumacher. She won a 2022 Governor’s Award for Volunteer of the Year. Schumacher puts in an average of 70 hours per week in the organization’s office.

“I love this organization. It’s near and dear to my heart,” says Schumacher. “I have always been a champion of good and encouraging people – women. But in my past, it’s mostly children. To better themselves, to be strong, to be determined, and to be successful.”

Menting says, “When Carol’s not here, I’m like ‘Where’s Carol? Something’s wrong call Carol.’”

“Mom, Oprah, Carol. I need a shirt that says that.”

Menting says the Women’s Empowerment Series receives referrals from more than 30 agencies. They’re looking to add a full time case manager and child care specialist to meet demand.

CLICK HERE to learn about the program and how you can help.

The Women’s Empowerment Series is part of the Goebel Family Foundation. The foundation was started by Menting’s brother.

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