Stories of Hope (Part 3)


Spreading the love | Racine Police Department's COP unit

surprises, honors RUSD employees for Love Week

Rachel Kubik, Racine Journal Times, Feb 5, 2023

Donnell Taggart group photo

S.C. Johnson Elementary educational assistant Donnell Taggart, third from left, poses with fellow school staff, members of the Racine Police Department and Hope City Church on Friday at the school, 2420 Kentucky St.

RACINE — Donnell Taggart, an educational assistant at S.C. Johnson Elementary, is known to be the “all-around SCJ kid whisperer.”

Taggart has been with the Racine Unified School District for seven years and runs the after school buses, works with any student who comes her way and offers love and support to staff members.

She’s known to have an “amazing” sense of humor, to be quick with a smile, a hug and a positive solution. She is someone people can count on.

And on Friday morning, she was recognized by the Racine Police Department.

The Community Oriented Policing unit honored RUSD employees who embody the definition of love.

The RPD visited 19 schools Thursday and Friday, working to build positive relationships with schools, students, families and staff, during the COP unit’s inaugural “Love Week,” understandably taking place during the first week in February, the month of Valentine’s Day. To read and see more, click on this link:

Managing Stress - Sustaining the Human Spirit in Farm Country

Created with SARE support by Raylene Nickel 2022

A course in skills-based suicide alertness prepared Ruth Linkenmeyer-Meirick for a desperate call from a friend. “She was going through a divorce, and she was so overcome by grief and sadness it was hard to talk with her,” says Meirick. “Had I not taken the course, I wouldn’t have known what to do.” Meirick was able to ask her friend a difficult but important question: “You’re not thinking about death by suicide, are you?” Her friend replied that she was not, and from there, Meirick listened and offered crisis-intervention suggestions.

Meirick understood how to help her friend because she had recently attended the skills-based suicide-prevention training called safeTALK. The training sessions were adapted to address the unique characteristics of agricultural communities. Through her work as the foundation director of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Meirick has helped to make similar workshops available to Farm Bureau agents and others throughout the state.

The adapted trainings, called safeTALK: Preventing Suicide in Agricultural Communities, resulted from a multi-pronged Minnesota project titled Trying Times: Tools to Understand and Alleviate Farm Stress. The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program funded the two-year project. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) managed the grant, which involved multiple partners in the public sector and nonprofit community.

The project developed materials and delivered workshop and online training about several farm stress and mental health topics to federal agency staff, state regulatory staff, Extension staff, lenders, clergy, social organizations, business people and others.

Woman in red coat standing in front of a barn with a white 5 gallon bucket in her hand.

Meg Moynihan received support from SARE for her ongoing efforts to train agriculture advisors to respond to the stress they encounter on farms and in rural communities.

To read more, click on this link:

Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke appears at UW-P

to inspire middle schoolers to go into STEM

By Alex Rodriquez, January 13, 2023

Grace Stanke, Miss America 2023, center, sits with a group of girls attending the Girls in Engineering and Math Conference (GEMS) at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Thursday. Around 450 middle school-aged girls from Racine Unified schools attended a keynote speech by Stanke and several STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshops Thursday.

A total of 450 girls from Racine Unified School District middle schools attended the 10th annual Girls Empowered by Math and Science conference Thursday and were joined by Stanke, in her first appearance since winning the title.

The girls, students from Gifford School, Walden III, Gilmore Fine Arts, Jersted-Agerholm school, Mitchell School, Starbuck Middle School and The R.E.A.L School — spent the day living like college students at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, 900 Wood Road, and attended a keynote speech by Stanke as well as a panel discussion moderated by her, and were assigned to attend different workshops that all focused on different STEM disciplines.

“Science isn’t limited to just one thing,” Stanke said. “For me, I focus on nuclear energy, but there are so many ways it can affect society and continue to improve.”

In her speech, Stanke, 20, told a story of how she was first attracted to STEM, specifically engineering, and started competing in Miss America scholarship events as a necessity for financing after her father was diagnosed with cancer.

Stanke is from Wausau and will be graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s in nuclear engineering this spring. To read more, click on this link: Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke appears at UW-P to inspire middle schoolers to go into STEM (

A librarian’s dream helps turn a waiting area at Cook County Jail into an educational nook for children who visit the incarcerated

By Laura Rodriquez Presa, Chicago Tribune, Jan 04, 2023

Before visiting his incarcerated father, 2-year-old K.D. stacks blocks in the early literacy play space inside a Cook County Jail waiting area on Dec. 15, 2022. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

When 2-year-old K.D. walked with his aunt inside the waiting area of the Maximum Security Division at Cook County Jail to visit his father, he smiled.

Unlike all the other times his aunt had brought him to the jail, this time, colorful furniture, dozens of books, toys and a vivid mural adorned the space where he typically — and anxiously — waits until an officer escorts him to see his father, who is incarcerated and awaiting trial.

His smile was thanks to the memory of Becca Ruidl, a librarian with the Chicago Public Library who died of COVID-19 in March at age 30. Her dream was to provide a literacy space for children of the incarcerated at the jail, where many children of color tend to spend time while visiting their loved ones, said Elizabeth McChesney, Ruidl’s friend and former boss.

On Dec. 13, an early literacy play space was inaugurated at the jail’s Maximum Security Division thanks to McChesney’s commitment to honor Ruidl’s legacy. McChesney galvanized other leaders who supported the vision to change the narrative of children experiencing trauma and providing them with learning opportunities.

“When you walk into the lobby of visitation, it no longer signals hopelessness; it signals connection, and the impact of that is not just for the children, but also for the individuals who are incarcerated,” said Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, a clinical psychologist and managing director of justice initiatives at Chicago Beyond. To read more, click on this link:

This organization has been highlighted before on the Hope From the Bottom Up website at They are very actively working with young political leaders in many states, bringing together Democrat and Republican elected officials to lessen the political polarization in our country. Below is a story of one of their efforts.

On the Rise: Kansas Future Caucus