Posts Tagged ‘Madison’

Movin’ Shoes does it again
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Movin’ Shoes does it again


Back in 2017, I wrote a post about how much I hate to shop and my reluctant trip to Movin’ Shoes after failed attempts to buy shoes online.

I still hate to actually go into a store—though recently had the ah-ha moment that I could get an item the very same day if I did! (Amazon would be so pleased to know the impact they’ve had on my buying choices—though, I guess they already do). But after last year’s positive experience decided that I must return to a physical shoe store. 

Just here to say that the team at Movin’ Shoes continues to be amazing. I have especially enjoyed working with Tim–who even remembered me after more than a year. We’ll chalk that up to his amazing memory and customer-first focus, instead of the fact that it took a lot of time and energy to find a pair of shoes that worked for me (I fear my picture might be on a wall somewhere, sort of like the “don’t take checks from this person” warnings of pre-Internet). 

Hope to enjoy my new shoes later today and thanks for the great service and products!



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A “forever” home, thanks to The Road Home

Nicholas* is an enthusiastic seven-year-old with a strong eye for color and form and a burning desire for his three-times-a-week phys ed to be replaced by art. “We only get art once a week—I hate gym and it’s not fair.” As someone who always enjoyed paint and glue a lot more than dodgeball and picking teams—two activities that probably aren’t too common in today’s elementary gym classes—I can certainly relate.



Nicholas’s artwork—now adorning my fridge! Thank you!

Nicholas’s older sister, Jasmine, teaches me how to teleport (an activity that relies on your companion being willing to close their eyes while you dash across the room) and their friend, Davon, has a lot to say about what will happen if Trump gets elected—none of it good!

In many ways, these three are typical elementary and middle school kids: active, inquisitive and eager for your attention. But in one critical way they’re not: they’re all clients of The Road Home Dane County, Madison’s only homeless resource that caters exclusively to families with children.

Founded in 1999, The Road Home (formerly known as the Interfaith Hospitality Network) relies on a network of partner faith organizations that provide emergency shelter, an evening and morning meal and activities for children on a rotating, weekly basis. The Road Home also offers its clients intensive, ongoing case management services—because, as their Executive Director, Kristin Rucinski, says, “Housing is just one of the many issues our families are struggling with”—and access to affordable housing through a variety of programs, offered both through The Road Home and in conjunction with other local agencies, such as the YWCA-Madison and The Salvation Army.

The need for The Road Home’s services is very real, and, unfortunately, growing. The Wisconsin State Journal is tackling the issue of homelessness in our community with a special series that started in June and will run in the coming months.

And, as my recent evening with The Road Home showed all too clearly, many of our homeless are families with children like Nicholas, Jasmine and Davon. Kids who deserve more than a cot in a basement room. Kids who are longing for a “forever home,” where there will be a cupboard stocked with art supplies, plenty of room to teleport whenever you want and a place to sit comfortably and argue politics.

How can you help? Educate yourself. Donate to homeless resources if you can. And consider volunteering. You can reach The Road Home at 608-294-7998.

*All names and some identifying information were changed to protect the children’s privacy.

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Could 30 million words make a difference?

The city I call “home” (Madison, Wisconsin) has a lot to recommend it: relative safety, a stable economy (thanks to the fact that the state’s largest public university and state government are located here) and generally
high scores for livability (when it comes to things like art, music, food, bike lanes and environmental sustainability).

But we fall down in  a number of critical areas related to race. One key example: the state of Wisconsin has the country’s largest graduation gap between white and black students and Madison’s gaps are even larger.

While challenges related to race are pervasive and have proven to be incredibly intractable, I heard a story on NPR on Saturday morning that provided a small glimmer of hope.

The story was about research done by two Kansas psychologists, Betty Hart and Todd Risley, in the 1980s. You can read more about it at this Atlantic Monthly article from 2010 or check out the NPR story.

The one-sentence summary: Hart and Risley found that children living in “professional” vs. low-income families were exposed to roughly 32 million more spoken words over the first four years of their lives, that these words tended to differ in tone and complexity and that there was a direct correlation between this early language exposure and later achievement.

And now, a project called The Thirty Million Words Initiative, has been launched by the University of Chicago to help parents of low-income families understand the impact of their verbal interactions and improve their level and quality. The program is backed by Dana Suskind, a pediatric surgeon and author who’s seen firsthand—through her experiences in the operating room and X-rays—that hearing words has an impact on infants’ brains.

It’s early days for the program at this point, but it certainly appears to have merit. Could a program like this make an impact in Madison? It seems like an idea worth considering.

“Thank you” to for their photo

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Knowledge junkie. Raconteur.

Vicky Franchino

I love to learn about new things. And I love to tell a good story. Let’s get together and tell yours!

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“Vicky is one of the best writers I’ve worked with. She provides a high quality product on time and is a joy to work with. Vicky is able to take complex financial subjects and turn them into readable prose.”

Jim Jerving, Editorial Director

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