Variety - The Children's Charity of Wisconsin

Rating: 4.96 stars   46 reviews

Issues: Disabilities, Education, Human Services, Philanthropy

Location: 12425 Knoll Rd. Suite 110 Elm Grove WI 53122 USA

Mission: Providing life-enriching assistance to Wisconsin children challenged by physical disabilities.
Target demographics: Variety serves Wisconsin children who are challenged by physical disabilities, 21 years of age and younger and whose needs are not met by other sources, including family, school, insurance and service program resources.
Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2014, we directly helped 34 children get the durable medical equipment, therapy and services they needed and purchased approximately $56,000 through our Freedom Program. We hosted 34 events through the Future Kids program with more than 2,050 participants. We hosted 18 families for Chatter Matters! Communication Camp.
Geographic areas served: Wisconsin
Programs:

The Variety Freedom Program encompasses mobility, communications and experiences. The Freedom Program exists to help children with physical challenges obtain confidence, freedom and independence by funding durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, van lifts, house ramps, adaptive car seats and strollers, specially-equipped bicycles and tricycles, bath equipment and stair lifts, for those with the greatest financial need.

The Variety Future Kids Program provides memorable educational and play experiences that would likely be inaccessible to children with physical challenges due to mobility or financial restrictions. The program takes children and their immediate family members on fun, free outings.

Chatter Matters! Communication Camp is a residential camp for children who use speech generating devices and their entire family to become better communicators in a fun, traditional camp setting.

2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 39-0977152
266-777-2090
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

Words can not express the feelings I have for Variety - The Children's Charity of Wisconsin. My son is 10 years old. Just about two years ago now we put him on a waiting list for a bike, but never heard a thing. It was earlier this year in March, my son's therapist recieved a call from Gerise from Variety about seeing his name on that waiting list for the bike. I was put in touch with Gerise, filled out some forms and just in time for spring he was riding his bike!! This bike has CHANGED my son's life. All of the sudden we saw this boy who clung to his mother take off. Within two days he was riding up and down the neighborhood with all the other kids by himself. He has ridden this bike nearly everyday. I have neighbors who sit out on their porches just watching him go up and down the sidewalks amazed at his new independence. Infact, just earlier today his dentist told me she was passing by the house saw him on the bike and was so excited she was not watching where she was driving and nearly hit a parked car. Not only has Variety granted his wish to have his own bike, but in January he will have the opportunity to try snow skiing and snowboarding, something he is very excited about and never thought he would be able to experience. Did I mentioned he took part in the Fishing Has No Boundries of Milwaukee that Variety is also a sponsor of? The second year in a row he reeled in the biggest fish, this year it was a 14lb Shinook Salmon and also a Brown Trout. I am so thankful from the bottom of my heart for what Variety - The Children's Charity of Wisconsin has done for the new independence I see in my son and the future that they may bring to his life.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have seen this organization reach out! They found us, and we are very thankful for that.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Not a thing, everyone I have met have been so extremely wonderful, thoughtful, and caring. It is like we're not strangers, we're a part of a family that is on the same road for these children, providing independence, fun, excitement, new experience and so much more.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

How did you find this group?

They found us!

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

Independence for my child!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Rating: 5 stars  

My son Nicolas is a loving 4 yr old at the age of 5 months he was injured and diagnosed with Non accidental brain injury. Since moving to Wisconsin Variety has allowed my other children and Nicolas to participate in dream nights such as the bucks games, and admirals games along with the ren faire these are things that with a child of special needs we as a family can not possibly find the extra money to spend on things like this. As we are busy buying items for Nicolas' care and as toys for him that are adaptive to him and his needs. Variety has allowed us as a family to offer a childhood to our other 2 children that in the light of Nicolas injuries we would have been unable to provide and still provide the best for Nicolas.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Many dream night activities. With out the hard work of the people at Variety my family and I would not have met some great families struggling with the same things and matters that we do and they have helped point us in the right direction for many opportunities

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

See that these fine ladies that run this organization had a bit more help in the office.

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Rating: 5 stars  

My son George has a rare chromosone disorder its called Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome. When he was 3 he needed a special walker because he is so small. We were unable to get funding through our medical insurance. We applied for funding through Variety Chidrens Charieties Inc. of WI. George got his walker! We are so greatful to them for all they have done and continue to do for us. They are trully concerned about his progress and have kept in contact with us over the last few years. They have asked if he needs anything else that they can help with. It is so encouraging knowing they are there for us.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

getting the funding that I applied for

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make sure every family who has a child with a disability knows about their organization

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Rating: 5 stars  

We were so blessed to have received a bike from Variety. One of or boys has several disabilities and was unable to ride a bike independently. Through Variety we received a tandem recumbent bike. We are now able to take long family rides that last for hours. We talk and laugh and get great exercise while we are doing it. This gift has brought our whole family closer because it is the one thing that we can all do together and everyone enjoys. We think Variety is awesome!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the way my kids beg to go bike riding and the way they smile as we zoom down the bike path. It is also so cool when my son says "Look mom, I can really do it!"

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

want to bring in more money,so that they could give more bikes away.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

How did you find this group?

Variety was very upbeat and wanting so much to make kids dreams come true.

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

We definitely get more exercise(or therapy in Ethan's sake), and we spend more time all together. It is hard to find anything that both our boys can do together and like doing. This bike was the answer.

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Rating: 5 stars  

My involvement with Variety - The Children's Charity of Wisconsin and the children and families they serve has been a fulfilling experience. I run a retail bicycle and fitness store. Over the years we have made a number of modifications to bicycles of many shapes and sizes to allow people with varied challenges use them. Most are bought by the families who can afford them. Some are funded by friends, or the state or organizations. A lot of families cannot afford them. Well, this past spring Gerise LaSpisa, Executive Director of Variety, paid us a visit. We have not been the same since. Variety's mission has inspired us to want to be more involved not just with the fine folks in their organization but more importantly with the children they serve. While the special adaptive bikes are right up our alley as my staff and me are all bike nuts, it is the opportunity to create freedom for the children to explore the world with their bike that has us so excited. Some of the kids now have their own way to get around. Some are able to exercise outside with their friends as equals for the first time. Some are able to free up their family to get outside at all. And some kids are simply excited because they are on a bike and not a wheelchair. Variety makes this all possible for families who otherwise cannot afford to do this. The bikes are only a part of what Variety does. The care and accuracy with which they find individual solutions to assist challenged kids and their families is inspiring. The chance to work with Gerise and her staff and the kids and families they serve gives our staff the chance to be more involved in our community and for that we are grateful.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The impact that Variety has had on these children and their families lives is immediate to see. Mobility, freedom and a healthy outlet, all while putting huge smiles on the kids faces. Variety does their homework with the children and families, as well as communicating with the therapists who may have worked directly with the kids to be sure they know what the kids can and cannot do. By the time they involve us, there is solid information to move forward. A pleasure to work with.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

What is unique about this organization?

Quick to respond, accurate and caring.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Rating: 5 stars  

My son had been using a bike during his physical therapy to help strengthen his legs after he had had a hip reconstruction surgery. Unfortunately, we had no way of following through at home. Then we heard about Variety Clubs Bike Day which helped kids with special needs get special bikes. We were so excited when John was chosen to receive a bike, and not just any bike but a bike that was custom fit and custom built just for him. He was so excited when he tried out his bike for the first time. His smile was precious! John had tried bikes before that we got through an equipment loan program but they had never quite fit his needs. Now John has an awesome bike that works for him and us too (it has rear stearing for us)!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The joy on my son's face when we put him on his new bike. We also went to Variety's Bike Day event. We met other recipients, donors and providers. It was also a wonderful oportunity for my other children to experience the special bikes and meet other families. I also know they sponsor other programs in which they always include the whole family.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I can't think of any changes except the ability to help more kids and families.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 4 stars  

Variety rocks and rolls - literally. They provided an adaptive bicycle for a student with cerebral palsy that I service in the public schools. His family was looking for a bicycle but an adaptive bicycle was out of their finacial reach. We turned to variety and together filled out the application for an adaptive bicycle. The application was detailed but easy to complete the needed information and letters. Within two months of submitting the application he was pedeling around the neighborhood with his siblings and Mom! The bicycle works for him now and into the future. It is a quality peice of equipment with room to grow! Variety had an event party to deliver the bike to make the family and my student feel super special. The family also has an additional resource and support through other activities and services provided by Variety. Thanks Variety!!!!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

services provided to students with special needs. Variety has invited many families of students with special needs to events throughout the greater Milwaukee area. They provided inservices to the Occupational and Physical Therapist in the Milwaukee Public Schools about the organizations and ways they can help service families and students within the district and area. They provided a student that I personally service with an adaptive bicycle!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I do not have enough information to address this question.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Variety is committed to providing services to children with disabilities and their families. When interested stakeholders in the community hear about the work of Variety, they want to become involved; thus, Variety is a strong and growing organization. As a physical therapist, I am grateful for the funding support that Variety is able to provide to children who otherwise would not have access to equipment and experiences that promote independence. As a Board member, I am proud of the efforts of the staff of Variety to promote the ogranization's mission to community providers that have now become Variety's partners. Having partnership relationships expands the possibilities available to children and families, and promotes more community awareness of the needs of others.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Recently, Variety funded adapted bicycles to children with physical disabilities; I attended the event where the kids received their bikes, and it was truly an exciting, rewarding day. Some children learned new motor skills while others learned new speeds of travel on a bike - all of them gained independence and a "typical child" experience - something we want to see happen for all kids.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

none that I can think of - Variety is moving forward with a clearly defined mission and attainable goals

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

How did you learn about this organization?

Visit to my workplace from the executive director

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Provide funding for the Kids On the Go program (equipment for children with disabilities)

What is its top priority in the long run?

Expand fund raising efforts and grow the organization's revenue

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Rating: 5 stars  

Our company has had the fortunate opportunity to help out Variety over this past year on a few projects. The dedication and passion that Gerise, Molly and Nicole all have for this organization can be seen quickly as we discuss some of the issues and projects. The commitment to doing their best and helping the families and children with their special needs is incredible. The work that Variety does for the children is unbelievable! It was so great and heartwarming to see the smile on the young boy’s face that we were able to help out earlier this year as well as the deep gratitude that the parents had for the help they received to make their sons life just a little easier. It has been a pleasure to be a part of this organization and we look forward to continuing to help wherever possible. Keep up the great work!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Helping better the lives of children.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

N/A

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Rating: 5 stars  

My son is Joseph Goetter. He turned 6 on 7/29/10. My son was adopted from Russia at 8.5 months, and has been diagnosed with bone dysplasia and autism. He cannot go out and play sports like most kids; due to his attention and other constraints. He is the happiest child you could ever meet, but not when it came to riding bikes. We tried at least 10 difffernt bicycles, and he was just never able to reach the pedals and handle bars. This was very frustrating to him, and he would become angry whenever we tried a new bike. It was always the same old story. Yes, it could work if mom or dad or big brother pushed him, but he did not have the ability to reach and control the pedals and handlebars for appropriate performance. Then came Variety Club and their Bike Day!!! I can honestly say that his best Birthday present was the bike he received from Variety Club. We have neighbors come up to us everyday in amazement. They never expected to see Joey have so much control, and be able to ride around the block with us chasing him. Variety Club has put the most beautiful smile on my Baby's face. He is proud to ride HIS BIKE. I cannot say enough about the help we were given to adjust his brakes, put additional brakes on, and to size up the pedals and handlebars for Joey's custom bike. Thank You Variety Club, Joey's parents and brother, Ryan

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Bike Day

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

not

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