Capuchin Community Services received the Community Organization Equality Award from the city of Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission on Saturday, Dec. 12. (Submitted photo)

Capuchin Community Services (CSS) has long been known for its service to the community, assisting the most vulnerable among us.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, they were recognized for that work. They received the Community Organization Equality Award from the city of Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission.

Eva Diaz, the director of Intercultural Ministries for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, nominated the Capuchin Community Services.

“Capuchin Community Services include a wide array of ministries such as the House of Peace, serving the poorest of the poor, addressing immediate needs and also seeking to empower,” Diaz wrote in an email. “I am happy to see the city of Milwaukee recognize their contribution and decades of service.”

Among the ministries they are known for are the St. Ben’s Community Meal Program, housing, Capuchin Clothes Closet, health services, spiritual, legal and mental health.

Accepting the award was Br. Robert Wotypka, O.F.M. Cap., ministry director for Capuchin Community Services.

“Eva knows our House of Peace ministries quite well, and like CSS, she serves from the heart. It is wonderful to be recognized by the city and in such good company,” Br. Wotypka. “When I received the award from Mayor (Tom) Barrett, I used my time to thank the people who serve the city so well.”

Br. Wotypka works closely with the health department and the department of public works, including individuals and agencies who work to end homelessness. Br. Wotypka also credited those at resource hotline Impact 211.

“CCS has a strong capacity to do the works of mercy, thanks to our committed staff, dedicated volunteers and supportive donors, and the acts of charity we do are very often the first step on the path toward building justice and equity,” Br. Wotypka said.  “We recently welcomed two new Capuchin friars at CCS, Raymond Mwakibinga and Henry Cisowski. It is my hope that these brothers will help us see our ministries anew and identify new ways to serve, and in particular, to discover ways to help change outcomes for people who struggle. This we’ve already begun to do thanks to our partnerships to build and run Capuchin Apartments and St. Anthony Apartments, and this is what we hope to do more of.”

Br. Wotypka explained that the CSS mission is to provide for individuals with chronic and emergency needs. He added, it is essential for them to have access to secure housing and healthy food to help them overcome a long struggle or crisis, and financial, legal or emotional help.

“We’ve carried out these works of mercy at House of Peace since 1968 and St. Ben’s Community Meal since 1970.  I give thanks to our dedicated staff; they have had no opportunity to work from home because our work is grounded in encounter,” Br. Wotypka said. “I thank the volunteers who give us added capacity and reach. I thank our donors who keep the doors open and the lights on.  I also would like to thank the city staff who I encounter in my daily work: District One and all the good people who serve there, the department of health, the department of public works, Homeless Connect, and also the good people at Impact 211.”

Impact 211 serves adults, families, older adults and women with children as a community information and referral access site for Milwaukee County residents needing assistance. The organization often refers those in need to CSS.

“What a compassionate, learned and creative team they are,” Br. Wotypka said. “It is because of the way that they serve that I can see beyond our works of charity and works of mercy to a vision of a future with justice for all.”