Marie Carlson has moved away from Milwaukee many times but always manages to find her way back. Now she is focused on stimulating community growth and caring for vulnerable city residents. Carlson and her wife Charvonne Carlson have started a non-profit called Community Collective, hoping to empower neighbors to help one another. “We can do a lot more together than we can on our own,” she said.
The Carlsons spend most evenings picking up donations from Pick ‘n Save and Costco and distributing the food to homeless shelters and food banks. They also drive to locations around the city where homeless people gather and share food out of the back of their car.
Carlson is concerned about the stigmatization of homeless people, citing encounters with individuals who are desperate for a healthy salad or who build gardens under bridges. “These people were normal kids growing up playing ball in the street with their brothers and sisters, having birthday parties,” she said. “I don’t think they had this idea that they wanted to be homeless.”