In Tribute to Sharon Adamsby Representative Gwen Moore
Posted on 2015-12-18
in the house of representatives
Friday, December 18, 2015
Ms. MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Sharon Adams, a
mentor, community leader, and administrator. She is the Founder and
Director of Programs for Walnut Way Conservation Corp and after 15
years of service transitions from her position on December 21, 2015.
Sharon Adams moved back to Milwaukee in 1997 from New York and found the once-vibrant Lindsay Heights neighborhood where she grew up lined with boarded-up houses, trash-filled lots, gangs, prostitution and drugs. This spurred her and her neighbors to organize Walnut Way, a grassroots association whose motto is to ``Reclaim, Restore, and Repurpose''. The organization's headquarters is a former drug den and 100 year old structure that has been restored and transformed into the community's nerve center.
Ms. Adams and Walnut Way pushed for the revitalization of North Avenue and the Lindsay Heights Community. The blight is now gone, replaced by restored and newly built houses, rain and vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, youth trained in urban agriculture, a bee aviary to harvest and sell honey, a tree nursery to expand the canopy, and work with police to improve safety. They run an award winning business called Blue Skies that employs youth and others from the community for their landscaping operation.
Sharon has capped off her remarkable urban renewal effort with the completion of The Innovations and Wellness Commons. The Commons will serve nearly 8000 residents living in and surrounding the Lindsay Heights neighborhood. Funds for this venture include significant dollars from federal, state and local governments, the Zilber Family Foundation, and many others. Nearly 30 jobs were created for low income workers by this project. The Commons include Outpost Natural Foods Coop that operates four large organic grocery stores in the Milwaukee area, the Juice Kitchen, a business operated by experienced entrepreneurs specializing in vegetarian meals all sited in a setting that allows for holistic approaches to healthy living such as healing circles, fitness classes and meditation. This economically distressed area is no longer a food desert but a haven providing an environment for healthy living and jobs.
This is Sharon Adams' second retirement, she left the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2008 as Director of Service Learning to head Walnut Way. She helped create other neighborhood organizations, including the Lindsay Heights Neighborhood Health Alliance to reduce health disparities and the Lindsay Heights Neighborhood Quality of Life Plan, part of the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, a $50 million program to revive low-income Milwaukee neighborhoods in 10 years.
Sharon Adams is also the Wisconsin 2010 Social Innovation Prize Award Winner, an award given to an individual over age 50 who addresses critical social problems. The prize includes $5,000, as well as, another $5000 to be designated by the winner to an organization.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to recognize Ms. Sharon Adams who leaves a legacy of advocacy and compassion. She is a true trailblazer who has labored to attract investment and lead the Lindsay Heights Neighborhood to prosperity and good health. The citizens of the Fourth Congressional District, the State of Wisconsin and the nation have benefited tremendously from her dedicated service. I am honored for these reasons to pay tribute to Ms. Sharon Adams.