The Green Bay Packers Foundation donated a record $1 million to charitable and civic organizations throughout Wisconsin this year with its annual grants, but one of the recipients caught the attention — and criticism — of some of the state’s most prolific pro-life activists.
The Packers announced this year’s grants near the beginning of December along with a list of all 192 organizations that would be receiving donations from the Foundation, including Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin based in Milwaukee. It didn’t take long for Pro-Life Wisconsin and other pro-life supporters to catch wind of the donation and speak out against money going to “an abortion provider,” according to a report from the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
“(The Packers) have stood for wonderful things, but this is not something that’s wonderful,” Pro-LIfe Wisconsin executive director Dan Miller said via the Press-Gazette, adding his organization is against money “ever, at any time” going to Planned Parenthood.
The Packers Foundation, which is funded by the team but run by a different board of trustees, spoke out Wednesday in defense of its donation and said the Planned Parenthood grant was not a blanket donation and was meant for a specific program aimed at helping an underserved population of Latino families in the southeastern part of the state. The program, Cuidándonos Creceremos más Sanos (CCmáS), provides those families with language- and culturally-specific health education they would not normally receive, according to the Press-Gazette.
“The Packers and the foundation certainly understand there are individuals who disagree with some aspect of one or more of the 2,800 organizations that have been supported since 1986,” said Aaron Popkey, Packers director of public affairs, via the Press-Gazette. “The organization respects those views. Grant applications are considered specific to their initiatives and do not necessarily imply endorsement of other actions by the organizations.”
The foundation has also awarded grants to faith-based groups during more than three decades of charitable giving, including Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish (Dane, Wis.), Family Promise of Green County and Jewish Family Services (Milwaukee).
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Foundation Gives $5,000 to Sober Living Home
As outlined in the initial grant release, the Packers Foundation changes the focus of its grants annually and put this year’s focus on groups that use funds to support animal welfare, civic and community development, environmental improvements and health and wellness, including drug/alcohol abuse and domestic violence prevention.
One such organization was Joe’s House, a sober living home for men battling with addiction in Beaver Dam, Wis., that received $5,000 from the Packers Foundation to help cover renovations, according to a report from the Daily Citizen. Cindy Hartt helped start the home and named it after her son, Joe, who died of a heroin overdose in 2012. She is currently the board president of the Bridges of Dodge County, which runs the home.
Men apply to live in the house for about six months and, if accepted into the program, receive support and resources to help them both combat addiction and stabilize their lives. The men are expected to pay rent once they find a job and are encouraged to find jobs in the program.