JOSHUA celebrates 15 years of advocacy
By Lauren Waters
ALLOUEZ – Started in 2004, JOSHUA (Justice Organization Sharing Hope United For Action) began as a way to encourage social justice and community building.
Fifteen years later, the faith-based organization continues to dedicate itself to advancing issues and working for justice in Brown County.
As part of the statewide organization WISDOM, JOSHUA is a coalition of faith communities working together for the good of the community.
Membership is by faith organization; however, individuals can become sustaining members without belonging to a church.
One of JOSHUA’s board members, Anneliesa Waggoner, said Rev. Steve Hartman was instrumental in starting the organization in Brown County.
There are similar organizations throughout Wisconsin such as ESTHER in Appleton and MICAH in Milwaukee, she said.
“It’s all about building relationships in the public and private sector,” said Waggoner. “JOSHUA has public forums on all of their issues, such as mental health and prison reform.”
The JOSHUA Prison Reform Task Force worked on the Ban the Box Campaign, where the organization got Brown County to remove the box on employment applications where individuals had to signify if they’ve been convicted of a prior misdemeanor or felony.
Other initiatives have been getting the county to fund a nurse at the Green Bay Correctional Institution, as well as addressing the abusive conditions of solitary confinement, she said.
“The organization was also instrumental in getting the drug courts in Green Bay,” said Waggoner. “Rather than going through the regular criminal courts, the drug courts allow for treatment rather than incarceration.”
JOSHUA has a task force regarding environmental justice, as well.
The organization worked to fight against the Back Forty Mine, as well as advocated for a sustainability commission
in the City of Green Bay.
Waggoner said the group also has training workshops such as how to be a responsible activist.
JOSHUA is currently bringing groups of people together to discuss the hopeful closure of the Green Bay Correctional Institution, but Waggoner knows that change is a long road ahead.
“When you get into the game of advocacy,” she said, “you have to get used to fighting for a long time and not giving up.”
On Thursday, Nov. 21, JOSHUA hosted an event entitled, “A Conversation about Green Bay Correctional; We have a billion dollar decision to make.”
To learn more about JOSHUA and other upcoming events, visitjoshua4justice.org or call 920-362-1511.