MILWAUKEE —Interfaith Older Adult Programs announces the 2017 Pearls of Wisdom honorees and community award winners. This year’s honors will be given out at the 12th Annual Pearls of Wisdom Celebration and Fundraiser on Thursday, April 27, at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West.

Jonathan Brostoff & Phyllis Mensh Brostoff

Jonathan & Phyllis Brostoff

Interfaith is pleased to announce that Phyllis Mensh Brostoff, CEO of Stowell Associates Inc. and her son State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff are the first recipients of the “Generational Gem” Award. This award honors persons of different generations who have inspired each other, and as a result, have created new and better ways of providing service to others.

Phyllis co-founded Stowell Associates in 1983 with social worker Valerie Stefanich, and is now leading the organization as CEO. She is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers, both nationally and in the Wisconsin Chapter. She was also co-founder of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers in 1985, and served on its national board and in every office, including President in 2009. She has written and published many articles about older adults, professional ethics and care management, and taught numerous seminars and classes to other professionals, locally and nationally.

State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff grew up volunteering and being a community advocate. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2011. In 2016, the University Alumni Association honored him with the Graduate of the Last Decade Award.

Working for homeless shelters and social service agencies, Brostoff habitually dedicates his time to helping others. His legislative goals include: disability advocacy, Hmong rights, deaf and hard of hearing issues, the rights of incarcerated individuals, and mental health care support. Working to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health continues to be one of his primary goals. In the 2015-17 session, he served on the committees of Mental Health Reform, Financial Institutions, State Affairs and Government Operations, Ways and Means, and Aging and Long Term Care. He was also a member of the task force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

“Interfaith is so grateful to have the opportunity each year at our Pearls of Wisdom event to recognize volunteers, and this year we have a new category of winners who so proudly demonstrate and support our mission of linking older adults with a caring community,” said Felice Green, spokesperson for Interfaith Older Adult Programs.

Additional Awards Will be Presented to:

Nucor Cold Finish Wisconsin

Photo credit

Nucor Cold Finish Wisconsin is the recipient of the Business Community Impact Award. This award recognizes a local business for its dedication and commitment to volunteering with Interfaith.

Nucor has been a community business partner with the South Shore Regional Neighborhood Outreach office for many years. General Manager Jerry Richie and employees help distribute Christmas bags filled with non-perishable food and special holiday items to isolated and low-income older adults in the southeast part of Milwaukee County. Nucor is not only involved during the holiday season, but each month, employees help deliver government-issued food boxes to homebound older adults each month.



Anne Presser

Anne Presser, 89, is the recipient of the “Making the World More Beautiful” award. She has been an active Interfaith volunteer since 2001. Anne began volunteering with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program helping youths paint personalized t-shirts at State Fair Park, and for nine years served as a tutor with the agency’s tutor program. Anne has not slowed down. She currently volunteers with Bingo games at McGovern Park Senior Center. Her nominator wrote she is a model volunteer: always present regardless of the weather.

Nominees in the “Making the World More Beautiful” category are individuals 50 and better who willingly share gifts and talents to enrich the lives of others.



Rose OlivaRose Oliva, 72, is the recipient of the “Living Life to the Fullest” award. Rose is a founding member of the Interfaith Southwest Neighborhood Outreach office. Rose was a St. James Catholic Church-Franklin board representative when the office was formed in 1984. During the last five years alone, Rose has volunteered more than 1,000 hours. She does it all with Southwest, from driving clients to the store, to being a top fundraiser for the neighborhood office selling coupon books. She is also a member-at-large on the South Shore Regional Advisory Council with Interfaith and continues to volunteer with causes important to her with her parish.

Nominees in the “Living Life to the Fullest” category are individuals 50 and better who are living life to the fullest and having a positive impact on the community and others.

At this year’s event, Interfaith’s Family Caregiver Support Network (FCSN) will honor exceptional caregivers and community caregiving partners with two inaugural Caregiver Inspiration Awards. This year’s recipients of the Exceptional Caregiver award are Thomas Nielsen and Geraldine Sykes. Each were selected from the network’s clients for their dedication, wisdom, and positive approaches to their individual caregiving challenges and lifestyles.

The second award for Outstanding Caregiver Partner will be given to three individuals. The recipients are: Nelva Olin, Program Coordinator for the United Community Center; and Andrea Garr and Bashir Easter, Dementia Care Specialists with the Milwaukee County Department on Aging.

Bashir Easter Andrea Garr Nelva Olin

From left: Easter, Garr & Olin.

“FCSN has relied on all three of these dedicated professionals to help us meet our objectives to provide better support and services to caregivers in Milwaukee’s Latino and African-American communities,” said Rachel Olson, FCSN director.

“We invite the community to join us to celebrate our work, get to know us a little better, and support our efforts,” Stephanie Stein, interim executive director said.

Registration is now closed. Visit for event information.

Thank You to Our Event Sponsors!

Event sponsors help ensure the success of the event and demonstrate the community’s commitment to supporting older adults, caregivers, families, friends and neighbors that do so much for others as they age.