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What is your story? How did you end up in Milwaukee?Ian Abston

Milwaukee has been my home for 25 years. I was raised Tosa, went to high school at Marquette and graduated from UW-Milwaukee, so I haven't truly left for too long. I currently live downtown with some old friends and can't say I'm itching to leave this amazing city yet.

What keeps you in Milwaukee/What do you like best about Milwaukee?

The varying scenes this city has to offer keeps things quite interesting. I've spent years "exploring" different neighborhood restaurants and taverns yet to find a duplicate. The community is super kind and come summer time you can't go anywhere without running into a patio filled with individuals enjoying the beautiful weather. I love the festivals, live music and social gatherings this city has to offer the public.

Favorite spot in the city?

The amphitheater behind Discovery World takes the cake. Whether it's Live @ the Lakefront during the summer months or watching a sun set over the Milwaukee skyline, this spot will always have lots to offer.

Milwaukee festival you are eager to attend each year?

Bastille Days - sidewalk chalk murals, local craft vendors and musicians; you're likely to run into old friends sometime throughout the night!

What drew you to Echelon?

I missed volunteering. For years I loved being involved with Kiwanis organization, but didn’t take the time to seek out service groups during my college years. I’d worked to develop myself scholastically and professionally for years, but was missing a service opportunity to complete the triple threat. Echelon has fulfilled everything I could ask for in such an organization.

Share with us a memorable experience you have had thus far with the organization.

The “5-Star Dining” event at the Salvation Army emergency shelter was an amazing experience! The dining hall looked magnificent; the food looked and tasted great and I can’t remember the last time, if ever, that I’d been thanked so many times in one night! It took many small and some large contributions between the Salvation Army, corporate sponsors and Echelon for that event to come together, but proved the reach our organization has and the good that can come from it. I felt extremely lucky to play a small part in a thanksgiving feast those who attended will likely never forget!

What struggles do you see our city dealing with? What can our generation do to help?

Mental health is a major contributor to homelessness in our nation. Mental illnesses may prevent individuals from forming and maintaining healthy relationships or cause people to misinterpret others’ guidance. However, homeless individuals with mental illnesses are more likely to recover and achieve residential stability if they have access to supported housing programs (ie, mental health treatment, physical health care, etc.). Increased awareness around the funding and refining of preventative tools could begin to improve frequency and care offered by organizations similar to The Salvation Army.