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What is your story? How did you end up in Milwaukee? Matt Bane

I was born and raised in Milwaukee. My parents met on the East Side, and they instilled in me a love for this great city from an early age. Summer trips to Bradford Beach were plentiful, and the various lakeside festivals were a staple. I moved north to attend The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul in 2009 – the Twin Cities are great, but I felt destined to return home to Milwaukee.

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

The opportunity for growth. There are many underrepresented interests in this city, and the chance to affect positive change is real. Milwaukee has big city pull with the accessibility of a small town.

Favorite spot in the city?

Biking the Oak Leaf Trail

Milwaukee festival you are eager to attend each year?

Bastille Days

What drew you to Echelon?

The people. I saw all of these young professionals, already well known in the community for their respective work, gathered together with a common goal in mind – to connect the millennial generation to the mission of The Salvation Army. I thought to myself, "I need to be part of this so that I, too, can make an impact."

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

From Echelon’s inception, I have been energized by each meeting and the progress we have made along the way. As a founding member, seeing our group transform in its first year of existence to our current state of nearly 50 members has been invigorating. Our February 2016 meeting, held in the same space we have previously gathered, housed nearly twice the number of Echelon members compared to just one year ago – that is a true sign of the buy-in we are getting from this generation.

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

Homelessness in Milwaukee has always been a major issue – not just individuals, but entire families affected. Our millennial generation can help by beginning to understand the economic impacts that have led to these disconnects, and align solutions by reinventing our approach. The Salvation Army is a great vehicle to connect with those who are impacted the most by these ongoing, underrepresented issues.