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In times of need, people can sometimes rely on family, often rely on places of worship and always rely on bars. Well, not all bars, but many provide as much support as they do suds.
In the heart of Walker’s Point, there are numerous bars that give back and the compassionate scene is anchored by a trifecta of female bar owners. Liz Kujawa, owner of D.I.X., Stefani Jaksic, who owns Fat Daddy’s and Bet-z Boenning, Walker’s Pint owner, are friends, businesses neighbors and deeply committed to contributing toward community improvement and good causes.
The fact D.I.X. and Pint are "gay bars" and Fat Daddy’s isn’t doesn’t make a difference.
"This acceptance of each other runs throughout Walker’s Point. Anyone can go to any of the bars in Walker’s Point and feel comfortable," says Boenning.
D.I.X. and Fat Daddy’s are neighbors on National Avenue, with Walker’s Pint just around the corner on Second Street. This close proximity, along with the women’s similar commitment to charities, allows them to work together to raise money and goods for different organizations, as well as independently.
As a group, the women organize dozens of fundraisers every year including golf outings and bar crawls. They are deeply involved in the Pride Parade, Hope House, AIDS Walk (D.I.X. raised $100,000 in seven years), breast cancer organizations, as well as pet-related charities and much more.
Kujawa tends to focus on one group at a time. Currently she and her team of employees constantly raise money for Courage Milwaukee, an organization dedicated to getting homeless youth – 60 percent of whom identify at LGBTQ – off the streets and back in school. Through numerous fundraisers and an every-Friday "Courage shot" for sale at the bar they recently helped the organization buy a home on the South Side.
"I can’t imagine not having a place to sleep and food to eat," says Kujawa. "I’m so blessed, I know, and I want this for everyone."
Boenning and Jaksic spread the love to many organizations. Boenning has supported everything from a friend and patron with leukemia to a pet rescue organization in New Orleans. Jaksic raised more than $16,000 for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk and supports Fashion Forward and bar patrons with illnesses.
"Not only does it feel good to help others, I have also met some amazing people and learned so much about myself through my charity events," says Jaksic.
Competition doesn’t exist between these women. They all want to make money, but they want more than that too. And they know everyone benefits through giving back.
"If she is strong, I am strong, and if I am strong then she is strong," says Kujawa.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.