In 2014, Jan Neis, a partner at Thomson Realty in Pewaukee and CDJLT Investments in Brookfield, was sitting in an airport looking at her phone when a friend sent her a video about a group of volunteers who turned a homeless shelter in California into a five-star restaurant, complete with classical music playing through the speakers and waiters donning bow ties.
The video brought her to tears, and she said to herself: “I am doing this in Milwaukee.”
[caption id="attachment_136966" align="alignright" width="350"] Jan Neis speaks with reporters at an event she held for the homeless in 2015 in Marquette University High School’s cafeteria.[/caption]
With the help of her sister, Debbie Mulberry, and her good friend, Reggie Harris, she started an organization called North Star Providers, which helps organize and execute fundraising events for nonprofits.
Together, the group set up a five-star restaurant in the Marquette University High School cafeteria and rented buses to transfer people from the Milwaukee Rescue Mission for a quality meal.
“We had so much fun doing it,” she said. “The gift was paid back tenfold. Reggie and I decided we wanted to continue looking for events that could provide uplifting experiences to people.”
Now, the group is helping Milwaukee’s Journey House send members of its Felix Mantilla Little League on a cultural exchange and baseball trip to Puerto Rico, and Neis said she’s always on the lookout for a new event to plan or a new group with which to get involved.
“We’re going to keep this going,” she said. “If something strikes you, if something kind of makes you think ‘ah-ha!’ check it out. Pursue it. If you look hard enough, you can connect the dots and make stuff happen. Be open to possibilities and start connecting those dots. If you believe in it enough it will happen.”