Growth and Partnership with Madison Christian Community Gardeners

By Ashley Staley

Raspberry Plans and A Dragonfly Friend

Harvesting Strawberries

Growth is the theme of April at Chrysalis, and for good reason! Spring is a time of change and re-emergence after hibernation, a time of rebirth and renewal as evident by the natural cycles all around us. A very clear example of growth, both metaphorically and literally, is in a garden. Chrysalis reaps the benefits of partnering with Madison Christian Community, where a group of committed volunteers help maintain a food pantry garden, by which Chrysalis Pops is a recipient and participant.

Our partnership has continued to grow and flourish over the years – and this year’s Chrysalis Pops season is another example of growth. Chrysalis Pops, a social enterprise of Chrysalis, is undergoing its own metamorphosis – it is being integrated into the Chrysalis Clubhouse where clubhouse members will support and contribute to helping maintain the business from “Seed to Sales.” Clubhouse members will be out in the MCC garden twice a week; members will not only support the garden to thrive, but will sow seeds of recovery and wellness in their own lives, morphing and growing right alongside the garden. 

I asked Dani Rischall, executive director at Chrysalis, and Jean Einerson, MCC Food Pantry Garden coordinator, to share more about the growth of our partnership over the years. 

  • How did the partnership between MCC and Chrysalis sprout
  • How have you seen the partnership between MCC and Chrysalis bloom over the years?
  • How does Chrysalis benefit from the support of MCC/ How does MCC benefit from the support of Chrysalis?

Dani: The story of how Chrysalis and MCC connected is one of my favorite partnership stories! The experience highlights how meaningful change that is mutually beneficial can blossom with shared values, trust, and an openness to just give it a try. I first met some of the wonderful folks of MCC at a grantee award ceremony through The Willy St. Co-Op Community Reinvestment Fund in 2016. Chrysalis was being awarded funds to start sourcing local, organic produce for Chrysalis Pops and MCC was awarded to support food pantry donations from their community garden. As I was chatting with the fellow award recipients my ears perked up as I heard the MCC folks talking about potential access produce in their gardens and wanting to make sure the produce went to those in need. I was able to share more about our Social Enterprise and plant seeds to further explore a partnership. 

Soon after I was introduced to Ann and Jean, the MCC Green Team Leads who support the  incredible work of their community gardens. I was in awe of all they were able to do, their knowledge of gardening, and their commitment to supporting the community. As I think many strong partnerships do, we started small. The first season MCC donated produce directly to Chrysalis Pops. It didn’t take long to realize that there were more opportunities to make this partnership fruitful. Over the last six years we have shifted to having participants onsite at the gardens supporting the entire community garden process. Time spent at the garden is now a highlight of the program. MCC has donated hundreds of pounds of raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, and cucumbers. These donations not only make it possible for us to make our pops, this partnership also offers opportunities for skill building and community integration.  

We are so grateful for the folks at MCC, Ann, Jean and the entire Green Team for doing so much to support the Chrysalis Mission and Chrysalis Pops.

Jean: A seed was planted 7 years ago when one of our church pastors heard about Chrysalis at a meeting for nonprofits. The food pantry garden team connected

with Chrysalis and a partnership was established.  Our food pantry garden’s mission is to be good stewards of the land.  We do that by growing food for those that struggle with food insecurity.  Relationships with Chrysalis members grew when we watered, weeded and picked fruit and vegetables side by side.  Relationships, like plants, can be fertilized to develop deep roots and grow to be strong and beautiful.  A good garden example of this is planting spinach seeds in the fall.  Watering, composting and keeping the plants covered over the winter will hopefully provide a spring bounty. 

The food pantry garden team values the relationships that have been fostered over the past years. It is a mutual relationship, much like companion planting and hope the partnership will continue to flourish in years to come.

Over Wintered Spinach

Cutting Flowers and a Butterfly

Jean and Ann, MCC Garden Volunteers

Wisconsin State Budget, Chrysalis gives public Comment

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our voices today.  My name is Alysha Clark and I am the Director of Advocacy and Operations at Chrysalis, Inc.  I am also a person with lived experience of mental health and substance use challenges.  I have been a Certified Peer Specialist for over a decade and had the opportunity to watch the Peer Specialist, Individual Placement and Support and Clubhouse movement grow.  At Chrysalis we are lucky enough to have all of these extremely person centered, strength based services in one agency.  Chrysalis is a 501(c)3 out of Dane County, Wisconsin- our mission is to promote mental health and substance use recovery in our community by supporting work opportunities that encourage hope, healing and wellness. 

Chrysalis and IPS, Individualized Placement and Support, (IPS) a model recognized by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to be an evidence based practice- support jobs and the workforce.  Over the last 5 years, Chrysalis has supported 660 new job hires earning over $2,000,000 in taxable income.  Katherine Ponte writes (NAMI, 2019) people with mental health challenges may be unemployed because Society has been telling us for years that they are not able to do work. Thankfully, society is changing and accepting these changes. 

“We are seeing how common it is to have a mental health challenge and how anyone can work and hold meaningful, good paying jobs no matter their mental health status. With programs like supported employment and clubhouses, employers that are willing to work with individuals and their specific needs. Companies are investing in workplace initiatives to have more diversity, equity and inclusion programs and are hiring people with mental health and substance use challenges.”

Currently we are very limited on the funding available to us for these services. These services not only provide tangible tools for employment but they also recognize the humanity each individual with this shared lived experience has.  

Cody Vogel, a current Chrysalis Colleague shares the experience of Chrysalis well:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, there have been many words to describe this place………

Community, Teamwork, Growth, Support, Care, Friendship, Even better, A Family. Everyone that walks in the door has something that drives them, pushes them to heal, recover, and continue fighting through their own symptoms of stress. Each and everyone of us plays a part, and we all matter. We all grow off each other to the point where it strengthens us, and to be able to guide each other, and to know none of us are alone. You see in this place he, her, them, you, I, all of us are here to help through the moments of pain, stress, loss, or any other form of struggles. As well as in my moments of sadness this place provides a sense of joy, comfort, laughter, and meaning. With each event or fundraiser that this place does, brings all of us together, AS ONE, NOT DIVIDED. So what is this place I’m talking about??? The place known as Chrysalis. You see everyone that is a part of Chrysalis has been through HURT, but going through the hurt means there is always a way to HEAL. Everyone here is special and has bonds with their colleagues. To me, I know this place is my Community, but also is my Family, and that will NEVER change. Thank You.”

You can support us in continuing our efforts, 

At Chrysalis we support Statutory language change to include Certified Peer Specialists and Certified Parent Peer Specialists as Medicaid-eligible providers.

We also recognize the need for Clubhouses to be recognized as a psychosocial rehabilitation service as it is in other states (including Michigan and Ohio.)  We ask you to pass Assembly Bill 901 that would provide matching grants to WIsconsin Clubhouse increasing our fundraising efforts.  Implementing a Statewide Medicaid option for billing Clubhouse services and billable tables for Clubhouse specific interventions. We have documents and contacts from other states that have implemented the Clubhouse Medicaid Waiver that we are eager to share.

We also need the State to cover the full cost of CSP. We are asking that counties take set-aside GPR to invest into community mental health systems (including Clubhouse, Peer Support, IPS). These services should also be funded via block grants. 

Thank you for your time!

Submit Comment | Joint Committee on Finance Public Comment Website (

Journey hosts peer-led training about peer support roles in Wisconsin

By Riley Hays, Case Manager and Certified Peer Specialist, Forward Solutions CSP

On February 24, Community Support Programs (CSPs) attended a two-hour training called “The Role of Certified Peer Specialists: A Training for Non-Peer Specialists,” designed to demystify peer support at Journey. 

Organized and led by peer professionals, Tara Wilhelmi of the Black-owned grassroots recovery and wellness organization EOTO Culturally Rooted, LLC. and Alysha Clark of Chrysalis, the training was offered to both clinicians and peer specialists that work collaboratively within Journey CSPs.

During the training, Wilhelmi and Clark introduced the values, ethics, and core skills of Wisconsin’s Certified Peer Specialist role. Wilhelmi and Clark also led a thought-provoking dialogue about mental health and substance use biases and explained the purpose of self-disclosure, a skill used by peer specialists to deepen connection and inspire hope. As the training ended, CSP staff were encouraged to brainstorm ways to increase advocacy for peer support, not only within Journey programs but also in our communities and to our legislators. 

Sharing knowledge and wisdom

Through Journey’s partnership with EOTO and Chrysalis, the creators of the Certified Peer Specialist Learning Community, the training was made possible. “I’m excited for the level of interest and commitment to understanding and integrating peer support,” Wilhelmi said.

Born from a vision of supporting and expanding the peer support movement in Dane County and across the state, the Certified Peer Specialist Learning Community created a cohort of peer service providers, like Safe Communities, Tellurian Behavioral Health, and––you guessed it––Journey. 

Last year, EOTO and Chrysalis met with the cohort for six months to provide technical assistance and train on peer support best practices. With a fast-growing peer workforce of nearly 2,000 Certified Peer Specialists and Certified Parent Peer Specialists in Wisconsin, guiding providers towards implementing true peer support was the goal. 

Now that the cohort is over, Wilhelmi is optimistic about the impact that the learning curriculum will have on peer support in Dane County. “I’m really hoping for their continued partnership because if they shift, it will really change the county’s culture around peer support. If we can adjust and really work in partnership to change the culture, it will be a big step forward for the practice of peer support within non-peer-led organizations in our county.” 

Supporting lived experience

Journey is committed to assuring fidelity to the Certified Peer Specialist profession. Throughout its programs, Journey has provided peer services for decades, but staff with lived experience have not always held the title. For example, our Outreach Workers in the Emergency Services Unit who have shown up for peers in times of crisis. 

Because of Journey’s participation in the cohort, Chief Clinical Officer Nichole Wright had a vision of her own. The monthly Peer Collaborative workgroup, led by Wright and made up of many voices, including peers, is part of Journey’s larger effort in the preservation and expansion of peer support. 

Throughout 2022, Wright endorses that the workgroup met to define the role and responsibilities of peer specialists and reflect on how to best support them. From creating connection spaces to envisioning career pathways, the future looks bright for Journey’s peer specialists. Currently, the workgroup’s goal is to hire a new Peer Supervisor. This role will support peer specialists through ethical and reflective supervision and help develop our peer services array. 

Journey will continue to support the delivery of peer support by advocating for equitable pay. With Governor Evers’ investment in mental health care and bipartisan support in the Wisconsin legislature, we are on the right track. 

As Journey’s peer support initiative strengthens and grows, stay tuned to Pathways for further updates. 

My Big Share Reflection

By Kurt Stapleton

This year, Chrysalis hosted its first-ever Big Share Storytelling event. We had people in the community, staff members, and people utilizing the services here share their stories of hope, healing, and wellness. The weeks leading up to this event were exciting, with a little stress, a little anxiety, and a lot of uncertainty. What was I going to share? How do I write a short story? Will anyone actually care about what I’m sharing? Will my story connect with anyone? There were so many questions that I had to just let them all go and DO IT. Just do it. 

From my point of view, it was therapeutic as I reached deep down into my bag of memories and pulled out one that was both painful and hopeful. Going back to that state of mind I was in and the place I was physically in brought back memories I had tucked away, for what I thought was forever. It was helpful for me to share this story with others as a way to show them a little more about me and what my lived experience looks like. It also helped me refocus on how I communicate with others and particularly, my family. “Have I kept up with this communication or have I fallen back into old habits?” Great questions to ask myself as I go throughout the day.

I heard that some of the storytellers are interested in doing more events like this and bringing their stories to more people to inspire and offer hope. Sharing their unique journey of recovery in their life can be a great way to spread awareness, and advocate for others’ needs. Potentially inspiring others to join this or another event, and share their own short story.

The Madison Metro Bus System – likes, dislikes and a vision of the future!

By Brent West and Mike Edwards

Mike Edwards is a supported employment IPS staff member here at Chrysalis.  Brent is a part of the Chrysalis Advisory Committee.

Many people in the Chrysalis community use the Madison Metro bus system. For lots of people, it is their only option apart from expensive cabs. We’d like to get a conversation going about the bus system and how, if we plan for the long term, a really good transit system could benefit our community.

What we like about the bus system:

  1. The best we can say about the current Metro bus system is that it is fairly functional for our needs. Brent lives downtown and can get to most places in the City fairly easily. 
  2. Google maps is quite a good way of planning your journey. The Madison Metro ‘Plan your Trip’ section of their website uses google maps so you might as well just go straight to Google maps. Brent also uses the mobile app ‘Bus Radar’, which shows you where your bus is and what other routes are available at your location.
  3. If you are not a person who uses their phone or a computer for this sort of thing, the easiest way to plan your journey is to call Metro Customer Service, (608) 266-4466. You can actually get a friendly person to tell you the best route to get where you want. Monday – Friday: 6:15 am – 6:00 pm; Weekend & Holiday: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. 

What we don’t like about the current Metro bus system:

  1. Buses are often only once an hour. If you miss a bus, that means a long wait! We’d like to see much more frequent buses.
  2. Sometimes the buses are early. We’ve both got to the stop on time and it’s already gone by! The ‘Bus Radar’ app doesn’t always work!
  3. There is no service to some nearby areas outside the City that are in different jurisdictions. This is ridiculous, because places like Monona, Sun Prairie and Deforest are where lots of jobs are and people in the city who don’t have cars can’t get to these job opportunities.

Why we’re worried about the change to a system based on the Bus Rapid Transit route:

  1. There will be reduced routes and fewer buses for some areas and people will often have to walk further to get to the stop. 
  2. Low and mid income people, a population that heavily relies on public transportation, will be affected by the reduced services if they live in some areas. This does not seem like the way to go. 

What we would like to see for the bus system in the near future:

  1. Increased service to suburbs and areas not currently being served, like Monona and DeForest.
  2. Services running earlier and later in the day. 

Why don’t we have a really good public transportation system?

  1. The main problem is that municipalities like Madison, Sun Prairie and Verona have little control over most federal funds for transportation. Congress decides whether the funds are used for roads or public transportation. Then federal and state governments decide on specific projects. The great majority of funds go for building new roads instead of public transportation like buses and light rail. For example, the recent highway upgrade from the South Beltline to Verona, cost $265 million, nearly all in federal dollars. As you may have noticed, such highway construction is constant in Dane County. The only new Madison public transportation investment is the Bus Rapid Transit system. Construction will cost $160 million, only $105 million of which is federal. Madison Metro’s total budget for this year is $68 million. In 2019, prior to Covid, Madison Metro provided 12.9 million rides. However, the system only received $6.2 million in federal assistance.
  2. Highway expansion projects are often justified based on the assumption that they will reduce traffic congestion and increase traffic speeds, but they do the opposite. A couple of years after a highway expansion, the traffic has increased so that the speeds return to their prior level. In addition, over the long run, highway expansions increase the total amount of time that residents spend traveling because they create more dispersed development patterns where travel distances are longer and there are fewer non-auto travel options. (; Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis II – Travel Time Costs Victoria Transport Policy Institute (
  3. Despite this evidence, Congress authorizes funding for highways. This is because of lobbying by the road construction industry and the automakers. We need to fund instead the public transit infrastructure that will make our cities and towns more livable and sustainable now and in the future.
  4. How about investing in a system like the one shown in the map below? We could afford it just by giving up a few highway ‘improvements’ in Dane County. Imagine then those bus, underground or light rail lines extending and going out to Waunakee, Deforest, Windsor, Sun Prairie, McFarland, Verona and Cross Plains. Accessible jobs, fewer cars, faster travel, less sprawl, less pollution, accessible to everyone, better for our mental health. We can do this! 

Let us know what YOU think.

2022: A Year in Review

By Dani Rischall, Chrysalis Executive Director

2022 definitely threw us some curveballs. With the incredible support of our staff, board, participants, and community we were able to close out the year strong. This past year we really focused on our workplace wellness efforts and practices of community care. Through our current programming we fostered new relationships, supported new jobs, and promoted purpose, and belonging.

To help with accountability and transparency we created Strategic Planning Dashboards each quarter. These tools highlight efforts made in our four Strategic Plan Pillars. (1) Equity, Inclusion, Diversity & Stigma Busting, (2) Community Building & Advocacy, (3) Organizational, and (4) Programming.

Take a look below to learn more about all the incredible work happening throughout the Chrysalis community and thank you for everything you have done (and continue to do) to support these efforts!

If you have any questions about these tools or the specific work please feel free to reach out via email at, I’d love to connect!

Chrysalis Clubhouse Collaborative Art

Mental Health and Employment: Workplace Accommodations

By Andrew Lopez

I’ve known about the Americans With Disabilities Act for quite some time but didn’t think it applied to me with my mental health difficulties. It wasn’t until I reached my 30s that I realized that mental health diagnosis his account as federal really recognized disabilities. This is important because it means that myself and others with mental health diagnosis is were entitled to the same rights as others under ADA law. 

According to
“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability just as other civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to enjoy employment opportunities, purchase goods and services, and participate in state and local government programs.

A person with a disability is someone who:

-has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,

-has a history or record of such an impairment (such as cancer that is in remission), or

-is perceived by others as having such an impairment (such as a person who has scars from a severe burn).

If a person falls into any of these categories, the ADA protects them. Because the ADA is a law, and not a benefit program, you do not need to apply for coverage”

While this applies in many areas we are going to be talking today about title I which covers employment. Under this article in the law individuals are entitled to reasonable accommodations at the workplace. What this means is that as long as an individual can still reach the same outcomes as other employees they have a right to get modifications in the way they perform their job in order to accommodate for the challenges created by the disability. For somebody with a physical disability who uses a wheelchair this could be a ramp area for somebody with mental health challenges the accommodations vary greatly depending on the needs of the individual. These accommodations can be requested through writing or verbally however is recommended that they be done in writing to keep an official record in case their disputes. The term reasonable means that if the employer has to spend too much money or change the nature of the work that the position requires, the accommodation requested may not be reasonable and thus the employer does not have to make the accommodation in this situation. The employer employee has a right to negotiate about the accommodation to find something that’s mutually acceptable. Because this is a matter of law disputes are often resolved in courtrooms. Firing somebody for requesting accommodation is not legal. This is a very basic description and oversimplified. If you would like more information about the Americans with disability act title I please refer to the links seen at the end of the article.

I interviewed a member of the Chrysalis Consumer Advisory Committee named Amber Nelson. She offered to talk about her experience with requesting a reasonable accommodation. I asked her the following questions and got these responses.

How did you learn about ADA accommodations?

“When I requested help from the Dane County Division of Vocational Rehabilitation services I had a counselor who introduced me to the idea of accommodations under ADA law. This counselor is very helpful and helped me to get an accommodation.  At the time I was working as a cashier and the accommodation requested was a stool to help me work a long shift without having to stand the entire time.”

What was your experience like with accommodations before this situation?

“I was very often worried about getting fired. I felt that most of my jobs were imperiled by the challenges created by my mental health disability. Every single one of my previous jobs I had these concerns.

When I first requested reasonable accommodation it was initially denied and I almost lost my job.This was especially difficult as I felt my disability impaired my ability to make the request.At the time I was working for McDonald’s as a cashier.”

How did you go about getting the accommodation in this situation?

“I asked for my accommodation verbally. At this job at McDonald’s I requested taking breaks during my shift and the ability to take days off when needed.”

 Do you feel like your needs were met?

“Yes initially, but I ended up leaving this position because the pace of the job was too fast for me. I found another job at a moving company as a secretary and office assistant.”

What advice would you give to somebody looking to get accommodation for their job?

“I recommend talking to the general manager or another high up position at the company that you’re working for to set up a meeting to talk about the reasonable accommodation as my experience working with lower-level managers on this issue has been unsatisfactory.”

To learn more about the Americans With Disabilities Act and title I please check out the following resources:

Disability Rights Wisconsin:

Job Accommodation Network:


Access to Independence:


My Experience with S.A.D.

By Andrew Lopez

Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that affects many people. What it means is that an affected individual will feel increased mental health symptoms including things like anxiety and depression during a particular season. While this is most commonly associated with winter it can be other seasons as well. In my case (and in many others) Winter is especially hard because of the shorter amount of daylight hours and the increased amount of cloud cover which blocks sunlight. For other individuals changes in the temperature can also trigger SAD.

I experience abnormally high amounts of my depression symptoms including loss of hope, loss of motivation, feeling numb, and having a significant loss of energy. I also get interruptions to my sleep schedule and overall less sleep. Self-care for seasonal affective disorder can vary greatly and I encourage people to talk with both their doctors and their mental health professionals about different treatments. I use a SAD light (otherwise known as a full-spectrum light).  This is light that imitates the light we experience from the sun. I use mine for anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day and do notice a small but significant decrease in my symptoms. To counter some of the sleep-related issues I take a melatonin tablet an hour before bedtime and this helps me get restful sleep. Getting regular exercise also helps.

I hope those reading this understand that this is a very common condition and that if you’re experiencing the symptoms you’re not alone. As with any mental health condition I hope you’re all able to walk your own paths to recovery and consider the different options for treatment.

Employability and Mental Health

By Kurt Stapleton

For my Sociology class: Race and Minority Groups, we were asked to pick a “private problem” and  briefly describe the following:

-What factors/evidence would you use to explain how and why it may reflect a structural problem in society?
-What are some potential solutions to this problem, both for the individual and the group to which they belong?
-Which theoretical perspective lens would you apply to solve this issue: functionalism, conflict theory, or symbolic interactionism? Why?

I chose to write about people with a mental health diagnosis and the stigma that they are not “employable” and other stigmas society has created. 

There was a belief that those who live with mental health challenges are not employable or capable of holding a job. This was the common belief for many people; that someone with a mental health disability could not hold meaningful employment or, at the very least, they would only be able to do minimal task employment such as janitorial, cleaning, or low-level skills jobs. Society has had this view for as long as mental health has been around. It falls mostly on the shoulders of employers, doctors and mental health care providers, however, those who hear it, believe it, and preach it are also at fault. Symbolic interactionism is the theory that comes to mind when thinking about this. For years, society placed this label on those with MHC (mental health challenges) that they were not capable of working and people believed this. Stigma plays a large role in this as people with MHC are thought to be lazy, not motivated or not ambitious. Another belief was that they could not handle stress and lacked coping skills to get through certain challenges. It is true that there are barriers for some, yet we have programs to help teach these skills and support them through the process of seeking employment.

Katherine Ponte writes (NAMI, 2019) people with MHC may be unemployed because:

“The debilitating impacts of mental illness. 

The fear of having to explain my spotty resume due to multiple hospitalizations and depressive episodes. 

The awareness that nothing I had done before I got sick seemed to count.
The prospect of having to start over.
The stigma that told me I could not work.” Society has been telling us for years that they are not able to do work. Thankfully, society is changing and accepting these changes. 

We are seeing how common it is to have a mental health challenge and how anyone can work and hold meaningful, good paying jobs no matter their mental health status with programs like supported employment, clubhouses and employers that are willing to work with individuals and their challenges. Companies are investing in workplace initiatives to have more diversity, equity and inclusion programs and are hiring people with mental health and physical disabilities and minorities in general. 

People are also becoming more confidant in their abilities and are self-employed as well. John’s Crazy Socks is a great example of this. Mark (father) was building an online business when his son, John who has down syndrome, said he wanted go into business with his dad. After realizing he did not have many options after he finished school, John thought of the idea of having a food truck but they both realized they couldn’t cook. So, John said “Let’s sell socks!”. And so, they created their business. 

We are learning, as a society, that people with mental health challenges can work meaningful jobs, they can do volunteer work and be very productive members of society. Simply because they have a disability does not mean they have to sit on the bench and not be a part of the team. In fact, they can be the quarterback, running back or whatever position they choose.