By Karen Stokes
Bader Philanthropies honored Reuben and Mildred Harpole during the grand opening of its newly renovated building in the Harambee neighborhood on Tuesday, Oct. 12. During the celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony, it was announced that the building will now be known as the Harpole Building.
The Harpole Building, located at 3338 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., houses Sam’s Place Jazz Cafe, Shalem Healing, a nonprofit clinic offering integrated and holistic health care and Refua Medicinals, a blend of traditional Chinese medicine and modern nutritional science that Shalem Healing’s founder Dr. Robert Fox created.
“Our foundation today is what it is because of Reuben Harpole,” Daniel Bader, president and CEO of Bader Philanthropies said. “Mildred and Reuben taught me two important lessons, one that you have to listen to people, you have to sit down and hear what people have to say. We have to take the time. Second, everyone is beautiful, it doesn’t matter if they disagree with you or don’t like you, every person has value. Thank you, Reuben and Mildred.”
Milwaukee-based Bader Philanthropies, (formerly Helen Bader Foundation) is a philanthropic leader in improving the quality of life of the diverse communities in which it works.
The organization funds innovative projects and programs, convenes partners, and shares knowledge to affect emerging issues in key areas.
During the celebration, community leaders and residents gathered to honor Mr. and Mrs. Harpole.
“In 2017, we bought this building that we didn’t know what to do with, we bought it because it was adjacent to our headquarters,” Bader said. “We listened, held listening sessions to hear what the community wanted and they wanted a respectful place to hang out with friends and they wanted a health care center near them.”
The celebration began with a libation ceremony, a traditional African ceremony to honor the ancestors and to bless the building. It was conducted by spiritual leader and educator, Tyrone Dumas.
“We pour libation today to honor the ancestors who we ask to be with us, we ask them to rise up and be a part of this ceremony as we honor Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Harpole,” Dumas said.
Reuben Harpole, a native of Milwaukee has been a resident of the Lindsay Heights and Harambee neighborhoods. He became an administrator in the UW Milwaukee School of Continuing Education. Reuben and his late wife Mildred, who passed away in 2019, were heavily involved in the community from Central City Teacher Community Project, Community Brainstorming Conference to the Ko-thi Dance Company. In 1998, Reuben became a program officer for the Helen Bader Foundation (now known as Bader Philanthropies).
Reuben and Mildred devoted their lives to advocate for Milwaukee’s youth and vulnerable.
“I’m honored to have our name on this building, in a community that has meant so much to us throughout our lives,” Reuben said. “It was my wife, Mildred, who inspired me to become an activist in the community. And I’m humbled by how it has inspired the community.”
Frank Cumberbatch, vice president of engagement for Bader Philanthropies said, “The first time I heard the word ‘Harambee,’ it was from Reuben. It’s a Swahili word meaning ‘to pull together.’ That is what Reuben and Mildred did for our community through the years they lived here – pulled us together and led us forward into a future we can continue to build toward.”