MILWAUKEE — After decades of serving kids as an educator and leading a non-profit within the 53206 ZIP Code, Sister Patricia Rogers is retiring.
She’s led the Dominican Center for the past decade. With one day to go, she spoke with TMJ4 News about her career.
“It’s a sad feeling to say I'm going to retire. [But] I'm also very proud to see what’s happened with the Dominican Center and the residents. So I'm OK,” Rogers said.
Her everyday 5 a.m. wake-up alarm to start her day will no longer be necessary as she transitions into retirement. On her final day, she slept in a little later.
“I slept in until 6,” she said, laughing.
The Dominican Center has served the Amani neighborhood in Milwaukee’s 53206 ZIP Code for more than 25 years.
For the past ten years, Sister Patricia has been at the helm. It’s a role she almost turned down after moving to Milwaukee from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, she worked as a teacher with no prior experience of running a nonprofit.
“I first said no about coming when the sisters asked me to come. I said, 'I’ve been in education all my life. I don’t know if I could do this,'” Rogers said.
Neighborhood clean-ups, lead removal, home improvements, adult education, housing, economic development, food distribution - if you name it, the center has found a way to help, working with over 8,000 homes in the area through the years.
“We now have residents who are willing to step forward and take leadership. So, I see this as a time that we have seen some of the things that we have been working for,” Rogers said.
In the interim, Denisha Tate-McAlister will now fill the leadership role as it looks to continue with its very simple core strategy.
“It has remained true to the original founding: listening,” McAlister said. “'What is it that residents want?'”
Between 2019 and 2020, the Dominican Center reports the Amani neighborhood has seen greater property and violent crime decreases than the city has overall within the time frame. Neighbors credit community efforts for the decreases.
Milwaukee has become home for Sister Patricia. In reflection, she credits the neighborhood for allowing the Dominican Center to be the glue bringing its people together.
“Right now, it’s a big thank you, for your trust and your belief in what we were doing here,” Sister Patricia said.
The Dominican Center is hosting its annual fundraiser event virtually and celebrating Sister Patricia’s career on June 3. For more information, visit their website here.