In 2022, WCS is proudly celebrating its 110th Anniversary! In 1912, when the agency began, its name was the “Society of the Friendless” as it primarily served men returning to the community from prison.
From 1912 through 1918, the society was a one-person show, small, but vitally important to the many men aided on their journeys from prison to responsible citizenship.
In 1924, Ruth Baker, daughter of the society’s “National Superintendent,” Rev. James Parsons, revitalized the Wisconsin branch of the society.
In 1941 the “Society for the Friendless” was legally incorporated as “The Wisconsin Service Association.” The Association’s purpose was to establish “home and employment conditions and personal attitudes that will prevent such persons from again violating the law; in other words, crime prevention among those most apt to become offenders if they are not given reasonable opportunities and guidance.”
Through Baker’s dedication and organizational abilities, the association’s staff and budget grew and by the time of her retirement in 1951, both she and the Wisconsin Service Association were well-recognized names in the community.
In 1966, the Wisconsin Service Agency once again changed its name. It became Wisconsin Correctional Services (WCS). Under that title, the agency grew from a staff of 10 to more than 200 by 2003 when the agency adopted its current name, Wisconsin Community Services, Inc., (WCS) reflecting, not a change in mission, but an expansion and adaptation.
WCS began as a tiny effort and its impact has grown beyond what its Wisconsin founders likely ever envisioned. Today, WCS serves more than 14,000 individuals annually through more than 50 unique programs. The agency has more than 470 employees and a 2022 budget of $49,000,000.