Light at the end of the tunnel

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Sunday, January 20, 2008
— It’s not unusual for Brad Munger to go out of his way to help the homeless.

In his car, he carries zip-locked bags filled with Sterno, a blanket, gloves, socks, hat, a flashlight and information on how to survive the cold and where to seek shelter.

When he sees someone in need, he stops, encourages the person to get help and offers a care package.

For 12 years, Munger has been supervisor of Rock County’s Community Support Program, which provides treatment services for people with severe mental illnesses and allows them to live in the community.

Munger pours his heart into his job and goes beyond what the position requires.

About a decade ago, he realized that many people with mental illness are also homeless. So he got involved in the Homeless Intervention Task Force.

Among other things, the task force estimates how many homeless people are in Rock County by doing overnight counts. Munger is well-armed with care packages in the dead of January as he searches for people under overpasses and in makeshift camps.

The Janesville native long has been the backbone of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Rock County. The group exists to provide education, support and advocacy to people interested in mental health and mental illness.

“Everything he does for NAMI, he does on a volunteer basis,” says Donna Wrenn, former executive director of NAMI Wisconsin. “He works tirelessly. There have been several times when the Rock County group was on the verge of folding. Like a white knight, Brad came to the rescue to revive and rejuvenate it.”

Munger is vice president of the local chapter. He knows how important it is for family members of people with mental illnesses to share concerns, challenges and information about where and how to get help for loved ones.

Munger also shows his commitment to the community in other ways.

He is involved in Janesville’s Diversity Action Team, which coordinates study circles on racism. The group welcomes people of all races and ethnic backgrounds to Janesville and uses study circles as tools for understanding. Munger made it possible for his employees to get involved in a study circle.

“His staff really respects him and totally believes he walks the walk,” says Neil Deupree of the diversity action group.

In addition, Munger is a member of Rock County Citizens for Peace, which works for peace locally and abroad. He’s also a member of DR!VEN, a grassroots progressive group in Rock County.

“I enjoy working with people who are committed to doing good things,” Munger says. “I feel I’m standing on the shoulders of 50 people who are standing on the shoulders of another 50 people.

“I hope I have touched people in a way to keep the flame of humanity lit.”

Age: 50
Community: Janesville
Occupation: Supervisor of Rock County’s Community Support Program for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses
Family: Wife, Colleen; sons, Nick, 15, and Tegegn, 2
Favorite hobbies: Reading and listening to music
Favorite CDs: Ones by Louis Armstrong and Susannah McCorkle
Favorite movie: The 1939 classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” with James Stewart
Favorite book: Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”
Role models: Parents, Ed and Lois Munger; and in-laws, Red and Regena Brown; all of Janesville
Three words that best describe you: “No comment.”

Last updated: 1:23 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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