The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse have added its second full-time behavioral health specialist because of the extensive use of the first one and the impact she has had since she was hired in late 2015, according to club officials.

The new specialist, Nicole Sobkowiak, who works at the Terry Erickson Club on La Crosse’s North Side, was hired in partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, which will pay and supervise her.

The initial specialist, Laquita Becker, works at the clubs’ Amie L. Mathy Center at Viterbo University at 811 S. Eighth St. She was hired in a partnership with the clubs, Mayo-Franciscan and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Wisconsin and Southeastern Minnesota.

“We have seen the strong impact that Laquita has had on some of our most at-risk youth on the South Side,” said Jake Erickson, the clubs’ executive director.

Continuing growth of youths’ behavioral health needs prompted Sobkowiak’s hiring, Erickson said.

Sobkowiak, who will graduate from Winona State University with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with an emphasis in dual-diagnosis counseling in May, is a familiar face at the Boys and Girls Clubs, where she volunteered while completing her undergraduate studies.

Sobkowiak also worked with at-risk children and youths in the Family and Children’s Center’s residential treatment program in La Crosse. She also has been a case worker in the AODA and child and adolescent departments at Mayo-Franciscan, as well as a residential care technician at Mayo-Franciscan’s Residential Recovery Houses.

Sobkowiak’s duties include:

Engaging high-risk youths and their families.

Serving as resources for club staffers and members.

Being the liaison between club and community resources.

Creating formal mentoring programs.

“We have seen the strong impact that (Laquita Becker, the clubs’ first specialist,) has had on some of our most at-risk youth on the South Side.” Jake Erickson, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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