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Viterbo student volunteers to keep New Horizons running

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Live-in staff

Staff members at New Horizons — including a volunteer from Viterbo University — are helping to keep the shelter operating.

Val Rosborough found a new home for her passion for helping people suffering from domestic abuse.

Rosborough, a junior biopsychology major at Viterbo University, moved into the New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Center in La Crosse, knowing she would not be able to leave until the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine was over.

New Horizons is the only shelter of its kind within a 65-mile radius.

Most of the domestic violence shelters in Wisconsin have closed, and New Horizons officials were facing the prospect because it was impossible to guarantee the safety of residents and staff.

To the rescue were Rosborough and three other women who volunteered to move into the shelter to care for the residents.

“When my supervisor initially asked me if I would be willing to come into the shelter, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer,” Rosborough said. “It was an easy choice for me since, unlike my co-workers who have people at home who depend on them, the only responsibility I have at home is my cat, who came with me to stay in the shelter. New Horizons has become somewhat of a second home to me (now more literally than figuratively) and this was a way for me to help in a meaningful way.”

No staff members had lived at the center before this unique situation. Neither residents nor the four staff are able to leave the grounds of the shelter. Simple indulgences such as car rides, walks in the woods or quick trips to the store are out. Supplies are dropped off at the shelter but left outside. No one else is allowed in or out. That is a lot of togetherness for a group of unrelated people.

“It’s going amazingly well so far,” Rosborough said.

Creative community cooking and dinners have been popular, and coloring has been a big hit with all the adults and the one child who is with them.

Rosborough is responsible for the residents six hours every day, seven days a week. She is also keeping up with her classes while adjusting to the online format in which Viterbo classes are being delivered during the pandemic and state “Safer at Home” health directive.

Rosborough used Ugetconnected to obtain an internship at New Horizons during the spring semester of her freshman year.

The skills she learned through that experience led to her eventually being employed at the shelter as part of their staff.

Office procedures, how to be calm in a crisis and how to advocate for others and herself are just a few positive outcomes she received as a result of her position, she said.

Rosborough, who aspires to be a family practice physician, also spent two weeks in Ghana, job shadowing in an emergency room. The medical profession is part of her family DNA, as her grandfather was also a family practice doctor and her father is a nephrologist, or kidney specialist.


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