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Good Works

Good Works: Working for the LGBTQ+ community

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Our mission is to create spaces for connection, community, educaion, and advocacy for LGBTQ+ people, our allies and neighbors. Our vision is to be a leader in the Seven Rivers Region in bringing pride, equity, and social justice to the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

Since 2004, the center has been working to do just that. Through educational presentations, panel discussions and advocacy work, we have had the privilege to speak with students, school administrators, businesses, government officials and professional organizations. We strive to reach all 11 counties in the 7 Rivers Region in order to promote understanding and acceptance. Hate is born out of ignorance, and we are dedicated to providing the education and tools necessary for greater understanding.

We are a welcoming space for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We host a wide range of support groups and social opportunities for LGBTQ+ youth, parents, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. We offer help with referrals to other area organizations, including a cyber-center where community members can check their email or search for jobs. The center also offers a space for people to relax and just be themselves without fear of judgement.

The center houses an extensive library of over 2,000 titles related to LGBTQ+ information that the public is welcome to view and borrow. During the Covid-19 lockdown we had a fantastic volunteer who spent months organizing; creating a cataloguing system, designing library cards and a check-out system that is user-friendly for all. The library also has two comfy chairs for those who are just looking to browse.

One of our most widely used services is Fresh Out of the Closet, our free clothing closet. It is available to all members of the local community. We are so thankful for the vast number of community members who have donated so many nice pieces for those in need. We have seen an increase in both support and usage in the past 18 months. Quartz Healthcare in Onalaska hosted a coat & outerwear drive over the winter and, with a generous donation from Bombas Socks, we have been able to supply thousands of socks. We also supply a variety of toiletries and other personal items community members need. We are currently in the process of planning a renovation of the clothing closet to make more efficient use of the space. We will be installing permanent fixtures that will allow us to showcase the vast number of items from which to choose. This project wouldn’t be possible without the support of The La Crosse Community Foundation.

The pandemic has really required us to think creatively and come up with new and innovative ideas for reaching out and staying connected. We developed virtual training options that we will continue to offer in the future, in addition to our in-person presentations. Many of our support groups ventured on to Zoom and we continue to communicate electronically with those in need of support. We are so proud of what we have been able to carry out during these unprecedented times. Thank you to all the organizations who have contributed to our continued success and individuals who have kept us going!

We can be found just off downtown La Crosse at 230 Sixth St. S. (just off the corner of Sixth and Cass streets). Our current hours are Monday and Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as Saturday noon to 4 p.m.

Alesha Schandelmeier is executive director

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