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Thumbs up to Family and Children’s Center and its Healthy Families Program, which has been meeting an important need in our community for 25 years. The program supports mothers in high-stress situations with free home visits designed to track child development, assess safety and develop goals, and a primary case physician is assigned to each participant. It is a partnership among Gundersen, Mayo Clinic, La Crosse County and FCC. Fifty-five families are enrolled in the program, which is funded by donations. “Twenty-five years — it’s really an amazing accomplishment,” said Tita Yutuc, president and CEO of the FCC. “Because of the nature of this program and the support of the community, it’s stronger than ever.”

Thumbs up to Pat Stephens, one of the true volunteers in our region. If you’re a fan of Rotary Lights or Irishfest, you can tip your cap to Pat. A founding member and longtime adviser of the Sigma Delta Phi fraternity at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, he was recently honored with the nationwide Mr. Delta Sig for his leadership and support. Stephens, who retired from UW-L as chief fundraiser, said: “I have no lack of things to keep me busy every day. When I came here in 1966, I didn’t know a soul. But I fell in love with the community and have developed more than 1,000 friendships.”

To Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army in La Crosse for organizing the sixth annual Back 2 School event, which distributed backpacks and school supplies to more than 850 students thanks in part to donations from Shopko, Menards, Chart and the La Crosse Kiwanis Club. In addition, community members and Salvation Army employees purchased 500 outfits for children, thanks in part to donations from Dave’s Guitar Shop, LHI and Bethel Lutheran Church. New this year, thanks to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield arranging for three stylists, about 50 children received free haircuts. Alex Riley, the new volunteer coordinator for The Salvation Army, said: “Seeing a kid with her mouth agape when we gave her a backpack — that’s not something I can just be told about behind a desk. It’s nice to see it in person.”

To downtown La Crosse for receiving well-deserved recognition on Wisconsin Main Street Day. Our downtown has new businesses, new residences, new offices — all coupled with historic charm. As Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch told local officials during a Main Street Day stop at Belle Square: “This is a downtown that truly shines. La Crosse is one of my absolute favorite downtowns in the state.” Don Weber, whose family investments of more than $220 million include the Belle Square project, told the group: “You have to have the will to try and the faith to believe that it is possible.”

To Logan High School for helping West Salem’s football team find a place to host games this season. Because of the expansion project at West Salem Middle School, the Panthers won’t be able to play in West Salem this season. But thanks to Logan, the temporary home is awfully nice — the new turf at Swanson Field on La Crosse’s North Side, which was rededicated recently thanks to $1.1 million in private donations and a $200,000 grant from the NFL Grassroots program. Logan and West Salem are rivals in the Mississippi Valley Conference, but the teamwork on sharing the new turf this season is very impressive.


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