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La Crosse County Emergency Response Fund activated in response to COVID-19. More details here.

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Local Response to COVID-19 nothing short of miraculous. Opportunities to practice gratitude abound.

March 26, 2020

Jamie Schloegel, Executive DirectorBy Jamie Schloegel, Executive Director

One week ago yesterday La Crosse Community Foundation and Great Rivers United Way publicly announced the activation of the La Crosse Area Emergency Response Fund for COVID-19 relief efforts being implemented by area charitable organizations.

To say the response to the fund has been incredible would be an understatement. The fund started with $45,000 and has grown to over $766,000 in just seven days with gifts from 125+ local individuals, businesses and organizations including the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who yesterday announced a gift of $500,000 (gotta love those nuns!). To those who have given, THANK YOU! You are making a difference for your family, friends and neighbors. We plan to remain steadfast in our fundraising efforts as we know the needs are going to be more than any of us can even begin to imagine, and we want those in La Crosse County to know that help – above and beyond what our government is able to do – is and will be available. You can view a complete list of donors and the grants we’ve awarded from the fund thus far on our website HERE.

The new Emergency Response Fund is just one way our community has come together to respond. Every day I learn of new relief plans being implemented locally within every sector. This is what helps me to remain hopeful and grateful during such troubling and uncertain times.  Here are just a few examples from across the sectors:

PRIVATE SECTOR

  • Kwik Trip announced the addition of 2,000 jobs, and bonuses to its 26,000 retail workers, truckers and store leaders for continuing to work despite the added workload and stress.
  • State Farm Agent Kurt Pfaff, Wisconsin Insurance Center and Stanley McDonald Agency have started ‘Quotes for Good’ programs. Each agency will donate $10 to the Emergency Response Fund for any individual who requests a free quote anytime this spring. Consider using your homebound time to get quotes on new policies. Perhaps you’ll find savings!

PUBLIC SECTOR

  • The City of La Crosse Planning & Development Department is working on a Small Business Disaster Relief Grant Program to help small businesses retain staff, pay vendors, keep their lights on, etc. This is intended to be immediate support (available as soon as April 9) to supplement State and Federal level programs.
  • The Planning Dept. is putting together a comprehensive resource guide for relief services and assistance people may be eligible to receive. This will greatly decrease the difficulty of navigating through all of the different programs by providing a central resource available to anyone on the City’s website.

NONPROFIT SECTOR

  • La Crosse Area YMCA converted its two facilities into emergency childcare programs.
  • The Parenting Place is delivering free diapers.
  • Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse and the Collaborative to End Homelessness devised a completely new community shelter plan (in less than a week!) to ensure those experiencing homelessness during this time still have access to safe shelter.

Our two local health systems deserve their own call-out. Many people across the country don’t have access to quality healthcare. Here in La Crosse we have not one, but two first-class healthcare systems. They are continuing to do what they do best, but in my opinion, even better than before given all of the additional challenges that come with treating COVID-19. If you know someone working on the front lines of this pandemic in the health system, make sure you give him/her extra love right now.

I also want to make a special call out to our local media, who continue to provide great coverage on the pandemic by not just sharing the bad and the ugly, but the good too. I appreciate their commitment to making sure the public remains informed with the most up to date information but by reporting with integrity and responsibility to not build unnecessary hysteria.

While we all continue to be scared and overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our lives, here in La Crosse County we still have many things for which to remain grateful. As you can see from above, we will get through this, together. There will still be times when things are not ok but join me in the comfort of knowing you live in a community where everyone is doing “what they can, with what they have, where they are.” That famous advice from Theodore Roosevelt seems especially relevant right now.

Please… stay home. Stay healthy. Save lives.

,

Jamie