Featured Grant Recipients

Goodwill Industries North Central Wisconsin

$2,500 | Kjome Justice & Peace Fund | Community Improvement

Goodwill Industries North Central Wisconsin was awarded $2,500.00 from the Kjome Justice & Peace Fund for a special inaugural call to action event in the Coulee Region – Voices of Men. The Voices of Men mission is to treat domestic abuse and sexual assault as a preventable matter, working to change the everyday attitudes, behaviors and language of boys and young men toward women, and create a culture of safety and dignity.

Nic Petersen

$4,000 | Mitchell-Kruck Scholarship Fund | Education & Scholarship

Nic Petersen was awarded the Mitchell-Kruck Scholarship and will be attending UW-La Crosse majoring in music. In fifth-grade band, Nic was given the choice — clarinet or tuba. “I didn’t even hesitate”, he said. He chose the tuba. That choice was just the beginning for Nic, who was the La Crosse Tribune Extra Effort Award winner from Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School. He loved the tuba and continued playing in high school band. In his sophomore year, Nic joined jazz band and expressed interest in studying music after he graduated. Nic took college-level music theory and added trombone. He has been in the jazz, concert, pit, marching and pep bands as well as the Winona and Dorian honor bands. Nic has spent a lot of time in the band room, and he found someone who became more than a band director. Brenda Gauchel-Sill saw Nic’s passion and talent when she met him as a freshman and became a mentor. She would often drive him to music events, and he became comfortable talking with her about his childhood and his challenges. Over time, Brenda learned Nic’s story. Nic’s parents struggled with addiction. When Nic was very young, his father died suddenly due to an asthma attack. Nic and his two siblings moved from place to place with their mom. They switched schools and homes frequently and experienced many difficult situations relating to their mother’s continuing struggle with addiction. When Nic was 10, his mother was incarcerated and the kids ended up with her parents. While the situation there was better, it was still tense. Nic’s sister Mayklin ran away when she was a sophomore in high school, and Nic’s brother Kody graduated and moved away for college. Without his siblings around, Nic says his relationship with his grandparents deteriorated. Brenda didn’t want Nic uprooted before his senior year, so she offered to help. On a Monday morning in May 2017, Brenda emailed Nic’s family and offered to take Nic in for the rest of the school year. By that afternoon, Nic’s family suggested the arrangement be long term, and Nic moved in with Brenda and her family. Because Nic was not yet 18 and because Brenda and her family were not his legal guardians, Nic was considered homeless. That also means that it has been difficult for Nic to get health insurance, a driver’s license and his Social Security benefit check. Despite everything, Nic’s positive personality shines brightly. He is quick to smile and just as quick to crack a joke. Jeff McDonah, Nic’s high school counselor (and his Arcadia middle school wrestling coach) thinks that Nic’s abilities to find humor in life and to focus on the things about which he is passionate give him remarkable resilience. He also praises Nic’s ability to accept responsibility for making choices. Many students with backgrounds of family dysfunction or relatives with drug and alcohol addiction have walked through McDonah’s door. “There comes a point in their life whether it’s at 15, 25, 35, 45, never when they realize the bulk of their recovery is on them – 100 percent on them,” McDonah said. “They have to own it.” Nic owns it, he says. For Nic, his life — and his choices — are in his hands. “There are tons of decisions you can make and you’re responsible for every single one,” he says. “I hate how some people can be so casual about [drugs and alcohol] because they have not seen what it can do to a family. They haven’t been in foster care for six months like I was. They haven’t been in a house alone where your mother’s gone for three weeks.” So Nic chooses to focus on what he loves — music. He loves to practice — playing to a metronome and steadily speeding up the tempo. Working hard on his passion has paid off. “It’s amazing to listen to him play tuba,” Brenda says. “He plays these things that are tons of fast notes and these beautiful melodies. You’re just like, ‘a tuba? A tuba can sound like that?’ He’s just an amazing musician.” Nic’s advice to those facing hardships: “Find something that you’re good at and, no matter what it is, do it. Even if you don’t think it will take you anywhere, if it makes you happy and is what keeps you going, just focus on it.”

La Crosse Public Education Foundation, Inc.

$3,625 | Fowler and Hammer Fund | Education & Scholarship

La Crosse Public Education Foundation received a grant for their Spanish Immersion Program at North Woods Elementary from the Fowler and Hammer Fund.

Great Rivers United Way

$300 | James & Ellen Heinecke Fund | Health & Human Services

Great Rivers United Way received a grant for unrestricted support from the James & Ellen Heinecke Fund.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region

$35,000 | General Fund | Health & Human Services

Children with a Big Brother or Big Sister are 52 percent less likely to skip school and are shown to be more confident in their personal and academic lives. That’s why LCF granted $35,000 to Boys and Girls Club of the Seven Rivers Region to help in reducing the youth wait list as well as to support expenses related to enhancing their space for programming!

La Crosse Symphony Orchestra – Play it Forward

$2,800 | General Fund | Arts & Humanities

The Play it Forward program of La Crosse Symphony Orchestra received a $2,800 award to repair and refurbish used string instruments to use with music students participating in the program at the Boys & Girls Club locations in La Crosse.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – Western Wisconsin

$4,500 | Dahl Fund | Health & Human Services

JDRF of Western Wisconsin received a $4,500 award from the Howard Dahl fund to support cutting edge juvenile diabetes research.

IM Education

$7,500 | General Fund | Education

IM Education received support to start a REACCT Writing Coach program for students at Holmen Middle School.

Xylona Merrell Brownfield

$1,800 | John & Adeline Rice Scholarship | Education & Scholarship

Xylona Merrell Brownfield was awarded the John & Adeline Rice Scholarship. She will be attending UW-Madison majoring in Astrophysics with a minor in Chemistry. In her thank you note she wrote "I will be the first in my family to attend college. Growing up in a lower-income family has helped me understand the value of a college education and I am incredibly grateful to have this money to put towards my education."

Andrea L. Hinitt

$1,100 | Clayton & Vivian Veum Scholarship | Education & Scholarship

This scholarship was awarded to Andrea Hinitt who is majoring in Nursing with the goal of eventually becoming a nurse practitioner with a focus on mental health. In her thank you letter she wrote "This financial assistance you are providing will make a very big difference in my life. I will not have to worry about finances and will be able to focus on achieving my goals. Thank you for your benevolence and support."