Organization: Downtown Mainstreet, Inc., Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation and Viterbo College
Volunteer Service: Since 2014
In what ways have you volunteered with these organizations?
With Downtown Mainstreet, Inc., (DMI), I was a board member and I’m currently serving as co-chair of the Promotional Committee. I serve on the Philanthropy Committee for Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, providing strategic fundraising support for the entire foundation. I have also done a few women’s financial planning seminars with the foundation. I recently got involved with Viterbo College as a mock interviewer and mentor for students.
How did you first get involved?
As a lifelong resident of La Crosse, I wanted to help my community flourish and grow. So when the opportunity to join these boards and committees was presented to me, I gladly accepted. DMI was a natural fit for me because Associated Bank is located downtown where many of its revitalization efforts are focused. Additionally, I work with many Gundersen employees, and I’m proud to be part of their community efforts through my involvement.
Can you share what it’s like to volunteer for a board or committee?
Volunteering in such a capacity can seem intimidating. But I would say that serving on a board or committee helps you become more involved with an organization, especially if you already have a connection. My experience with board service has been great. I get to brainstorm and organize events and fundraisers for my community.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
The most rewarding part to me is the impact I can have on making my community a better place to live. Through my involvement, I get to see all the good things that are happening. Not only am I in meetings with the organization, I am in the community listening to people’s needs and bringing that back to the organization to see how we can help. You really get to be the eyes and ears for others.
Can you name a memorable experience you’ve been a part of because of your community involvement?
Our annual Rotary Lights holiday display collects donations for local food pantries. Associated Bank sponsors the event and, for one night, we provide all the volunteers. On my first year participating, I remember feeling so amazed by the generosity of the community. We had cars coming through that barely ran, but they’d open their trunk and it would be full of food. College students would come and make donations. It just attracted so many people who gave what they could to support others. It’s so much fun to be a volunteer when you experience your community coming together.
What have you learned about your community?
It never ceases to amaze me how generous and philanthropic La Crosse and the surrounding areas are. When people see a need, they get involved. We saw that a lot during the pandemic. Some businesses were struggling and DMI collaborated with larger businesses to set up funds or matching programs to help smaller businesses through this tough time. I am always surprised and inspired by these acts of kindness.
Why is it important to give back to the communities we serve?
When you volunteer in your community it brings to light the areas in need and it makes you want to continue to give your resources to help. Just an hour of your time here and there goes a long way. Associated Bank and my Market President have been very supportive of my involvement. It makes it easier to give your time when your organization supports you.
What advice would you give other colleagues looking to start volunteering?
Get involved. Just do it. Find something that interests you or that you’ve been directly impacted by. You just have to give it a try. Once you get involved, you’ll see all the benefits it brings to the community and yourself.