There are plenty of challenges we face together in the 7 Rivers Region as we deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

But in the midst of this crisis, there are countless folks who are doing their best every day to make our lives better.

We’d like to recognize all of those as a 7 Rivers Hero! Nominate someone you know who is making a difference and we will feature most — if not all — of them here and through social media.

The worst of times sometimes brings out our best.

7 Rivers Heroes Nomination

Nominations so far:

7 Rivers Heroes

Here are the nominations we’ve received as of March 30.

Jeff Holthaus, Tomah

Jeff took it upon himself to purchase $200 worth of gift cards from 4 local restaurants but told the restaurants they could use them for promotions or those in need.

Jeremy Haun, Tomah

Jeremy purchased $1,000 worth of $20 Tomah Chamber Bucks and taped them to the outside of his business window for anyone in need to take one.

Sarah Schmitz, West Salem

Sarah Schmitz, RN in the Employee Health & Safety Manager at Gundersen Health System. She has been actively promoting and caring for all healthcare workers through the COVID19 pandemic. Sarah is a mother of three  boys — Justin, Aidric and Trey — and wife to Marcus who is also an employee of Gundersen Health System. Sarah is brilliant, compassionate, and decisive when promoting employee health and safety for all of our staff. She deserves this nomination and recognition for all of her hard work and long hours.

Wendy Scott, Tomah

Wendy Scott is a professional photographer that wants to capture families at this moment in history.  Now that families are home together she is taking a picture of them on their front porch, no charge.

Julie McDermid, La Crosse

Julie McDermid is the Director of the Collaborative to End Homelessness.  She has voluntarily led the communities collaborative pandemic response for the homeless.  This included finding space for an additional shelter and leading the set up. She is working with all the organizations who work with the homeless to coordinate efforts, including city and county gov, police, fire, health systems and non-profits.  She has worked day and night on this effort. Not only is this effort providing excellent care for a vulnerable population, it is helping to minimize the risk to the general population by isolating this population. This work was done quickly and efficiently and is one of the best responses in the state and probably nation.  The homeless in this community were isolated prior to the official stay at home order.

Jennifer tirelessly works to make sure the community stays informed with the latest information during this epidemic. She has not only conveying this info with confidence but also fielding a number of questions from the media that come her way.

Mario Yoaquim, La Crosse

Mario has always been one to give back to the community.  He started the beer by bike brigade which provides thousands of area bicyclist outings on a regular basis but more importantly raises money via these outings and special events to feed school children and those in need.  Recently he also started the league of the ridiculous which has about 300 members who each commit to giving $400 a year or each and quarterly vote on a person or organization in need to donate those funds to. Whenever there‚Äôs a need in the community Mario is there thinking of a creative way to help and getting others to join him.  He is definitely a hero in our community.

Mike Muson and Diane Leutgeb Munson, Winona

This couple keeps the Catholic Worker house going which feeds around 30 people a night.  As things have shifted since the Covid-19 virus, they realized they could not have everyone sitting down for a meal together and they quickly switched gears to providing to-go food on the porch that people can pick up and are doing deliveries to people who need a meal.  All this is done every day Monday-Friday because they believe in creating relationships within the community and providing hospitality to those in need. They are my heroes for sure.

Tyler Truax, Galesville

Tyler is president of the Galesville Lions Club and was instrumental in getting our “G-E-T Lions Take-Out Challenge” organized.

Joyce Wichelt, La Crosse

My 78 year old friend Joyce Wichelt moved into Eagle Crest Apts. first week in March; she is a retired business owner and former nurse. Her house is for sale, and her estate sale was cancelled so I’ve been helping her clean out her house. She quickly recognized the need as her apt. building is on lockdown, and quickly went to work making face masks. As of now she has made enough for all the residents at EC, over 50+, and continues to make more daily! They are all different fabrics and beautiful! She is a blessing to our community and the residents at EC. She is now making more masks for the folks at Bethany St. Joseph care center!

Community Table, Tomah

Various organizations in Tomah have been busy making “Community Table” possible by getting creative and coming up with solutions to ensure those in need are still getting meals. Tomah is in it Together!!

Barb Welch, Tomah

Barb from the Quilted Rooster in Tomah just became the Coordinator for Zone 8 of Wisconsin Face Mask Warriors – this is a National Group working to keep our friends, neighbors and anyone who calls upon them for Masks. She has spent countless hours organizing the sewists, drivers, drop-off sites, materials and supplies. Her efforts and those helping in this mission have made and donated hundreds of face masks to those who need them. For more information:

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