It’s not every day you get handed a $1 million check.
Lauren Journot, the executive director at the YWCA in La Crosse was given just that Thursday by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.
There was some comedy from the presentation, right off the bat, with La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds on the introduction (watch below).
The check was one of two Evers gave to local La Crosse area organizations that came from the state’s Equitable Recovery Grant program. Coulee Cap, Inc., also received a check, which was for $545,000.
No big plans to spend the $1 million for Journot. No Ferris wheel out behind the YWCA on 11th Street. Even drinks that night were not going to be on the YWCA, she said jokingly.
“No, like major things, however, this funding gives us another year to continue to work toward our sustainability projects and to continue to bring more resources into the building,” Journot told WIZM. “All of this money that we just got to come in and it goes to paying salaries for folks who are doing the actual work every day in this building, to continue to fund those positions that were built less than a year ago.”
On top of that, Journot says they plan to build back up their administrative team.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had to get rid of a couple of our positions because we just couldn’t afford to pay those salaries and continue to support the programs that we have going in the community,” she said. “So we get to build that administrative team back up so that we can work toward long-term sustainability and partners.”
Journot said the money simply keeps the YWCA and the somewhat newly opened REACH Service and Resource Center running another year with no worries on funding.
REACH has been open since October and been busy helping those in need. It’s averaged 82 unduplicated individuals or families a month over that span.
While 82 seemed like a large number, Journot wasn’t going to take any guesses at this point on what a good average would be, with a pandemic to deal with and all. But, of course, the goal is zero — not literally zero though. Functional zero.
“Because what we would like to see as a community is for us to get to functional zero,” Journot said, “which doesn’t mean that no one ever experiences homelessness, but it means that when people lose their housing, we can get them right back into housing quickly and folks aren’t living in homelessness like we’ve seen in our community.”
It houses these representatives from these groups:
- The Collaborative End Homelessness
- CouleeCap Inc.
- Catholic Charities
- Independent Living Resources
- New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Center
- The Salvation Army of La Crosse
The Equitable Recovery grant program supports community-based organizations working to increase equity and eliminate disparities in communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic statewide.
The funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Democrats and signed by President Joe Biden exactly one year after the WHO declared the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also awarded grants in La Crosse were Legal Action of Wisconsin ($1 million) and Vang Council of La Crosse, Inc. ($845,000).