Supporting a healthy and socially-connected community

    May 2021

    May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We thought the timing was right to talk about the community programs we invest in under one of our strategic objectives: support a healthy, socially-connected community. As you will learn, supporting mental health and wellness is a large part of this work.

    At Great Rivers United Way (GRUW), we think about health holistically. Everyone needs their basic needs for food, shelter, and safety met to be healthy.

    That is why we support programs like emergency shelter at The Salvation Army, New Horizons, Western Dairyland, and Ruth House at YWCA; food programs like the WAFER food pantry in La Crosse, Couleecap’s food pantry in Monroe County, Mobile Meals in La Crosse, and the Hunger Task Force’s food bank and Kane Street Community Garden programs; and domestic violence programs like those at Bluff Country Family Resources, New Horizons, and Family and Children’s Center.

    We support people staying safe at home and recovering from disaster by supporting the American Red Cross in their efforts to help families recover after disaster and help families be prepared in case of fire; Couleecap’s Healthy Homes program that helps low-income families have safe drinking water and lead-free homes; and Neighbors in Action that helps seniors in La Crescent and Caledonia to safely age in place.

    Physical health is also an important aspect of our strategic objective. Our Great Rivers HUB is helping people manage heart disease and diabetes as well as helping women give birth to healthy babies.

    We support youth fitness through the Boys and Girls Clubs of West Central Wisconsin’s Healthy Lifestyle program which encourages kids to stay active and eat healthy. We also support education on healthy meals through WAFER’s Nutrition Education and tools program. Finally, we help increase access to physical health services by investing in the Help Program at Scenic Bluffs which helps people enroll in health insurance plans and connect to other resources to get and stay healthy.

    GRUW supports Mental Health and mental wellness through both formal and informal supports, as well as through opportunities for social connection. We invest in direct supports by funding Outpatient Counseling at Family and Children’s Center that helps people work through emotional, behavioral, and mental health problems and Helping Youth Who Need Us Most at Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse providing mental and behavioral supports for youth in need.

    For folks struggling with addiction, we support Coulee Recovery Center’s substance-free space to gather and find community with peers who have been down the same path. Independent Living Resources RAVE* Recovery Avenue and Family and Children’s Center’s The Other Door programs provide drop-in space and peer support for mental health.

    An important aspect of mental wellness is doing enjoyable activities. We’re investing in Western Dairyland’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Kane Street Community Garden where folks have opportunities to volunteer to enjoy activities and connect with others.

    Finally, to pull all of this work together, Great Rivers United Way invests in Great Rivers 211. 211 provides information and referral to community resources and is an addiction crisis resource. There is always someone available to help 24/7.

    Mental health is how we think, feel, and act. Recently, in partnership with the Better Together project, GRUW designed and distributed door hangers that gave tips on how to stay mentally healthy:

    • Connect with others
    • Be aware of how you feel
    • Take care of your body with movement, fuel, and rest
    • Do something you enjoy
    • Set healthy boundaries
    • Ask for help when you need it

    As you can see, Great Rivers United Way invests in programs that help people throughout our region with resources to be healthy and socially connected.  Everyone has mental health, and we strive to help all community members be the healthiest we can be.

    To learn more about the programs that support a health and socially-connected community, visit Next month, we’ll cover the partners who are meeting our last, and equally important, strategic objective.

    Open Your Heart.

    Lend Your Muscle.

    Join The Movement.