While the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration usually work in the background, they recently earned a Christian Mission award, bringing their work on homelessness to the forefront.
The La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness formed earlier this year to end homelessness, and local nuns are playing a major role in bringing local agencies together for the cause.
"I immediately go to the people and I picture the people we're talking about, and then I cry because they're there, and I want it different,” Sister Karen Neuser said. "We have to stop talking about ending homelessness. We have to do something about it."
So a few years ago, she and her fellow nuns and FSPA affiliates started a hygiene for homeless program.
“Gathering hygiene products in bags sewn by one of the sisters,” FSPA affiliate Rosalie Hooper Thomas said. “They send those over to Salvation Army, 50 to 60 a month."
They also collaborated with Catholic charities on a warming center and the Franciscan Hospitality House downtown.
The FSPA-Affiliate homelessness initiative committee won a Christian mission award from their congregation, but Neuser knows their work is far from done.
"FSPA have been a lot of doers in a lot of years, and now we are in the role, because of who are in 2016, as supporters, initiators, prophets saying we've got to do this,” Neuser said.
It's that spirit that helped bring multiple agencies together for La Crosse's Collaborative to End Homelessness, and their meetings are often held at St. Rose.
"It's bringing people together but now with that Franciscan fire,” Hooper Thomas said.
The best way to handle homelessness, Neuser said, is to have all hands on deck.
"We have come together and have been joined by the entire city, the entire city, from the mayor to every agency, individuals who also have that heart that says, ‘That could be me. That’s not right,’” she said. “We need to do something about this, and we will do something about this."
The Franciscan Hospitality House on 6th Street is open afternoons from 12:30 to 4:30 on weekdays.
The FSPA is hosting a "Par-Tee for a Cause: Chipping away at Homelessness" golf-themed event on April 24th that will raise money for the Franciscan Hospitality House and the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness.
Tickets go on sale in January.