A local organization is remembering a West Salem woman by sharing her story with area kids and hoping to influence their future choices.
Sara Hougom, 20, was killed in her La Crosse apartment in 2012, shot in the chest during a robbery. The two men convicted both had gang ties and were high on drugs when they broke into Sara's apartment. Now, two years later, Sara's mom is hoping her story may change the future of other area kids.
Sherry Hougom visited the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse Wednesday to talk with teens about drugs and gang violence. Her goal, she said, is to influence the decisions these kids may face in the future.
"If I can persuade one child from not doing drugs, not getting into gangs, not making poor choices, it's not only saving one family but it's saving hundreds from this devastation," Sherry said.
Mike Desmond, the executive director of the club, said Sherry's story is a deeply personal example of the choices kids face, even in the small community of La Crosse.
"It's here, and we have to recognize that," he said. "Anytime you can put a face to the story, I think it makes it much more impactful."
Desmond said he hopes to invite other community members to speak with kids at the club to help them learn from the stories of others.
"We could put [the kids] in a classroom and tell them about the evils of drugs and evils of gangs and give them statistics and all this kind of stuff, but to me, nothing tells it better than a personal story," he said.
This was the first time Sherry has met with kids to talk about the way her daughter's life was taken, but it won't be her last. She says she plans to share Sara's story with other schools to help fight against drugs and violence.