La Crosse nonprofit buys van to connect homeless with resources

What I Need Now organization received $65,000 grant from La Crosse Community Foundation

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — In March 2020, after the closure of Catholic Charities’ Franciscan Hospitality House in La Crosse, Sue Graf and Brian Holliday lost their jobs.

Immediately after the closure, they started driving to Houska Park to help the homeless.

Graf recently founded the nonprofit called What I Need Now, or WINN, to assist the homeless population in the city of La Crosse. Holliday works alongside her as they provide resources to homeless individuals at Houska.

“We get to know people, and we try to help them wherever they are on their journey,” Graf said.

With a $65,000 grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation and the financial help of other donors, WINN bought a cargo truck that the organization filled with supplies.

The truck has ready-to-eat food, bottled water, hygiene items and clothing, among other items, Graf said.

In June alone, WINN recorded 823 encounters with homeless people.

At least 150 people are homeless in La Crosse, including the population at Houska Park, according to an initial count from a Couleecap official.

From May until July 11, at least 30 tents were added to Houska Park, according to officials.

Jamie Schloegel, the CEO of the La Crosse Community Foundation, said Thursday that the foundation wanted to be part of making sure that the needs of La Crosse’s unsheltered population are being met.

“We believe that all humans have dignity,” she said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, contact Couleecap or the REACH Services and Resource Center to be connected with assistance.

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