Women’s Fund honors Patty Barge for service to community

Roberta Zurn Award salutes Amy's Closet for helping needy
Patty Barge Women's Award
Patty Barge named Amy's Closet after her late sister Amy, who was a strong advocate for children.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The Women’s Fund of Greater La Crosse is awarding Patty Barge its 2020 Roberta Zurn Outstanding Women in Leadership Award for creating Amy’s Closet in Holmen, which provides emergency support for women and families.

The Women’s Fund had intended to announce Barge’s honor during its Spring Fling, which had been scheduled for March 28 but was canceled to avoid spreading the coronavirus, said executive director Kaycie Green.

Amy’s Closet is a passion project for Barge, whose day job is being a chiropractor at at Barge Berkley Chiropractic Clinic, which has offices in La Crosse and Holmen.  She named it in honor of her late sister Amy, who was a zealous advocate for children.

The original intent was to support foster children through their transitions when they switch homes or are sent to foster care. They often lose some of their belongings, and it is difficult for foster parents to continuously buy them new items, according to the closet’s website.

Within a short time after founding Amy’s Closet in the spring of 2016, Barge realized there was a far wider need, including  homeless children, local shelters, families facing emergency situations and other local facilities. It expanded to serve a wide range of families in the area, providing clothing, hygiene and cleaning products and stuffed animals and some toys for children.

Barge credits much of Amy’s Closet’s success to its volunteers, many of whom are her patients.

Amy's Closet LogoVolunteers are devoted to the cause, with one saying, “With a little assistance, people in the community are able to use the resources Amy’s Closet provides to improve their lives, their children’s lives and the lives of all of our community members.”

Requests come in at a rate of seven or more a day, Barge said.

Amy’s closet is an example of what is possible when a community strives to strengthen and support one another,  the Women’s Fund said in announcing Barge’s award.

Canceling the Spring Fling was difficult for the organization, Green said, adding, “Your generosity and attendance at this fundraiser brings in critical revenue for our organization, and the Women’s Fund will be affected by this loss and the cancellation fees related to this event.

However, we believe it is critically important to put your health and safety first,” she said.

We hope you will join us at 10 a.m. on March 28 for a live online auction on our Facebook page!

Those who had bought tickets should look for refund information in their email accounts for refund information.

The Women’s Fund still intends to celebrate Barge’s achievements with a program and and auction on the Women’s Fund Facebook page at 10 a.m. March 28.

The award is named for Roberta Zurn, an elementary school teacher for 32 years who also was involved in many community organizations and volunteered  in dozens of projects. Annual recipients receive $1,000 award – $500 to be donated to the charity of her choice and $500 to be used for personal development; the winner also may choose to give the entire award to charity.
Amy’s Closet also has a Facebook page with details on its programs. Questions may be sent to amyscloset4@gmail.com.

The Women’s Fund of Greater La Crosse works through social services organizations to deliver highly targeted support. Powered by an endowment and ongoing giving, the Fund promotes opportunity, health and self-sufficiency for women and encourages the next generation to become advocates. Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than $650,000 in grants to local programs and agencies.