Susan (Sue) Rieple Graf, Executive Director
Every human being deserves acceptance, love, respect and dignity. I have personally experienced childhood trauma and poverty and many friends and family members cared for me. I believe the sum of my life experiences has prepared me for this mission.
I have lived in the Coulee Region for most of my life. I attended local schools and am a Viterbo University alumnus. My professional work experience includes banking, church office/ministry and special education. I have volunteered in my church and community in many roles. I am a Christian and try to live out my faith.
I began to volunteer with the homeless community 10 years ago and eventually made a career change to serve as Coordinator of the Franciscan Hospitality House, a daytime drop-in center for homeless and other marginalized individuals. The Center closed in March, 2020, just prior to Covid. Members of the homeless community were left outside and were hungry and needed help. I began to care for them daily, building positive relationships, providing supplies to meet immediate needs, serving with compassion and without judgement. WINN, inc. was formed to continue this mission into the future.
WINN, inc. gives hope to people who are struggling, helps them meet basic needs and connects them with housing, jobs and other needed resources. WINN, inc. depends on financial support to continue to provide for our unsheltered and marginalized neighbors.
Check us out in the Coulee Region Women's Magazine, WEAU 13 news, and the La Crosse Tribune!
WINN IN THE NEWS
WINN, Inc. Board of Directors
The board of directors for WINN is a group of individuals from varying walks of life. We have all had our boots on the ground serving the homeless community. We seek to positively impact our community and its most vulnerable members.
I worked at a local pharmacy that served a diverse community in downtown LaCrosse for nearly 30 years. During this time I was able to get to know many of our marginalized and homeless neighbors. Their story is a shared human story of hope, hardship, loss and a desire for connection and belonging. I am involved with WINN to serve others whose life and story is my story too.
In my retirement I have been fortunate enough to give back to the community I love. La Crosse is a special place with generous hearts and that love spreads to those less fortunate. I have volunteered at the warming center and at Wafer food distribution. My hope is that every person will know their value and feel that kindness through WINN Inc. I thank WINN for allowing me to use my knowledge to assist in the continuation of the service it provides.
I just finished work after a year as a patron relations at the Lacrosse Public Library. Before that I spent the last two years of my life in Sacramento California working in servant leadership. I took a vow to not have any income at that time and worked with the Organization Loaves and Fishes providing front line survival services to women and children experiencing homelessness. Because I have a deep love and passion for people it's no surprise my education led me into the field of Human services. With this education I've been able to work with domestic violence survivors, at risk youth providing after school care, and helping facilitate my local community members in a regional read working through tough conversations such as race. Joining forces with WINN reignites a long lost love and I am excited to be part of this much needed resource in our community!
In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered in the south for almost a year, living in a tent, sleeping in my car or vacant buildings. This experience exposed me to the homeless lifestyle and I feel strongly connected on a personal level to those that live on the street. I have worked with youth ministry, inmates transitioning back into society and those with substance abuse addiction. Helping those who struggle is why I am involved in WINN. I am a small business owner in downtown La Crosse.
I am a retired teacher and FSPA affiliate who has volunteered at the Winter Warming Shelter and the Franciscan Hospitality House. I have served for many years on planning committees to facilitate outreach to both adult unsheltered homeless as well as organizing hygiene product distribution for homeless school children in the La Crosse School District. I serve on the WINN Board Ada grant writer with a focus on funding that will provide for long term sustainability of the WINN mission of mobile outreach to our un-sheltered neighbors.