Winona Health Foundation celebrates 125 years of generosity at 2019 Benevolence & Blues

Community members, along with Winona Health staff and volunteers, many decked out in blue, celebrated generosity in all of its forms at the Winona Health Foundation’s annual “Benevolence & Blues” dinner on Friday, February 1 at Visions Event Center at Signatures in Winona.

The theme of this year’s event was Winona Health’s 125 years of community-focused healthcare and the generosity and community support that has kept local healthcare strong since 1894.

Winona Health President/CEO, Rachelle Schultz, EdD, opened the event by welcoming Mayor Mark Peterson who presented a proclamation declaring February 28, 2019, Winona Health’s 125th anniversary, as Winona Health Day, and 2019 a year for celebrating 125 years of community-focused care.

The annual event featured heart-warming stories of generosity that touched the lives of Winona Health patients, residents, staff and community members. This year’s stories were introduced by Rebecca Lamberty, Winona Health Chief Administrative Officer, and told by representatives of the generosity being shared. This year’s stories featured the following:

Celebrating 125 years of generosity
As Winona Health celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2019, Winona Health President/CEO, Rachelle Schultz, EdD, and Board Chair, Ken Mogren, reflected on and expressed gratitude for the community generosity that has shaped local healthcare since the organization was founded by local physicians and community members in 1894.

“We recognize with deep gratitude the 125 years of generosity that are woven into the fabric of Winona Health,” said Schultz. “And through those 125 years, our mission has remained steadfast: We are devoted to improving the health and well-being of our community.”

In reflecting on the role benevolence has played in Winona Health’s 125-year history, Mogren, said, “The dictionary defines benevolence as ‘A disposition to do good,’ and over our 125 years many people have been disposed to do good things to help Winona Health serve the people in our area. Benevolence just seems to be part of the culture of Winona Health and this community. So tonight we celebrate benevolence with the hope it will be as significant in our future as it has been in our past.”

Winona Health Cuddle Squad
The Winona Health Cuddle Squad volunteers were honored for their commitment and dedication to stepping in to rock, cuddle and comfort newborns in situations where the baby’s parents are not able to do so. A group of 39 volunteers fill two-hour shifts around the clock when needed for newborns who, for whatever reason, need extra comfort and human touch. Shared by Kris Cichon, Director of Inpatient Services and Denise Erickson, Volunteer Chair of the Cuddle Squad.

Winona Health Facilities Team
Teamwork is an important aspect of taking care of Winona Health’s physical space. But the Winona Health Facility team’s work goes far beyond taking care of brick and mortar and exemplifies Winona Health’s value of service with heart. Whether sporting pink to increase awareness and show support for breast cancer screening, raising funds through a friendly beard-growing competition in November, or taking extra care in meeting the needs of patients, residents, visitors, staff, and even nearby ducklings caught in precarious situations, the generous spirit of the Facilities team makes a difference throughout Winona Health and our community. Shared by Greg Towner, Director of Facilities.

Winona Health Volunteers USO Salute to the Troops writer, director and performer Jim Vrchota
Jim was honored for dedicating countless hours to the Winona Health Volunteers 2018 variety show, USO Salute to the Troops, writing, directing and rehearsing with cast and crew. From the volunteers and community members he worked with to the audiences who were entertained and deeply touched by the performances, to the $30,000 the show raised, Jim’s generosity of time and talent made a meaningful difference to Winona Heath, the Winona Health Volunteers and our community. The funds raised through the performances were given to enhance Winona Health’s Family Birth Center to benefit moms and families. Shared by Bernadette Thicke, Winona Health Volunteers past president; Nancy Prodzinski, current president; and Jim Vrchota.

Winona Health Memory Care
Staff and volunteers were honored for the many ways they enrich the lives of memory care residents and their families at Adith Miller, Roger Metz and Lake Winona manors. Every day, compassionate caregivers engage in meaningful activities to enhance well-being through programs such as Namaste, which provides a spa-like, soothing environment. Those who are called to this work reflect Winona Health’s ongoing dedication to caring for memory care residents—and their families—at every stage of life. Shared by Cheryl Krage, Director of Assisted Living; Barb Sarvi representing the Kukowski Family in memory of her mother who was a resident at Roger Metz Manor; Linda Atkinson, Administrator, Lake Winona Manor; and Deb Corrao, in memory of her mother who was a resident at Lake Winona Manor.

To learn more about Winona Health and its history in the Winona Community, visit

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