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An Experience With the Interfaith Hospitality Network

The Interfaith Hospitality Network logo.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network logo.

About a month ago, I spent the evening at a homeless shelter through Interfaith Hospitality Network out of Rochester. Typically families spend the night in various churches in the area that donate their space to the organization. Each week the families move to a different location on Sunday. When I went, I stayed in an actual house that the church in Eyota owned.

I was extremely nervous about staying there. However, I was not nervous for the reasons I think most people would be such as concern for their safety, I was just nervous and anxious because of the unknown. Whenever I am forced to put myself in unknown situations I am worried that things will be awkward or uncomfortable which causes anxiety for myself. For these reasons I asked my sister to come with me for this experience. I also thought it would be something new for her and maybe an eye opening experience. The evening went well, and looking back I should not have been so nervous for the experience! I definitely think going with someone else made things a lot easier.

The organization supports four families at a time, and I was able to observe the families’ interactions. They didn’t communicate much with me, but it was interesting just to see their interactions with each other. I could tell the families appreciated being able to stay in a home vs. a church for a few nights. I arrived around 8pm so I got to see the families coming in from work. They all ate a snack and let the children play with toys before going to bed. It was obvious that the parents were all exhausted. My sister and I were responsible for making sure the house was locked up when everyone arrived.

We slept on an air mattress in the living room, and each family had their own room. At 7:30 the next morning, another volunteer arrived to cook a hot breakfast for the families, which is done on the weekends. Although they were staying in a home, the things they had to use/play with were limited and used. Games were missing pieces; movies were very old and outdated. There were limited options for toys for the children. They also could use new bedding (blankets, pillows, etc.).

IMG_1281      IMG_1280

Something important that I think that our general society doesn’t understand is that anyone can become homeless. There is such a stigma attached with homeless people that they are lazy or use drugs. This experience just totally proved those stigmas wrong. At Interfaith Hospitality Network all parents are drug tested before being able to be a part of the organization. On top of that, the four families that were staying when I volunteered were all working as well. It’s unfortunate that that negative stigma is what so many people believe. I think if more people understood that it could happen to anyone, there might be more support and help for those in need.

-Ashley Martin

7 Tips For a Healthier Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. We get a much needed break from classes, get to see family and friends, and there is deer hunting and Black Friday shopping. Oh, and don’t think I forgot the best part of it all: FREE FOOD. I don’t know about you guys, but free and food are two of my favorite words, especially when the food is free. However, I can’t help but notice my metabolism isn’t as fast as it used be and the holidays are famous for being an unhealthy time of year. So here are few tips to healthier Thanksgiving:

1) Exercise before dinner


Now, I’m not saying you should do a full 30 minute workout or anything like that, but there are other things you can do. Go for a short walk or play a quick game of football with your family. Both of these allow you time to bond and catch up with your family. It also kills time before dinner, so the wait does not seem as long.

2) Eat breakfast


You know what they say, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and that includes Thanksgiving. In the past I have skipped breakfast on Thanksgiving as a way to cut back on eating, however this can make you eat more. You are so hungry by the time dinner rolls around that you eat more. Breakfast can help you avoid overeating.

3) Position yourself well


What do I mean by this? When you finally sit down to eat, do not put yourself by dessert or the candy bowl. They are just going to be more tempting and easier to sneak. If you are across the table, the temptation will be limited.

4) Portion Control


Speaking of limits, another helpful tip is to keep your portions limited. Choose smaller portions to avoid overeating. It seems like every year my Dad tells me, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” meaning I always take more food than I actually eat. Because I am so stubborn I do my best to eat all of it to make a point. This is absolutely unnecessary and I will try to avoid it this year. You should also try to choose equal portions of turkey, vegetables and whatever else your family has to offer. This way you can eat from all the food groups!

5) Eat slower


This may seem silly but it really is helpful. With all the excitement of a home cooked meal and your Grandma’s homemade stuffing, you may eat faster than you realize. This also results in overeating. If you eat slower than your stomach can recognize, then you become full quicker.

6) Skip the soda


Instead of grabbing a Diet Coke or a Mountain Dew, reach for a glass of water instead. Soda is really unhealthy for us; according to my doctor, the equivalent is consuming a cup of sugar. He has a PhD so I didn’t question him. But a cup of sugar is kind of gross if you think about it. If you don’t want to give up all the delicious food, this tip is for you.

7) Don’t feel guilty


Finally, if you do eat too much or take a second and third helping, don’t feel bad. Personally, I set out to eat better every holiday season, yet every year I give in. Granted half the time it is because I’m trying to avoid the question none of us want to answer. You know, the “What are your plans after graduation?” I don’t know yet, okay everyone? Anyways, I may give in every year, but I also get better at following these tips every year. I mean it is Thanksgiving after all and it is a day for eating!

Kayla Severson

5 Things to do This Winter in Winona

Winter is growing closer and closer. The temperatures are becoming colder and colder. You may want to stay inside snuggled under a blanket, avoiding the outside. Or you may want to find out more about what Winona has to offer during the wintertime. This list of winter activities will give you a nice break from all the schoolwork and allow you to enjoy the season!

1) Go to the Lake Lodge Recreation Center


They are open again starting in December for the majority of the month. Check out their website for their winter hours, and look into getting a membership that is only $10 and is good for a whole year! Some awesome winter activities they have to offer include ice-skating, broomball and snowshoeing.

2) Cross-country ski


There are different trails you can ski here in town. We all know it can be tougher to get exercise when winter rolls around, but you’ll be able get a good exercise and take in the bluffs all at the same time. If you love skiing, this is an activity you should consider this season.

3) Grab a warm cup of Joe


Whether it’s Mugby Junction, Blooming Grounds, Acoustic Cafe or whatever is your absolute favorite place for caffeine in Winona; it’s nice to reward yourself after a tough week, or maybe just because you deserve it, with a nice cup of coffee that’ll warm you up this frigid winter!

4) Go up to Garvin Heights


Take the trip and enjoy the beautiful view. It’s gorgeous to see the ground covered in snow and there’s no better way to see that sight from all the way up at Garvin Heights.

5) Build a snowman or have a snowball fight



I don’t care what anyone says, you’re never too old to build a snowman. Bundle up and find your warmest gloves. Grab a friend and see how tall you can make it. If you’d rather challenge your friend to a snowball fight, do that. Build a fort or make a snow angel – the choices are endless!

Kassidy Jackson

Warriors, What Are You Thankful For?

Too often we get so caught up in the thought of tables full of delicious turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie during this time of year and we forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving. This is the time of year to express our gratitude for all of the many blessings we have been given and to spend quality time with loved ones. With that being said, let’s see what a few Winona State students are thankful for this year…

“What are you thankful for?”



“Family, old friends and new friends.” -Amber Pribnow


“I am thankful for every blessing, lesson learned, lost love and the
wonderful friends I have made here at Winona State.” -Emily Olson


“I am thankful that God loves me, for my family,
and for the people I have met here at Winona State.” -Anna Cho


“I am thankful for my friends, family, and experiences
here so far at Winona State.” -Ellie Figlmiller


“I am thankful to serve a loving God who never
changes in a world that always is.” -McKenna Cook


“I am thankful for this Winona community
and the friendships that I have made.” -Leah Stoeckel


“I am thankful for every day that I am alive.
Some days may be harder than other days but any day
above ground is a good day.” -Lizette Salazar

As you can see, there are many things to be grateful for, especially when you are a Winona State student. Many lasting memories and friendships are created here at Winona and those are treasures to be truly grateful for. Each of these girls have their differences in interests ranging from gymnastics to sororities to videography, but they are all thankful for the diverse community that Winona State offers, which granted them the opportunity to become best friends.

-Erin Kloepping

Make a Difference and Skip a Meal


Even though National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 14-20) is coming to an end, you can still make a difference.

Hunger is something that we too often forget about when we live in a society where food is always right at our fingertips. Eventhough we are college students and feel like we are going to go hungry when we cannot afford to eat out on a Saturday night, we still have a pantry full of food at home. The truth is that the majority of us are blessed more than we may realize. About 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry every night.  The truth is that you can make a difference.


In high school I led an event called One Meal One Day through a non-profit organization called Compassion International.  The event encouraged people in my school and community to skip a meal and donate the money they would have spent on that meal.  The money we raised was sent to Compassion International to be dispersed around the world to help feed families who have been living with growling, empty tummies every single day.

It does not take a certain, special person to make a difference in the life of someone else. Anyone can decide to step up and make a difference. All you have to do is make that first step and decide to do something outside of yourself. Are you willing to step up?

What if every one of us at Winona State University decided to skip a meal and give the money we would have spent to someone living in dire need?  Think about the impact that could make. Do you think it’s possible?  I do.


If you think skipping a meal will be too difficult for you or you don’t eat actual meals throughout the day because you are a typical college student, think outside the box. Think about that $5 drink you get from Mugby Junction every morning. Think about that new album you are going to download on iTunes. Think about the money you are going to spend on getting your nails done next week. What if instead of spending money on those things this week, we simply skipped them and used that money to support a family in need? This may even seem like a shock to you or something that you just could not bare to give up. Well, let’s think of a different idea.

What about instead of giving useless Christmas presents to your family this year, you gave money in their name to a non-profit organization like Compassion International? Or, next time you are at the grocery store, throw a couple extra of extra canned goods in your cart and donate them to the local food pantry. Get the idea? There is a limitless amount of ways for you to make a difference in the life of just one person.


Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”  This is so true.  No one is asking you to solve world hunger by yourself.  But together, we can make a huge difference.

It’s one day.  It’s one meal.  It’s one person.  It’s you.

-Erin Kloepping

Holiday Mug Design Contest!


As everyone has probably seen on Facebook and other social media outlets, controversy has been brewing over Starbucks’ red holiday cups. According to some people, the red design of the cups that lack Christmas-related images is offensive, while other people think it’s ridiculous people are making such a big deal out of this.

Out of this disagreement, an awesome contest here at WSU is born!

We want to see your holiday creativity on a mug as WSU holds a Holiday Mug Design Contest. Create a festive design to be printed on a mug, incorporating Winona State graphics and any other holiday components.

Submissions will be accepted until Friday, Dec. 4 and the winner will be revealed Monday, Dec. 7. If your design is chosen, you will win a mug with your design printed on it! Other Warriors will also be able to order your mug.

Please submit your design by either messaging Winona State University on Facebook with your file and contact information, or tweet your image at @winonastateu with the hashtag: #WSUMug

Design specs:
900px x 680px at 200ppi

We know you have a latte on your mind with finals, but take an hour or two and espresso yourself and turn your stress into creativity!

-Allison Mueller

Friends ‘Til the End: How to Deal With Conflict


With finals just around the corner, it is a stressful time for everyone and sometimes tensions run high. This can lead to problems in your friendships. Maybe you snapped at your friend because you are under stress. Maybe you are roommates and you had a huge fight over something stupid, like not doing the dishes. I don’t know your situation and it is none of my business, but I have definitely been through my share of friend drama.

Based on past experience, the best thing to do right away is give yourself, and your friend, space. Allow yourself to calm down and collect your thoughts before talking to your friend again. It is only fair to give them a chance to do the same.

The next thing to do is confront, but do not blame, your friend. After you have collected your thoughts and feel like it is time to move past the issue you should go talk to your friend. Make sure they are also ready to talk, and then tell him or her your side of the story. Or tell them what they did that bothered you. Also, listen to his or her side of it. If you start by accusing your friend before you hear his or her side it probably will not end well. As my mother would say “put yourself in their shoes and see how you like it from where they’re standing.” As much as it annoys me, she is right.


Apologize, apologize, apologize! I cannot stress enough that apologizing is important. Lets be honest here, we’re not in high school anymore, so who cares who says sorry first? If you want to work things out with your friend then just say you are sorry. Let them know you care. If you are like me then you are super stubborn and think you are always right. However, right or wrong, I apologize. At the end of the day it is your friendship that matters – not who has the best argument.

Do not forget to be honest. It might be awkward at first, but it could prevent a fight in the future. Your friend or roommate is not a mind reader and do not realize they have said or done something that has upset you. Tell them. You don’t have to be rude; just pull them aside and explain how you feel. Maybe even make a pact to always be honest in the future.

Finally, move on. Do not dwell on a problem after it has been discussed and worked out. You will most likely just get annoyed and angry all over again, which is not good for anybody. Like I said earlier, at the end of the day your friendship is what is important.


Cue Toy Story’s “You’ve got a friend in me.”

Kayla Severson

4 Reasons Why You Should be an RA

Although there are tons of requirements and responsibilities that go along with being an RA, covered in my last blog, the rewards of the position are awesome. Here are a few things you can gain from an RA position:

1) Making friends who will last a lifetime

Whether these people are your fellow staff members or your residents, you get to know them through the good and the bad. They’re the people who you go to for support.

2) You’ll gain life-skills that may help you in the most weirdest or serious of situations

From your home life, your current and future friendships, and your future professional goals. There’s going to be conflict, and since you are already trained to help with conflict, think about how ahead you’ll come out! In addition, with crisis management skills under your belt, most situations feel like no big deal.

3) Resume building opportunities


This job provides many professional development outlooks! Take advantage of that and put things on your resume – from crisis management and event development to administration and leadership skills. There is a lot this job prepares you for!

4) Not having to pay for your housing and food

One of the best perks is not having to pay for food and housing! Don’t take it lightly though. Being an RA is a hard job – one of the hardest and sometimes one of the most unappreciated jobs you’ll ever have! But, it’s SO worth it for what you can do for others and yourself!

John Otis

A Day in the Life of a Tournament Bass Fisherman

The Winona State Fishing Club has seen many successes this year and are becoming more widely known over the country and in our community. The club has racked up roughly $30,000 in winnings over the past few years, and had held a number one ranking in the nation for a while. Many of us don’t know what it takes to be a competitive bass fisherman, so I interviewed the president of our fishing club to get a better idea of what a tournament day looks like! Here is his step-by-step breakdown of the day. The quotes, photos and gifs are contributed by Winona State Fishing Club president Cade Laufenberg.

1) Waking up before the sun rises


If take off is at 6 a.m., anglers are usually up no later than 4:30 a.m. to make final preparations on the boat, eat and drive to the launch site.

“If things go smoothly, I love the morning anticipation. If there is anything wrong and I have to fix something or otherwise do something I didn’t plan on when time is running out before take off, and this happens from time to time, it can be extremely stressful.”

2) Waiting in line to put the boat in the water


“If you’re at the back of a 100 boat line, it can be a grueling wait for your turn. The anxiousness to get competition underway only amplifies the situation.”

3) Boat is in the water – now you can enjoy your coffee


Winona State Fishing Club members.

“It’s nice to take a sip of coffee, and go through a brief run down in your head, or with your fishing partner of where you plan to fish today, how you plan to catch fish, and a series of possible outcomes and alternatives.”

4) Making last minute preparations


“After some last minute preparations and game plans are made, usually some casual mingling takes place among anglers. This usually means floating around in the boats looking for other anglers who you consider your friends. Jokes are made, conversations are had to lighten the mood and you wish each other luck before take off.”

5) Going through the final boat check


“Finally, its time for things to get underway. The tournament director plays the national anthem, and begins to run boat checks and take off procedure. This means a last minute check of all boat equipment is necessary. The live wells must be working properly, lifejackets must be on, and the boat’s running lights must be working in order to be authorized for take off. Once these things past the test, all is good to go.”

6) And the tournament begins!


“It’s blast off time! A short idle out to the end of the slow no wake, and then time to put the hammer down on the throttle. Its an all out race to the starting spot, which is usually the best spot an angler has found in their week of pre-tournament practice. Boats traveling as fast as 80 mph, ripping up and down the lake to try and get to their areas first, and its an adrenaline rush.”

7) The first hurdle and changing strategy fast


“You get to your starting spot only to find out someone else is already on it. This is a tournament angler’s worst nightmare. Not only are you worried because you relied on catching fish there, but you also know that your fellow competitor will probably do well there. Luckily you have a strategy in case this happened so you go to your secondary spot. Nobody is there! Thank goodness.”

8) Catching your first fish of the day


“Spot number two had a ton of fish in practice, but they weren’t very big. At least you should be able to get your five bass limit here, you reason, and then you can upgrade elsewhere. Hold up! It’s the first bite of the day – and it’s a big one!”

9) Completely changing your game plan


“You’re taken by surprise that you caught a big one at this area. Now your game plan has completely changed. You decide to give this area a couple of hours on a hunch that there are more quality fish there. After you finish here, you’ll re-prioritize your spots accordingly to fit what’s left of your eight-hour day.”

10) Moving to your next spot


“You grind out this spot for two hours and manage to pull two more big fish off the area. But it’s been over an hour without a bite and it’s time to look at other areas. You’re extremely happy with how this decision panned out, and it just goes to show how quickly things can change in this sport. If someone was not on your starting area, you never would have started here and caught those big fish.”

11) Keeping your head in the game


Created by Cade Laufenberg.

“With six hours left in the day and only two quality fish needed to have a great chance to win the tournament, you’re on cloud nine. But it’s important to keep it together. Sometimes catching two fish is easier said than done.”

12) Hurdle number two


Created by Cade Laufenberg.

“Sure enough, suddenly its 12 p.m. Weigh in is at 3:00 and you’ve still got only the three fish you caught earlier. You’ve stopped at several locations that you thought you could catch fish and failed to register even a bite. It’s time to make a change- both in area and fishing techniques.”

13) Changing up your fishing strategies


“You decide to run to the opposite end of the lake, and instead of fishing deep water for big fish like you had been, you’ll opt for shallow water where you think you can just catch some smaller fish to finish out your limit. At this point you’ll take anything you can get.”

14) Getting your confidence back


Created by Cade Laufenberg.

“Finally at 2:00, fish number four goes in the live well. Its not huge, but respectable, and is a monumental lift, breathing new life into you. You were almost out of it mentally, but now realizing you’re one big fish away from potentially winning, you’re fishing harder than ever before.”

15) Showing those fish who is boss


“The next cast, you hook a giant. It gives you a huge fight, and you’re shaking the entire time. 45 seconds feels like hours. Finally it comes to the net and is in the boat. You know you have a good chance to win now, and you’re moved to the point of screaming uncontrollably in a boat on a public lake with hundreds of people who can hear you plain as day. You don’t care.”

16) Weigh in


“Finally, its time to weigh your fish; your 5 bass limit totally 22 pounds is impressive, but now you must wait to see if anyone else can knock it off. One by one, anglers come to the stage with bags that look heavy, only to fall just short. It’s the same feeling you had on your way to the starting spot, hoping you’d get it. The same feeling you had at the end when you hooked the big fish and battled it, shaking, to the boat. When you find out that nobody has beaten you, the feeling is indescribable. Your day consisted of so much emotion, so much mental focus, and now you get to pour it all out on stage while you collect your trophy and check.

17) Resting and reflecting on your day


“At this point, you feel more energized and excited than ever before, but in a few short hours, you’ll be passed out. Fishing takes a lot out of you – physically, mentally and emotionally. But that is why it is so much fun, exciting, and addicting.”

-Lauren Reuteler and Cade Laufenberg

My Volunteer Experience with Family Promise

The Family Promise organization logo.

The Family Promise organization logo.

Volunteering with Family Promise in Rochester was an experience I was quite anxious and excited to take part in. I love having the opportunity to try new things and learn about the world around me. What had me most excited was the opportunity to get to know about some of the issues that the Rochester community is facing on a daily basis, such as homelessness.

What made this experience so enjoyable and less nerve racking was doing this with my classmate. In any new situation it can be slightly intimidating, but having someone there with me who also hasn’t done anything like this really helped put me at ease since neither one of us knew where to go or what we were doing.

Our challenge began when we arrived to the church, Christ United Methodist in Rochester. From the outside, the church looked fairly small and is an area that I had not spent any time in. Once we walked across the street (carrying our blankets, pillows and overnight bag), we walked in to what turned out to be a very large and beautiful church. The choir was upstairs practicing so we tried to quietly navigate our way around the church to find out where we needed to be. Once we got to the opposite end of the church, we found the stairs, made our way down, and navigated the many halls of the basement to find the coordinator in the kitchen. We were warmly greeted and were given our instructions for the evening.

It was in the midst of our conversations that we were able to have our first interactions with those who were staying at the church. Two brothers came out together to return a game they were playing because it was missing some pieces. Because it had been fairly quiet in the church halls, we took that opportunity to introduce ourselves to them and open ourselves to the experience that we were about to embark on for the next 10 hours or so. We engaged in some small talk and they were telling us how they speak Spanish, but were working really hard on learning English – which they did a phenomenal job. We reassured them that they were doing great and they excused themselves to head back to their room.

Another interaction that we had was with one of the fathers. He came out for a snack and after greeting him, he started to talk about his family and some of the issues he faces on a daily basis. He works full-time, his children are in school but at separate schools, which start times begin a little over an hour apart, and it is a one-car family. He really opened up about the struggles that he faces and how he wants to care for his family but when work and family conflict, it is very challenging to pick your battles. For a family that works so hard and encourages their children to try new things and get them involved (his son was in football), it may seem as if the world is against him and his family.

When you think of homelessness, you don’t think of a family who has working parents, a vehicle and children who are active in school and extra-curricular activities. I felt as if that night was a night of breaking stereotypes. Out of the four families there that night, two had vehicles, three of the four had at least one employed parent, and the profession of one couple was a nurse and doctor. What an enlightening time to reflect and see that anything can happen to anyone. It really opened my eyes even further to understanding how quickly life can change and those who are homeless did not choose to be.

The bit that I want to touch on is the living arrangements that each family and volunteer had. Each family had their own private room to share. For the volunteers, all three of us slept on a stage in the downstairs dining hall on twin sized air mattresses. Each family member and volunteer are offered the same items including a twin sized air mattress for the kids and volunteers, and a full sized air mattress for the parents. We had one sheet, blanket, pillow, towel, and washcloth. Although it was not much, it was exactly what we needed to get through the night. It is because of such dedicated and selfless community members that such a program exists and can help families move from such a dark time in their life to a time full of light and hope.

-Elizabeth Stiernagle