Posted by Bob Buck on Oct 26, 2020
A Paul Harris Fellow is a award through Rotary that goes to a Rotarian who has contributed at least $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation and it’s humanitarian projects.  The award can also be presented to a community member, Rotarian or non-Rotarian, who has helped to improve the community through their service and action. Three members of the Holmen Community were recognized with Paul Harris Fellow Awards this fall by Holmen Area Rotary Club members for their significant contributions in making our community better and brighter. These three individuals are Laurie Kessler, Sharon McHugh and Patty Barge. 
Click on 'Read More' to find out about these amazing recipients and how they have affected our community - 
  1. Laurie Kessler was recognized for her efforts in the Holmen community, particularly with youth.  Laurie was a long time teacher and then guidance counselor at Holmen High School.  She was one of the early proponents of a safe space for kids after school and initially helped create the Holmen Area Partnership for Youth.  The group eventually became the Holmen Community Center with it’s members working for a way to fundraise and find a facility for community members of all generations.  Eventually the old Festival Foods building was donated and renovated into the Holmen Boys and Girls Club/Holmen Community Center.  Laurie has been an untiring force behind this effort every step of the way and certainly it wouldn’t have happened without her dedication and efforts.
  2. Sharon McHugh was recognized for her efforts in making Holmen and the surrounding community a better place.  Sharon graduated from Holmen High School in 1964 where she met her husband Dan.  Their three children Dean, Vicki, and Terri all graduated from Holmen as well and remain active in the community.  Sharon and Dan, both personally and through their business, have been major donors to several Holmen projects over the years including the Holmen Boys and Girls Club/Community Center, Holmen Pit Project, and Camp Decorah Hagerman Dining Hall.  They also made significant contributions to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine and the Gundersen Health System new hospital building in La Crosse.  Sharon has always been a proponent for the family to find ways to give back to the community where they grew up.
  3. Patty Barge is recognized for her significant efforts to provide gently used clothing to those in need through her organization, Amy's Closet. Patty started the program after reading an article that described how children in the foster care program do not have a lot of their own. She quickly realized the scope of the problem was much greater and now supplies many others in need. Amy's Closet works out of the Barge Chiropractic Clinic in Holmen, utilizing dedicated volunteers to sift through the generous donations of clothing from the community and to match them to the recipient. Requests for clothing help and subsequent donations have been successfully coordinated via email and social media and Covid safe special events. Patty Barge through  her organization Amy's Closet has made a positive difference in the community and is a well deserved recipient of  the Paul Harris Award.