A Hobby That Makes a Difference

“ Success breeds success, so when we see an organization that is making a difference, we want to drive it to be even more successful through our support.” ~ Dan Schraith

Dan Schraith and Trista Treglowne had only lived in La Crosse for a couple years before they were first introduced to Family & Children’s Center. A pathologist at Gundersen Health System, Dr. Dan and wife Trista were invited to a Medical Alliance event benefitting Healthy Families, the center’s child abuse/neglect prevention program.

“That caught our attention,” says Dan. “One speaker talked about well-cited research illustrating quantitatively how money invested in the program — with that prevention emphasis — returned $2 or $3 for every $1 invested. It made sense. It had scientific merit.”Schraith5

Dan and Trista subsequently began supporting Family & Children’s Center through The Children’s Fund for donors who give successive gifts.

“Healthy families make a healthy community. Why not build healthier families to make the community better as a whole?” says Trista.

At the same time, coworkers increasingly were asking Dan, who had taken up photography as a way to relieve stress during residency, if they could purchase his prints. “At first I was reluctant,” admits Dan, “but then I recognized that if people find value in my artwork, perhaps I could translate that value into tangible benefit for the greater good.”

That’s when Dan and Trista decided to donate all proceeds from photography sales to Family & Children’s Center. “It motivated me to take better photos and to put the time into it,” says Dan.

Today, a collection of his prints — mostly landscapes on printed aluminum called “metal prints” — are on display at JavaVino in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and online at sevenriversphoto.com. Dan and Trista say it’s been a decision with lasting rewards.

“Not every child has a stable home. Healthy Families is a way to address the core of the issue rather than putting a band-aid on it after the fact,” says Trista. A stay-athome mom and attorney who volunteers at her children’s schools, she adds, “You see these bright kids who are exceptionally smart and gifted and yet are in difficult situations. They won’t have access to things that other kids do.

“Without Family & Children’s Center, they’d be doomed to repeat the past of their parents, and it would be a continuing cycle of abuse. They’d be hopeless and struggling to survive instead of looking toward a bright future,” she says. “If a child gets a healthy start early, we devote fewer resources later on. We have lower crime rates. We avoid problems with abuse and unhealthy behaviors when children come from stable homes.”

“In some ways it seems hopeless,” adds Dan. “You look at poverty, drug abuse, domestic violence, addiction and ask if there’s anything we can do — are these problems insurmountable. Society has to choose to not give up. We have to choose to make a difference. When that decision is made collectively and we work toward it together, we really can change things for good.”