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VARC Quarterly | Vol. 1 — July 2021

By September 29, 2021October 15th, 2021No Comments

Your Portal to Our Quarterly Updates

A Word from our President & CEO

Welcome to our first edition of VARC Quarterly! We hope you find the information within this publication valuable. Our intent is to keep you informed and engaged with the happenings of VARC.

Like many of you, we’re busy on the heels of what we hope is the sunset of an unprecedented eighteen months. Our relentless desire to ensure our clients, customers, and communities remained intact was our primary driving force. Through it all, I have seen our organization rise to the occasion on many levels, and am proud to see VARC thriving.

We couldn’t have been quite so successful through one of the most difficult times without the incredible partnerships we have built over the last 46 years. For that, we are so grateful.

As a community of businesses, there is still much work to be done. We’ll be here through it all—creating, adapting, and evolving better to serve our mission. We look forward to unveiling our latest innovations and hope to keep you updated on how VARC progresses over the coming years.

Very Best Regards,

Elizabeth Filter

President | CEO of VARC, Inc.

Liz Filter, President | CEO of VARC, Inc.

The Good Bean Goes Portable

This spring The Good Bean has evolved from its landlocked storefront location on 933 Ferry Street, introducing a new pop-up coffee service station that can take on indoor and outdoor events in the greater community. This newest innovation has already allowed our baristas to take part in a couple of local fairs and expos in La Crosse and Monroe counties, serving an amended menu to customers and exposing our recovery-informed training mission to new areas.

In March, our portable coffee booth made an appearance at the Spring Pop-Up Shop in Sparta, serving drip coffee, hot teas, and refreshers to customers, introducing our brand and mission to an attending population of around 600 people.

In April-May, cafe manager Michelle Mckinley took our client Onyx to the Spring Market On the Mississippi event in West Salem, sharing our products and our mission with around 700 participants from the surrounding towns. Onyx was able to get some hands-on community experience and challenge his coffeemaking skills in new environments that lack the full-service amenities of a brick and mortar coffee station.

Michelle Mckinley serving up coffee to the shoppers at the Spring Pop-Up Shop in Sparta
Onyx and Michelle representing The Good Bean in West Salem

“Here at The Good Bean we strive to create connections and deepen our community roots every day. Having pop-up shops is a deep dive into making more of those experiences.”

Michelle Mckinley, Cafe Manager

Secretary Timberlake from the WDHS Visits The Good Bean

In April The Good Bean was honored to have the opportunity to host Secretary Karen Timberlake and her staff from the Department of Health Services.

With our partners at the Coulee Recovery Center (CRC), Ms. Timberlake had the opportunity to tour, learn about the collaborative vision of The Good Bean and CRC, and meet some of the clients we’re supporting through our recovery-informed employment service.

Onyx’s Recovery Journey Leads to Successful Employment

Customers of The Good Bean cafe know Onyx as the barista who makes the best Caramel Frappuccinos in the house. We at VARC know him as a hardworking, conscientious client who came to us in January and absolutely blossomed during his time with us in our Recovery Informed Employment Program.

Last month was cause for celebration, as Onyx started a new position at Woodman’s, tasked with stocking, bagging, and warehouse work. After six months with The Good Bean, working through his recovery and developing the skills needed to gain employment, Onyx is one step closer to independence and self-sufficiency.

Initially quiet and withdrawn, Onyx now steps out of his comfort zone when interacting with customers. He can better anticipate the flow of conversations he will need to have during an average work day, building that internal sense of how to appropriately talk to a supervisor versus engaging with a customer. Communication went from not being his strength to something he now eagerly enjoys, as his new adeptness allows him to build connections with those around him.

“He’s gained confidence in himself, realizing that he can succeed, he can have a job, and that he has the skills to go out and make the wages he needs to support himself,” says Michelle Mckinley, Cafe Manager at The Good Bean.

“The Good Bean has made my life more meaningful,“ says Onyx. “It gives me purpose and it helps me with my mental health and recovery. It makes me feel important.” This newfound sense of personal value is what made him feel self-assured enough to apply for the job at Woodman’s, where he now works 4-5 days a week.

Onyx still works a few shifts at The Good Bean yet—rest assured that your access to the best Caramel Frappuccinos in La Crosse remains intact.

Onyx modeling our Good Bean T-shirts while passing out coupons

“When I started this job I didn’t realize it would give me purpose. [My] professional success has been the confidence I needed to engage in customer service, responsibility, and new skills.”

Onyx, Recovery Client at The Good Bean

The Moonlight Cinema Expands its Film Screening Locations to Include La Crosse’s Riverside Park

The Moonlight Cinema kicked off its 2021 movie screening schedule in Riverside Park this past June, extending its normal service range from Viroqua to include La Crosse. This year there will be a once-monthly film showing in both respective locations beginning in June and running through September. Admission is free to all attendees, thanks in part to VARC’s partnership with local Parks and Recreation departments, as well as robust community sponsorships from organizations in both La Crosse and Vernon counties. Vendors selling food and adult beverages will be on site for all scheduled events.

The Moonlight Cinema is a VARC innovation that came into existence during the summer of 2020 in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Each event was designed as a fun, safe outlet for the community amid COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, as well as an employment opportunity for those with disabilities.

For more information on the Moonlight Cinema, our sponsors, and inclement weather cancellations can be found at and on Facebook @varcinc.

“We are very pleased to continue offering a safe family and community activity this summer, and wanted to expand our reach to the La Crosse community. These events offer creative employment opportunites for folks that we serve.”

Liz Filter, President | CEO

VARC Announces its Newest Child & Youth Location Opening in Vernon County

Bright and colorful—our mailbox at 543 W. Maple Street is an external teaser to what kids can expect inside our latest facility.

“I am so excited to share VARC’s Child & Youth Services with the children and families of Vernon County.”

Jenny Getter, Program Manager

The facility is the fourth Child & Youth Services location that VARC has to offer children with disabilities in southwest Wisonsin, including La Crosse, Sauk, and Richland counties.

VARC Child & Youth Services has opened a new branch in Viroqua! The newest addition brings this high quality service to the families and children of Vernon County.

VARC Child & Youth Services provide children and teens of varying abilities (ages 3-18) with customized services to achieve personal goals. We support each child as they develop valuable life skills, become exposed to new learning opportunities, and utilize resources in the community where they live. We provide opportunities for growth and meeting individual goals through activities and community integration. Helping children with social and communication skills, conflict resolution, personal hygiene, time management and food preparation are just a few of the common skills we assist many children navigate. All Child & Youth Services can be provided in a group setting or on a one-to-one basis as directed by the child’s parent/guardian. Services can take place throughout the year with the time and day of the 5-day workweek that works best for the child. Transportation services are also available.

As a child is ready to move into adulthood, VARC Child & Youth Services can assist children and families transition by providing opportunities for work experience and connecting with agencies who offer adult programs.

The VARC Child & Youth Services staff at our new location, as well as all locations, are trained in evidence-based practices promoting social emotional learning, cognitive-behavioral interventions, and trauma-sensitive practices.

Insite Specialists Report an Uptick in Client Employment

As Insite creates more bridges with employers within our communities, confidence is rising as adults with disabilities gain more access to local job shadowing opportunities that may lead to employment.

Insite client Travis at Kwik Trip – Baraboo in April, with his employment coach Ellen, going over the brand new task of bagging the fruit that goes on sale. Travis is marvelous of keep count of the fruit he handles.

“We are halfway through 2021 and exceeding our many goals already,” says Tasha Dersham, Program Manager overseeing Insite, VARC’s portal connecting clients to local employment. Throughout all locations, Insite has a total of 205 DVR clients, with 73 of those being brand new as of this year.

Since the start of 2021 there have been 42 clients of ours who have obtained community employment. Eight of those clients were hired within 90 days of receiving their referral from DVR—this is considered a rapid hiring rate according to the service provider.

Our employment specialists strive for successful placements and take pride in their work. Despite multiple challenges that the Insite team faces, they have shown great perserverance, collaboration, and teamwork to make success happen in the lives of our clients.

A New Day for Finn!

Skills Enrichment services are offered to assist our clients in developing their skills in areas of daily living, socialization and recreation, basic general education, and community independence. When our clients achieve their goals, it is meaningful to us as well as them. Share in the success of one of our more recent clients, Finn.

We first met Finn when he was introduced to us by the School District he attended. VARC was approached by the school to see if we could meet his needs, as they felt that they could no longer assist him in a way that would allow him to learn, grow and develop into the person they knew he could be.

Finn started services with VARC and never looked back. Not only has his personality blossomed, but so has his desire to help others. Finn quickly became a mentor to other clients around him. His personality was infectious and he is now well known wherever he goes in the building or throughout the community. Finn was given a new opportunity to build his confidence and find new interests he didn’t know he had. Finn’s growth has amazed his previous teachers and others who knew him. His family is thrilled to see how far he has come.

What’s next for Finn? He is now stepping into the world of employment with Insite. Another VARC service that assists individuals in the field of employment; job shadows, internships, and eventually job placement. Finn continues to show the world that he is ready for more and we will be by his side every step of the way. We’re all so proud of you Finn!