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Gundersen Partners

Established in 1950, Gundersen Partners, the Health System Auxiliary, aims to build relationships with patients and community members through active engagement and response to community needs of enhanced healthcare. The Health System Auxiliary differs from Volunteer Services through required membership, service and scholarship.

Vision Statement

Gundersen Partners, the Health System Auxiliary, will build an organization that draws upon the talents of its membership to support Gundersen Health System patients, families and staff. We will be ambassadors to the community by discovering and building relationships to connect community needs to Gundersen Partners service and fundraising.

Mission Statement

Gundersen Partners seeks to make a difference in the lives of patients, families and our community by serving as a group of caring, committed individuals dedicated to exploring ways to support healthcare education and to enhance patient care through service and fundraising.

Gundersen Partners Sponsored Areas of Service and Fundraising


Gundersen Partners is affiliated with:

  • Partners of Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA)
  • Partners of WHA Western District
  • Healthy Families Collaborative
  • Partners for Reading

Volunteer Service

Gundersen Partners members who wish to volunteer in service programs need to schedule a pre-interview and participate in the orientation process with Volunteer Services.


Gundersen Partners the Health System Auxiliary is proud to sponsor several important events such as:

  • Organ/Tissue Donation Education Fair
  • Gundersen Blood Drives
  • Celebrate Life Cancer Survivor Event
  • Reach Out and Read
  • Organ Donor Quilt Project
  • Hamilton Elementary School Giving Tree
  • Steppin' Out In Pink


Board meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month. If the meeting day falls on the date of the WHA Annual Convention or District meeting, the Board meeting will be scheduled for another day.

Gundersen Partners Board Members

Members shown left to right: Bonnie Hicks (Director), Linda Gillette (Director), Linda Arentz (Co-Treasurer), Vicky Jessen (Partners Office Assistant), Maria Runde (President), Martha Balfany (Director), Eileen Wiltinger (Gift Shop Coordinator), Lori Van Lin (Volunteer Services Director) Back row: Sandy Drexler (Director), Deborah Veglahn (Co-Treasurer), Kathy Lucey (Past President). Absent are: John Hendricks (Director), Sally Miner (Director), Joan Brueggeman (Director), Marilyn McElligott (Historian, Parliamentarian), Beth Smith-Houskamp (VP, CNO and Hospital Administrator), Brian Vamstad (Public Policy Chair), and Kathy Koehne (Community Health Education Chair).

Gundersen Partners 2016 Board members include:

  • President – Maria Runde
  • Co-Treasurer – Linda Arentz
  • Co- Treasurer – Deborah Veglahn
  • Secretary – Sally Miner
  • Past President – Kathy Lucey
  • Directors – Martha Balfany, Joan Brueggeman, Sandy Drexler, Linda Gillette, John Hendricks, and Bonnie Hicks
  • Community Health Education Chair – Kathy Koehne
  • Public Policy Education Chair – Brian Vamstad
  • Historian/Parliamentarian – Marilyn McElligott
  • Ex-Officio/Administrative Liaisons – Beth Smith-Houskamp, Admin., Vice President and Hospital Administrator; Lori Van Lin, Director of Volunteer Services; Eileen Wiltinger, Gift Shop Supervisor; Vicky Jessen, Office Assistant


Membership is open to adults who support the purpose of Gundersen Partners, the Health System Auxiliary, and pay annual dues. Annual dues are $10. Calendar year is Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

Honorary members are recognized for outstanding service. They receive all benefits of membership but pay no dues. This honor is extended to ten living members. Names are submitted to the membership by a nominating committee.

Meetings are scheduled by the Board. A joint luncheon is held in spring with Franciscan Skemp Auxiliary.

Get a membership application

If you have questions about becoming a member, contact the Gundersen Partners.


Gundersen Partners is accepting applications for the 2016 (annual program/up to $10,000 total) scholarship program. The scholarship committee, based on applicant quantity and qualifications, will determine number of scholarships and award amount. The schooling must be part of a recognized program, which is not a for-profit college, providing a degree or credential in a healthcare occupation. Previous recipients of this scholarship may apply, but are only eligible to receive a total of two Gundersen Employee Children Scholarships during their health career pursuits from Gundersen Partners. Scholarships may be offered for:

  • Endowed scholarships in health-related careers at University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, Viterbo University or Western Technical College
  • Scholarship program for employees' children
  • Junior Auxiliary Memorial Endowment Scholarship for employee tuition assistance
  • Endowed scholarships for Clinical Pastoral Education
  • Gundersen Teen Volunteer Scholarships


  1. All requirements must be met before the committee will consider the application. The following statements must be true:
    • Applicant is an unmarried, dependent child of a current employee (or their spouse/partner) of the Gundersen Health System.
    • Applicant is enrolled/enrolling in a college as an undergraduate or advanced degree student pursuing a career or furthering their education in a healthcare field.
    • Applicant is in good academic standing with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Applicant is responsible for seeing that all of the following materials are received in one envelope at the Gundersen Partners Office by Thursday, June 16 for review. Following is the order of the application materials:
    • Completed and signed checklist.
    • Completed application form.
    • A typed one page letter expressing his/her reasons for desiring to pursue a career or further his/her education in a health-related field.
    • Applicant’s most recent school transcript showing grade point average and if incoming college freshman, also include applicant’s class ranking.
    • A list of extracurricular activities and work experiences (should not exceed two pages).
    • References:
      • Three written references who know the applicant well and are not relatives, with one of the three references being from an individual in a health related field.
      • References need to be current and dated within the years 2015-2016.
      • The application needs to be COMPLETE and in one sealed envelope at time of submission. No additional materials will be accepted after submission.
      • Any application received after Thursday, June 16, 2016 will be disqualified—no exceptions.

Applicants will be notified of the selection in August 2016. The scholarship check is written directly to the college; therefore the recipient must be enrolled in college at the time of acceptance. All applicants will be notified in writing of acceptance or non-acceptance. Please send applications to:

Gundersen Partners
Scholarship Chair
1900 South Ave., H03-004
La Crosse, WI 54601

If you have any questions about scholarships or the application process, contact Gundersen Partners.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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