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Padraig Gallagher: Seeing ourselves in those in need

Padraig Gallagher: Seeing ourselves in those in need

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Padraig Gallagher

Padraig Gallagher

There is a lot of change in the world. It is on the news, on our streets, in our homes and in our days.

Many changes are things we look forward to. Some are the result of hard work, and some make us feel fortunate.

I have been enjoying some change, recently. As I start my new position as executive director of Stepping Stones, I am excited — if temporarily a bit overwhelmed — to spend years in service to the people of Dunn County.

I have watched my predecessor, whose professional and personal example has been humbling to me, enjoy a well-deserved change in her life, as well.

New jobs, retirements, weddings, births, going off to school — these are landmarks in life. Things change, our courses are altered, we adapt and time rolls on.

Not all change is something that we want, though.

On my second day with Stepping Stones, I spent time with our excellent volunteers and staff getting familiar with our food pantry.

We filled carts with groceries. We greeted our clients, loaded their trunks and wished them good days. More than once, I heard the people receiving food put words to the unwanted turns that their lives had taken.

When asked if she had been to the pantry before, one woman began over the din of children in her car, “No, I was trying to avoid this.” Later, I heard a woman quietly tell her steering wheel, “I didn’t think that I would ever do this again.”

Change can feel devastating, and it is this difficult change that is forced upon more and more of us in this turbulent year. A pandemic and our efforts to fight it have not only challenged our abilities to flourish, but also the basic security we work to give to our families. None of us needs to look far to see someone whose business, income, education or mental health have been substantially and detrimentally impacted in the past six months.

I have already come to realize that Stepping Stones is, at its core, a community caring for its own.

Now, more than ever, we look into the lives of those who need help and see ourselves. We understand that asking for this help is not something to be ashamed of, but something that should be encouraged.

To those of us needing assistance, we want to be able to say, “We have you covered.” To those of us able to give this assistance, we say, “We have them covered … right?”

To help — with your hands or your donations — please write to us at Stepping Stones of Dunn County, 1602 Stout Road, Menomonie, WI 54751, call us at 715-235-2920, or visit our website at These same points of contact can be used to get assistance with food, shelter or community support.

I look forward to working with you to keep this important service available to the people of Dunn County for years to come, regardless of the changes that occur.

Padraig Gallagher is executive director of Stepping Stones of Dunn County. He can be reached at 715-235-2920, ext. 2 or


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