Longtime community volunteers and supporters of higher education Annette Friedewald, Mary Ann Gschwind, FSPA, and Kent and Karen Handel are the recipients of the 2019 Viterbo University Saint John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service.
Annette Friedewald notices when there is a need in the community and does her best to meet it. Whether is it volunteering at the La Crosse Catholic Charities Warming Center, Franciscan Hospitality House, or as a driver with Mobile Meals, she demonstrates her immense compassion by listening and showing that she cares in an effort to help each individual feel better. She believes people who volunteer and serve the community receive more than they give. Annette also serves as a prayer partner with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Annette and her late husband Marv have also been generous supporters of Viterbo University students. Marv was a longtime faculty member who created the business program. Big fans of Viterbo athletics and understanding the demands faced by student-athletes, the Friedewalds created scholarships for men’s and women’s basketball. Upon Marv’s retirement from the university, a business scholarship was created in recognition of their support and service to Viterbo. A fourth scholarship was also created in Marv’s honor. The scholarships are a fitting tribute to Marv’s legacy as a Viterbo educator and community member. Annette currently serves on the Viterbo Alumni board.
Sr. Mary Ann Gschwind has always sought to put her gifts and talents to good use. During her distinguished career in education and through almost 40 years of community service, Sr. Mary Ann has made an impact in La Crosse. She is an alumna of Viterbo and served as chair of the education department in the 1970s. She currently serves on seven community boards and seven committees, including the City Vision Foundation board, the Community Theatre board, Chamber Chorale board, the Mayo Diabetes Advisory Committee and the Viterbo Ethics Advisory Committee. Her past service includes 18 years on the board of directors for Catholic Charities of the La Crosse Diocese, 20 years as a member and eight years as chair of the Viterbo University board of trustees and time with many other local organizations. Key projects completed during her service on the Viterbo board include the construction of the School of Nursing Building and collaboration with the La Crosse Community Theatre which resulted in the Weber Center for the Performing Arts. Sr. Mary Ann will celebrate her 60th jubilee as a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in 2020. She was the vice president of her religious order from 1990–98 and has been serving as its archivist for 16 years.
Kent and Karen Handel believe it is very important for everyone to use their time, talents, and financial resources to better their communities. They have lived this mantra through extensive volunteer service with numerous community organizations including Aptiv (formerly Riverfront), Riverland Girl Scouts, the La Crosse County Historical Society, the La Crosse Club, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, and Chileda. As President and CEO of Trust Point, Inc. Kent has implemented a culture of community service throughout the company. Trust Point employees have registered 4,000 volunteer hours with 90 organizations in La Crosse, Eau Claire, and the Twin Cities area. He believes this helps participants become better people and employees. The Handels are also supporters of higher education. Kent served as chair of the board of trustees at Viterbo University and Briar Cliff University. He remains an active member of the Viterbo board of trustees. He says higher education is about much more than academics. It is crucial to the development of the whole person.
The awards will be presented at a banquet and ceremony held on campus Wednesday, June 19.
The Saint John XXIII Award is the highest non-academic award bestowed by Viterbo University. Recipients are chosen on the basis of contributions in one or several of the following categories: education, business, philanthropy, peace and justice, and religious life.