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Blugolds doing their part to make kids’ lives better

Five Blugolds are among the community members being recognized this week by the Eau Claire Community Foundation for going above and beyond in their work to positively impact the lives of children in the greater Eau Claire area. 

The foundation's 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award recipients with ties to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are:

  • Dr. Donna Lehmkuhl, director of ECLIPSE (Early Childhood Literacy Intervention, Services, and Evaluation) at UW-Eau Claire. ECLIPSE is an AmeriCorps program that serves area low-income and at-risk preschool-age children, assisting them in increasing their language, literacy and social skills to prepare them for school and lifelong learning. The program gives college students with financial need an opportunity to give back to the Eau Claire community while developing lifelong skills and experience needed in the professional world. Lehmkuhl recruits volunteers from her ECLIPSE program to assist in various community activities.

  • Pete Riley, a 1995 UW-Eau Claire education graduate who is principal of McKinley Charter School in Eau Claire. He also serves as a supervisor of North West Regional Detention Center and the Eau Claire County Jail educational programs, is co-chair of the Community Table and mentors at-risk youth.

  • Kathy Rulien-Bareis, a 1982 UW-Eau Claire art graduate has been an art teacher in the Eau Claire Area School District since 1990. She's a volunteer and adviser for Prime Products, a middle school student-run business. As an adaptive art teacher, Rulien-Bareis also works with students who have significant cognitive and physical disabilities.

  • Dr. Katherine Schneider, a psychologist emerita at UW-Eau Claire also is a speaker, educator, mentor and author. She is a founder of the Schneider Family Book Awards, the first awards for children's literature with disability contents. She has mentored blind children in the area. She established the Schneider Disability Issues Forum at UW-Eau Claire and the Access Eau Claire Fund, which supports nonprofits that serve people with disabilities.

  • Jodi Thesing-Ritter, is an associate dean of students at UW-Eau Claire, and is the founder and director of Blugold Beginnings, which educates and inspires students to believe that a post-secondary education is important and attainable. She helps university students organize the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, a trip to historical places in the civil rights movement. 

The awards and grants will be presented at the 14th Annual Children's Legacy Luncheon on Thursday, April 23, in Eau Claire.