2023 LIFE Report

2023 LIFE Report


Executive Summary

The LIFE – Local Indicators for Excellence – Executive Committee is excited to share the 2023 LIFE Report with the Portage County community. The report is a compilation of community input, objective data, and stakeholder prioritization. We hope you will take the time to learn about the process, review the findings, and advocate in support of the calls-to-action. The path to this report began in April of 2021 with a meeting of representatives from Ascension (which transitioned to Aspirus Health in August 2021), Aspirus Health, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, Portage County Health and Human Services, and United Way of Portage County (LIFE Report Hosting Agent). The LIFE Report process has traditionally been conducted in Portage County every five years, with reports issued in 2017, 2012, and 2007. In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic was still impacting community members and services. The Executive Committee knew the importance of launching the process to better understand the impact of the pandemic and the current challenges facing the Portage County community.


1. To identify community calls-to-action through a needs assessment process that involves community stakeholders and to document the results in the Local Indicators for Excellence (LIFE) Report.

2. To identify community strengths, challenges, and priorities that help guide and mobilize action to improve life in Portage County for all.



Behavioral Health

Key Action Areas:

  • Reducing alcohol and other drug use
  • Improving youth mental health
  • Increasing access and affordability of services
  • Implementing prevention initiatives and addressing basic needs as a prevention avenue

Early Childhood Care & Education

Key Action Areas:

  • Increasing high-quality childcare
  • Ensuring a skilled childcare workforce
  • Increasing accessibility and affordability
  • Changing policies to improve identified childcare issues

Housing & Shelter

Key Action Areas:

  • Increasing affordability, availability, and accessibility
  • Ensuring high-quality housing
  • Increasing temporary and transitional housing
  • Improving government regulations and policies to address issues
  • Increasing resident knowledge about housing topics

Next Steps

Portage County has strengths it can look to. Post-secondary education, the use and care of land, water, and air, as well as improvements that have occurred in hunger, were viewed more positively. One approach might be to examine why progress has been made in these areas and seek to apply similar strategies to the current calls-to-action. Another approach to capitalizing on these strengths might be to find their intersections with the calls-to-action and use the overlapping issues as a springboard to make improvements in the calls-to-action. Whichever approach is selected, community stakeholders are encouraged to use this report for decision-making, economic development, priority setting, program development, monetary allocations, and grant writing. There are many avenues that one can take after reading this report, but one thing we hope you will do is take action. This report is just a stepping-stone on a journey to improve the well-being of the Portage County community and everyone who calls it home.

More information that is kept current can be found on the newly released Portage County Conduit site (PCConduit.org), which is a free and easy-to-use publicly available website that serves as a warehouse for current data on local, state, and national indicators. Links to standalone reports are also housed there and include the 2023 LIFE Report, the ALICE Report, CAP Services Community Needs Assessment, and other local community-centered documents.

The LIFE Report is an excellent tool to empower local leaders and other citizens to collaborate to improve the quality of life for all in Portage County.

Grab a Print Version of the Report

You can pick up a printed version of the report at our office located at 2801 Hoover Road Unit 2, Stevens Point, WI.


Contact our office at 715-341-6740.


  • Becky Turpin, Marshfield Clinic Health System
  • Beth Smith, United Way of Portage County
  • Fred Hebblewhite, United Way of Portage County
  • Gary Garske, Portage County Health and Human Services
  • Jenny Riggenbach, Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin
  • Mae Nachman, United Way of Portage County
  • Sarah Beversdorf, Aspirus, Inc.
  • Andrea Starr - Justice Works
  • Angela Roltgen - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Ben Nusz - Mid-State Technical College
  • Beth Smith - United Way of Portage County
  • Bob Smith - Aspirus healthcare
  • Brian Sloss - UW-Stevens Point
  • Bryar Drexler - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Cass Cousins - Portage County District Attorney
  • Chris Klesmith - City of Stevens Point
  • Cindy Piotrowski - Aging & Disability Resource Center
  • Cindy Weber - UW-Stevens Point
  • Colin Mitchell - Family Health La Clinica
  • Cory Hirsbrunner - Stevens Point School District
  • Dana Williams - Stevens Point Police Department
  • Dawn Cherek - Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Dennis Kaczor - Rosholt School District
  • Diane Shaver - CAP Services
  • Helen Luce - UW-Stevens Point
  • Eric Yonke - Ethiopian Community Development Council
  • Gigi Stahl - Stevens Point School District
  • Heather Landon - Emergency Services of ESI, WI.
  • Idowu Odedosu - Stevens Point Housing Authority
  • Jane Spencer - North Central Workforce Development Board
  • Jen McNelly - Portage County Water Resources
  • Jenny Resch - UW-Stevens Point
  • Jessica Hake - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Jodi Becker - Almond School District
  • Joel Lemke - City of Stevens Point Public Utilities
  • Julia McKnight - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Kate Mueller - Family Crisis Center Kelly Borchardt - Childcaring, Inc.
  • Kelly Hammond - UW-Extension Kevin Quevillon - Boys & Girls Club
  • Kristy Seblonka - CAP Services
  • Leigh Ann Trzinski - Salvation Army
  • Lindsay Benaszeski - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Lisa Grashoff - CAP Services
  • Lyndsay Barker - Pacelli Catholic Schools
  • Lynn Frost - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Maddie Kinscher - Central Rivers Farmshed
  • Maggie Marquardt - CREATE Portage County
  • Mai Kou Yang - CAP Services
  • Mallory McGivern - UW-Extension
  • Mark Kordus - City of Stevens Point
  • Marlee Samuels - Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin
  • Maureen Miller - Aging & Disability Resource Center
  • Michael Witte - Portage County Business Council
  • Michael Zell - Portage County Circuit Courts
  • Micki Krueger - Childcaring, Inc.
  • Mike Wiza - City of Stevens Point
  • Nathan Sandwick - UW-Extension
  • Nicole Harrison - CAP Services
  • Rob Manske - UW-Stevens Point
  • Ryan Fox - Plover Police Department
  • Ryan Kernofsky - City of Stevens Point
  • Ryan Zietlow - Stevens Point Area YMCA
  • Sam Dinga - Stevens Point School District
  • Sam Klebe - Marshfield Clinic Health Systems
  • Shari Russell - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Suzanne Rathe - Mid-State Technical College
  • Tara Draeger - Aspirus HealthCare
  • Teresa Kovach - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Tim Reed - Portage County Planning & Zoning
  • Trina Bierman - CAP Services
  • Vanessa Kowalski - Portage County Health & Human Services
  • Webster Francois - Marshfield Clinic Health System