The Mississippi River is Madeline Hoesley’s home. She commutes each day from her boathouse on Latsch Island to HCO, where she is the Human Resource Coordinator.

Madeline is originally from Fountain City, and attended C-FC Schools, where she was involved in Forensics, Student Council, FBLA, and National Honor Society. But in the summers, she and her family lived a Mark Twain life at Prairie Island Campground in Winona, which her parents, Russ and Terri, managed. When Madeline and her sister, Anna, turned 14 years old, they could work delivering firewood to the campers, helping clean, shoveling out fire pits, wrestling docks around, all the while getting a good grounding in how to run a business.

Her mother, Terri, works as a vocational rehab counselor, working with high school age kids with disabilities who will be transitioning to a new phase of life. Russ, her dad, is retired and working part-time as a driver for O’Reilly Auto Parts. Anna is in graduate school in Michigan.

HCO is Madeline’s first job out of college. She went to UW-Eau Claire, where she majored in Human Resources Management. She interned at Fastenal where she did phone interviews and worked with hiring managers. HCO, however, is much different.

Madeline is a one-woman department, responsible for all areas of human resources, although she has help from many people. She says that Suzie Horstman, the Executive Director, and Keri Cada, the Director of Licensing and Policy, have been great resources, and she currently works closely with the Recruitment and Retention Coordinator, Rhiannon Dungy, participating in recruitment efforts.

Madeline finds that meeting with the individuals who are served by HCO is very rewarding. They work together on recruiting events, like handing out candy at Halloween, and talking to prospective staff.

Most challenging at HCO now is hiring enough good staff. When the pandemic hit, and schools went to online learning and a huge number of HCO staff resigned and moved back home. Retirees, who are another good source of staffing, weren’t comfortable working during COVID, and opted to stay home.

Madeline works to find new recruiting avenues, even though COVID has let up, it is hard to find people. HCO not only competes with other health care facilities, but with the big box stores who are able to pay much more than non-profits.

She finds the most success working with students, helping them to learn more about HCO and the people we serve. That often leads to applications. Also, professors at Winona State University and St. Mary’s University often send interns to HCO, another good place to find permanent staff.

Madeline prefers to hire students who are at least 18 years old, because then they can pass out medications and drive individuals places they need to go.

What does she look for in new staff? Reliability is a huge factor. Because the job entails dealing with vulnerable people, staff must take it seriously. A job with HCO is a vital one, where a person’s life, not just inconvenience, is on the line. She looks for a friendly face, a person who is outgoing, willing to work with the individuals and learn their way of life. People who are good at community building, at getting the people around them involved, are always sought-after.

How does she sell the job to prospective staff? In addition to the fact that HCO trains on the job and that a job with HCO is a great resume-builder, she tells them it’s a great way to learn life skills and make a difference in someone’s life.

Why did a graduate with a degree in Human Resources choose to stay around Winona?

Madeline says she feels a sense of community here. It’s a small town, but with plenty of activities on weekends. She loves the outdoors, and does a lot of hiking, spending time on the river in the backwaters, kayaking, and enjoying the peace and chance to experience all of the natural wonders of the area we live in. Sometimes she likes to simply sit on the dock and read. This summer, she is planning a vegetable garden, and she has started an herb garden.

In the winter, Madeline says that some years, they’ve been able to ice skate right off the dock of her boathouse. She enjoys live music and finds it at various breweries and other venues. She is a fan of bluegrass music and enjoys Winona’s Boats and Bluegrass and the Blue Ox Festival in Eau Claire.

Boathouse living can be a challenge. Madeline is one of only a handful of people who live there year-round.  Apparently, Madeline doesn’t shirk from boathouse challenges, but she does say that, “Living in a boathouse, you have to get used to spiders.”