March is Women’s History Month.  To celebrate, First News at Nine is proud to present Remarkable Women.  Each week in March, we’ll be recognizing local women who have made remarkable contributions to their communities. Every Tuesday, we’ll share a story highlighting one of four women who inspire, lead, and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Tonight, our story is about Crystal Louden, a volunteer with the Eau Claire Human Association who also has a strong passion for Veteran mental health.

DAVID LOUDEN: Well. I’m David Louden. I’m Crystal’s husband. We’ve been together for about ten years, married for five. The way she puts her heart into something, you know, truly is amazing. The time that she puts in, the hours she spends on it. I mean, I’ve seen his lady spend two days just working on stuff for a donation basket.

CRYSTAL LOUDEN: I’m Crystal Louden. I am from the Eau Claire Area, born and raised. We’re at the Eau Claire County Humane Association. I used to work here for several years, and now everything that I do is just volunteer. I try to help out at events, donate our time if we can, come to visit with the kitties every year, especially on Black Friday. We go Black Friday shopping and we load up all different things just for the Humane Society.

This year, we raised almost $400 worth of items that we were able to collect to help with care of the animals. We also do like joy rides for the dogs. So, if I’ve got a slow day, I’ll come to pick one up and we’ll take them for a hike at the park and get a pup cup and a puppy-chino and just get out of the shelter for a bit.

One thing I’m really passionate about too is veterans. My husband is a veteran. He’s a combat veteran, and I see firsthand how important it is to be an advocate. I advocate for animals day in and day out, but also advocate for people. Our veteran community sometimes gets overlooked. It’s easy to just thank them for what they do but forget that there’s a lot of sacrifice behind the scenes, especially when they come home.

So if you know somebody just reaches out and, you know, help them. Help them connect with a friend, be their friend. Maybe they need a dog to walk and that’ll get them up and going or a kitty to cuddle, you know, things like that. We can work together to help everybody in our community and we just don’t want any demographic to get overlooked.

DAVID LOUDEN: And it’s just recognizing that.. hey, you served and we’re here to serve you now. You know, you have animals you love. We’re going to take care of your pets like they’re ours. These are your best friends. They help you through a lot, and knowing someone like Crystal comes in and just cares for them while I’m gone, Crystal helps alleviate that. And I think with some veterans and our animals’, we really they really help.

CRYSTAL LOUDEN: I just want everybody to know that you can make a difference and that just being you and just being where you are in this moment makes a difference. And even if you don’t feel like you are, you don’t feel like you’re doing enough. Don’t feel afraid to just jump in here, go for it!