WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI – United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties’ Volunteer Center received 34 nominations for the 2019 Volunteer Recognition Breakfast, which will be held April 9, 2019 at Hotel Mead starting at 7:45am. Each volunteer – and volunteer group – that was nominated will receive a certificate and special recognition during the event.
Registration table opens at 7:45am; breakfast buffet upon arrival; and the program starts at 8:00am. Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink will give a proclamation for National Volunteer Week, which will be April 7 – 13, 2019.
The Volunteer Center is also proud to announce that the keynote speaker will be the 2018 Miss Wisconsin, Tianna Vanderhei. Tianna, a Wisconsin Rapids native, will be talking about her volunteer experience right here in our community. She will also be available for photos and autographs afterward.
To RSVP for the Volunteer Breakfast, visit www.uwswac.org and click on the Volunteer Breakfast banner. You can also visit the United Way office at 351 Oak Street, Wisconsin Rapids to purchase tickets. Cost is $10.00 per person. Deadline to RSVP is April 2, 2019. We thank Hotel Mead for hosting this year’s event; and an anonymous sponsor.
The 2019 Volunteer Breakfast Nominees:
Guadalupe Ancel - Guadalupe began serving on the Mead Elementary Charter School Governing Council in 2014 after three years of retirement from Mead School as an English as Second Language teacher. She will have served 2.5 terms or 5 years at the end of the current academic school year. Guadalupe is the current president of the Governing Council. In her years of service, she has enjoyed working alongside the other wonderful Governing Council members and two superb school principals, a retired principal, Margie Dorshort, and current principal, Penny Antell.
Zach Becker – Zach Becker is a Senior at Lincoln High School and has spent a lot of his free time volunteering at McMillan Library. On Tuesdays, during a program called Tech Tuesday, he assists library patrons with basic computer help. On Wednesdays, Zach helps watch kids that are using the Media Studio and its resources. He makes sure the space is safe and fun at all times. Zach has been volunteering at McMillan Library since 2016 with a total of 496 hours! Zach will be attending Mid-State Technical College in the fall where he’ll be pursuing a degree in Applied Science.
Don Berkholtz – Don is a HAM radio operator and a member of the Heart of Wisconsin Amateur Radio Group. This group helps the South Wood County Homelessness Coalition twice a year during the Homeless Point in Time Counts, where volunteers search for homeless individuals during the same time frame across the state (the fourth Wednesday of January and July from 11pm to 3am). HAM radio operators typically help out to improve communications between groups. Don took it a step further by purchasing hand-held radios and antennas for all volunteers to use with his own money! Don’s generosity helps keep this volunteer event organized and safe.
Patricia Bradbury – Pat was on the development team for Love INC of South Wood County, which started back in 2016. She helped guide the organization through the development process helping in many different ways as they sought to establish the organization. She now volunteers as an "intake specialist" taking calls from clients in need from the community and the 14 partner churches. She also helps quite a bit in the administration of the organization and is especially gifted and talented in the many thank you notes that she writes to donors, clients, and other volunteers. Love INC greatly appreciate her sharing her gifts and talents with the organization!
Donna Brandl – Donna Brandl has been a volunteer for the Senior Exercise Class at the Lowell Center since 2015. Her warm and caring personality makes exercise class fun and very beneficial. Under her guidance participants strengthen their muscles, improve coordination and balance and keep moving while enjoying each others company and making friends. Donna is a dedicated volunteer who comes from her home in Rudolph several times a week. She also works at the reception desk, helps with the Tax Aide Program, Bingo and Special Events. Donna truly deserves to be thanked and recognized!
Jennifer Creely – Jenny works hard to support students and families at Grove Elementary School. She has been an active part of the PTC for 4 years, most recently as president. She organizes fun events for students including the Halloween dance and popcorn Fridays. She also organizes fundraisers to help raise money for student field trips and events!
Current – Wisconsin Rapids – Current’s mission is to connect and engage young people in the Wisconsin Rapids area to contribute to a vibrant community. They strive to offer opportunities for young professionals to make connections and to learn more about the community. In 2018, events included learning about local businesses and agriculture, fundraising events, community leader panels, Lunch and Learns, entrepreneurial workshop and competition, volunteerism for local community garbage pick-up and community events. The leadership team put in an estimated 400+ hours between meetings, event planning and facilitation. This group fills a unique need in the community. Current rallies young professionals who are enthusiastic about the community and hope to attract new professionals!
Barb Enright & Brenda Swan – Barb Enright is the PTC president at Mead Elementary Charter School. She leads monthly meetings after preparing a thorough agenda each month. Besides the meetings, which are incredibly organized, she pops popcorn for the school every Wednesday. She puts in extra time wherever help is needed and is kind to everyone she meets. Brenda is the PTC treasurer. She manages the PTC finances, attends meetings regularly after preparing financial reports and has the best interest of the school at heart.
Hannah Felker – Hannah Felker is a Junior at Lincoln High School. She has been nominated for the Volunteer Breakfast for the variety of volunteering she has accomplished. Hannah has volunteered for over 32 different volunteer opportunities! She has volunteered her time at local elementary schools, churches, health care facility, community meal program, assisted living facility, neighbors, youth sports and high school sports teams, and non-profit organizations, just to name a few. Hannah has 251 hours logged for helping around the community.
Megan Gawlitta – Megan is a senior at Lincoln High School. To this point she has put in over 300 hours of volunteering since her freshman year. Among other activities, she has volunteered at the Elk's Club Fish Fries each year, helped at The Neighborhood Table, volunteered in elementary classrooms during the year and in summer school, and spends a considerable amount of time with the cognitively disabled students at Lincoln High School.
Paula Graves – Paula and her therapy dog, Scruffy, visit Heartland Hospice patients who love dogs. Paula and Scruffy are always brightening the lives of hospice patients by interacting and spending time with them. Paula is always patient with patients who sleep often and communicate very little. Thank you Paula for your patience and commitment to bringing joy to the patients. Paula and Scruffy are always making a difference no matter how short or long a visit is.
JoAnn Grode – With brutal winter weather, it’s important to remember the elderly and disabled individuals who have a difficult time with snow. United Way’s 2-1-1 gets calls from individuals who have nowhere to turn for snow removal. Some are referred to local businesses; but those who are on a fixed income get referred to the Volunteer Center. There’s one volunteer who frequently takes most assignments, quickly and eagerly: JoAnn Grode. Her willingness to help is heart-warming, since most of these people have mobility issues. These individuals eventually get referred to other programs for their on-going needs, but we are grateful to JoAnn for helping out in the interim. Her efforts are appreciated by everyone!
Lynette Hilgers – Lynette is just one of those beautiful people, inside and out. She volunteers her time at Nekoosa United Church of Christ for more than half the things the church is involved in. Lynette plays organ on Sundays, leads Vacation Bible School, directs the preschool, leads the mission and outreach program, leads the care ministry, organizes Christmas caroling to shut ins and retirement homes, organizes the quilt show, plays piano at retirement homes’ chapel services, leads the prayer shawl ministry, and is a great wife, mother, and grandmother. One of the many things she does is “Love Gifts.” Along with help from her sister, she gathers names and addresses of local people and families that are struggling to make ends meet. Just before Christmas she organizes a food drive to give a weeks’ worth of groceries for the holidays to over twenty families. Volunteers fill the boxes with food, and Lynette adds gifts for the children. The “Love Gifts” are then delivered to their doorsteps.
Clementine Hogan – Clementine has been volunteering with McMillan Memorial Library for about eight months, and is amazing. She is always upbeat, and willing to help library patrons. Clementine does shelving in the children's room, which is greatly appreciated by staff, since it can be a difficult room with all the various areas that items can go. McMillan staff appreciate Clementine's wonderful work ethic and organizational skills.
John Huilman Sr. – This year Historic Point Basse has nominated John Huilman Sr. At the site he is known as “Johan” - an early German American in the Wakely time period. Johan has been a volunteer for over 15 years and rarely is there a week that he isn’t doing something at the site. He chops the wood, stores it for aging, and stocks the wood boxes for the site. For the school group programs he teaches candle making and leads the students in making their own candles they can take home with them. He is also a regular member of the Monday morning work group that maintains the buildings and grounds, and he repairs any mechanical issues that arise. Johan is always a pleasure to be around, a great story teller, a history and geology buff, and a great person to discuss ideas with because of his many interests.
Louis Kadrlik – Louis is an amazing volunteer. He takes great pride in doing all he can to help prepare South Wood Emerging Pantry Shelf (SWEPS) for the day’s service to clients. Louis is energetic and hard working. No task is too small or takes too long when Louis is involved. He helps sort donations, stock shelves, helps organize work with other volunteers, moves inventory, rides along to help with food pickups, shovels, unloads trucks and takes in ALL recycling every single day. Louis not only sets a standard of work but also provides a great example of commitment.
Tana Kubis – Tana has been a valuable long term volunteer with South Wood Emerging Pantry Shelf (SWEPS). She works every day to help go through the produce they receive, making sure it is checked for goodness and packaged to look wonderful for the clients. Tana has a very special place at SWEPS. She always knows the volunteer birthdays and makes wonderful snack (of their particular liking) and brings it in, with a card for all to sign, to celebrate their day. Even when there are no birthdays or other celebrations, you can always count on Tana to bring some special homemade snack for the volunteers to enjoy.
Lincoln High School’s C2BK (Cool 2 Be Kind) – This group of high school students has three missions: 1.) To create a positive environment in the schools and community 2.) To educate students about the importance of being an UP-STANDER and support those who are being bullied, etc. 3.) To bring out the issue of mental health. They accomplish this by holding various Random Acts of Kindness events each month at LHS, recognizing staff and students; and holding special weeks throughout the year like Bully Prevention week, Mental Health Awareness Week, Consent is ... Week, Suicide Prevention Week, etc. They do presentations in every school in the district to educate students about the effects of bullying, what each person can do to create a bully-free environment and to show the connection between bullying and mental health concerns. They also put together Rise to Remember- an evening activity that encompasses remembering those who have completed suicide.
Lincoln High School’s Sportainment – The Sports and Entertainment Marketing class at Lincoln High School just completed the 17th Annual Sportainment Night. Students enrolled in the class develop a sponsorship contract in order to partner with local businesses to fund an evening full of fun, entertainment, and prizes in conjunction with the Lincoln High School's Basketball teams. This year, Sportainment Night consisted of a carnival, raffle baskets, musical entertainment by the LHS Fiddle Squad and Pep Band, pre-game and half-time shows, and much more! The money raised from the event is being donated locally to the Aspirus Riverview Cancer Center. This year's class raised the largest amount in the seventeen-year history of the event: $11,385!
Kathy and Pat McGrath – Kathy and Pat McGrath have raised thousands of monarchs over the years and were instrumental in getting Port Edwards designated as the first Monarch Village in the United States. Kathy taught kindergarten for the Port Edwards School District for 31 years. She did the monarch project with her kindergarten class while still teaching. When she retired she and her husband Pat continued this work on their own. In 2018 they raised and tagged a record 1,386 monarchs and tagged 300 for their migration to Mexico. Kathy has given over 100 presentations to various groups over the years educating people about the life cycle of the monarch and what can be done to help them. Kathy and Pat have given presentations to Grand Affair attendees at the Clean Green Action booth for many years and this has been a highlight of those stopping at the booth for both adults and children.
Mead Elementary Charter School’s Governing Council – The Governing Council members put the time in each month to help the school to continually improve upon their practices. The council raises funds to allow staff to attend professional development activities. They guide decision making throughout the school year to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the Charter School contract and that students are getting the best learning opportunities possible.
Mead Elementary Charter School’s Learning for Life Reading Mentors – These mentors spend a minimum of one hour each week in the school reading to or with the students. They connect with the children on a personal level developing a relationship and helping students know how special they truly are. Mead School staff greatly appreciate the commitment these mentors make for the students. Developing a sense of belonging and feeling loved by another helps children prepare for learning.
Mead Elementary Charter School’s PTC Popcorn Volunteers – Erica Haga and Rebecca Nelson have been steady volunteers for the Mead PTC Wednesday morning popcorn fundraiser. Without them and all of their hard work the PTC wouldn't have been able to continue its popcorn fundraiser this year.
Monarch Encouragement Project Volunteers – This project was adopted by Clean, Green Action, a local grassroots environmental organization, in 2018.
The members include: AJ Pearl, Penny Van Tassel, Carol Davis and Richard Breen. The mission of this project is to improve local habitat and educate residents about habitat preservation in our region in order to increase the number of pollinators including monarch butterflies. In the short space of one year, this group met with and gained approval from the Wisconsin Rapids Mayor and Parks and Recreation Department to plant a test “prairie on the hill” along the Riverview Express Way. In the spring of 2018, this committee and other volunteers rolled up sod, planted seed and cut back invasive plants to begin the prairie. The group has also started the process of developing an online map of city gardens, rain gardens and prairies, which will eventually become a walking tour of the Way Stations. The group was awarded a grant from Incourage Community Foundation in 2018 to accomplish part of their work.
Stacy Musch – Stacy Musch serves as a local Troop Leader and the Service Area Manager for Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. She always remains positive and outgoing when working with Girl Scouts and adult volunteers. She holds a deep sense of commitment to her troop and is selfless, generous, and leads both girls and adults. Her troop parents say she goes above and beyond 100% of the time, while constantly teaching and showing the girls ways to be successful and confident. Not only does she serve twenty girls in her troop, but she also coordinates large-scale events for all Girl Scouts in the area. She has stepped up into the role of Service Area Manager and taken on all the challenges that come with it. Her service is deeply appreciated.
Jerry Oertel – November 11, 2015 was a very lucky day for Aspirus Riverview Hospital as it is the day that Jerry Oertel applied to be a volunteer patient escort. Jerry has cheerfully greeted and assisted thousands of patients and visitors in his tenure with way-finding throughout the campus. On average Jerry has generously given 40-60 hours of his time every month in volunteer service. In addition to escorting patients and visitors, he delivers flowers, newspapers, registration packets, stuffs envelopes, hands out crayons and coloring pages to the kids and is first to volunteer his time to cover open shifts. Recently he retraced steps and locations to recover a missing hearing aide much to the delight of the patient's family who hugged Jerry in gratitude. Jerry beautifully exemplifies the Aspirus values of compassion, accountability, collaboration, foresight and joy. Aspirus staff are honored to recognize him as an outstanding volunteer and ambassador for the organization. Thank you Jerry!
Port Edwards Elementary School’s Reading Volunteers and Mentors– Port Edwards Elementary School is fortunate to have two groups of dedicated community volunteers – morning reading program volunteers and United Way reading mentors. Morning reading volunteers take part in a daily before-school program by reading stories to students, bringing in therapy dogs and assisting with craft projects. These dedicated volunteers are here very early in the morning to make sure kids get off to a great start by reading them some great books. United Way reading mentors join the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms weekly to read one-on-one with students. What makes these groups special is that many of these volunteers come back to our school year after year. The bond they have formed with the students is special. These programs go beyond reading. Each and every mentor that visits the school has built relationships with students and staff. The teachers appreciate the one-on-one attention that reading mentors give kids who might need a little extra attention; and the smiles on the students' faces when they get to read with a mentor is priceless.
Port Edwards School District Volunteer Coaches – Volunteer athletic coaches give of themselves to provide a fun learning opportunity for students. While some might be parents of students in their program, others are connected to the school as alumni or as grandparents. This group give many hours each year to help students hone their skills and to understand life lessons. These individuals give students a great gift: their time and care!
Ann Roser – Ann is always finding ways to communicate and bring smiles to patients at Heartland Hopsice. Ann shares her hobbies and interests with patients during her friendly visits with them. Ann loves to participate in activities, sing, listen to music, and provide companionship for those that are lonely. Ann is very outgoing and creative when visiting with patients that may not be as easy to communicate with. Heartland Hospice thanks Ann for her commitment to bringing smiles to their patients and finding ways to brighten their days!
St. Luke’s Veterans of the Cross – The “Vets,” as they are affectionately called, is a group of men who are retired from their regular line of work. They have a variety of skills, help with minor repairs, and do painting, electrical or plumbing projects. They started their volunteer work for Love INC of South Wood County with painting at the new location on 20th Avenue South. That work progressed to removing walls, repairing sheet-rock, fixing ceilings, even elimination of mice nests. Their work continued to include repairing a rotten window and a complete two-room remodel including removal of another wall for the new Love INC boardroom. Their work has spanned over eight months and countless hours! Love INC staff doesn’t know what they would do without their skills and their smiling faces!
The Neighborhood Table Extended Group – This group may work independently within The Neighborhood Table but they are an integral part of the program. Their duties range from securing and scheduling sponsors for each meal, receiving food deliveries and stocking the shelves, assisting with menu planning with the Meal Coordinators and ordering food items to handling maintenance issues. While each of these volunteers stands alone in what they do for the program, they are definitely the glue that keeps it going. Marilyn Rehberg and Cathy Kuhn have been with TNT for many years and have contributed in many ways with the growth of the program. Often times you can find all of these nominees at a meal serving up food, waiting on tables, setting up the dining room or handling any task presented to them as well. They are very generous with sharing their time and talents with The Neighborhood Table.
Eldean Walling – Eldean is always ready to lend a helping hand. She is active with the United Way, is a member of Women United and a reading mentor at Mead School and Humke Elementary School in Nekoosa. She is a hospice volunteer for Ascension Health, and always offers a helping hand to the Adams Humane Society and the South Wood County Humane Society. She has gone with her rescue dog in the past to Villa Pines Nursing Home to visit the residents. She also volunteers her time on local boards to help sustain the community.
Donald and Betty Weis – Don and Betty are very active in the Nekoosa-Port Edwards Knights of Columbus. Don has been an officer, and the couple have been the cashiers for almost every fish fry that they've had since the beginning! Don and Betty also volunteer for Aspirus Riverview's Home Delivered Meals program and St. Alexander's Catholic Church in Port Edwards, including the In-Church Ministry. They are also very active in local veteran's groups.
Sandy Welniak – Sandy is an outstanding friendly visitor volunteer for Heartland Hospice who prioritizes her visits each week and spends 2-3 hours with a patient. Sandy changes her schedule to meet the needs of the patient and engages the patient in a variety of activities from playing bingo, listening to live music, going for walks, reading, arts and crafts, and looking at the birds. Sandy spends this much time knowing the patient is lonely and doesn't have any family. Sandy enjoys spending time with the patient and seeing the patient smile. Sandy makes a huge difference each week. Thank you!
About United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties’ Volunteer Center
The Volunteer Center is a clearing house for requests for volunteers and volunteer opportunities. An online database of volunteer opportunities is available at www.volunteerunitedway.org. Volunteer opportunities are announced every Wednesday morning on WFHR; and can be viewed on Wisconsin Rapids Community Media. The Volunteer Center works on several initiatives such as Day of Caring, Stuff the School Bus, Homeless Point in Time (PIT) Count, and the Disaster Volunteer Reception Center.
The Volunteer Center is a program of United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties. Its mission is to mobilize and inspire people to utilize their talents to enhance our community.