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United Way of Inner Wisconsin



The Volunteer Recognition Breakfast


At a Glance...

  • Date - April 14, 2015
  • Location - Hotel Mead
  • Registration - 7:45am
  • Breakfast buffet- Begin eating as you arrive
  • Program Begins - 8:00am
  • Deadline to nominate volunteers - March 17, 2015, 4:00pm
  • Deadline to RSVP for the event - April 7, 2015
  • National Volunteer Week - April 12-18, 2015


How to Register:


Read Here About Our 2015 Nominees!

Press Release, March 30, 2015 - United Way of Inner Wisconsin's Volunteer Center Announces the Volunteer Breakfast 2015 Nominees

  • United Way of Inner Wisconsin’s Volunteer Center is proud to announce the 39 nominees who will be honored during the Volunteer Recognition Breakfast on April 14, 2015.  This year there are 29 individual volunteers and 10 volunteer groups nominated.  Each volunteer/group will receive a certificate and special recognition during the event.
  • This year National Volunteer Week is April 12-18, 2015.  Mayor Zachary Vruwink will be present to proclaim National Volunteer Week in “Inner Wisconsin.”  Shelly Kaiser from the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach will give a keynote presentation entitled “All The Things You Do From A to Z.”
  • United Way of Inner Wisconsin’s Volunteer Center thanks Daily Tribune Media for sponsoring our event; and Hotel Mead for hosting.
  • 29  Individual Nominees
  • Liz Behrendt – Liz is one of Ministry Hospice’s talented memory bear sewers.  Memory Bears are precious keepsakes crafted from the personal clothing of a hospice patient.  When the volunteer who helped manage the program moved, Liz graciously volunteered to come to the office once a week to pick up and deliver materials to the sewers in the Rome area.  She is one of the most creative sewers and often takes on the more challenging orders.  The families that receive a bear sewn by Liz are always thankful to receive a precious reminder of their loved one. 
  • Rob Borski – Rob Borski volunteers in partnership with the Wood County Land Conservation Department collecting stream flow data using a sophisticated piece of equipment called a “flow meter.” This data collected from several southern and eastern Wood County streams is important and vital in ensuring Wood County's water quality and quantity for future generations. He has volunteered endless hours and miles on personal vehicles to monitor these streams for the past year. He has a real commitment and passion to natural resources preservation.
  • Dorothy Frieman – Dorothy Frieman has served The Family Center during a time of need, offering up her weekends to help others during their crises and also through positive transitions.  The Family Center values all the time and energy Dorothy has generously contributed to bettering our community.  Staff has commented on her positive interactions with others, as she connects sincerely through empathetic kindness and trust.
  • Amy Fuller – Amy is involved in every aspect of THINK Academy. She: volunteers every day to work with students on math and reading; helped develop and serves as president of the THINK Academy Charter; organized the painting of the school last summer and painted the entire library herself; organized major fund raisers; is volunteer coordinator for the school; organized the early release program at THINK Academy; and will sub in the lunchroom, office, library or aide position any time the school is short staffed.  She is a positive role model, hard-working, and good humored.  All in all, Amy is indispensable at THINK Academy!
  • Buck Fuller – Buck is the type of person who you do not always see in action, but you know he has been there. He single-handedly updated the THINK Academy teacher's lounge putting in cupboards and countertops to redesign the room at no cost to the school or staff. He designed and built a set of wall cabinets to store all the guided reading materials. He organized the building and orchestrated the completion of the school's outdoor classroom. He has attended overnight field trips when a male chaperone was needed. He is hard working and a very positive role model for the students.
  • Jeremiah Gray – Jeremiah is a member of the Lincoln High School Tutoring Program.  He tutored another student who was having difficulty in many subjects due to inattentiveness. It is a difficult task to tutor in different subjects, but Jeremiah took on his job seriously, helping his tutoring partner stay on task and become more successful in the classroom. Jeremiah was a dependable tutor, always in attendance and willing to help in any way that he could.
  • Brian Hamm – Brian Hamm volunteers in partnership with the Wood County Land Conservation Department collecting stream flow data using a sophisticated piece of equipment called a “flow meter.” This data collected from several southern and eastern Wood County streams is important and vital in ensuring Wood County's water quality and quantity for future generations. He has volunteered endless hours and miles on personal vehicles to monitor these streams for the past year. He has a real commitment and passion to natural resources preservation.
  • Yvonne Hansen – Yvonne Hansen plays a key role in the organization of The Family Center’s donation area.  Her teamwork attitude and energy are vital to assisting those in need.  Yvonne is very dedicated, serving others for many years.  The Family Center is very thankful for all she has given and couldn’t accomplish its mission without her.  Plus, her smile is contagious!
  • Tonia Hemmingson – Tonia became a volunteer for Ministry Hospice just last year but quickly became an integral member of the 2014 Snowflake Ball Committee.  The Snowflake Ball is Ministry Hospice’s formal fundraising event that kicks off the holiday season each year.  She was the creative mastermind behind the event putting in countless hours creating centerpieces, floral arrangements and decorations.  Tonia also attended every meeting and contributed thoughtful feedback, which helped make last year’s event a successful one.  Her commitment and dedication exemplify what Ministry Hospice is all about. 
  • Lori Hodkiewicz – The Adams-Friendship High School (AFHS) Learning Center is open to students after school from 3:30-7:00pm. Volunteers staff the center to ensure students have a safe quiet place to study. Lori is the volunteer who is constantly on "stand by." She volunteers twice a week and fills in when needed. Her commitment is never-ending. She makes students feel welcome and supports their various needs including helping them with homework. Lori is a wonderful support to the students and staff at AFHS. AFHS is appreciative of her time and commitment in making it a great place to learn and grow.
  • Chuck Huhnke – Chuck “The Piano Man” began playing piano for Hilltop Affiliates Inc. several years ago. He visits both the Hilltop of Pepper and Alpine Terrace assisted living facilities two days a month. Residents enjoy his music and the chance to sing along with the songs they remember. Chuck's visits are a highlight for staff members and residents.
  • Jere Johnson – Jere is an Opportunity Development Center (ODC) Day Services volunteer. He encourages our clients to explore money and math. He also helps them in their volunteer activities including Meals on Wheels, and The Neighborhood Table. The clients also love that he is always willing to play X-Box, a board game or a game of pool with them.
  • Joan Joseph – Joan has been with Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre (WRCT) for a long time with her extensive involvement with the senior theatre group “The Silver Foxes.” However, WRCT is singing her praises now for her volunteer work in the office for the past two years. She regularly comes in two days a week, but is always willing to put in more time for special events and at busy times. Joan has tackled the ticketing system, answers the phone, takes care of customers, makes copies, and anything else that needs to be done. She is dependable, friendly and very helpful. WRCT is happy to have her as a volunteer.
  • Nicholas Kizewski – Nicholas Kizewski is a senior at Lincoln High School (LHS) and is a diverse volunteer as well as a leader in his school and community. Nicholas has volunteered at The Boys & Girls Club, Riverview Hospital, The Neighborhood Table, at various community events, and at his church. Most notable is the 68 hours of service to Riverview Hospital this year. As a sophomore, Nicholas was a South Wood County Teen Leader and has become an active leader by participating on the Wisconsin Rapids Beautification Committee, the Mayor’s Youth Council, and attending several Tribune Building meetings. LHS is thankful for the contributions he has made to his community.
  • Paul Liebherr – Paul has helped with organizing the Point-In-Time Homeless Street Counts in the Wisconsin Rapids area. Paul has worked with North Central Community Action Program (NCCAP) and the South Wood County Homelessness Coalition in organizing the effort to count homelessness in our region. Paul is the main contact for other volunteers who go out twice a year (the last Wednesday of January and July) to count people who are out on the streets overnight. Paul does the volunteer training and is the main coordinator of the activities on those two nights. NCCAP thanks Paul for his efforts in fighting homelessness in south Wood County.
  • Julie Olds – Julie has been volunteering at Opportunity Development Center (ODC) for just over two years. She is very dedicated to ODC and the individuals it serves.  She volunteers every Wednesday afternoon, rarely missing her shift. She spends time with individuals on the work floor giving guidance and direction when needed to help them complete their assigned job. She is very creative, coming up with adjustments if needed. She is very friendly, taking time to say hello to others as she passes through. They enjoy spending time with her. The staff also appreciates how very kind and generous she is.
  • Jan Parrett – Jan Parrett is an essential volunteers at The Family Center.  As supervisor of the donation area, Jan shows great passion for serving those in need.  For over six years, Jan has dedicated her time and energy, helping to make the donation area the organized success it is today.  Her contributions are extremely valuable and The Family Center will be forever appreciative.
  • Steve Pickett – Although he has only been volunteering at the YMCA for a short time, Steve Pickett is a prime example of how one person can make a huge impact. Steve began volunteering last June at the annual triathlon. Since then, he has also worked at the Turkey Trot and is currently working with a Y member who has Alzheimer’s - as an assistant and work out buddy. Due to this member’s deteriorating health, Steve also provides transportation so the member can continue to come to the Y.  According to this member, coming to the Y is the best part of his day!
  • Jodie Porter – Jodie came to United Way of Inner Wisconsin through University of Phoenix's Field Experience program.  Jodie is studying human services and will graduate this summer.  Before then, she needs to volunteer 175 hours in a human services position.  Jodie has become an integral part of the United Way office, assisting with mailings, doing inventory, attending meetings and helping out in the Volunteer Center.  She participated in the January 2015 Homeless Point in Time Count and was in the group that encountered - and interviewed - a homeless individual in Wisconsin Rapids.  We hope her experience at United Way is as beneficial to her as it is for us!
  • Nancy Quick – Nancy Quick has contributed greatly to the success of The Family Center and all the services it provides. Her willingness to help those in need and give of her valuable time and energy is so appreciated.  Nancy is very dedicated and her passion to serve is evident to all.  The Family Center is grateful for everything Nancy did when they really needed her.
  • Jesse Sheldon – Jesse is a member of the Lincoln High School (LHS) Tutoring Program.   When looking for a tutor in a difficult subject area, the Tutoring Program aide called on Jesse to help. Jesse was surprised to be asked at first but then agreed to tutor. As a new tutor in the program, he has been successful, working together with his tutoring partner to make the course material more understandable. As an extra bonus, Jesse and his tutoring partner have formed a new friendship. LHS appreciates Jesse’s commitment and enthusiasm!
  • Jean Sorenson – Jean Sorenson is truly one of a kind.  She jumped in to assist The Family Center’s donation area a couple years ago and has been dedicated ever since.  She has contributed much to the team with all her knowledge and skill.  The Family Center is thankful she volunteers her time and energy to help those in need, with such a servant’s heart.
  • Brian St. Myers – Brian volunteers a lot of his time helping out with various functions at Howe Elementary School. This year he helped the “Fuel Up to Play 60” group by running one of the physical activity areas. Brian helps out with many family nights at school; he dressed in his fire fighter uniform and read at one of the most recent events. He also helps to set up book fairs and when he has lunch with his kids he plays at recess with all of the students, not just his own.
  • Elizabeth St. Myers – Elizabeth heads up the Howe Elementary School Parent Teacher Community. She helps plan and coordinate events for Howe families, leads holiday shopping events for students and book fairs throughout the school year.
  • Jim Steen– Jim is a quiet but integral spoke in The Neighborhood Table’s (TNT) wheel.  He quietly shows up at every TNT meal, sets up the donated bakery goods, and greets guests upon arrival.  He gets a feel for the number of guests each night so he can fairly distribute the bakery as guests depart.  Our guests know him by name and look forward to seeing him and talking with him each week.  His dependability is unrivaled.  The joy he receives from volunteering is obvious and shows in his smile.  TNT loves having Jim in the TNT family and appreciates the work he does!
  • Rochelle Strege – Mead Elementary Charter School has so many parents that love to volunteer but this year one parent has really stood out. Rochelle Strege has been so helpful in many different aspects at Mead School this year and is always willing to volunteer for different needs within the school. She helps with the school’s popcorn fundraiser every Wednesday morning; she has helped with school photos, vision and hearing screenings, the school carnival, and taking notes for the Parent/Teacher Committee. Mead School is thankful to have such a dedicated parent who is willing to donate so much of her time.
  • Larry Turba – Larry has been at the heart of the Wisconsin Rapids Area Habitat for Humanity since its first days.  As a top executive at Paper City Savings Association, we wonder how he finds time to personally manage fourteen Habitat homeowner mortgage accounts.  He does all the credit and background checks on applications and makes recommendations to the Family Selection Committee.  As a member of the Board of Directors he helped the group through the many legal and organizational details when it was established in Wisconsin Rapids.  Habitat for Humanity is honored and appreciative that Paper City Savings has shared him these many years. 
  • Sue Wesley – In 2014, the City of Wisconsin Rapids launched the Mayor's Council on Beautification - a group focused on planning and carrying out projects that make Wisconsin Rapids a welcoming place to live and visit. One of the key projects was the “Flowering of Grand Avenue.” This initiative, led by Sue Wesley and a subcommittee, secured donations to place 38 baskets along West Grand Avenue and on First Street along Veterans Memorial Park. The City thanks Sue Wesley and all volunteers associated with the effort.  Sue’s hard work in adding beautification to Wisconsin Rapids is making a difference in the community and the economy.
  • Tim Zander – Tim is one of the Day Services volunteers at Opportunity Development Center (ODC). He helps in the World Cultures Group and Men's Group. The staff and clients enjoy all of the activities that he helps facilitate including German Class, World Culture Celebrations, and Eagle Watching;  as well as coordinating community outings and games.
  • 10 Group Nominees
  • Adams-Friendship High School Youth Day of Caring – Last year AFHS participated in its very first Youth Day of Caring! 70 students and 7 staff members worked at various locations to volunteer their time to “make a difference in the community.” Community proposals were requested in the local paper, and three community members asked for help at their homes. Students worked at three different home sites, the VFW, the Humane Society, Burt Morris Park, the school grounds and its neighbors, and Castle Rock County Park. The students worked extremely hard and Adams-Friendship was very proud of them. These students made a difference for many people in the community on this special day!
  • Central Wisconsin Literacy Council Tutors – It's said that volunteers need to give a lot of time. Literacy Council Tutors definitely find the time to do so. They need to be flexible, and patient. They need to accommodate varying degrees of adult "student" responsibility. Each of the Literacy Council tutors demonstrate this. These individuals have been very busy helping people in the community enhance their English skills to complete education, obtain employment, and support themselves.  The Literacy Council greatly appreciates the efforts of:  Joy Berg, Cathy Shea, Terri Riedel, Trey Turner, and Dick Bartosh.
  • John Edwards High School Ecology Club / Local Food Rendezvous – On October 17, 2014 the JEHS Ecology Club hosted the Local Food Rendezvous which featured locally sourced food.  Ecology Club advisors Kristi Hawk and Jeanne Bruener envisioned this Rendezvous, wrote grants to secure funding, and incorporated it into the 2014 Earth Day Celebration.  Alumni Alison Bruener also spent many hours making this activity a success.  On Earth Day, each student in the school district hand painted bowls that would be used for the Rendezvous.  Those bowls were kiln-fired by Amy Noonan, the K-12 art teacher in Port Edwards.  All these pieces came together for a great evening of food and fun. 
  • Learning for Life Reading Mentors / Humke Elementary School – The Humke Reading Mentors consist of a dedicated group of community members that devote time each week on a scheduled, regular basis to read along with - and get read to - by Humke students.  The students eagerly await the arrive of these special individuals each week.
  • Learning for Life Reading Mentors / Mead Elementary Charter School – Mead Elementary Charter School is fortunate to have 33 Learning for Life Reading Mentors this year. These community members come into the school once a week and work on literacy skills with students throughout several grades and classes. These mentors give their time each week and go above and beyond to really make an impact on the student’s lives. They have developed strong relationships with the students and teachers and many volunteer outside of their ‘designated reading time’ at other school functions. Mead Elementary appreciates the Reading Mentors for their faithfulness and compassion for the school.
  • Lincoln High School KEY Club – The Lincoln High School KEY Club has participated in many volunteer activities. They have volunteered in elementary schools in various efforts, in activities for Children’s Miracle Network, implemented a fun recreational opportunity for children in a “Santa's Workshop” at Washington Elementary, collected for the “Cell Phones for Soldiers” campaign, and assisted at the Elk's Club.
  • Ross and Linda Lou Miller – The Millers have been maintaining the United Way of Inner Wisconsin landscaping since 2012.  Several years ago, the Master Gardeners took on United Way as a project and helped transform the landscaping from unmanageable to beautiful.  When the Master Gardeners' work was done they passed the torch - or rake - to the Millers who were very eager to help out.  From spring until fall, the Millers stop by periodically to weed, maintain and prepare the landscaping for the seasons.  At United Way the staff is very busy working on its mission so they are extremely grateful for two green-thumbs who give of their time.
  • Ministry Hospice Plant Sale Committee – Last year Ministry Hospice held its first annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale to help raise funds that directly assist its patients and families.  The sale was successful and none of that could have happened without the help of these five hospice volunteers:  Kathy Matonich, Sally Miller, Barb Tork, Bonnie Weber and Sarah Wirth.  These ladies worked hard to ensure the event was successful - from finding a location, picking out flowers, promoting the event, and working at the event.  Ministry Hospice cannot thank these ladies enough for all their support, not only to the Plant Sale but also to Ministry Hospice’s mission.
  • Art and Marcy Napgezek – Art Napgezek and his wife Marcy have volunteered for RCCA Media for years. Art's knowledge in video production is a real asset to the community and RCCA Media. Both Art and Marcy team up on filming events throughout the area all year long. Both enjoy going out to concerts, graduations and sporting events. Art also goes the extra mile and taking his assigned projects to another level by editing his work and bringing in a totally finished product ready to be aired.  Thank you Art and Marcy for your many years of service.
  • Wood County Master Gardeners – Working with the UW-Extension, the Wood County Master Gardener’s mission is to educate and share horticultural information with the public.  This is accomplished with seminars, presentations, demonstrations, answering questions, and activities with kids.  Additionally, the Master Gardeners support 30+ project gardens in the area.  The Garden Walk, held in July, has been an annual event for the past 15 years and serves as a means of sharing gardening ideas.  The Master Gardeners has also been involved with the start-up and guidance of Community Gardens in Marshfield, Rome and Wisconsin Rapids.  In 2014, over 6,000 volunteer hours were contributed to the greater Wood County area by this group.