Community Healthcare Foundation announced its Celebrating Ordinary Heroes selections. Five Ordinary Heroes from throughoutOconto County have been chosen and will be recognized at the 8thannual Community Healthcare Foundation Spring Fling Wine, Cheese & Beer Tasting.
Ron Christensen of Suring was nominated for his commitment to promoting patriotism and making people aware of the veterans who have served and soldiers still serving our country. He orchestrates the Military Night for Veterans at the Suring-Lena basketball game. The event has become an annual night to recognize local soldiers and veterans and includes speakers and programs to educate the community about their service, traditions, and sacrifices. December’s event helped raise $2,445 for injured Marines.
A U.S. Marine veteran, Christensen has also orchestrated a Flag Day program at Woodland Village Nursing Home in Suring, where he serves as director. He is an active member of the American Legion, providing military funeral honors to those who have served. His son is currently serving in the military. He is a volunteer with the Suring High School basketball team. He makes sure the team visits the elderly and has taken them to visit a veterans home. His whole family is active in the community.
The Gillett Area Ambulance Service was nominated for their ongoing community service for almost 55 years. The non-profit ambulance service is run by volunteers and covers 220 square miles fromAnderson Lake in Mountain south to Krakow. Its 38 members are dedicated to serving the people of the area.
“We are here when the public needs help,” said Julie Yonker, squad director. First responder/EMTs are continually upgrading their training through refresher classes, seminars, and training sessions. The group maintains three fully equipped ambulances at their Gillett and Suring stations as well as a rescue sled and an all-season ATV. The service averages 400 to 450 calls per year and logs 26,280 on-call hours annually.
Pat Thomson of Oconto Falls was nominated for her volunteer efforts at MeadowLands Assisted Living. Her service began when her mother resided there and she would visit every day and visit with the residents she met in the hallways, dining room, or even reaching out to them in their apartments. It was not unusual to see her with flowers to brighten a resident’s day or as a gift from her and her mom for a birthday. Her mom has since passed on, but the residents of MeadowLands have not been forgotten. She comes every day that she can make it, which is usually five to six days a week. Her other priority is spending time with family at school events or having them over for a meal. She also works diligently for the United Methodist Church of Oconto Falls as a secretary.
She comes to the assisted living center to help serve meals at the supper hour. She creates conversation amongst the residents, remembers their birthdays, pays them compliments, and calls them by name. She makes and shares homemade treats, including her special hot fudge for the annual ice cream social. Her smiles and personality are so appreciated by the residents and staff. For the time she spends with them, they recognize her as an Ordinary Hero.
Carla Van Camp of Townsend was nominated for her 32 years of volunteer service with the Townsend-Lakewood rescue squad. One notable aspect of her service is that she owns and operates Karla’s Kountry Kitchen, which is mostly a one person operation. When her rescue pager goes off, she flips the “open” sign to “closed,” and asks her customers to leave payment on the counter and the last person out to lock the door. That means that her volunteer service results in a loss of income for the day.
Running her café, Van Camp is the hub of the community. Many of her customers are well into their retirement years. If one of her regulars is not at the counter for breakfast, she calls or drives to check on them. If someone’s car breaks down, she has one to lend. If someone is going to visit a friend in a nursing home, she has soup to send. She is forever cooking or working for local organizations or helping individuals in need. She also funds a scholarship in honor of her deceased husband. She has been referred to as “a treasure living in Townsend.”
Joyce Vizelka of Oconto Falls was nominated for her community service with Home Respite Care and Grace Lutheran Church. She has been active with Home Respite Care since it was started in 1993. She became a member of its board of directors in 1998, and has been its president for the past six years. Every year she takes the lead role in organizing the major fundraiser for the organization, “Taste of Oconto County.” She collects donations from businesses throughout Northeastern Wisconsin and organizes the auction and raffles. She personally contributes a lot of time and items for this fundraiser.
She has been a volunteer for many families in the Oconto Falls area who have needed assistance and relief while caring for a loved one. She has also given a lot of time and effort to activities through GraceLutheran Church. She has organized funeral dinners and has been active in a sewing group making quilts for people in need.
“We celebrate these everyday heroes who go out of their way to make a difference,” said Nancy Williquette, Community Healthcare Foundation Director. The Heroes will be honored at the foundation’s Spring Fling Wine, Beer and Cheese Tasting Friday, April 5th, 6:00 p.m. at Red Maple Country Club in Suring. The event features tastings, hors d’oeuvres, music, raffles, and the Celebrating Ordinary Heroes awards and floral auction.
Tickets are $20 at the door and on sale now at all CMH locations in Gillett, Lena, Mountain, Oconto, Oconto Falls, and Suring.
Event sponsors include BelGioioso Cheese, Captain’s Walk Winery, Dean Distributing, Flower Shoppe, Forgotten Fire Winery, Fox Ridge Game Farm, GG’s Cheese Mart, Hinterland Brewing, Leinenkugels, Marquart Auto, Mercier’s Fast Stop, MeadowLands Assisted Living, Lake Breeze Cheese, Wine & Gifts, Let Me Be Frank Productions, MK Photography, Meatski’s, Northwoods Distillery, Papa’s Kitchen, Parallel 44 Winery, Pine Needles Quilters, Saputo Cheese, Sartori Cheese, Sweet Memories Candy Shoppe, Titletown Brewery, Triangle Distributing, Triggerpoint Myotherapy, OEC Radio Shack, von Stiehl Winery, Wayne’s Restaurant, and Wine Premiere.