John Mueller Honored with the Andrew Janssen Transportation Award

June 24, 2014 the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin hosted our spring Celebration of Support event.  We had 260 staff, volunteers, blood donors and community members attend this annual event. Every year we honor a few volunteers who have gone above and behind. Here are their stories.  

(l-r) Carol and John Mueller and Tina Whetung, Transportation Manager.

(l-r) Carol and John Mueller and Tina Whetung, Transportation Manager.

This award is in remembrance of a man who truly enjoyed volunteering for the American Red Cross.  He was a very caring, compassionate individual who went above and beyond each and every time he got behind the wheel of a Red Cross vehicle.

John Mueller has been a dedicated volunteer for Transportation Services for more than 17 years.  Since starting he has seen a lot of changes within the program, including making the move from the basement office on Deckner Ave into the Service Delivery facility, across the street, where we are currently located.  He has also experienced the growing pains of adjusting to new scheduling software and was present for many staff comings and goings.

John is a routine volunteer driver, meaning he commits to driving each Tuesday and Thursday morning, providing rides to the elderly and/or disabled in our community.  The impact this volunteer has made since starting is:  He has volunteered 1,768 times donating 7,956 hours of his time and provided approximately 14,144 rides.  When he is not helping out at the American Red Cross he can be found volunteering either at his church or doing work for the Knights of Columbus.

Congratulations John Mueller, this year’s Andrew Janssen Transportation Award recipient!

Wisconsin Heroes Award

Recognizing exceptional Wisconsonites for their selfless contributions

(left-right) Elton Petersen, First Lady, Tonette Walker and Elton's wife, Mary Petersen

(left-right) Elton Petersen, First Lady, Tonette Walker and Elton’s wife, Mary Petersen

Wisconsin is home to some of the finest Midwestern hospitality and some of our nation’s friendliest people. Throughout the state, in small towns and big cities alike, countless individuals are eager to go the extra mile, take a stand for causes in which they believe, and use their time, effort and ideas to help make Wisconsin a better place.

Recognition is given each month to one outstanding Wisconsin resident. The first lady, Tonette Walker, visits and presents the award to the winner to say thank you for his or her willingness, compassion, and commitment to the betterment of our state.

Thanks to the Volunteer Center of Brown County for nominating 2014 Golden Heart Award winner, Elton Petersen, for the Wisconsin Hero Award.  We were so excited to have Elton selected as the June Hero!

A little more about Elton: 

Elton Petersen has been doing service for decades. During his almost 21 years of service at the Red Cross, Elton has volunteered over 5,500 hours and has provided about 10,000 rides to clients over the age of 60 and/or those who are disabled. He also has volunteered hundreds of hours delivering blood and blood products to patients in need at area hospitals. Additionally, as a member of De Pere Area Men’s club, Elton has delivered meals every week and heads a paper pick-up in De Pere every month. Elton has been involved with the De Pere Community Center since 1999. His volunteer efforts at the center consist of helping with the Nutrition Program, meal delivery, and seasonal events. On top of everything, Elton is a volunteer musician with three local bands, all of which he has played with for at least 25 years.

Thank you Elton for your years of service and for everything you do within our community!

Click HERE to see additional photos from the awards presentation.

Elton Peterson – Heart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

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Congratulations to Elton PetersonHeart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award Winner at the WPS Awards. The Heart of Gold Award is awarded to a volunteer whose lifetimes of service exemplifies notable achievement in community service! 

Elton Peterson has been a volunteer driver for American Red Cross Transportation Services since July 1993. During his almost 21 years of service he has volunteered 5,670 hours and has provided approximately 10,080 rides to clients over the age of 60 and/or disabled.

“I have had the privilege of working with Elton since the day he started,” said Tina Whetung, Transportation Manager. “He is a very dedicate and caring person who really enjoys helping others, without people like Elton this much needed service would not be provided.“

Elton is also an active volunteer driver with the American Red Cross Blood Services.  For the past 16 years, Elton has generously volunteered his time to help deliver blood and blood products to patients in need at area hospitals.   Over these years, he has volunteered hundreds of hours to answer the call when the need to get red cells to a hospital in need of blood products.  We are thankful and proud to have Elton on our Red Cross team!

Elton

In Memory: Volunteer and Friend – Dr. Mark Reinke

By Jody Weyers, Director of Volunteers:

Today, after work, I will be attending the visitation service for Dr. Mark Reinke, friend and volunteer. Mark passed away Christmas night surrounded by his family following a courageous fight with pancreatic cancer.

Mark’s courage, positive attitude and willingness to give back, is a lesson we can all learn from him and incorporate into our daily lives.

(section from his obituary)

Mark retired immediately from his medical practice upon learning of his diagnosis in December 2012. During his last year Mark embarked on a bucket list of adventures. The most rewarding adventure was being able to form closer relationships with a number of friends. He often shared with all of them, “it is not about the length of your life but about the depth of your life”. It was his strong-will to live, unwavering faith, love of our Heavenly Father, and prayers from family friends that carried him through these last 13 months of treatments and endless doctor visits.

In September, Mark called me and he wanted to volunteer. He had friends that drove for our transportation services program, and he wanted to be able to give back while he was in this fight. As a matter of fact, the last time he drove for us, was only a few weeks prior to his death. Physically you could see he didn’t feel good, but being able to help people, gave him the strength to keep fighting.

While Mark was going through this battle, he wrote about the ups and downs on a Caring Bridge site.

Here was his post on September 22, 2013

523f62620dad100702823f68Mark has a job…about time!

For those of you who are wondering what I do with ALL my spare time, I have finally ventured out of the house. Kathy has been after me for the past several weeks to find something to occupy my time. I am now an official Red Cross volunteer. Once a week, I spend about 4 or 5 hours driving people around town.

I get a Red Cross Chevy Impala with about a million miles on it, plug in the GPS and crisscross Green Bay several times. I usually put on at least 70 miles in a morning. This is a service provided by the Red Cross and enables people to go to their doctor’s appointment, go to work and do errands such as grocery shopping, etc. The majority of people I transport are disabled and I find this work to be extremely gratifying. The people are so appreciative, friendly and courteous. If I am 15 or 20 minutes early, more often than not, the clients will be sitting on their front step waiting for me. And boy, do they love to talk!

Sometimes I think I’m their social contact for the day. I get the lowdown on their doctors, the Packers and their neighbors. They are a hoot! Anyway, this is a great experience for me and I would highly encourage everyone to consider volunteering in your community. It’s a win-win for everyone. I feel so much better about helping others and the 4 hours are a minuscule part of my week. I know we’re all busy, some more than others. Believe me, I was there. If you get a chance, at least consider giving back to your charity or community. You won’t be sorry and the rewards to yourself and others outweigh any inconvenience.

Our thought and prayers go out to Mark’s family and friends and we thank you for sharing him with us for his last few months.

The New Year is upon us, and if you are looking to make a change, or a “resolution” think about volunteering. I know someone who will have a big smile on their face from above if you do!

Red Cross in Need of Volunteer Drivers

Thank you Fox 11 & Angela Kelly for focusing on our need for additional volunteer drivers today to support our Transportation Program!  IMAG1490 Fox 11 interview - Angela

The American Red Cross in Northeast Wisconsin is in need of volunteer drivers for its Transportation Services program. The program offers rides to individuals 60 or older or who have a disability and need transportation for a variety of reasons — from medical appointments to grocery store trips.

Currently, there are 80 volunteers who drive a fleet of 24 vehicles throughout the Green Bay metro, Pulaski areas and starting October 22, Denmark area.

Rides are available Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  It costs $3 per person, per one-way ride.

Click here for more information. Red Cross leaders say the program is in need of more volunteer drivers.

It’s one way you can be “Making A Difference.”  Click here to learn more about how to volunteer. FOX 11’s Angela Kelly learned more about the program for Wednesday’s Good Day Wisconsin.

Click on the video links to watch interviews with Red Cross leaders, current volunteer drivers and program clients.

Volunteer Driver, Paul Strom Honored with the 2013 Andrew Janssen Transportation Award!

Congratulations, Paul Strom.

This award is in remembrance of a man who truly enjoyed volunteering for the American Red Cross. He was a very caring, compassionate individual who went above and beyond each and every time he got behind the wheel of a Red Cross vehicle. These attributes are exactly why we chose Paul Strom for this year’s award. He became a volunteer driver in August 2009 after retiring from Schneider National. When asked what he was looking at doing, he stated he would like something that would allow him to be more active, and without a doubt he had come to the right place. Since starting he has volunteered 2-3 days per week, provided 5,184 rides and logged 2,592 volunteer hours. When he is not here helping those in need, he enjoys reading and spending time with his family at their cottage. Thank you for your dedication & time. Congrats, Paul Strom on your 2013 Andrew Janssen Transportation Award.

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(L-R: Jody Weyers, Paul Strom, Cathy Strom, and Tina DeGrave Whetung.)

Why would a couple who lives in Reno, Nevada give money to a local Red Cross program in Green Bay, Wisconsin? The answer will warm your heart.

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Betsy Wandtke, Major Gifts Officer with Dennis Jilot as he presented his check for the American Red Cross Transportation Program.

Dennis Jilot grew up in Green Bay when the ground that the Red Cross office and Transportation Center occupies, was just a huge vegetable garden.  As a young man, Dennis went to Preble high school.  It was very close to where he and his parents lived.  Dennis went to college in Stevens Point, WI – as did his bride Lynne.  They were very successful at what they did and their success led them to Reno.  Dennis’s parents remained in Green Bay.

As Dennis’s parents got older, his father had some problems with strength and balance.  Dennis was concerned about this.  His mother was not strong enough to get his father back on his feet and his father wasn’t strong enough to crawl to a chair and pull himself up.  Dennis asked his Mom how they got his Dad up after so many falls.  His Mom stated simply: “We just call the Red Cross and someone always comes to help us”.

They also used the Transportation Center to go to Doctor’s visits and to go to the mall to shop.  It allowed Mr. & Mrs. Jilot to be in control of their life and their situation.

Last year, Dennis was so touched by the selflessness of the Red Cross volunteers and staff that he walked into the office and wrote out a donation check for the Transportation Center.  I met with Dennis to thank him and he again showed his generosity and gave the Transportation Center a donation of $2,500.

These gifts were given because of the passionate volunteers/staff and their willingness to help someone when they needed it…no questions asked.  Dennis wanted to thank all of those people for helping his parents when he was so far away and couldn’t be there to help his Dad up.

I want to tell you all how proud I am of all of you!

Betsy Wandtke
Major Gifts Officer

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