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.

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.

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.

12 12 Jilot 1 (2)

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

Partnering for a Better Community

By Lauren Lindstrom, Communications Intern, American Red Cross

United Way funded agencies are teaming up to allow some Green Bay area
seniors to stay involved in the community.

The Hmong Senior Tsev Povfwm Program is using Red Cross
Transportation Services to get elderly participants to and from the
weekly program. The program, which meets Thursday evenings needs help
getting seniors necessary transportation. Many of the participants
cannot drive and depend on the Red Cross for mobility.

The Tsev Povfwm Program, which means “House of Good Health and Longevity,” began in June 2011. Program Coordinator May Kaying Lor knew she needed a service to provide home bound seniors a way to get
out of the house and interact with others in the community. She worked
with the NEW Curative Rehabilitation Inc. to get the program running
and through them, found partnership with the Red Cross. NEW Curative
Sponsors the Tsev Povfwm program and already uses the Red Cross for
its transportation needs.

“We are very happy with the service,” Lor said. “If we didn’t have the
transportation, I don’t know if we could run this program.”

On program day, Red Cross buses are full, sometimes having to make
more than one trip to accommodate all of the seniors needing transportation. Lor’s husband is one of two volunteers to be certified to drive each Thursday.

Participants stressed the importance of having Red Cross transportation and their appreciation for the services.

“I don’t know how to drive, so this is the only way I can get out into the community.” said Chongong Yang.

The program not only gives participants the chance to socialize, but
also keeps them connected with their culture and heritage. Every week,
the program shows Hmong movies, offers card games and volunteers serve
a traditional meal.

“If we don’t have the transportation, I am just going to be sitting at
home and get depressed,” said Bee Lee. “The bus brings me here so I
can socialize with everybody.”

Program participants keep in touch with Hmong culture with movies, food and native decorations.

In addition to activities in the program center, the Red Cross
provides transportation for field trips including picnics and trips to various scenic Wisconsin locations. Participants are eager to keep the partnership between the two organizations going strong.

“I even wish we had more money so we could come here five days a week
instead of one,” said Mee Lee.

Participants can draw, play cards and watch movies from their native Laos.

Nolan Blecha has a “drive” for Success

By Dawn Miller, Red Cross Volunteer

The American Red Cross was proud of transportation client, Nolan Blecha’s accomplishment when we heard Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin named him, Outstanding Achiever for May.

He was referred to Goodwill’s Work Services program through Brown County Human Services five years ago when he came from a special needs program at Green Bay Southwest High School. Work Services is a longer-term training program for people with disabilities and utilizes Goodwill as a worksite to develop their work skills and behaviors.

Carol Daniels- Thurston, acting store team leader for the Ashwaubenon Goodwill, had told a publication, Nature’s Pathways, “Since joining Goodwill, Nolan has learned the importance of working as part of a team. He always has a smile on his face and is very committed to his work. His presence at the store really motivates all of us because we see what Nolan achieves every day, and that he is truly committed to doing a good job.”

Six years ago Nolan started using the transportation services provided by the American Red Cross in Green Bay. 

American Red Cross Transportation Services provides transportation to individuals 60 years of age and older and individuals with a disability in the Green Bay and Pulaski area. This door-to-door service is specifically designed to provide a low-cost means of transportation, allowing individuals to lead a more fulfilling, self-sufficient lifestyle.

“Nolan loves the service and looks forward to the people,” says Nolan’s Mother.You can also hear the pride in the voices of volunteer drivers when they talk about Nolan’s award.  

Nolan’s mother says those with special needs aren’t often acknowledged for their accomplishments. This award is meaningful and he has been cheered on by everybody including the wonderful volunteers at the American Red Cross. “Nolan feels so good and so honored to be recognized in this way.”

Longtime public servant ‘Vic’ De Cleene dies at 90

Written by Doug Schneider Green Bay Press Gazette

In 2002 Vic received the American Red Cross Andrew Janssen Transportation Award for exceptional work in assisting the aging population and those with disabilities by providing quality transportation that helps individuals maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle.

DE PERE — Victor “Vic” De Cleene retired from public office in De Pere in the mid-1990s, but he continued to serve his community for more than a decade as a Red Cross bus driver, Meals on Wheels volunteer and secretary of the De Pere Men’s Club, among his other activities.

De Cleene died Thursday at his home after a brief battle with leukemia. He was 90.

“He was all about making life easier for someone else,” said one of his seven children, Larry De Cleene of De Pere. “He delivered Meals on Wheels to people 20 years his junior.”

De Cleene was a De Pere alderman from 1964 to 1976, and 1987 into 1995. He became acting mayor in September 1995 when Nancy Nusbaum was elected Brown County executive, serving until her term expired in 1996. He would joke with friends and family members that he did not seek a full term because his wife, the former Leona Patzke, told him another campaign would mean “he might as well keep on running.”

He received the Silver Knight Award from St. Norbert College in 1994, and initiated the Multiple Sclerosis Walk in Brown County in 1995 in honor of his daughter, Vicki. Among his community service activities, he was a member of the De Pere Men’s Club from 1987 to the present, and volunteered with Meals on Wheels from 1990 until three weeks before his death.

Visitation for De Cleene will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at Ryan Funeral Home, 305 N. 10th St., De Pere. Visitation will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 1305 Lourdes Ave., De Pere. Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10:30 a.m.

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