Program volunteers say . . .

Lynn Ihlenfeld: “Living Well has made a difference in my life by inspiring me to be a better caregiver for my husband who has Parkinson’s disease.  LW made me practice what I preach, so to speak!  Not only that, but the psychic reward of reaching even one person and making a positive difference in their life is amazing and energizing. Volunteering gives me an opportunity to focus on others and their struggles, concerns, and hopes.  And it keeps me involved in the community at large by teaching concepts that truly help people with chronic conditions live well or at least better than before attending a session.” 


Tina Fisette: “Volunteering for Stepping On has made me so aware of the obstacles that can cause a fall.  It’s helped me solve other problems using the method taught in the classes: why did it happen and how could it have been differently. I felt a great deal of satisfaction helping other people realize how important it is to prevent a fall, which could result in an injury, therefore keeping a better quality of life.” 


Michelle (Mikie) Blast: “I anticipate that volunteering will make a difference in my life by providing a feeling of fulfillment that I was able to help others through a difficult time in their lives. I get feeling of joy and pride when I volunteer. “


Sue Pavlik:  “Since I haven't actually lead a workshop yet (but will soon), I imagine I'll get a sense that I'm helping people by giving them tools to live a healthier, more fulfilling life.  I don't know yet if it will change me as I've always enjoyed helping people in some form or another.   I love the subject matter of the workshops and believe there is a need in the community for the information and guidance we provide.  Finally, I'm looking forward to the interaction with the participants, and the ability to learn from them.”  


Nick Argeroudis: “Volunteering has made a significant impact on my life, as I find myself helping people through their health challenges. I feel that I get more from volunteering than just the time that I dedicate to the classes, it actually gives me more energy.”

Christine Veenendall: “Volunteering has been a part of my time since days as a 4H leader.  Important, helpful, engaging, sharing, learning by all.”


Dick Sieg: “How has volunteering for Stepping On made a difference in my life and what do I get out of volunteering?  As I found often in my career as a teacher, the influence one can have on a class member, the response seen when there is the realization that the task can be accomplished, the positive feelings that are obvious in the participants among numerous other things all make working with the class an enjoyable task.  The lady who could not do the sit-to-stand without a chair with arms on it and using the arms, with great difficulty, but by the end of class could stand without using her arms at all.  The gentleman who stated after the exercises that he did not realize how much he relied on his arms for a number of the exercises and in a couple of weeks no longer had to use his arms.  The ninety-five year young lady who came to the class wearing shoes that invited a fall but the week after we talked about shoes came with a new pair of the type we talked about and was so proud of that.  She also stated that she had taken numerous classes but found Stepping On to be the best class she had ever taken.  The willingness to share with the rest of the class things with any number of ideas that were of a help to the one sharing.  The realization that there are so many different potential causes of a fall and how the fall could be prevented.  Realizing that it is possible to regain strength and improve balance and therefore regain confidence to do tasks that they did before but thought they no longer could.  Realizing that it does not take a great time commitment to make improvements.  At a time after the class was over meeting a participant and having them still be so positive about what they gained from the class. 


I could go on and on but suffice it so say that I think I get more out of seeing the responses and attitudes of the participants than they get out of class.  I hope to be able to stay with the program long into the future.”

Susan van Mell: “I like being a leader because I can see the changes people make and it has also helped me with my own health habits.”


Kathy Lauer:  “Teaching forces me to make action plans and that is good.  I love meeting the participants and I learn from them.  When I hear what others deal with, I can hardly feel sorry for myself... I love seeing someone have more hope.  I've seen people make connections with each other.”


Rich Zietko:  "Volunteering for teaching Healthy Living with Diabetes was a blessing to me. As a recently diagnosed Type 2, I was confused, confounded and crazed.  Where did it come from, what did I do, how do I handle it were burning questions.  From my diagnosis in June to being trained in September, I was able to see that I was making right choices and responding in an appropriate manner to my self-management.  Learning and sharing the knowledge gained in the class made me feel that I could help others face the disease.  While there is no cure (so to speak,) the knowledge that preventive measures could be constructed to protect myself was a good message. 


Spreading that word and embracing the empathy towards others in my situation allowed me to not only help myself but to provide these same tools to others.  So in a few words, serenity and joy are my biggest takeaways."       


Billie LaBumbard: “I enjoy volunteering with Living Well and Stepping On.  If I can help anyone have a better quality of life, I am happy. I feel my nursing and counseling background are a perfect fit for facilitating the group. I like to see people grow with the understanding and new information. Most are so appreciative.”


Carol Haen: “The LW and HLWD programs remind me of the importance of self-managing my own health.  I renew my dedication to a healthy diet and the importance of exercise every time I lead the programs.  I enjoy sharing the program knowledge with our participants and I learn from them, too.  I just finished each program this month and look forward to leading more programs in the fall.


Volunteering offers an opportunity to serve the people in our community while keeping my brain working.  I am retired so I have the time and interest in helping others while I recognize the need for healthy habits for myself.  I will continue to facilitate these programs in the foreseeable future.”


Ann Golueke:  "I have learned so much as a facilitator of both the Living Well and Healthy Living with Diabetes workshops.  I especially have learned a lot about Diabetes and how it affects those with the condition.  Also, I enjoy participating in making an action plan each week.  It keeps me on track!”


Gerri Reynolds: “My name is Gerri Reynolds and I volunteer at an organization I helped establish in our community, Mercer Health and Wellness.  Through this organization over 90 women and men engage in strength training classes provided two days a week, and each day has 3 classes.  An extension of this organization has now added a community garden to our community with 34 garden beds.  Pickle Ball has been added twice a week.  I have to say, I am busier now than when I worked 3 jobs at the same time!  Even then, I never needed a calendar until I became a volunteer.  Now I have alarms, notifications, and have entered the smart phone age so I know where I am supposed to be at what date and time.  So why do I volunteer?  I am interested in healthy, aging individuals and if in my life I can provide some guidance and instruction to these individuals, and myself, I will have become a giving and contributing individual to others.  I do not do it for recognition or monetary gain.  I am really a recluse at heart. 


I volunteer because it is the right thing to do.  I enjoy organizing programs on aging, chronic conditions, Alzheimer’s, physical therapy, and try to incorporate humor and laughter into all of the programs, including mind games and rivia.  When I can make others smile and share stories, it is a great reward for volunteering.”


Janis Robertson: “I have made changes to my own personal life because of what I've learned in Stepping On.  That in itself has made a difference in my life and my husband's.  I see this as a side effect of volunteering as a facilitator for the Stepping On program, however.  I really find it beneficial to be able to share such quality information with others.   Just knowing that what I am sharing is evidenced based gives me confidence in what is being presented.


Now after being a facilitator for over 4 years, I also have heard the comments of participants first hand that Stepping On has improved their balance and that their confidence is improved because of the increase strength in their legs.  This is why I continue to volunteer as a facilitator.  It is a life changing educational event.”


Larry Epstein: “Volunteering to lead the Living Well with Chronic Conditions and Healthy Living with Diabetes self-management programs has made a difference in my life in two ways.  The first way is that volunteering has given me purpose in my retirement.  I have been able to use my past experience and technical training in both programs.  My past leadership experience in training and development has enabled me to me a master trainer in both programs.  It has opened doors to new learning and leadership opportunities specifically serving on the Brown County ADRC Board of Directors and as a Vice President of the Brown County Retired Men’s Club.


The second way that volunteering has made a difference relates to applying the lessons from both prevention programs to myself.  Without the constant reinforcement created by leading workshops and leader training sessions, I would more easily slip from good habits into unhealthy habits. 


‘What do I get out of volunteering?’  First, the thrill of observing participants learn how to be accountable for the management of their own disease and well-being.  They become accountable, by learning about new activities to improve their health, recognizing that they are responsible for their own behaviors and lastly by taking action to change bad behaviors into good ones.   Seeing the “light bulb” come on during week three action planning is very rewarding.  Secondly, the gratitude received from participants thanking us, the leaders, for providing the workshop information, sharing our experiences & learning, and listening to them.”  


Alice Kowalski: “I enjoy seeing people make progress on their goals, especially in Stepping On!  The gains seem to be more immediate for the exerciser!  I enjoy volunteering because I get to see people understand that they hold the key to their own future!”


Kay Sheleski: “I feel by volunteering as a Peer Leader for Stepping ON classes I am able to help people learn multiple ways to prevent falls.....this is fall is one too many in my opinion....I look forward to the classes that I participate in each winter.  As a retired RN, I get to help present the information that is in the class outline plus share some of the things I have learned throughout the years.


I love helping others and this is just one of the many ways I can do this....the positive comments we get after the classes show there is certainly a need for me to keep being a peer leader as long as I am able.”    


Nicole Jandt:  “Volunteering as a facilitator for Healthy Living With Diabetes helps me keep the importance of my health at the forefront of my life.  As someone who lives with Type I Diabetes I have found it is important to know that I am not alone.  I feel the class is motivating and helps me stay on top of managing my diabetes.  It also makes me feel good knowing that I am able to help others. 


Diabetes is a lifelong journey and I feel if I can successfully help people through a part of it I am positively giving back to my community!”


Jacque Steeno: “Volunteering made me see others had real problems and mine were minor in comparison. I receive happiness from helping others through volunteering.” 


Barb Fitzpatrick: “When I retired from nursing in 2007, I felt like my life had less purpose.  I enjoyed friends and grandchildren, but needed to be helping others in some way, as I had all of my nursing career.  I spent a great deal of my career working with the elderly, so this was a great fit for me.  Also, I was a certified rehabilitation nurse, so keeping people safely in their homes is rehab at its best.  So I feel I am continuing to help ‘rehab’ people. 


I feel good about helping others and I especially enjoy teaching and guiding discussions.” 


Donna Pieschek:  “Volunteering has helped me to keep on track with my own Chronic Disease and keeps me focused on managing it.  Sharing information with the people who are new to the program and seeing their sense of accomplishment when we finish the program and hearing them say they are more confident about being able to manage their disease is one of the reasons I volunteer in the Living Well Program.


It is gives me a good feeling when I know that the program was able to help someone cope with and manage whatever chronic condition they are living with.”

Lynne Robertson:  “I especially enjoy leading Living Well when the classes bond particularly well, supporting each other, and when individuals have those 'aha!" moments.  I also like having to be accountable for action plans for the duration of the series - that gets better results than when I do them on my own!


Volunteering for Living Well has demonstrated to me that there's always more that I can do to manage my ongoing health challenges (as opposed to giving in to the discomfort and not continuing to try.)  I'm also always made aware of how much pain, discomfort, and other challenges others have to deal with - I am humbled by the health challenges some have to deal with. 


By sharing as participants do in Living Well, we all gain perspective on our own conditions, problems, etc. in relation to others'.”


Jerry Mc Caffery:  “When I do the exercises, I can see improvement in the state of my health. It also makes me feel good that I can have a positive effect on my own health. I also get re-enforcement about keeping on doing the exercises. I also get exposure to new information and re-doing the program gives me insights into things I missed the first time around. 


When volunteering, I get the joy of helping others. I have been a peer leader for two sessions. Almost every participant makes a solid improvement over the course of the two months, some in as little as two weeks. It gives me great joy to see this and know I was a part of it. Many people enter the program skeptical and somewhat depressed; most find their physical and mental states improve. This is very rewarding for me.”


Maureen Conrad:  “I talk about fall prevention everywhere I go, especially with my home care clients. I continue to apply some of the learning points to my own lifestyle. I love teaching the workshops and wish I could make it my career.”


Carolyn Davis: “I retired from a nursing career two years ago. Teaching these programs has offered continuity to the work I enjoyed doing previously. It has enabled me to continue to enjoy the self-actualization and gratification that comes from assisting people with chronic disease and health concerns to manage their own lives and to live each day more fully.


I get an appreciation of what individuals must do to overcome impediments to living what they see as useful lives. I feel a sense of accomplishment in having offered them some tools to assist in those processes. I learn from participants’ creative strategies they have developed to optimize their situations. My spiritual nature is strengthened by witnessing the resiliency and determination of others to experience all that later life has to offer.”

Fred Kaiser: “By volunteering to teach these classes it has made me more aware of what I need to be doing for my chronic conditions and they keep me doing what I need to do to handle them better. I also believe teaching these classes makes me a better patient and more knowledgeable about my conditions. I also benefit from the support of the others in the classes.


By volunteering I receive more than I give. I get satisfaction from doing something for others, I get a lot of good strokes from the people who come to the classes and by volunteering I am giving back to others my knowledge and experience. I like working with people, teaching and being helpful to others.”


Denise Rigden: “Facilitating the classes holds me accountable for my own action plans to promote a more healthy lifestyle. I also feel a sense of accomplishment in helping others achieve their goals. When I volunteer, I get the opportunity to connect with members of my community and the satisfaction of helping others.”


Delores Pharo:  “I learned that exercise is important to keep 'us moving'. It’s important that we share our everyday experience together. What do I get out of volunteering? The experience of meeting new and old friends. To let people know what is out there to help make life bearable with handicaps and everyday problems.”


Cindy Wescott: "Volunteering for the various programs has really added a lot to my life. I have met and made a difference in so many lives while improving mine. The exercise classes (Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program / Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease) are a wonderful way to keep in shape while supporting others to do the same. Stepping On has been a wonderful tool to bring fall safety to the forefront of awareness. Most of the information is about things that we already know, but tend to forget. Keeping the awareness up has been a help to the participants that have joined me.


I always say that I get more from volunteering than the participants of the program do. I have made many new friends and I feel as if I am contributing to my community. It is a great feeling to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, all while having fun! It can’t get any better than that!”


Rita Johnson: “My life is better because of volunteering. I’ve met a lot of nice people and being a leader of the program has given me more self-confidence and I feel more comfortable talking to people.  I benefit more than the people. When you reach out to other people, you not only make friends, you feel important.”


Sharlene Stanley: “Volunteering has improved my health and my attitude. I’m happier and more smiley! What I get out of volunteering is a sense of fulfillment and to be able to share with others what I’ve learned.  Makes me look forward to the next class.”


Pauline Jimenez:  “Volunteering for LW has made me realize how many people suffer from depression for different reasons.  Volunteering helps me get out of myself and help people. It also helps me know some people in our area.”


Sharon Hacker:  “I find that my life has been greatly enriched by helping others to discover how they can improve their own lives by implementing a few changes. They become so excited about what they can do in their own daily routines to improve how they feel. They also develop a much better and happier outlook on life, which is a great reward for me!   Another benefit is I need to walk the talk, so it has greatly improved my own life.”


Elaine Nelles:  “Volunteering is fun and challenging and satisfying and makes me feel that I'm making a contribution.  I learn as much as I teach.”


Jerry McCloske: “My whole life has been helped along by many people, being physically handicapped. Now it has been payback time for me to hopefully help others.”


Edie Felts- Podoll:“I was an instructor for Powerful Tools for Caregivers during my Extension career and really believe in evidence based programming.  Once I retired, believing in life-long learning, I started looking for programs to improve the quality of my life and connected with Shannon Myers & Sue Siefeldt in Waushara County.  I learned about their boundless efforts on behalf of the aging population and wanted to learn more for myself and share with others.


Being able to meet dedicated professionals and volunteers is one of the joys of my retirement.  Helping community members wishing to take action to better care of themselves, through education makes me smile.”


George Price:“I am far more aware of what can cause a fall and have become more aware of my surroundings as a result of what I have learned from Stepping On.  I have even passed on the exercises to my brother who is 75 as well as other older people in my life. 


What do I get out of volunteering?  Satisfaction knowing I am helping older people.”


Mike McKinnis: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a co-leader for Stepping On. The experience offers me the opportunity to connect with people from my community. It is great to see the immediate difference Stepping On has with the participants.  I am able to use the Stepping On material as I discuss fall prevention with occupational therapy students, clinicians and the community at large.”


Kate Olszewski:  “Volunteering is rewarding when you see the attendees become confident that there are ways to manage their condition and apply the self-management tools to live happy and healthy lives.”


Sandy Ceranski: “As an occupational therapist it has confirmed my belief that a well “facilitated” group using an evidence based curriculum CAN support people to change beliefs, behavior and develop healthier self-management skills to improve safety, function and quality of life.  If I had waited for an employer to support my participation, I’d likely still be waiting.  From volunteering, I get joy, camaraderie and transformation of myself, individuals in the group AND the group over the 7 weeks.”


Nancy Swenson: “Volunteering has allowed me to meet new people, and to share tips and experiences to keep each of us safer and healthier in our older years.  I have learned to practice what I preach.  Going through the classes and trainings, it's taught me to take action.”


Une-Ta Rouse: “Volunteering has made me more aware of the health disparities at the community level; because of this I continue be dedicated to educating the community regarding our personal heal and self-efficacy. Volunteering allows me to learn about society and governmental policies and issues which in turn enables to enlighten the community.”


Danette Tellijohn: “Volunteering has helped me become a more compassionate and understanding individual. It has also made me realize that my chronic condition is "nothing" compared to some others and I marvel at well people can lead healthy, active, happy lives. It is truly in human nature to look out and care for one another.


What I get out of volunteering is a sense of accomplishment and if I can make a difference in just one person's life it is all worth it. The friendships I've made in the trainings are invaluable to me.”



Carol Jean Luebeck: “I have that satisfying feeling that ‘I've helped someone stay independent, longer’, whether paid or not! As a volunteer, it’s especially nice to be able to talk to participants after class sessions a bit longer than when I have to hurry back to my pile of work waiting for me at Public Health!


Pat Shorr: “I wish I had known about these classes when my Mother was sick.  Learning about Chronic Conditions and Powerful Tool for Care Givers would benefited me to understand and give me help as a care giver.  I did home Hospice for my Mom and had no clue what I was doing,  I also didn't know how to help her with the pain she had.  I don't want anyone else to have to feel that way if I have anything to say about it.


These classes have empowered me to be an advocate for the person who needs help and know where to turn.  I talk to seniors and older adults who have parents still living and let them know there is information and a way for them to get the information.  It gets seniors out of the house and with other people who have similar problems and going through same situations they may be.  Maybe make new friendships, too.


I now teach Living Well, Diabetes, Stepping On, and soon Powerful Tools for Caregivers.  Teaching what I know and learning from the people I teach makes it worthwhile.  We have been through so much and having an evidence based class makes it reliable and no arguing with content, which makes it better for us to be confident and sure of what we are teaching.


Thank you for having programs like this and for letting me learn and teach.”


Gordie Krogh: “I get out more and interact with the people in my community when I volunteer.  By volunteering I get great feedback from the participants, and a sense of helping the ADRC.”


Donna Fleming: “Volunteering has been a way (for me) to focus on others vs myself.  You quickly realize everyone has some issue they are struggling with so you are not alone - just part of life.  I have had a number of personal struggles since 2010 and doesn't really matter the issue/challenge - the outcome is always the same.  How do you wake up and face another day?  The ADRC classes teaches you that and brings people together.”


Mary Moore:  “Volunteering has made a difference in my life by reaching out to others in need of health education for diabetes. There is such a great need out there to supply them with information that they will be able to comprehend. It has also helped me as I am also a person with type 2 diabetes. Of course meeting such wonderful co teachers and students has been a pleasure. 


Volunteering has helped me realize one is never too old to learn. If one can make a difference in people's health issues it makes you feel fulfilled. Plus HLWD has really helped me in managing my diabetes. Volunteering gives me a very warm feeling of accomplishment's helping others and meeting regular ordinary people like myself with the same health issue.”


Beth Shad: “With each class I learn something new, and I am reminded that my own chronic conditions are manageable – it is my choice how I deal with that and how I handle it. What I get out of volunteering is the ability to give back to the community and the feeling that my volunteer work may somehow make difference for someone else.”