Joann Vaile: Volunteer Extraordinaire

Originally published by Decided Excellence Catholic Media in Green Bay Parish Neighbors

Article by Joan Koehne | Photo by Timothy Mayer Artworks

Joann Vaile spearheads two Green Bay charities that are making a difference near and far: Love Life Ministries and Annunciation Mission Society. Love Life Ministries provides childcare items to families that are struggling financially. The organization gives out diapers, formula, clothing, baby furniture, and related items.

“Whatever is donated to us, we give out to our clients,” Joann said. “It is an amazing ministry, and all of us volunteers love helping these families. The majority are single moms who really need help.”

The second organization, Annunciation Mission Society, makes rugs, afghans, quilts, aprons, hats, mittens, and other handmade items. The society sells its handiwork and donates the proceeds to missions in the U.S. and internationally. Joann’s close friend Genevieve Devroy, who passed away in August 2019, was the society’s longtime president. Genevieve invited Joann to get involved. Joann likes to sew, knit, and crochet, so she lends these talents to the society. In addition, Joann and her husband, Al, have helped sell the handmade items at craft shows.

“The Mission Society is a wonderful ministry to help others,” Joann said.

Joann and Al have been members of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish since they moved to Green Bay in 1989. Prior to that, the couple belonged to Ss. Edward and Isidore Parish, Flintville, from 1976 to 1989. Joann sang in the choir and volunteered at the church picnic at both parishes. She taught CCD at Ss. Edward and Isidore and served on the Stewardship Committee at Annunciation. She joined the Bible Study at Annunciation Parish 15 years ago and has participated in every session.

“I just love it and learn new things all the time,” Joann said. “We have a wonderful group of people who also have stayed with the Bible Study since it began.”

Joann’s favorite scriptures are Psalm 23, beginning with the phrase “The Lord is my shepherd,” and Psalm 51, beginning with the phrase “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness.” In addition to scripture study, Joann maintains an active prayer life. She prays a daily devotion every morning, prays every night, and prays the rosary at least three times a week.

“I trust in God in all aspects of my life. God has brought many people into my life for a reason or a season, and that means the world to me,” she said.

Joann and Al have made many friends over the years as members of the Quad Parishes.

“There are a lot of things the members of the Quad Parishes do together, like Masses and Winterfest. We also participate in each other’s picnics,” Joann said. “I love our church and have become friends with lots of people over the years.”

Joann and Al were married in a civil ceremony in 1976 and a church ceremony in 2006. It was the second marriage for both. Al has three sons, and Joann has a son and a daughter. Together, they have 19 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. They also have a cat named Pippin and a dog named Molly. The couple prays a marriage prayer every day, a tradition they started on Valentine’s Day 2020.

“I believe that it helps us in our struggles in a powerful way,” Joann said. “I encourage others to ask God for help when they are struggling with anything and to trust in Him.”

Al graduated from Green Bay West High School in 1956 and served in the Army, three years active duty and three years inactive. He worked at Fairmont Foods, then at James River Paper Mill/Georgia Pacific. He retired in 2000. Joann graduated from Clintondale High School in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, on June 18, 1964, and started working for General Finance in Mt. Clemens the following day. She worked as a secretary and bookkeeper at different companies in Michigan and Green Bay. She retired from full-time work at Stantec in June 2012, but continued to work there part-time until February 2016.

Nowadays, Joann is a full-time caregiver for Al but still makes time to volunteer, take walks, garden, and paint. She took a few Learning in Retirement classes at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, including watercolor painting.

“I’m not that gifted in painting, but I do love to do it as a hobby,” she said. Her favorite painting is Jesus’ Agony in the Garden – which isn’t a surprise when you consider her love for Jesus and her devotion to serving others.