Sue Rohan: Pantry Volunteer with Social Justice Focus

Sue Rohan works for social justice in a variety of capacities. Her story of altruism includes 17 years of volunteerism at Hope Center Food Pantry.

Hope Center Pantry volunteer Sue Rohan volunteers in Haiti

I have been a pantry volunteer for the last 17 years. (Yikes! I had to look it up, and can’t believe it’s been that long.) This summer I took on the manager role twice monthly. Every group of volunteers I work with is committed to providing our clients what they need and in a very friendly and caring manner. It’s truly a pleasure to spend these Wednesdays at the pantry.

Meet Pantry Volunteer Sue Rohan

I grew up in Green Bay and graduated from a nursing program in Madison. I worked as a registered nurse at Bellin Hospital for 37 years before retiring. I reached the point where my grandchildren began arriving, and I wanted to spend more time with them.

Social Justice in Action

But not working left a void in my life, and that’s when social justice became my focus. I volunteered at St. Vincent de Paul Green Bay, became very involved with the COTS program (now St. John’s homeless shelter) and I joined the disaster team at the Red Cross. I spent several weeks working in shelters in Florida after Hurricane Wilma affected that area. A few years later, I did a mission trip to Haiti (the hardest thing I ever did). I learned how blessed we are to live where we do.

Annual Medical Mission to Uganda

The past 10 years, I have been a part of a grassroots group known as MANU (Medical Aid to Northern Uganda). Our small group does an annual medical mission to that area where we see people out in the bush who have no access to medical doctors. An American doctor is part of our team, and we usually use two Ugandan doctors to help us at our “clinics.” There we screen folks for diabetes and heart disease and provide them with any needed medications. This mission has truly taken hold of my heart, and our group fundraises during the year to purchase the needed meds for our next mission. We also help to support a hospital in northern Uganda.

Resurrection Parish, St. Vincent de Paul & Gardening Club

I’m an active member of Resurrection Parish and part of their health and wellness committee. I continue to volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul and am part of a group who provides monthly meals to Freedom House. I’m also the treasurer of the Gardeners Club of Green Bay.

Family Life as Grandmother to 4

My husband, Rich, and I have been married 53 years and we have two children. Our son, Derek, lives with his family in Georgia. Our daughter, Amy, and her family live in Sun Prairie. We have two grandsons and two granddaughters, and they have been such a blessing to us.

Privileged to be Hope Center Pantry Volunteer

I enjoy traveling, reading, gardening and playing bridge. I consider it a privilege to be part of the Hope Center Pantry team.

Hope Center Pantry volunteers make a lasting impact by feeding the hungry in Brown County, Wisconsin. The pantry offers many different ways to volunteer. Contact us to learn how you can join Sue and the other pantry volunteers who are making a difference in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Food Insecurity: Pantry Serves 1,425 in August

Hope Center Pantry volunteers transport food to Green Bay to address food insecurity

Hope Center Pantry continues to see many new clients facing food insecurity in Brown County, Wisconsin. From January to August of 2023, the pantry registered over 500 new clients. For the month of August, Hope Center Pantry served 374 clients, representing a total of 1,425 family members. That’s a very large number considering clients are permitted to visit Hope Center Pantry just once a month to pick up food for their households.

1 in 9 Veterans Experience Food Insecurity

The only exception is for military veterans and active military personnel, who can pick up food at the pantry once a week. They fought for our country, and therefore, Hope Center Pantry supports them through tough times. Hope Center Pantry’s Veterans hours are from 3-5pm on the second and third Tuesdays of the month. According to Feeding America, 1 in 9 working-age veterans live in a food insecure household, and 24 percent of active-duty service members were food insecure in 2020. Hope Center Pantry is doing something about it, by extending pantry hours and staffing the pantry with military veterans’ needs in mind.

Feeding the Hungry in Brown County

Hope Center Pantry volunteers are committed to helping the hungry of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The pantry is working to end food insecurity, helping the hungry be hopeful and well-fed in Brown County. To be a part of Hope Center Pantry, visit How You Can Help for information about donating and volunteering.

Teen’s Community Service Brightens Hope Center Pantry

Teen made cards and a blanket for community service at Hope Center Pantry

An honors student at Pulaski High School found unique ways to fill her community service hours. Ava is a typical busy teen who needed volunteer hours to fulfill her high school graduation requirements and additional hours to maintain her status as an honors student.

Creative Approach to Community Service Hours

She contacted Hope Center Pantry to ask about volunteer opportunities. Ava is very creative and jumped at the opportunity to assemble thank you cards for the Pantry. What a great job she did! She also used some fabric that she on hand to make a large tie blanket that was given as a birthday gift to a teenage daughter of one of the pantry clients. The Pantry is so fortunate to benefit from the talents of this gifted Pulaski teenager. Thank you, Ava!

Pantry Welcomes High School Volunteers

High school students who need community service hours for their school are encouraged to volunteer at Hope Center Pantry. The Pantry has many different ways that teens can help out, both during Pantry hours (1-3pm Monday through Thursday) and after hours. Contact Hope Center Pantry for more information. We’re happy to give you volunteerism ideas to fulfill your school’s community service requirements.

Sweet Success: 2,042 Items Collected at ‘Thrivent Cans Hunger’

2,042 food items collected at Thrivent Cans Hunger food drive

Somehow the stars aligned, and Thrivent asked us about hosting a “Thrivent Cans Hunger” event at the pantry on August 29, 2023. We set a goal to collect 1,000 cans of food that the pantry needed the most. For every can donated, Thrivent committed to donate $3.00 to the pantry (up to $3,000).

Community Engages in Food Drive

We promoted the event in many ways. Thrivent dropped off bags at the Catholic churches in our area that are primary supporters of the pantry, our veteran contacts promoted the event in their monthly newsletter, we posted on our pantry Facebook page, emailed information to our volunteers, and lastly, Thrivent sent an event flyer to all Thrivent clients in our area.

Thrivent Clients Rally for Hope Center Pantry

Thrivent even hired an ice cream truck for the event, so everyone who dropped off food could have FREE ice cream! We had a beautiful weather day for the event, and it was an overwhelming success. In only three hours, we surpassed our goal by collecting 2,042 items! Many of the people who dropped off donations asked to take a tour of the pantry, and they were impressed by our set-up. LoveLife volunteers also provided tours of their facility.

Thrivent-Pantry Partnership Feeds the Hungry

We felt so honored to partner with Thrivent on such a successful event! If your business or nonprofit would like to host a food drive or donate to Hope Center Pantry, contact us. We are happy to arrange a community or corporate event. We appreciate community support. We couldn’t feed hundreds of people every month without the community’s generosity. For more information about Hope Center Food Pantry’s current food donation needs, view the pantry Wish List on the How You Can Help page.

Community Service Hours: Teen Manages Pantry’s Social Media

Hope Center teen volunteers earns community service by managing Facebook

Hope Center Pantry would like to thank Bella, a Mukwonago High School student who jumped at the opportunity to manage the pantry’s Facebook page. Bella plays JV Girls Volleyball and has a part-time job, so she likes the flexibility of being able to post to Facebook from home when she has free time. Not only is Bella helping promote the pantry on social media, she’s also earning community service hours required by her school. She’s doing a fantastic job, which helps Hope Center Pantry reach a broader audience.

Engaging with the Pantry’s Facebook Page

The Pantry Board recognized the need to expand the pantry’s social media presence, so the Pantry launched a Facebook page earlier this year. Prior to 2023, a Facebook Page for the pantry didn’t exist at all! Please help the pantry expand its reach by following, liking, commenting and sharing our social media posts. It doesn’t cost you a dime, and social media engagement helps the pantry share its message. Hope Center Pantry serves 350-500 clients a month who represent over 1,000 family members. To feed so many in Green Bay, we rely on food and monetary donations from the community. Social media helps us reach donors and clients, too.

Making Community Service Work for Students

Fitting community service hours into a student’s busy life can be challenging. During the school year, it’s hard to engage students in community service when the pantry is open, 1-3pm Monday through Thursday. Plus, it’s almost impossible to work around students’ extracurricular activities, like drama, sports, and music. That’s why the pantry has creative ways to get high school students involved in volunteerism for community service hours.

Helping High Schoolers Do Community Service

High school students are encouraged to contact Hope Center Pantry for more information about community service opportunities. We’re happy to work with you to find creative, enjoyable ways to fulfill your school’s community service requirements. Help us to help others!

Karen Palluconi: Enthusiastic Love Life Volunteer

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

Article by Joan Koehne | Photo by Timothy Mayer Artworks

Karen Palluconi, retired teacher and volunteer at Love Life Ministry

In her first teaching assignment after graduating from UW-Stevens Point, Karen Palluconi’s life was filled with new experiences. She met so many new people during that first year, but one really stood out. Karen met her husband-to-be, Mike, in the teacher’s lounge at Roosevelt School on their first in-service day. Karen and Mike, members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, were married in 1971 at Karen’s hometown parish. Both are retired teachers.

Living her Catholic Fatih

Faith has always been a huge part of Karen’s life.

“It is the factor that gets me through the challenges of life – disappointments and tragedies. It also reminds me to appreciate the joys and the blessings that we have,” she said.

Volunteering at Nativity Parish

Karen enjoys volunteering in many different capacities. She previously served on the Nativity of Our Lord Parish Council, Family Life Commission, Social Concerns Ministry, and Faith Formation Committee and currently is involved with the Living Justice Ministry. She is an active member of the Women’s Guild, chairperson of the Giving Tree ministry for nursing home/assisted living and the homebound from the parish, and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

Volunteering at Love Life Ministries

Since 2010, Karen has volunteered at Love Life Ministries, an ecumenical outreach ministry which provides diapers, baby clothes, layettes, and other childcare items to families in Brown County that are struggling financially. Additionally, Karen and Mike volunteer through the ADRC (Aging and Disability Resource Center) delivering Meals on Wheels. Previously, Karen volunteered for the Back to School Store, Coats for Kids, and Nativity Faith Formation classes as a fifth-grade catechist.

Spending Retirement by Giving to Others

“I love volunteering,” Karen said. “I am retired, so I have the luxury of time to devote to more volunteer activities.” Karen’s parents, who were actively involved in the parish and community, set an example for her to follow.

“Since I have been retired, I was looking for activities to fill my time and realized there are a lot of organizations that need volunteer help,” she said. “Volunteering is one of those things that gives a reward to the receiver and the giver.”

Enjoying a Teaching Career and Hobbies

Karen taught in the Green Bay school system for 33 years, at Roosevelt School, Fort Howard School, Helen Keller School, and Martin Luther King School. She taught fifth grade for most of her career. In retirement, she enjoys reading, cooking, walking, hiking, geocaching, crossword puzzles and crypto quotes, and traveling in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. She is a fan of the Packers, Brewers, Badgers, and Ashwaubenon High School teams.

Spending Time with Family

The Palluconis’ two daughters, sons-in-law and four grandchildren live in the Minneapolis area, and Karen and Mike see them as often as possible. Sarah and Mike are the parents of Jaelyn, 14, and Mason, 12. Korinne and Chad are the parents of Evan, 14, and Mia, 11. They are avid fans of their grandsons’ hockey teams and enjoy watching their granddaughters’ dance performances.

“We went to Disney World with them in 2018, and the past two years we have rented a cabin in northern Wisconsin where we spent a long weekend enjoying water activities and sharing meals together.” Karen said.

Attending Mass & Praying Daily

The Palluconis believe that everything is better with God at their side. Karen and Mike attend Mass regularly, and they read the daily Mass readings on the days when they don’t attend in person. Karen’s favorite prayers are the Hail Mary and the Memorare.

“Mary had an incredible faith in God, and she is a remarkable role model,” Karen said.

In difficult times, Karen turns to prayer.

Accepting God’s Will in Her Life

“Yes, there have been challenges, but praying and realizing that I need to accept God’s will has helped me,” Karen said. “It has made me a more-faith filled and giving person.” Karen also trusts that “God never gives us more than we can handle,” even when she experienced moments in life when this promise was difficult to believe.

“But when I look back on some of the difficult times in my life, I realize that things work out, and God knows what is best for us. God does answer prayers – not always the way we envision, but in a manner that is for the best,” she said.

So Handy: Baycare Clinic Donation Makes Food Transport Easy

On July 12, 2023, BayCare Clinic donated 500 sturdy canvas bags to Hope Center Pantry. Pantry volunteers use the bags to pack food items for single clients. The bags fit enough food for clients who are the only one in a household. Not only are the bags convenient for transporting food, clients keep the canvas bags and can reuse them as needed.

Reusable Bag Donation Supports Pantry Clients

The canvas bags are really handy for clients to carry food, especially if they walk or bike to Hope Center Pantry, 505 Clinton Street, Green Bay. Balancing a paper grocery bag filled with food on a bike is a challenge! Plus, paper grocery bags tear easily and are difficult to carry, even a short distance.

Consider Donating to Hope Center Pantry

Thanks to Baycare Clinic for the donation of canvas bags! If your business or nonprofit is interested in organizing a food drive or donating miscellaneous items to Hope Center Pantry, contact us. View our Wish List on the How You Can Help page.

Food Donation: Stranger’s Act of Kindness Fills Pantry Shelves

food donation to Hope Center Pantry from Green Bay man

The kindness of strangers sometimes stops us in our tracks. On July 20, 2023, we received a call from someone who wanted to donate some food for a good cause on behalf of his mom. He had called several agencies before reaching out to us because no one seemed to take his food donation request seriously. He asked us several questions about what we do at the pantry (hours we’re open, number of clients we serve, etc.). Then he asked us what our greatest current needs were at the pantry. We told him we were in need of food donations of pasta, canned chicken, mac-n-cheese, peanut butter and taco seasoning for our summer taco kits.

Surprise Call Unearths Extraordinary Generosity

He said he’d like to buy all of those items to help out the pantry, but he would need some assistance. So, the following day, we met him at the service desk as Woodman’s. After showing him our credentials for the pantry, we shopped at his direction. It took almost two hours as we eventually had several carts to maneuver. While shopping, we got to hear more of his story. He moved back to the area 40 years ago to be near his mom and help take care of her. They had a special relationship.

774 Pounds of Food Fill Pantry Shelves

When it was time to check-out, the total bill was $1,707.94. He purchased 774 pounds of food to be donated to the pantry, which filled an entire minivan! We had no words to thank him enough for the food donation and his unexpected generosity. We invited him to tour the pantry so he could see where his substantial food donation was going to be used. He said that he was sure that the food would be well-used, and off he went.

Goosebumps of Gratitude

We still get goosebumps recalling this extraordinary generosity and are beyond grateful for his kindness. Although he chooses to remain anonymous, he most definitely is no longer a stranger.

Love Life Volunteer: Making Friends & Promoting Childhood Safety

Bonnie Fonferek, volunteer at Love Life Ministries

Hi, I’m Bonnie Fonferek, and I started volunteering at Love Life Ministries in March of 2023. I’m a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Howard, WI, where I’m a member of the parish Social Concerns Committee. Jackie Walker, who passed away in February 2023, was an active member of the Social Concerns Committee and also was a volunteer at Love Life for many years. After her passing, I decided to take her place as a volunteer at Love Life. I knew I had big shoes to fill!

As a Love Life volunteer, I wash the donated clothes. I also attend Center for Childhood Safety meetings to keep Love Life informed of best practices regarding childhood safety. The Center for Childhood Safety helps families and communities keep kids safe from injuries. The Green Bay, WI, organization is a source of safety education and programming in Northeast Wisconsin.

Volunteering at Love Life Ministries has been a great experience. I really enjoy the friendships I’m developing with all the wonderful, hardworking volunteers at Love Life. Want to join us? Love Life Ministries accepts new volunteers from all walks of life. Contact us to learn more.

20-Year Volunteer: Giving is the Best Part of Life

Love Life Ministry Volunteer

Hello, my name is Linda VanPay. I have been volunteering at Love Life Ministries for about 20 years. I originally started by laundering the baby clothing that people donated.

Also, some men from the Green Bay Correctional Institution volunteered to make baby receiving blankets back then. I decided that I could do them a little better. So, I started making the receiving blankets, along with burp cloths. I sew the baby blankets and burp clothes multiple times a year.

I always go to Joann Fabric in November when they have Black Friday Sales to get the best price on the flannel fabric. I buy 10 to 15 bolts of flannel, and Love Life reimburses me for the purchase.

I love doing this, and it is rewarding to me to be able to do it. I’m grateful that God gave me the ability to do the things I do and that I can be helpful to others.