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.

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.

The Joy of Giving: 20th Annual Baby Shower for Love Life

`0 women attend Baby shower for Love Life

By Karen Palluconi

We are a group of retired ladies that enjoy shopping for babies and children. Most of us are now grandmothers so we have discovered a beautiful way to acknowledge our shopping experience through hosting a “Baby Shower for Love Life” each year.

The tradition started about 20 years ago when a group of us met at someone’s home, and each of us brought small articles of clothing or books or toys to donate to Love Life. We had such a good time that we decided to repeat the experience the following year and every subsequent year since then.

Our baby shower each year begins with lunch and fellowship at a local restaurant, followed by a display of “show and tell” where we display what we bought. Through the years, our baby shower gifts have become more elaborate with purchasing winter coats and many new and used items of clothing such as outfits, tops, pants as well as diapers, wipes, formula, etc. After our luncheon and display of purchases, the items are loaded into my car’s trunk and back seat.

This year 10 ladies attended, including Sister Pat from the Quad Parishes. A lady who could not attend sent a check and made a blanket for the layettes.

The camaraderie of sharing a meal and sharing our joy of giving to Love Life makes a beautiful afternoon even more beautiful.

Clothing for baby shower for Love Life
Clothing for baby shower for Love Life
Clothing for baby shower for Love Life

Love Life Ministry Volunteerism Has its Perks: Experience the Joy of Friendship

Mary Davis, Irene Jankowski,and Nancy Spiegelhoff  in Mary Davis' new home. Sharon Zambrowicz took the photo.
Irene Jankowski, left, and Nancy Spiegelhoff, right, visit Mary Davis, at Mary’s new home. Sharon Zambrowicz took the photo. The four women developed a wonderful friendship, brought together as volunteers at Love Life Ministry.

My name is Mary Davis. I became involved with the Love Life Ministry back in 2000. At the time, I was getting divorced from my husband of 11 years. I was looking for ways to volunteer within the church. I knew Sharon Zambrowicz from grade school. She was my cooking teacher at St. Joseph Grade School, as well as the mother of my fellow classmate. I began helping at Love Life Ministry, checking in the clients and also sorting clothes. Eventually, I helped put the monthly list together. I continue to help with the list.

Volunteers Go Above & Beyond

Both Sharon and Larry Zambrowicz were so involved with every aspect of their ministry, so much so that they not only helped people on Thursdays but throughout the week and even at their own home. Sharon helped me as well. One time, Sharon, Nancy Spiegelhoff and Irene Jankowski brought dinner over to my place to celebrate the recent purchase of my home. They went above and beyond!

Nancy also took extra time out of her busy life on more than one occasion. She even when out for dessert with me at a local restaurant or offered for me to stop by her home so she could be a sounding board for another day. These women are amazing; they helped me tremendously!

The Benefits of Volunteering

Love Life Ministry volunteers Larry and Sharon Zambrowicz talk with Mary Davis
Love Life Ministry volunteers Larry and Sharon Zambrowicz talk with Mary Davis,

I know it’s an old saying but it’s true: You get more from helping others and volunteering, than you give! As I continue to help just a little now at Love Life Ministry, I have met Joann Vaile, the current director. She seems to have filled Sharon’s shoes very well.

There are many other volunteers involved now, of whom I only know Karen Domke. Karen is another great volunteer who’s involved in so much so unselfishly. These volunteers are continuing the dream Sharon and Larry started, which has become something we have come to expect. May we never forget how wonderful all these volunteers are and not take any of them for granted!
Thank you, Love Life Ministry!

Keeping Baby Smiling: Love Life Gives Free Diapers to Encompass Childcare

Baby in diaper with mom and dad

Diapers play an essential role in a baby’s healthy development. However, one in three families struggles to provide clean diapers for their baby, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. Babies can use as many as 10 diapers a day – that’s 300 diapers in just a month.

Encompass, Leaders in Early Education and Care

Love Life Ministry helps keep infants and toddlers clean and dry, helping them live healthy, happy lives. Since August of 2020, Love Life Ministry West has been providing free diapers to clients whose children are enrolled at Encompass, Leaders in Early Education and Care. Additionally, Love Life East has helped Encompass families for an even longer period.

Love Life Ministry Partners with Encompass Child Care Center

Basically, here’s how the partnership between Love Life Ministry and Encompass works. Encompass provides a list of clients to both Love Life East and Love Life West on the first of the month. After Love Life receives the list, volunteers print out two labels for each child. The label contains the child’s name, the size of diapers the child wears, and the location of the Encompass Daycare where the child receives child care services. Once the labels are printed, volunteers pull out the correct size diaper and put the labels on the bags of diapers. Each child gets two bags of diapers every month. Encompass picks up the diapers on the second Thursday of the month.

Helping Families with Diapers, Clothing & Child Care Items

Providing diapers for Encompass families has been going very well, and Love Life Ministry is so glad to help. Obviously, the mothers of these children are working and cannot visit Love Live to pick up the diapers in person. We are very happy that we are able to help them. Diapers are not eligible purchases for parents with an FSA (flexible spending account) or HSA (Health Savings Account). Plus, diapers can’t be purchased with FoodShare benefits. That’s what makes this partnership even more important.

Contact Love Life Ministry for Diaper Assistance

If you know of a mom or dad struggling to provide enough clean diapers for their child, or if they need other childcare items, please encourage them to contact Love Life Ministry . Love Life is open from 1-4pm Thursdays at The Hope Center, 505 Clinton St., Green Bay, and Central Church, 831 Schoen St. Green Bay.

Love Life Ministry: 1 Young Mom’s Vision to Preserve Her Heritage

Joann Vaile and other Love Life Ministry volunteers provide childcare items to families that are struggling financially
Joann Vaile and other Love Life Ministry volunteers provide childcare items to families that are struggling financially. The organization gives out diapers, formula, clothing, baby furniture, and other baby items.

Article by Pat Erdmann, Love Life Ministry volunteer | Photo by Timothy Mayer Artworks
At Love Life Ministry, we are so fortunate to meet so many wonderful young moms. It’s so rewarding to know that, with the support of our community, we can help them when help is needed.

Layette, Diapers, Formula & Baby Items

I’m a Love Life Ministry volunteer, and recently, I had a really nice conversation with one of our clients when she came in to register her new baby. On this visit to Love Life Ministry in Green Bay, we were able to help her out with diapers and formula for the month. A month earlier, she had received a layette for the baby. A layette includes knitted or crocheted blankets, quilts, and receiving blankets donated by compassionate and talented craftsman. She also received sleepers, onesies, bibs, burp clothes and other baby items needed to get started.

A Young Mom’s Vision for Her Child

The young mom and I got into a conversation about the baby’s name which was a native Menominee Indian name. We talked about preserving the language and being able to teach our children their heritage and culture.

Independent, Working Mom

As she was leaving, she told me she may not need to come back to Love Life Ministry too often because she was going to return to work soon, and she enjoyed being independent. I reminded her that we would be here for her whenever she needed us and wished her well with her new baby.

3 Goals of Love Life Ministry

We have three goals at Love Life Ministry, Green Bay, and we recently met all three goals when serving this young mom.

  1. Assist struggling families in the Green Bay area with meeting the basic needs of their newborns. – The mother left Love Life Ministry with the layette, diapers, baby formula, baby clothes and more.
  2. Provide Christian communities with the opportunity to support new life and demonstrate Gospel values through service and sharing of resources. – Love Life Ministry is an all-volunteer, ecumenical outreach ministry. Green Bay-area churches, community organizations, and individuals provide handmade blankets, baby supplies and funding.
  3. Give clients hope for a brighter future and a positive affirmation of life into our community. – This mother had a positive vision for the future of her child and looked forward to raising the child in the Menominee Indian culture and tradition. She expressed the hope to have the means of supporting herself and her baby.

Donate or Volunteer Today

Every week, Love Life Ministry, Green Bay, supports mothers just like this one. As an all-volunteer, ecumenical outreach ministry, we depend solely on the generosity of the community to sustain our nonprofit organization. Please consider helping low-income families, newborns and children in the Greater Green Bay area. We are in need, right now, of monetary donations to buy diapers, donations of baby items, and volunteers to fulfill our mission.

Truly I tell you, whatever you do for one of the least of these, you do for Me.

– Matthew 25:40

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.