Coach Gard: Step up to help those in need Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 11, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
care cafe
At the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Care Café are, from left: Ralph Middlecamp, executive director and CEO of the St. Vincent de Paul District Council of Madison; Greg Gard, head basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was the guest speaker; Katie Crawley, St. Vincent de Paul volunteer and deputy mayor of the City of Madison; and Msgr. Mike Burke, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, who gave the invocation. (Catholic Herald photo/Mary C. Uhler)

MADISON -- Using a baseball analogy, University of Wisconsin Head Basketball Coach Greg Gard said, “We need to step up to the plate and help those around us.”

He gave this advice during a talk at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Care Café, a community fundraising breakfast held May 5 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

“Let’s reach out to others in time of need,” said Gard. “I encourage you not to be a bystander but jump it. Be on the look-out for those who need help. We can make a difference.”

Lessons from parents

Gard said he learned lessons about the importance of helping others from his parents, Connie and the late Glenn Gard of Cobb, a small village located in Iowa County in Wisconsin.

He said his parents taught him important lessons: to be dependable and accountable; to care sincerely for others; and be a good role model and take pride in your work.

While working on a farm and in other full-time jobs, his parents volunteered in the community and helped neighbors in need.

When his dad was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2015 and died six months later, Gard said he and his family “were blessed to be surrounded by compassion and support.”

Helping others

Likewise, many people suffer from poverty, hunger, and homelessness, he noted. They, too, need someone to help them as they feel “lost, scared, and vulnerable.”

Gard held up a gray wristband given to him by his dad. It reads: “Hope, faith, and courage.” “I rarely take it off,” said Gard. Gard and his wife, Michelle, have started Garding Against Cancer, to raise funds and awareness for cancer research throughout Wisconsin.

Importance of volunteers

Katie Crawley, deputy mayor of the City of Madison and a St. Vincent de Paul volunteer, welcomed guests to the second annual Care Café.

Crawley volunteers through St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison. Besides helping people obtain food, clothing, and resources, Crawley said volunteers are primarily a “friendly face. We listen and hear their stories.”

Msgr. Mike Burke, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish, gave the invocation. He commented, “In our parish we love to help St. Vincent de Paul. The young people are especially enthused to help those in need. The society is a tremendous witness to what we do for the least of our brothers.”

Ralph Middlecamp, executive director and CEO of the St. Vincent de Paul District Council of Madison, thanked the society’s volunteers and supporters. He talked about the society’s many ways of helping neighbors in need, including through Dane County’s largest food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, a voucher program to help newly housed people, and home visitors to lend an ear and a hand, among just a few services.

Jessica’s Story

Middlecamp introduced the premiere of a new video, Jessica’s Story, produced by Tweedee Productions. It tells the real-life story of Jessica, a woman formerly addicted to heroine who was jailed when she was one month pregnant. She was released seven months later and had no place to live. She found out about Seton House, a transitional housing program for women and children in Madison operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Jessica also received help from the society’s other services, including the food pantry and thrift stores. “It was such a blessing. I now have an apartment and a job. I owe it to St. Vinny’s,” she said.

After the film showing, Jessica told the audience, “Homelessness can happen to anyone. Together we can work towards the goal of eliminating homelessness and hunger in our community.”

To assist the society in helping our neighbors in need, go to or call 608-442-7200.

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