Society of St. Vincent de Paul honors volunteers Print
Around the Diocese
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Recently, nearly 400 people gathered at the Alliant Energy Center to celebrate and honor the service of the District Council of Madison, Inc., Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers who improve life for neighbors in need in Dane County.

The following individuals, along with National Guardian Life Insurance Company, were honored in 2018:

Youth/Young Adult Service award: Faith Kalvig

Faith Kalvig was recognized for her efforts as a member of the district’s Youth Service Council (YSC) and for representing St. Maria Goretti Parish on the YSC during all four years of her high school career. She was granted this honor for her enthusiastic service, leadership roles as YSC co-president and president, participation in two national St. Vincent de Paul meetings, and dedication to the Little Drummer gift giveaway program. She even held a fundraiser on her birthday on behalf of the YSC’s scholarship program.

Although initially reluctant to serve, she was recently told that she has easily surpassed her required service hours through her school’s volunteer program. She smiled and gave a quick, spirited response: “Why would I stop?!” She continued, “I really love serving at St. Vincent de Paul’s, especially the toy drive with kids and families. It’s a great way to get involved with the community, and there is something for everybody, especially for younger people.”

Long-term District Council Leadership and Service: Richard Pilsner

Richard (Dick) Pilsner was honored for his dedicated work as the 15th president of the District Council of Madison of St. Vincent de Paul. He made major contributions during his tenure: he was founding president of the conference in Waunakee/Westport, served as a home visitor and home-visit trainer, provided support and encouragement for staff at stores and other locations, was involved in the early days of Port St. Vincent de Paul, the men’s housing program, and continues to serve on the board as vice president.

“Being at St. Vincent’s has been a great opportunity for spiritual growth and that has been the best thing,” said Pilsner. “I saw the dedication of the volunteers on different committees, and all of the people have made an impact, especially behind the scenes. The staff understands the mission, and they are dedicated to the society.”

Community Partner: Paul Ashe

Paul Ashe was selected as a recipient of this award for his dedicated work as the long-time director and co-founder of The Community Meal Program at the Luke House, and developing a cooperative relationship with Port St. Vincent de Paul. He also served as an advisor to the directors of Port St. Vincent over the years.

“I have such a history with these two programs, dating back to the 1980’s. St. Vincent de Paul means a lot to me and will always have a warm spot in my heart. It means a lot to be honored in this light,” said Ashe.

Dedicated Volunteer Service: Clete and Gretchen Hansen

The Hansens were honored for their work in the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. They have been reliable, committed Monday and Friday volunteers at the pantry since it was housed in a blue metal shed on Culmen St. in 2005.

Each of them has offered both compassionate, direct service, and a friendly smile to neighbors in need along with support to the other volunteers.

Clete explains, “We wanted to participate at a food pantry and St. Vincent de Paul because it was a place where we could express our faith and be helpful to people in need.

“I’ve enjoyed working at the food pantry, where Gretchen and I have made a whole lot of new friends and acquaintances, many of whom have been volunteering here for many years. Everyone is willing to help each other out, and it has been a great opportunity for us both.”

Dedicated Volunteer Service: Ginny and Tony Barresi

Another pair of friendly faces, Ginny and Tony Barresi, were also recognized for their long-term volunteer commitment at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry as well as their dedicated service as members of the Christ the King SVdP conference in McFarland.

Ginny accepted the award on behalf of herself and her late husband, Tony. Ginny was also a member of the Special Works Committee for a number of years. “The services provided by the St. Vincent de Paul Society to those in need are outstanding and done with great dignity. We have been involved with St. Vincent for many years and have been honored to serve those in need.

“I feel confident that Tony (who passed away last December) continues to bless us all from heaven for our continued efforts to help those in need,” noted a grateful Ginny.

Community Partner: National Guardian Life Insurance Company (Mark Solverud, president and CEO, and Elizabeth Kirchstein, director of corporate giving)

National Guardian Life (NGL) Insurance Company has worked closely with St. Vincent de Paul over the years and was chosen for this award for their generous contributions in helping the community’s most vulnerable members.

Some of NGL’s most significant contributions to the society include: the 2008 gift toward the capital campaign to build the Madison service center and food pantry, funding to establish the charitable pharmacy in 2013, and continued support for many society programs.

The society also greatly appreciates the services of Elizabeth Kirchstein for her input and commitment as a valued member of the Advisory Council.

“I am humbled to accept the Community Involvement Award on behalf of National Guardian Life -- it is a reflection of NGL’s employees and leadership,” said Mark Solverud. “Over the past few years, NGL has grown its philanthropic efforts and at the same time offered employees opportunities to give their time as volunteers throughout the year. NGL’s partnership with SVdP is an important collaboration with both being focused on helping those in need in our community.”

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul thanks all of its 1,672 volunteers and members who assure that our neighbors in need are served with dignity, compassion, and love.

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