InSpiring Woman 2016 – Heart
by Gloria Hafemeister
“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” This adage certainly applies to Linda Kane of Horicon, a winner of InSpire Magazine’s InSpiring Women contest. Linda, who grew up with twelve siblings, credits her mom for inspiring her to find time to do so many things for others.
“Mom always said, ‘If it’s important, you’ll find the time.’ She was instrumental in how we approach the people we meet in life,” Linda reports. “Mom continuously told us, ‘People may not always be nice to you, but they are doing the best they can.’” Linda also believes her interest in helping others wherever she can comes from her life-long experience as a teacher. She taught for 34 years at Van Brunt School in Horicon, five years at the summer recreation department in the City of Horicon, and 15 years of summer school.
During these years of interaction with children, she began to see the needs of some children in her area and started to devise ways to lead in efforts to help. She says, “I tried to incorporate the needs I could see into the school.” Over the years, she voluntarily coached youth wrestling, golf, bowling, girls’ softball, and little league, not to mention that she was the high school track coach for 25 years. She notes, “I was in school before there were organized sports for girls. Mom signed me up for little league in town with my brother.”
While in college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, however, she lettered in basketball, track, volleyball, and softball. She believes it was then that she learned how to make the best use of her time, juggling her studying schedule with her practices and games. In the nomination for the Inspiring Women honor, her husband, Michael, calls her “The matriarch and rock of our family.” The couple has two sons – Brock and Clint, and three grandchildren, Logan, Maggie, and Spencer. As a grandmother, she is involved in her grandchildren’s school, St. Stephen’s Lutheran School, as well as in her own church, Sacred Heart Parish, where she teaches religion class. Her nomination lists many other contributions she has made over the years, including organizing the Horicon High Craft Fair for scholarships; scholarship raffles at Horicon High School athletic events; Jump Rope for Life; soup and aluminum tab collections for charity; neighborhood diabetes and cancer donation drives, and making creative furniture items and quilts to donate to St. Stephen’s and Sacred Heart church raffles. She is a long-time blood donor, gave seminars at senior dining events, ran the bell for the Salvation Army for 20 years, delivered meals for deceased Horicon residents’ families, and led her school classes in making and sending postcards to shut-ins and residents of nursing homes. As if that list weren’t enough, she also donates time and plants to the Master Gardener program, did highway trash cleanup through the school, served as a Cub and Boy Scout leader for ten years, served on the Horicon City Park Board for ten years, and collected and sent care packages to active-duty military people who attended Horicon High School. She voluntarily checks students at St. Stephens Lutheran School for head lice, applying the experience she had performing this task during her teaching career in public school. She has participated in efforts to raise funds for many charities such as swimming at the YMCA for cancer, serving as a “prisoner” for the Dodge County Jail and Bail charity; raising money at school for Tsunami Relief Fund, taking part in the Crop Walk for charity for ten years; and golfing for charity.
Even the time she devotes to personal efforts ends up being for someone’s benefit. Her large family, including siblings and their children and grand children, get together each year for a family holiday celebration. To offset the cost of the event, she and her sisters make items for a raffle. She also enjoys sewing and coming up with creative projects, often recycling materials found among her parents things after they passed away. Most recently she and her sister sewed a baby quilt for a great niece’s baby using scraps salvaged from her mother’s home-made quilts. Linda doesn’t think that she has done anything out of the ordinary. When she seeks volunteers to assist with the many projects, such as the High School Craft Fair, she doesn’t ask them to give a lot of time – just an hour or two. She understands that young parents are busy juggling their time between their families and their jobs, but she says, “If more people gave an hour to a project, there would not be the need for others to give quite as much time.” She also knows the satisfaction that comes from giving time to worthwhile efforts and says it is not work but a pleasure. Congratulations on this honor Linda, you deserve it. Thank you for everything you have done for the community, and may you be an example for generations to come.
InSpiring Woman 2016 – Happiness
by Brooke Schumann
Can you imagine a world without birthdays? Some of children’s fondest memories come from birthday celebrations with decorations, party favors, games, and time with family and friends. Let’s not forget about the cake, either.
Nicole Moll, from Poynette a winner of InSpire Magazine’s InSpiring Women contest, felt a deep connection to her birthday celebrations growing up as well. She and her two younger sisters would spend all year planning the theme for their birthday parties. Now, a mother of three boys, Nicole sees just how much of an impact birthday celebrations have on children. That’s why she started, “Box of Balloons.” “Box of Balloons” is a non-profit organization that sponsors birthday parties for children in need. The box literally contains an entire party within it, such as decorations, cupcakes, party favors, and other helpful supplies. The organization works directly with social workers to get requests from children in need, so the “Box of Balloon” team can create a list to fulfill the requests for each child. Volunteers purchase particular items that they selected to be responsible for, and piece by piece the box begins to form a uniquely themed birthday. The box is brought to the child and they get to enjoy a specially crafted party just for them.
“Box of Balloons” did take years of planning in the beginning. It was an idea Nicole had thought about for a long time, because there were challenges to overcome with all of the details. She was concerned about the parents or caregivers of the children not feeling involved. She said, “I have a degree in social work, and I kept thinking what would the parents be doing? We are strangers coming in throwing parties for their kids while they are doing what? Standing there feeling bad or awkward.” Nicole wanted the experience to reach not only the kids, but also the parents. As a solution, they began to work with social workers, which allowed for parents or caretakers of the children to play a role in opening the box and setting up the party for their child with no-strings attached. The Sun Prairie community was where “Box of Balloons” filled its first two requests. After that, it was a hit. Nicole said, “After our first two, it really took off. We now have fourteen chapters in eight different states and we’ve given almost 600 birthday parties in two and a half years.” Nicole expressed that “Box of Balloons” would not be possible without all of the people who were so positive in the beginning who supported her. She stated, “We have an awesome group of volunteers helping and contributing.” Not only has Nicole implemented this successful, uplifting non-profit, but she also sponsors children in need in Guatemala. She first went to Guatemala on a mission trip in college working in coffee fields and building a women’s center. While she was there she met a little girl who was five years old and decided to sponsor her. She returned back to Guatemala multiple times to visit her and her family. She would continue to sponsor her until she was 16 years old. Then, when she returned to Guatemala with her husband many years later for another mission trip, she began to sponsor another child she met there.
She exclaimed, “Now, I have another connection to go back.” Nicole’s love for serving others permeates all areas of her life. She volunteers at Heartland Community Church in Sun Prairie, The Road Home in Madison, she is a part of the Women’s Ministry, and serves as a member of the parents club at her children’s school.
Nicole loves being such an active member in her community. She said, “I don’t like to sit idle. To some people, it is relaxing for them to sit around. However, every – time I curl up on the couch, I wonder what else could I be doing? Being busy is something that energizes me. I know time is so limited, and I want to do the most that I can do for other people and make the most of my time.” Nicole has enjoyed being able to see her children initiate their own want to give back to the community.
Recently, Nicole’s three sons and herself created their own special event. She explained, “It is so cool, this past summer we made a day called, “Throw Kindness Friday,” where we would collectively think about what we could do to brighten someone’s day. One day, we brought iced coffee to lifeguards. Another time, we brought pizza to the homeless in Madison.” So where does this inspiring woman get her inspiration from? She shared, “Biggest thing for me is God – I want to be his hands and feet. When you love God, you love others. That is something I live by. I want my kids to know that is what my mom did, and that’s what I want to do.”
InSpiring Woman 2016- Health
by Brooke Schumann
How would you react if you saw someone going into cardiac arrest? Would you call 911, be paralyzed with panic, or attempt to save their life? For Carla Reed, from Rio, WI, it would be second nature for her to immediately begin to resuscitate them. She said, “If I see someone who needs help, I’m just the one to do it. I don’t even think about it.” Carla has had this exact event happen to her on a school field trip with her daughter, where she saved a man’s life. A former registered nurse, Carla has been a stay-at-home mom for about sixteen years. When not tending to her daughter, Emily, and family, Carla’s involvement in her community is unparalleled. As a winner of InSpire Magazine’s InSpiring Women contest, she truly takes every opportunity to serve others not only in organized groups, but also in daily life. When Carla decided to be a stay-at-home mom, she was met with some resistance. People said, “You’re such a people person, I can’t believe you are going to stay home.” Carla put aside her career as a nurse to take care of her newborn daughter. She continued to keep her nursing license current just in case she ever wanted to go back to work. As her daughter was beginning to grow up, Carla felt the need to get really involved in her community. She reflected, “When Emily was turning 3 or 4 and began to walk around, I had made friends at the library through a parents group. One of the people there asked me to join the Lions Club.” Little did she know that eventually she would serve 9 years as the treasurer of the Lions club and hold office in multiple other positions. She continued, “My husband had been helped by the Lions club when he was a little kid because he had lazy eye. So he said, ‘If you join, I will join,’ so we got really active with our local Lions Club and we raised money for people with visual defects.” While Carla got more involved with the club, she became close with many of its members. She met an older gentleman, whose wife had end-stage renal disease. He didn’t always feel up to taking his wife to her dialysis appointments, so Carla stepped in. She reflected, “He was in his 80’s and instead of struggling, I told him, ‘Why don’t you call me? I can put Emily in her car seat and we can come help you.’ So, I started doing that, and I would drive his wife to her dialysis.” People in her community started to notice Carla’s acts of giving and kindness. Her church, St. Patrick’s’ Catholic Church in Doylestown, asked her if she would be interested in being one of ladies who make arrangements for funerals. She agreed. Now, for about four months out of the year Carla is planning funerals. If anyone dies in those four months, she is there to help make arrangements. She explained, “We serve meals, like sandwiches and stuff like that to the guests that come to the funeral. So, I’m the chairperson for that, from September to December. But then throughout the year, if any other funeral chairs need help, then I will go and help out.” Carla comes into contact with many people on a daily basis who she lends an open ear to hear their concerns, and she always tries her best to offer them a different perspective. As things come up, Carla continues to be involved, such as coaching soccer, giving rides for school events, participating in concessions at athletic events, and much more. She shared, “I don’t do these things for the recognition. I just do them because they are the right thing to do. I live in a small community where neighbors help neighbors- no matter what. I just went and helped.” Early on, Carla’s mother was a big inspiration for her growing up. She said, “I always had a very hardworking, loving mother, who would go out of her way to do anything for her family.” Her parents encouraged her to never expect something in return for helping some – one. They encouraged her that you do things for people, because it is the right thing to do. Carla is celebrating being with her husband, Mike, for twenty years. Mike’s mother also made an impact on Carla, she stated, “I also saw the same qualities of hard work and love for one’s family in my mother-in-law. I’ve had some really strong women to draw from.” Carla will continue to stay involved and keep serving her community as much as she can. Slowing down is not an option for her. She shared, “Sometimes people tell me to slow down and take care of myself. If I had to lay around, I would not enjoy my life as much. Keeping myself busy keeps me positive.”
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