Bingo is couple’s outreach ministry

By | March 24, 2011

Baptized in the former Sacred Heart Church (now part of St. Jude’s), she has been a member there her whole life.


Julie and Dave Schmude (Dick Meyer | For The Compass)

“We used to go to play bingo when I was growing up,” she says. “For us, it was a night out with relatives. My mother and I would go, aunts and uncles, cousins. It got to be a social get-together.”

Julie believes strongly in God’s plan for her life.

“I believe that he’ll take care of us regardless of what goes on in our lives,” she says. “Only the Lord knows that plan he’s got for me, and I trust him to take care of me. That gives me a lot of strength — that whatever’s happening happens for a reason.”

She earned a business degree from the UW-Oshkosh and has worked for the Winnefox Library System at the Oshkosh Public Library for 34 years. She runs all the details of St. Jude’s bingo program.

“I am the license holder and the record-keeper, so I ensure that the state law is adhered to and I run the bingo — what games are played, what the payouts will be, paperwork, paying the taxes,” she says. “We run the concessions and a raffle.”

She estimates that she puts in about eight hours a week with the bingo program. Her service is a faith statement for her, she says.

Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Dave and Julie Schmude

Parish: St. Jude the Apostle, Oshkosh

Age: Dave: 68; Julie: 54

Words to live by: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you,” says the Lord,
“plans for your welfare not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jer 29:11)

“It was something I could do to give of myself,” she says. “My organizational skills were something I could give. There are so many benefits to giving back. I appreciate everybody who volunteers for the bingo program. We’ve developed relationships that we might have missed out on otherwise.”

Dave agrees. “It’s part of my faith to contribute to the church,” he says.

He was brought up in the Lutheran faith in Poygan and has been a member of St. Jude’s since he and Julie married 32 years ago.

“I was always a firm believer in what my mom and dad said — you should help somebody else out the same way you’d want to be helped out,” he says. “Being brought up on a farm, that makes a lot of difference. A lot of farmers work together.”

In the bingo program, he says all the other volunteers make it easier to run the program.

“If I asked for a favor, they’d be right there to do it,” he says.

Dave says he started by setting up tables for bingo, and his involvement progressed from there. Now, he comes in at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays to set up and make the barbecue for the evening. From about 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. he helps run the program and serves as one of the callers.

The couple’s daughter, Stacey Schmude, 22, also is a supervisor for the program.

Julie says this is the only church bingo program left in Oshkosh, and she attributes that to the strong base built by the founders and the willingness of volunteers to continue it.

“Membership in the church means community and faith,” she says. “Bingo is its own ministry. It is fund-raising. … We have parish members, nonmembers, developmentally disabled people, elderly people, young people. To me, it is so rewarding seeing these people from different backgrounds develop bonds with one another. For some of them, it’s the only social event they do during the week.”

More than just gambling, it’s ministry-based, she adds.

“You’re taking care of the needs of people who come to play,” says Julie. “They’ve built relationships and friendships this way. When somebody is not there for a couple of weeks, others are concerned and they’ll call. I do it for the people. When I see their smiles, to me that means everything.”

Dave says that if the parish bingo closed, “I don’t think the people around here would forgive us.”

“We have a very good bunch of people who come here to play bingo. I’m retired, it passes the time and I enjoy it. I’m helping the church out so they can keep going. It makes me feel good that I can do something like that.”

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