She inspires others to service

By Jaye Alderson | For The Compass | March 26, 2014

Grable teaches special needs daughter the joys of volunteering

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]OSHKOSH — Giving back to her parish, Most Blessed Sacrament (formerly St. Peter Parish), has been a way of life for Jan Grable and her family for as long as she can remember.

Jan Grable (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)
Jan Grable (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)

“We were taught by our parents when we were young that you need to give back to the church because God gives so much to you,” Grable says. Her parents, the late Steve and Elaine “Sam” Genal, lived by these words. Steve Genal was an usher, and that led Grable to become an usher, too, many years later.

Her confirmation name is Francis, after her grandfather, who had died shortly before. “My grandmother was my sponsor, representing my grandfather,” she says.

Her mother, “always gave back to the church in things she knew how to do, such as crafts,” Grable says. Grable says she went along when her mother led craft activities at the parish. Now, Grable leads the crafts night activities and brings her special-needs daughter, Hannah, 24, with her.

“It means a lot to me to have her here,” Grable says. “I just hope that by joining in the parish activities, she becomes more of a caring person. I’m trying to teach her that if she has compassion for others, then others will be compassionate for her. I would like her to feel part of the parish family and that she’s comfortable here.”

Hannah especially likes craft nights, where she can be creative, and family movie nights, where she can interact with the children.

Grable has been described as a “go-to” person at Most Blessed Sacrament because she is involved in so many of the activities. She is a sacristan, usher, weekend coordinator for the 9 a.m. Mass, crafts coordinator, chair of the Parish Life Committee, co-chair of the parish picnic and designer of posters and ads for events throughout the parish.

Last year, she also helped organize the parish rummage sale, and she monitors the kitchen to make sure enough supplies are on hand for events such as funeral meals.

“I feel it’s my way of giving back to God what he’s given me,” Grable says. “God blessed me with Hannah. He had a plan for me to take care of one of his special children.”

Grable feels that all the hard work and time she puts in to the various parish activities are a special mission to build up the foundation of the parish.

“I’m doing it so people enjoy coming and doing activities with the parish family,” Grable says. “When people are more comfortable with each other, they’ll come and do more activities. The more we know of our parish family, the more comfortable we are coming to church.”

She said that the church’s focus on new evangelization and respect for life can help bring people back to the church. “I would like to think that the parish activities are bringing some back in.”

The most recent family movie night, for example, had 82 participants.

Grable is also involved with the local Elks Ladies, for which she will be president next year; has coached and assisted with Special Olympics; takes care of her disabled daughter and disabled husband, Tony; and works three jobs at Workforce Communications, freelance work for Gannett Company and Fleet Farm.

The time commitment can be pretty demanding. Grable says sometimes she can call in other parish volunteers to help, and they discover how good it feels to give of themselves and make new friends. Sometimes she coaxes friends and family to help, and sometimes she has to handle activities on her own.

“The first year with the parish picnic, it was a little overwhelming,” she says. “Sometimes with an event I think to myself, ‘Why did I say I would do this?’ But in the end, I never regret becoming involved with an activity. I’m always glad I did it. I like to see people have fun and enjoy the effects of our hard work.”

Teaming volunteers up with new people helps make new connections, she says. Many great new friendships have formed out of this practice and the new friends often greet each other and talk at church.

“Volunteering or participating in parish activities is a great way to meet people in your parish,” Grable says. “To me, it’s really fulfilling to be able to put an event together and see people come and enjoy themselves.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_message color=”alert-info”]Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Jan Grable

Parish: Most Blessed Sacrament, Oshkosh

Age: 55

Favorite saint: Francis of Assisi

Words to live by: “With God, all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26)[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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