[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]APPLETON — It takes a lot of volunteers to keep a nonprofit organization up and running. Paul and Sharon Bauer can attest to that. The couple has been volunteering at Fox Valley Warming Shelter for six years. The shelter opened at St. Joseph Church in February 2008 and later that year, 20 churches — including Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish — stepped up to offer facilities for the shelter on a rotating basis.
“We’ve been involved (at the shelter) ever since they were at Sacred Heart Parish,” said Paul. “I volunteered first just to help serve meals a couple of nights that they were here but I also worked the eight to midnight shift.”
Later, Sharon joined him. “Primarily … we do laundry, make lunches and make dinners for the late comers,” said Paul. The shelter is open from 5 p.m. until 9 a.m. year round.
Not only do the Bauers help at the shelter, they help out behind the scenes. Sharon coordinates volunteers from Sacred Heart to cook and serve meals plus staffs the facility several times each year. “Basically we have to make a meal for one or two nights and have enough food to provide for 50 or 60 people,” said Paul.
Finding volunteers is not difficult, noted Sharon. “Most people are really good about it. We try to get three people for each dish: the main dish, vegetable, salad and dessert. So you need 12 people for every meal to make food and then you need another four to six people to serve the food.”
If they run short of people to cook, Paul and Sharon will do that plus cover their own evening shift. They also pick up food from other parishioners if they aren’t able to transport it to the shelter.
Since there is a limit of how long a person can stay at the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, the Bauers meet new people every time they volunteer. “The warming shelter is supposed to be a last-ditch effort, so to speak. There should be other services available to these people,” said Paul. “If the regular facilities are filled up or people have just come into the area and they haven’t applied for all the things they can apply for as far as help is concerned, then they have to stay somewhere and they usually end up at the warming shelter. After they find out what’s available they might go somewhere else like the emergency shelter.”
It’s been gratifying working with the clients at the shelter, said the Bauers.
“One of the things that attracted us to helping out with this particular vocation is the people are so appreciative of everything you do for them. They’re polite; they always thank you. That’s one of the things that Sharon and I have always liked about working down there, it gives you a good feeling to help them out,” said Paul.
In addition to this mission, Sharon is actively involved in the Civic League, which benefits Thompson Community Center. Paul also helps out at the community center. At Sacred Heart, Paul is a trustee so he’s on the finance council, serves funeral Masses, sings in the Hearts of Praise choir and together they sell scrip (retail gift cards) after Mass. They’ve also been a FOCCUS couple for the past 25 years.
Doing as much volunteer work as they do takes not only time but energy, especially for Sharon who was afflicted by spasmodic torticollis/cervical dystonia, a chemical imbalance in the motor control center of the brain, when she was in college.
“Most days I love volunteering because I love getting out of the house and helping other people. It makes you feel good rather than sitting in the house feeling sorry for yourself,” she said.
“The feedback you get from the people you either work with or that you help more than repays you for anything that you do,” added Paul. “Everybody is so appreciative of what you do for them. You can see that you’re helping somebody and to me that’s what life is all about, you have to help each other.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]Your Catholic Neighbors
Names: Paul and Sharon Bauer
Parish: Sacred Heart of Jesus, Appleton
Favorite saints: Sharon: Maria Goretti; Paul: Francis of Assisi
Words to live by: Sharon: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Paul: “Any good deed you do or any donation you make will be returned tenfold.”[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]