Music is just tip of volunteer iceberg

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | May 6, 2015

At 17, Kugel has already made service to church, community a regular part of her life

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]WAUKECHON — Kathryn Kugel believes that “music makes the Mass,” and she is doing her part to provide song at St. Martin Church in Cecil.

Your Catholic Neighbor: Kathryn Kugel  (Susan Simoens | For The Compass)
Your Catholic Neighbor: Kathryn Kugel (Susan Simoens | For The Compass)

Kugel, a junior at Shawano Community High School, plays prelude music on the piano before Mass every Sunday.

“I play five minutes before church, so people can reflect before Mass,” she said. “It’s always nice and soothing.”

Music ministry at St. Martin will also receive financial support from Kugel. For her service efforts at St. Martin, 4-H and at school, she has received the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award from the Shawano Area Community Foundation Inc. The award includes $1,000 to be distributed to organizations chosen by the recipient. Kugel, the daughter of Chuck and Mary Lou Kugel, split the monetary gift between St. Martin and the Shawano 4-H.

“It’s nice to know that you are being recognized for your efforts and that you are making a difference in the community,” said Kathryn.

The donation to St. Martin will provide for updated sheet music and future repairs, if necessary, to the piano or organ. Kathryn has been playing the piano at the church for four years. She recalls being nervous when she first started, but has grown comfortable sharing her talents with the congregation.

“People will appreciate what you do as long as you are trying,” she said. “They are not going to judge you.”

In addition to the piano, Kathryn plays the alto saxophone in the school jazz band and clarinet in the wind ensemble. She is also active in athletics for the Shawano Hawks as a singles tennis player in the fall and distance runner on the track and field team in the spring. Other school activities include National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), student council and TRI-M (music honor society).

Involvement in 4-H began in the first grade. Kathryn, a member of the Waukechon Wildcats 4-H Club, serves as a leader within the youth development and mentoring organization, including an elected position on the Wisconsin State 4-H Youth Leader’s Council. She helps plan the Wisconsin 4-H Youth Conference in Madison, serves as a 4-H camp counselor, assists at project meetings and is active in planning for the county fair.

“I like giving back to 4-H for all the opportunities it has given me,” she said. “There is always some need for an organization. If I can give to one or two, I’m happy to help them.”

Kathryn’s passion for volunteer work was evident during the recent high school prom weekend in Shawano. On Friday, she picked up garbage near the highway with other FBLA members. On Saturday morning, she assisted with registration and food preparation at the Navarino Nature Center, prior to getting ready for prom festivities.

“If there is an activity or event that needs help, I’m there to help,” she said. “If it fits into my schedule, I won’t turn it away. I learn skills from it and I feel better when I do it. I hear from some people who say that I’m doing all these things and ‘what am I going to get back from it?’ They think I should be paid. You don’t need money to feel good about what you are doing. I think of it as a good deed for someone else.”

Kathryn, who was nominated by three people for the volunteer award, points to the number of friends she has met through service as an added benefit. She will continue to play music at St. Martin through her senior year. When she attends college to study business management, she hopes to find a music ministry opportunity. Volunteerism will always be a part of her life, she said.

“If I didn’t volunteer, I feel as though I would be a completely different person,” said Kathryn. “I encourage other people to volunteer because I’ve seen the impact it’s had on me. I want them to have that same impact.”

Giving her time to help others has helped her grow in her faith.

“When you volunteer, you are giving back to the Lord,” she said. “You are giving back to him for all the great things he’s done for you.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Kathryn Kugel

Parish: St. Martin, Cecil

Age: 17

Favorite saint: Cecilia

Words to live by: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” — Vince Lombardi[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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