[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]NEENAH — It takes a lot of volunteers to keep a parish and Catholic school system running. Tiffany Vosters found that out when her oldest child began preschool at St. Gabriel School in Neenah.
A professional photographer by trade, Vosters started volunteering that year at the grade school. “It’s been a progression,” Vosters noted. “I started helping out in the classroom and really got involved when my oldest was in the elementary school. (Through the years), I got a lot more involved in fundraising and the PTO (parent-teacher organization).”
While Vosters spent several years on the PTO committee, including leading the organization, the largest endeavor she has tackled has been chairing the Brewfest committee. That’s the main fundraiser for St. Gabriel School, held every October.
“Brewfest is a beer-tasting event, so we have to line up all the vendors and distributors. We need to get donations for the raffle items and sponsorships for the event — that’s the biggest money maker,” she said.
Brewers who are $500 sponsors get their logos on pint-sized glasses and the school had nine sponsors qualify this past year, according to Vosters. “It takes days and days of work for about eight or nine of us to put the baskets together. There’s the silent auction, limited quantity raffle items, and there’s food — so the food committee goes around and gets food donations for the event.”
There is a core committee of about 10 people, who are assigned various roles, including finding volunteers. “Lots of people aren’t comfortable calling for donations, so they can help out the night of the event — serving and pouring the beer, set up, clean up.”
Brewfest 2015 was Vosters’ eighth year on the committee. She co-chaired it three years ago and chaired the last two events. It’s not unusual to put in 40-hour weeks and the week or two before Brewfest, she may be putting in 50 or 60 hours of work on this. “I am fortunate with my career that it’s fairly flexible,” she said.
Next fall’s Brewfest is scheduled for Oct. 21 at the Riverwalk Hotel in downtown Neenah. When asked if she’ll be chairing the committee again this year, Vosters said it was “up for discussion.”
When teachers at school are looking for help, Vosters steps forward if she’s able to. That includes volunteering not only at St. Margaret Mary, where her two youngest children attend, but also at St. Mary Catholic Middle School, her two oldest children’s school.
Volunteering runs the gamut, from helping at the book fair, in the classrooms, chaperoning field trips, serving lunch, or, as is the case most often at the middle school, helping with the booster club at various sporting events. She also puts her photography skills to work to help out the school system as a whole, taking pictures for their marketing and website.
Her family (husband, Chad, and sons Sam, eighth grade, Jaydin, sixth grade, Jack, third grade, and Max, first grade) also volunteer on a regular basis as a family. “We do donuts for the parish on Sunday mornings for the PTO. Different families volunteer to do that. Our family does it as often as needed,” she said.
Running announcements in newsletters to solicit volunteers isn’t as effective as personal invitation, she said. “When you ask personally, people get more involved. People don’t necessarily know what’s going on. We can say, ‘Hey, come and get your feet wet and work the ice cream social or come and work the book fair.’”
There are so many advantages to being an active volunteer parent, she said, such as knowing the kids in the school and knowing the parents. Even though Vosters wasn’t a product of the Catholic school system, she’s a huge believer in it now.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have our kids here,” she said. “We feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to send them through the system. Volunteering just feels like a way to give back. I am capable of doing this, so why wouldn’t I? I want to make a difference.”
Volunteering for the things that touch her children’s lives is rewarding for Vosters. “I can’t imagine not wanting to be involved with my kids. It’s not work, it’s being involved. I think it’s an important example for our kids, too. … Eventually they’ll be like, ‘OK, Mom and Dad are helping the neighbors, they’re helping at school, it’s not just about us.’”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]
Your Catholic Neighbor
Name: Tiffany Vosters
Parish: St. Gabriel the Archangel, Neenah
Favorite saint: Blessed Mother
Words to live by: “Don’t complain about something unless you’re going to do something about it.”