Longtime SVDP volunteer retires

By Amanda Lauer | For The Compass | January 12, 2017

Once a client, Chilton’s Dolores Kleinhans spent four decades as a Vincentian

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]CHILTON — Dolores Kleinhans and her late husband, Jim, were first introduced to the St. Vincent de Paul Society when they were young parents raising their seven children. Dolores was a full-time homemaker and her husband bred cows for a living. She started shopping at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Sheboygan when her kids were little.

“It was almost a weekly trip,” recalled Kleinhans. “They kind of always looked out for me. They knew when I was coming in and about the sizes of clothes we needed.”

Your Catholic Neighbor: Dolores Kleinhans (Amanda Lauer | For The Compass)

Her children are all grown up now and Kleinhans has two dozen grandchildren and a dozen great-grandchildren, but she always kept close ties to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. At one point, she changed from being a client to being a volunteer with the society, known as a Vincentian. This past fall she “retired” after more than 45 years of service to the Calumet County St. Vincent de Paul Society.

While most of her work was done in Chilton, Kleinhans and her husband helped out at chapters in places like Hilbert and Kaukauna when they were in need, usually running the cash register at the thrift stores.

Kleinhans described her main duty working for the society. “We would go and visit the people who were asking for help from Calumet County. You didn’t have to be Catholic, anybody could call St. Vincent de Paul and we’d go out and visit to see what they needed and why they needed it. Every week we were helping.”

As a Vincentian, Kleinhans worked with many disadvantaged people. “We saw a lot of things through the years, a lot of sad stories. There are a lot of people out there that most people don’t even know exist and how tough it is for them,” said Kleinhans.

“Over the years you see a lot of people, you wondered whatever happened to them,” she said. “So many children weren’t taken care of. I felt sorry for them. Once in a while people get a fairly decent job and pull themselves out of (poverty). Occasionally you hear back and things turned out OK for them.”

Even though she’s no longer on the board, Kleinhans still intends to volunteer for the society. So why did she retire from the SVDP board? “It was getting to be wintertime and I was thinking, ‘Maybe I better stay home and not go out at night.’ The meetings were at night and when we would go visiting it was mostly at night.”

It’s no surprise that volunteering came so naturally for Kleinhans. When she was born, her mother had a stroke and was left disabled. Kleinhans remembers neighbors and friends helping their family out. Her father was an active volunteer in their community as well. “My dad was in the Knights of Columbus and he was into a lot of things, his picture was in the paper a lot.”

The Kleinhans lived in a couple of different places in the Calumet County area when they were raising their children and she volunteered with her children’s activities wherever they were. When her children were all out of the house, Kleinhans became a nurse’s aide, yet still maintained her active volunteer schedule, including helping out with a food program in Chilton for 15 years. “I always figured you have to keep busy in this world and if you can do some good that’s even better,” she said.

Good Shepherd Parish is also near and dear to Kleinhans’ heart. She and her husband, who died in 2013, were extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and she still distributes Communion on first Fridays to nursing homes or wherever needed. She also sings in the choir for funerals at Good Shepherd.

Every morning Kleinhans attends Mass at Good Shepherd Parish. “We’re so blessed. I think the Catholic school program here is the greatest. Father (Ryan Krueger) started having Mass every day at eight this year and it’s so nice. The young kids have the idea that you wake up and go to church every day. That’s the way it was when I grew up.”

She’d like to see more young people stepping up to volunteer like she did all those years ago. “Every time I see the volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul that are in there I ask, ‘Don’t you have any new members yet?’ It seems like it’s a hard thing for new people today,” she said. “Today it’s hard because almost all the women are working, they have families, they have to be with their families, there’s so much going on. You have TV. When we got married, we had no TV. We didn’t even have a telephone.”

She said volunteering is a great way to meet new people. “I met a lot of friends through volunteering. Every place we went we always had good neighbors. We were busy all the time,” said Kleinhans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]

Your Catholic Neighbor
Name: Dolores Kleinhans
Parish: Good Shepherd, Chilton
Age: 88
Favorite saint: Anthony
Words to live by: “You have to take life as it comes.”


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