It ‘snow’ doubt, he likes to lend a hand

By Jaye Alderson | For The Compass | March 9, 2017

In winter, Jon Branson volunteers to shovel snow at St. Raphael the Archangel Parish

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]OSHKOSH — For Jon Branson, a member of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Oshkosh, it’s the little things that strengthen his ties to his parish family.

Your Catholic Neighbor: Jon Branson (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)

“I try to find something I can do to help other people,” Branson said. “I like to be involved in less traditional things, things that are a little less noticed and less obvious. You won’t catch me being a eucharistic minister or anything like that, but I don’t mind doing the behind-the-scenes efforts. It’s not hard to get involved. You just have to be willing to raise your hand.”

He is wrapping up his first season of being one of the volunteer weekend snow shovelers at St. Raphael. He said Howard Frank, the staff maintenance person at the parish, handles snow clearing during the week, but several volunteers sign up for specific days to clear snow on weekends as needed.

That stewardship opportunity stood out for Branson. “If it means (Frank) doesn’t have to get up Saturday and Sunday to go to work, by all means I’ll help,” he said. “Shoveling is something I like to do, and I live seven minutes away. I like to shovel and snow blow. It’s relaxing to me. It’s a good excuse to get outside and exercise.”

Branson said there are a lot of sidewalks and a courtyard at the church. “That means getting up pretty early because the sidewalks need to be cleaned by 7:30 Mass.” During a recent snowstorm, Frank did get up early to clear the snow, “but by the time he got there, I was almost done!” Branson said.

Because they live in Oshkosh, Branson and his wife, Heather, have attended St. Raphael off and on for about 10 years, but still commuted to their home parish of St. Joseph in Appleton. His wife had been baptized there and he was confirmed there, Branson said.

In August 2016, they decided to make St. Raphael their permanent parish home. They like the numerous activities the parish offers and its family-oriented atmosphere. This was an important consideration for them because of their children, Jacob, 6, and Caleb, 4.

“We try to contribute to the community that is our parish and make it a better one,” Branson said. “We want to set a good example for our kids and other parishioners. I think it’s an important part of contributing to the parish. It’s an important way to be a good person and show your faith without being too forward about it.”

He also helps out in other quiet ways.

Branson and his wife help as group leaders for The Choice Wine, a marriage enrichment program, and help facilitate discussion after videos. They wipe down tables and fold them up after events at the parish. “Nothing big or fancy, just offering a helping hand for someone who set up an event and show our appreciation,” he said. “I don’t know how to say no. I’m always helping people out. It drives my wife bonkers. It’s part of who I am. It’s important to me to give back to my community.”

Branson is a mechanical engineer at Oshkosh Corp. and attributes his career success to mentoring he got as a high school student through the FIRST Robotics program in Appleton. This program encourages careers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“It’s part of what helped me decide what I wanted to do,” he said. He and others started a robotics program in Oshkosh and are wrapping up their ninth year. “It’s 100 percent volunteer,” he said. “It’s a paying forward thing for me. It had a huge impact on my high school career. We started this in September 2008, and have been at it ever since. We have about 40 high school students every year, and have served about 225 K-12 students from Oshkosh and surrounding townships.”

Whether in the Oshkosh community or the St. Raphael community, Branson feels it’s important for everyone to help make their surroundings better for everyone. “We’re trying very much to be more active and involved,” he said. “We’re really enjoying the availability of our parish and the community. I would encourage anybody to just raise their hand and help.”

Save[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Jon Branson

Parish: St. Raphael the Archangel, Oshkosh

Age: 32

Favorite saint: Joseph the Worker

Words to live by: “Do a good turn daily.”[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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