NEW HOLSTEIN — On March 1, Heather Holton succeeded her husband, Dave, as director of the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse in New Holstein. The warehouse, started by Salvatorian Br. Regis Fust 56 years ago, ships clothing, furniture, paper products, food and medical supplies to Catholic missionaries in 14 countries around the world.
Br. Regis, now retired, began shipping supplies to missionaries in 1963 when his sister, a nurse, asked where her hospital could donate its excess medical supplies. Br. Regis contacted a Salvatorian missionary who arranged for shipment to a missionary hospital. That was the start.
Both of the Holtons are lay Salvatorians, which is how they met Br. Regis.
“I first became aware of the Salvatorian family when Dave started as vocations director for the society when we lived in Milwaukee,” explained Heather, who made her profession as a Salvatorian in 2017. “Our children and I began to tag along to many Salvatorian events and I was immediately struck by the spirit of love and welcome I felt as part of the community. I was drawn to the charism and made my way through formation with my husband and several others.”
The Holtons have four children: Joseph, 13; Samuel, 11; Clare, 9; and Nicholas, 7.
Dave became the warehouse’s director in 2015. Heather volunteered at the warehouse and later became its development director. She said that, in that role, she handled bills and donations (both monetary and supplies), managed the warehouse’s website and Facebook presence, and created print materials.
“I am continuing with these activities as director since Mark (Steiner) is now on board to manage internal warehouse activities,” she said.
Mark Steiner is the new warehouse and volunteer manager. His wife, Deb, serves as the warehouse’s accountant.
The Holtons are actually switching roles. For the last five years, Heather has run the event-planning company she and Dave started 15 years ago. Dave will now take over that business full-time.
“Essentially, Dave and I just flip-flopped our jobs,” she said.
Heather credits her husband with changes in the “organization of the warehouse” since 2015.
“Dave did not just reorganize the physical warehouse,” she said, “but reorganized and reimagined the entire process of what we do. All the files and correspondence were transferred to computers, donor relations were streamlined, volunteer activities adjusted.”
Heather added that Dave “took on the huge task of transitioning the warehouse from a labor of love way of life for Br. Regis and (Salvatorian) Sr. Dora (Zapf) to a relief organization that stands independently of any single person,” she said. “Many people thought the warehouse would close when Br. Regis and Sr. Dora retired, but Dave proved that God isn’t done with this ministry yet.”
Heather said that Br. Regis checks up on the warehouse.
“Although he now resides in Milwaukee, Br. Regis returns to New Holstein regularly to visit Sr. Dora and other friends and attend local events,” she said. “He stops in at the warehouse to chat with the volunteers and touch base.”
She added that Br. Regis “has been invaluable in terms of explaining to me the background of how/why we ship to certain missions or why we stopped sending to a specific country.”
Heather has plans for the future. She envisions expansions that will help with requests from missions seeking to provide more social services for the elderly and children in developing nations.
“Of course, this would mean more funding and specific product donations,” she said, “so I am working to create ‘wish lists’ so individuals, companies and parishes can identify and fulfill those needs.”
Heather said that she has seen how things work at the mission warehouse and knows that blessings “come in their own time.”
“Although I am a goal-setter by nature, in my short time here, I have already come to realize that the Holy Spirit is running the warehouse,” she told The Compass. “For instance, so often a mission contacts me with a specific need and, within days, that exact item is donated to the warehouse.”
She also credits Steiner, whom she said was “already well-known to many of the volunteers.”
“His skill set and past experience made him a perfect match for maintaining the daily internal operations of the warehouse,” Heather said. “His availability to come on board at this time is one of the many ways I have seen God quietly bless this ministry.”
For more information on the Mission Warehouse, visit salvatorianmissionwarehouse.org.