HORTONVILLE — Sally Quella had a career as an X-ray technician when she married her husband, Gene, in 1958. After she became pregnant with the first of their eight children, her working days outside of the home days were over, but that didn’t mean she was finished working.
Besides taking care of her children, Sally was an active community volunteer, particularly at SS. Peter and Paul Parish and the parish school. The Quellas joined the parish in 1966, when they moved to Hortonville. “When we first moved here, our oldest was in first grade. All eight kids went through SS. Peter and Paul. At one time we had six kids in that school in six grades,” said Sally.
While both Sally and Gene have a heart for volunteering, Gene’s shift work at Foremost Farms USA in Appleton limited his volunteer time. “He would help when he could,” recalled Sally. “We did many activities and projects with the school and church.”
Gene retired in 1998 and since then the couple has been busier than ever, between family activities, watching their grandchildren participating in sports (29 grandkids and going on 18 great-grandchildren), taking care of a huge garden, canning countless jars of dill pickles, etc. Gene’s focus has been assisting the couple’s neighbors, whether it’s helping on their farms, cutting lawns or fixing things that are broken.
Sally leads two major volunteer efforts at their parish. “I was in a Bible study and from that particular group we started a prayer line in which we pray for people anonymously or otherwise,” she said. “We started that in 1984 and it’s still going. My name is in the bulletin and people call me when they have a prayer request. It’s like a telephone chain. I have around 20 callers. I call one and it goes down the line.”
The bigger commitment for Sally is running the monthly Hortonville Community Blood Drive at SS. Peter and Paul for the Community Blood Center. “Through the Social Concerns Committee, we started having blood drives at church back in 1997,” said Sally. They started with one drive a year and then went to two, but the demand to donate was great.
“I talked to my coordinator and said, ‘Why don’t we just do a blood drive here every eight weeks?’” she said. “People have asked me if they have to be Catholic or belong to our parish to donate. I say, ‘No, your blood is just as good as anybody’s. It’s nondenominational blood.’”
The goal is to make sure there is a full roster of donors for the blood drive each month. “It’s a lot of telephone calls,” said Sally. “We want scheduled donors. I call them or people will call me or they can schedule online, too. We usually have 25 to 30 donors here each month.”
The next drive at SS. Peter and Paul is Oct. 5. Donation hours begin at 7 a.m., and Sally and Gene arrive at 6:30 a.m. to open the doors to register people before stepping into the Bloodmobile for the donation process. The Quellas stay on-site the entire morning.
Sally is constantly recruiting new donors. “We’re trying to get a whole new clientele for the drives because we’ve lost so many of the elderly,” she said. “They have a huge religious ed program at SS. Peter and Paul because we don’t have a Catholic school anymore. I’m trying to target the parents of these kids.”
Sally has no plans to slow down her volunteer efforts. “You can’t just sit. You have to keep motivated. That’s just my nature,” she said, adding that volunteering is the ideal way to give back for all the blessings in her lifetime.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better life. I’ve had a lot of health issues over the years but, come on, they’re just temporary. When the sun is shining, they’ll be better days. When people ask me how I’m doing I say, ‘Hey you don’t have the time to sit and listen, why should I complain?’” she said. “Being on the prayer line, I talk to so many people with so many issues. I don’t have anything compared to a lot of these people and cancer is so prevalent, it’s just awful.”
Throughout life’s challenges, Sally said she and Gene know the Lord is with them. “We pray a lot. We pray for all our family members and we pray we can continue to live a long and healthy life,” she said. “We enjoy our family, the get-togethers are wonderful. Anytime we have any of them visit we appreciate them ‘visiting the elderly.’”