CASCO — Jackie Peot’s connections to Holy Trinity Parish run deep. She’s celebrated the sacraments, from baptism to marriage, at the church and she proudly states, “This is my home parish. This is where I feel at home.”
Holy Trinity was her parents’ and her father’s parents’ home parish, and it was their example of serving their church that led Peot to do the same. “They always believed in being active, so I just gradually became more involved as my children got older,” she said.
Peot has been married to her husband, Mike, for 28 years. They have four adult children and 13 grandchildren. Jackie lived in Milwaukee for 11 years, but returned to Casco in 1984 to work and to raise her children.
Operating the dairy farm with her husband required their full attention, she said, which prevented her from volunteering at church. But as her children got older and they sold their dairy cows, Peot began taking on new roles.
She’s a regular lector at Mass and sings in the parish choir. She also leads recitation of the rosary before Mass when needed. Outside of Mass, she has been involved in the annual parish picnic, held the fourth Sunday of June since 1984, and served two terms as parish pastoral council president. This role required her to organize the parish Lenten mission every year. “I have continued to do that, even though I’m not on the parish council,” she said.
In 1996, she helped establish a food pantry that operates out of the church and continues today. It is a family affair that fills her schedule with work and her heart with joy.
“It isn’t run by our parish, but it is located in our church,” she said. “I was one of the founders, so I have continued with it. My folks ran it for a few years for me, and now that I’m retired from the medical profession, I’m able to devote more time to the pantry.”
Peot said the food pantry is an outgrowth of a Christmas food collection for families in the Luxemburg-Casco School District.
“Every year at Christmastime, the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America Club) would give out food baskets to people in the community as part of their projects every year,” she said. “After Christmas in 1994, Sandy Ehren (FBLA advisor) approached me and said, ‘We need something like this more than at Christmastime.’”
Peot, who was involved with the Casco Lioness Club, received start-up support from both the Lions and Lioness clubs, as well as the Algoma food pantry.
“The Lions (Club) did a lot of the manual work for us and getting things organized,” she said. “The Algoma pantry was our guide, and they loaned us $100 because we had nothing. It took a year before we could get everything together.”
The food pantry is called “Marvin’s Bin.” It is named after a late member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Luxemburg who was active in the school district’s Christmas food basket collection.
Soon after it was established, Peot became the sole food pantry director. “It has kind of been my baby, so to speak,” she said. “It’s something that I really love and cherish and want to see continue on.
“My parents loved this place almost as much as I do. Now that it’s back on my shoulders, the more I’m aware of, ‘What’s going to happen when I’m gone?’” she added. “My children have gotten the word from me that the only thing I want from them is to keep my food pantry going.”
Her two sons, Josh and Eric, both worked in grocery stores growing up, she said, “and they are really great at keeping this going. My daughters (Katie and Sandy) are great working with people. I have grandchildren who could work this place by themselves. I’m really proud of my family for jumping in and helping.”
Three volunteers, Ann Paider, Karen Lumaye and Bev Zellner, also assist Peot with the food pantry.
Peot believes that her faith compels her to not only to practice not only inside of church, but in the community.
“You don’t have to go far to look and see that there are people in need all around you,” she said. “This is what Jesus wants us to do, to help people who are in need. Oftentimes, people just need someone to talk to, to listen to them, or just a smile, to make their day brighter. That’s what I try to do, I try to live the Gospel message of being good to everyone and care for everyone. That just doesn’t seem to be an extraordinary thing.”