BRILLION — The hymn “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant” fits Kathy and Dave Daun perfectly, according to a fellow parishioner at Holy Family. The lyrics from the second verse do seem apropos: “We are pilgrims on the journey, we are travelers on the road, we are here to help each other, walk the mile and bear the load.”
Kathy and Dave live a life of service. They met when they were students at New Holstein High School, have been married 37 years, are parents to three grown children and, soon, will have five grandchildren.
They’ve had some good role models to follow. “All four of my mom’s sisters were religious sisters,” said Kathy. “Three great-aunts were sisters, a great-uncle was a priest, and there were religious on my dad’s side, too.” Dave has relatives who had religious vocations as well.
Since the age of 20, Kathy has worked in secretarial and administrative positions for churches throughout her area. For the last 37 years, Dave has worked for IBM. Their three children were enrolled in Catholic schools from elementary school through Roncalli High School. The Dauns were active volunteer parents. In addition, they’ve been committed volunteers at Holy Family Parish throughout their time there.
Dave has devoted years of service to various church committees and currently serves on the pastoral council. “Right now, we’re trying to build a learning center (which will house a Catholic grade school and the faith formation program). “We need $6.5 million, we’ve raised $5.5 million so far, so we’re on our way. I emcee the Fall Fest — the school’s fundraiser held every October. We just did the pancake and porkie breakfast — I’ve been frying potato pancakes for that for years,” he said.
Kathy works three mornings a week, but the parish staff knows her availability and calls for help when needed, including serving funeral meals. For the past nine years, she has dedicated one day each week to visiting residents at an assisted living facility in Brillion. Her other day off she dedicates to her father, who is no longer able to drive, helping him with errands and appointments. Her in-laws are in another assisted living facility and she makes time to visit with them and help them out each week as well.
COVID-19 put everything on hold for a year, but Kathy described her routine at the assisted living centers, one she anticipates getting back to soon. “I walk in the door, go from room to room and ask people if they’d like to chat. There were some people that I’d formed relationships with that I’d make sure I’d see every single week,” she said. “I seem to gravitate more to people who don’t leave their rooms, more to the people who don’t have any children or all of their children have gone, or their spouse is deceased or they are single.”
Over time, Kathy started bringing fresh cut flowers or garden vegetables to the residents and helped with tasks in their apartments. In spring, there are daffodils and tulips from her garden at home and, in the fall, she brings in gladioli, thanks to her 83-year-old father who grows them on his property.
“Last year, 170 gladiola bulbs were planted. Dad did that by himself because of COVID. Years before that, we helped plant them,” said Kathy. “That’s an old-time flower and they last over a week after they’re cut. We’ve got black, purples, yellows, pinks, oranges and reds. I bring vases with me and we’d walk to each room and say, ‘Pick a color.’” The staff collects the vases after the flowers are done and Kathy washes them to reuse for her next visit.
This spring Kathy has already delivered three sets of 34 vases of cut flowers to the Brillion facility and three sets of 15 vases to the New Holstein facility where Dave’s parents reside.
The couple made holiday meals to share during the pandemic. “Since COVID, we had Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We brought meals to people in our neighborhood or people that we knew their family wasn’t going to come visit them because of COVID. We made big meals — the turkey, the dressing, the dessert, salad, the whole bit,” noted Kathy.
Dave does his share of helping, but gives the bulk of the credit to Kathy. “She’s just kind,” he said. “She recognizes the hardships that older people have. They get lonely. Sometimes they just need someone to help them with something.”
“The older people really appreciate the small things — just a flower, talking for 15 minutes, listening,” said Kathy. “I’ve sat with a lot of people while they were dying — I’ve read from the Bible; I’ve held their hands. If I got super attached to some, I went every morning before work.”
Volunteering isn’t work, it’s a joy for the Dauns. “I like doing stuff like the pancake porkie breakfast because of the sense of community,” said Dave. “When you do events like that you meet people who have been in the parish a long time, but you never had a chance to meet them.”
“We’re so very, very blessed,” said Kathy. “I say to Dave, ‘I hope some day when I’m old there will be a Kathy who will come and visit me.’ I don’t think we treasure and value the elderly enough. They have a lot to say.”
Name: Kathy and Dave Daun
Parish: Holy Family, Brillion
Favorite Saints: Kathy: Teresa of Kolkata; Dave: Hubert
Words to live by: Kathy: “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Mt 6:6). Dave: “Remember, God loves you.”