PULASKI — The rummage sale?
Of all volunteer activities Paula Valeria is involved with at Assumption BVM Parish — catechist in the religious education program, teacher’s aide and field trip chaperone at the parish school, chairing the parish Wellness Committee — it was starting Assumption’s annual rummage sale and running it for the past 10 years that has given her the most satisfaction.
“It’s because it’s a community thing with a lot of different age groups involved,” explained Valeria, who recently received Assumption’s Kathleen Riordan Alumni of the Year Award. “A lot of people donate, and a lot of people benefit.”
Valeria likes the idea that people give toys, for example, that are made available to families that can’t afford new. “They need that source, and the toys get reused, too.”
Although in the early years she remembers working with Joan Ladowski and Lois Holewinski until two in the morning pricing items, there’s been more help recently.
“Now working at the rummage can earn fundraising hours for students and younger school families,” Valeria said, “and it’s become more of how I intended it, as a community event.”
The mother of four who range from college-age to eighth grade, Valeria was looking for a parish to be involved in when she and her husband, Scott, moved to Pulaski 26 years ago, and the beauty of Assumption BVM Church and its huge, colorful stained-glass windows was an added plus.
A veterinarian by profession who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Green Bay, Valeria confessed that she has a difficult time saying no when asked to get involved in volunteer efforts.
“I do have a problem,” she admitted with a smile, “but I do enjoy it. I love to volunteer — that’s what fills me up. I like helping people. I love working with people.”
Since all the Valeria children went to Assumption BVM School, she has had a vested interest in volunteering for events and activities there. Serving as a catechist, though, has been more of a personal passion, she said.
“I know the facts of the church, and I have the feeling that a lot of kids are missing that,” Valeria said. Her own upbringing in the faith was strong in knowledge of the faith, and that was bolstered during her college years by her involvement at St. Paul’s Catholic Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where her relationship with Jesus was deepened, she said.
Valeria said she enjoys teaching seventh graders in Assumption Parish’s religious education program “because they’re still open to learning.” In addition to passing along facts about the church, she said she aims to help young people be comfortable “pulling Jesus into the rest of your life.”
While listening to Christian radio, Valeria said she “connected with Jesus in a different way.” Now she’s a regular listener of Relevant Radio. She often prays the rosary on the way to work.
“My best prayer is when I can be in a quiet place and just be thinking about and being with God — that’s how I connect with God,” Valeria said. In the next breath she added, “Prayer is everything I do — asking the Spirit to be with you — remembering God all day while you’re working.”
When she’s not saying yes to a volunteer project or organization, Valeria gardens or cares for the menagerie on what she calls the family “farmette” just outside of Pulaski.
“I love animals,” she said as the veterinarian in her emerged. Rabbits, goats, ducks, chickens, donkeys and, of course, horses are among the creatures that have a home on the farmette.
She claimed she’s not a good rider, so the horses are really “pasture ornaments,” she said.
Valeria recently took in “Rainy,” a horse she had treated since her birth.
“A lady was going to put her down because she thought she was dangerous,” Valeria said. I took care of her all those years, and I can’t put her down; she’s a good horse.”
Name: Paula Valeria
Parish: Assumption BVM, Pulaski
Favorite saint: Francis of Assisi
Words to live by: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” — Prv 3:5-6