Champions of Change

 Recognizing the everyday people doing extraordinary things in Washington County.

Meet our 2018 Champions of Change

Mary Oldenburg, Power of One

Mary is a rock star Do Good Bus driver, a volunteer with LiFE OF HOPE, an involved member of her church, and so much more. Mary brings passion and a zest for life to everything she does. IIn every volunteer role Mary is greeting people with enthusiasm and making someone new feel right at home. In a world where bad news seems to meet us at every turn, Mary is a shining light!

Award sponsored by the Prescott Family Foundation

Charlie & Gaytha Hillman, Dynamic Duo

Charlie and Gaytha have demonstrated their commitment to education through the school board and COLUMNS, dedication to the environment through Riveredge Nature Center and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, and celebration of the arts through music and community theater. Their list of involvement is extensive. Charlie and Gaytha think of community in everything they do, and everywhere they go, they’re giving of themselves.

Award sponsored by The Hub – Social Good Brews

Harvest House, Ziegler Team Spirit

The Harvest House team has been serving up free meals at St. James Church every Saturday for 26 years. It’s the only free meal service that is served weekly in Washington County. It’s made possible through the collaboration of 16 different community organizations and a crew of dedicated volunteers. The most precious part of Harvest House is not in the meal that is served but in the relationships that grow. There is a message of love that flows through the preparation and serving of the meal and time together.

Award Sponsored by Sharon Ziegler

Keith Novotny, Emerging Leader

Even with two busy Cousins subs franchises, Keith never turns down an opportunity to support his community.  Recently, when families were displaced by house fires in Kewaskum, Keith organized a benefit in his store to raise $2,000 for the victims. Keith has also hosted numerous fundraisers to support families with children battling cancer. And he is always there for the community by donating delicious lunches to local nonprofit events. Through his generosity, Keith is inspiring his young employees by his example.

Award Sponsored by Pick Heaters, Inc.

Louise Aplin, SOAR 55

When Louise began volunteering at Habitat ten years ago she was simply filling in for someone else and it silently turned into a permanent position. She always has a positive attitude and has a lighthearted wit that keeps everyone around her in good spirits. Louise is never too busy to look something over with her keen eye for grammar and spelling or offer empathy and support to those in times of need. Louise is about to enter her “second retirement” and we’re lucky to celebrate all that she’s accomplished and given in the past ten years.

Award Sponsored by Bader Philanthropies

Allison Koerner, Rising Star

From serving as the music leader for Sunday School classes at her church to supporting those around her during mission trips, Allison exudes a joy for life and passion for giving back. Amidst her ridiculously crazy schedule, Allison knows how to balance it all. She continues to maintain strong friendships, strong academic commitment, enjoys extracurricular activities, and works hard always no matter what she is doing. Allison stands out among her peers as through her volunteer efforts and is a true rising star!

Sponsored by the Kewaskum, Slinger & West Bend School Districts

Horicon Bank, Community Partner

Horicon Bank employees commit personal and professional time to serve on countless nonprofit and civic boards including Big Brothers Big Sisters, MOWA and the Kiwanis. They recently implemented an initiative to encourage even more volunteerism among their staff. Employees will be compensated for up to 40 hours of volunteering. They’re a generous supporter of local events and organizations that make our community unique and special. 

Award Sponsored by Aurora Health Care

Sheryl Smith, Real Hero

A true champion for our local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness,  Sheryl has served on their board of directors for nearly 10 years, leading the local Outreach Committee, and instituting the national program “Ending the Silence” in all Washington County School Districts. From orchestrating an in-service for over 700 teachers and staff, facilitating a family-to-family education program, to providing Crisis Intervention Training to Washington County law enforcement personnel, Sheryl’s work has changed the conversation surrounding mental illness in our community and beyond.

Award Sponsored by West Bend Mutual Insurance

Ramiro Paz, Beyond the Board

After hearing of Casa Guadalupe Education Center, Ramiro volunteered to serve on their “Fiesta Latina” fundraiser planning committee. Quickly graduating into a board member role, he’s proven time and time again that he’s a servant leader willing to go above and beyond. He volunteers for tasks large and small and provides sound guidance that continues to steer the organization in a positive direction. Of his character, his nominator wrote: “Seeing how involved he is in the community motivates me as a leader to be my best self and continue to serve and make a difference.” Congratulations Ramiro on this well-deserved award!

Award Sponsored by Schreiber Foods

Juli Benedum, Judges’ Choice

Juli has served on the Boards for both the Council on AODA and Nova Services, often holding concurrent leadership positions until the organizations merged in 2014 to form Elevate. Juli continues to serve on the Board of Elevate today. An attorney at West Bend Mutual, she has also volunteered as the Washington County Bar Association Treasurer since 2007. She takes every opportunity to champion awareness of substance abuse and mental health issues. She coordinates fundraisers at her office and often serves as a sounding board to colleagues on topics impacting our community.

Award Sponsored by Delta Defense

Joe & Carol Takacs w/Tinker & Ta-Lu-La, Changemaker Award

Joe and Carol, along with their miniature horse Tinker and tiny dog, Ta-Lu-La, ring bells for the Salvation Army. You’ll see them outside countless businesses and community events during the holidays — many times a handful of locations in one day! People are drawn to them because of the animals, and compelled to give because of Joe & Carol’s warm demeanor, and passion for supporting the Salvation Army.

…And Tinker is not just there for show. He picks up the bell in his mouth, waves his head up and down and rings that bell for 2 solid hours! The Takacs team is so committed and makes sure every person knows their donation will stay local and support those in need right here in Washington County.

Award Presented by the Volunteer Center