Fighting cancer on her terms
by Faye Burg
Kim Olson of Kiel met the love of her life while helping a family member who was fighting breast cancer.
Now, 25 years later, Olson herself is fighting that same battle and has chosen nutrition and lifestyles changes to treat her cancer.
Olson was diagnosed with Stage II, Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in May 2013 after finding a lump in her breast. “After I found the lump myself in my right breast, I saw my family doctor who scheduled a mammogram followed by an ultrasound and a needle biopsy,” Olson explained. “The radiologist called me with the biopsy results and diagnosis the next day.”
“When I found the lump, I immediately had a feeling it was cancer, for no other reason than the fact that my family had not yet experienced any serious trials, and I had often wondered when it would be our turn,” Olson said, adding she never experienced any symptoms before being diagnosed. “I simply found the lump in my breast one day and had it checked out.”
“As soon as I had the diagnosis I began researching everything I could about breast cancer, specifically, and about cancer in general,” she said.
Taking news in stride
Olson said she was calm when she received the diagnosis. “I wasn’t filled with fear or worry; I was very calm and accepting and matter-of-fact about it. That response was partially due to my personality, and mostly due to my faith. I put my trust in Christ a long time ago, and because of the salvation I experienced through Him and the relationship I have with Him, I know that whatever happens in my life is not only allowed by Him, but I can also trust His promise to be with me through everything. Philippians 4:7 speaks of God's peace, which is beyond comprehension, ‘keeping your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ That is what I experienced.”
Olson and her husband Bob have been married for 21 years and have five children ranging in age from 19 years to 9 years. “We met in 1990, while I was in Michigan helping take care of my cousin’s five small children while she underwent chemo treatments for breast cancer.”
The most difficult part for Olson of learning she had cancer was telling her children. “They were understandably upset and emotional, and as a mom whose instinct is to protect and make everything better, it was hard to have to give them news that caused fear and sadness. I knew they were thinking that their mom might die, and it was heartbreaking hearing my youngest child, through her tears, say those exact words.”
She spent a great deal of time with her children giving them information, answering their questions and reminding them of their faith. “We spoke of God’s promises, His faithfulness and His sovereignty,” Olson said. “Then we all prayed together as a family.”
Considering her options
After her diagnosis, Olson was presented with treatment options including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and the drug Tamoxifen, which would lower her estrogen levels. “My cancer was estrogen receptor positive,” Olson explained. “I chose to have the lumpectomy which is the removal of only the cancerous tumor, but not the sentinel lymph node biopsy. I declined radiation, chemo, and Tamoxifen, choosing a natural approach of fighting the cancer instead, which included detox, diet changes, supplements, and lifestyle changes.”
Olson said she discovered through her research that the sentinel lymph node biopsy surgery, which is a much more invasive procedure than just the removal of the tumor, is only done to determine treatment recommendations. “I confirmed this with my surgeon,” she said. “If cancer is in the lymph nodes, chemotherapy would definitely be recommended. So, if the patient has already decided to either get or refuse chemo, this surgery is unnecessary. Since I had already decided not to have chemo, I chose to skip the lymph node biopsy and just have a lumpectomy.”
“Even before I was diagnosed with cancer, having seen or known people who had gone through standard cancer treatments, it never really made sense to me to poison the entire body in order to kill some cells,” Olson said referring to chemotherapy. “Chemo doesn’t only attack the cancer cells; it is a systemic treatment that attacks cells throughout the entire body, decimating the immune system and weakening the whole body. I thought there had to be a better way to beat cancer and maintain health at the same time.”
“Also through research, I learned that both radiation and chemotherapy cause more cancer,” she added. “While both treatments do kill cancer cells, they also cause normal cells to mutate into cancerous cells weeks, months, or years later. Chemotherapy also causes those cancer cells to become resistant to chemo drugs, requiring stronger and stronger chemo drugs to be used when one stops working. This explains why cancer patients who undergo these treatments will commonly be declared in remission or cancer free for a period of time, but then at some point, the cancer returns, either as a recurrence of the original cancer, or as a new cancer in some other part of the body, so more, stronger chemotherapy is given and the cycle repeats. That seemed pretty counterproductive to me, and I really didn’t want to trade one cancer for another down the road.”
Olson decided to forego treatment with the drug Tamoxifen because she said it disrupts the body’s endocrine system and artificially induces menopause. “It also has a host of unpleasant and harmful side effects of its own, and again, it didn’t make sense to me.”
Improving diet, nutrition
Working with Dr. Nic Giebler for five years, Olson had learned a lot about nutrition and said she had loosely followed Giebler’s nutritional recommendations. “After I was diagnosed, I fully implemented a change in diet and nutrition. I also read several books, but the majority of my research was done online. As I learned more about specific foods and nutrients that were especially effective against cancer, or about specific foods that contributed to cancer, I added to or eliminated them from my diet. I am continually researching and learning more all the time.”
“I chose to use nutrition and lifestyle changes to fight my cancer when I realized that our bodies are designed to heal themselves, and I needed to get my body back to the state where it could function the way it is meant to function,” Olson said. “Our complicated immune systems are capable of identifying, killing, and eliminating cancerous cells, but when the body and the immune system is overwhelmed because it can’t keep up with the inflammatory load caused by poor diet, poor nutrition, toxins, stress, etc., it can’t function the way it was designed.”
Olson said the body and immune system’s inability to deal with various health issues going on in the body results in symptoms such as allergies, joint pain, digestive issues, thyroid issues, skin issues, sleeping problems, autoimmune disorders, and cancer, among other things. “Cancer is a symptom of a poorly functioning body,” she said. “Surgery, chemo, radiation, and drug therapies only address the symptoms and do not address the reason why the body is allowing cancer cells to thrive and proliferate in the first place. Nutrition and natural, alternative cancer treatments change the environment of the body from one of ‘dis-ease’ back to an environment of strength and health in which the body systems can function properly and heal the body.
“Although there are many natural, alternative cancer treatments available, I have not had to seek them out at this point. The nutrition and lifestyle changes I have implemented so far have been adequate to beat my cancer. My last two thermography scans were clear, and right now there is no evidence of cancer. I do have an oncologist who is willing to work with me despite refusing standard treatments. I haven’t needed to see him much, but I plan to follow up with more blood work, and I have sent him the doctor reports from my thermography scans.
Olson prefers thermography scans over mammograms. “I refuse to have another mammogram. I know that’s a controversial statement to make because mammograms are pushed so heavily, but after doing the research, I discovered that mammograms are neither safe nor always effective. Mammograms are one of the cash cows of the cancer industry, so they aren’t likely to be eliminated any time soon despite results of the most recent study involving 10,000 women over a span of 25 years which showed that regular mammograms offer no benefit over not having regular mammograms.”
“The study showed there is actually a slightly increased risk of incidences of cancer and cancer deaths in women who have regular mammograms compared to those who don’t,” Olson continued. “Mammograms use ionizing radiation, the same form of radiation that causes cancer, so regular mammograms increase the risk of developing breast cancer; they also have significant rates of false positives and false negatives, and they are unreliable for young dense breast tissue, very small breasts, and very large breasts. Instead, I have replaced mammography with thermography scans.”
Olson explained thermography as infrared imaging done by a licensed technician. “It takes pictures of the body with an infrared camera which produces full-color images that are read by a doctor who issues a report on the results. If there is moderate or high risk of cancer, follow-up is recommended with a doctor. Thermography is completely non-invasive, it has no side-effects, and it is more accurate than mammography. Thermography can detect breast cancer 10 years before a mammogram can. It can also detect inflammatory breast cancer which cannot be detected by mammography. Cancerous activity in the body involves inflammation and vascular activity which produces heat. These abnormal heat patterns show up in thermographic images.”
Deciding not to seek traditional medical methods of treatment, Olson’s daily life has been relatively unaffected by her diagnosis. Every morning she gets the kids off to school and walks three blocks to work. Evenings are spent checking in with the kids, assisting with homework and piano practice and seeing that chores are done. “I do try to get some exercise every day,” she said. “On Tuesday and Friday mornings I play basketball with the guys at open gym at Kiel High School, and I try to get a good walk in on the other days. In the colder months I will sometimes walk on my lunch hour, but in the warmer months when it is light earlier, I can go for a walk or jog in the early morning. I try to make sure I get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and sleep daily, and I try to avoid unnecessary screen exposure, especially since I work on computers most of the day.”
Family support helps
Olson enjoys strong family support for her treatment decisions, and everyone has tried to make good changes to their diets along with Olson. “Instead of forcing my family to change their diets abruptly like I did, I’m taking the approach of leading by example. My kids do pay attention, and they have seen my overall health improve. They ask me a lot of nutrition questions, and especially my older girls have made changes on their own, which is great.”
“I can’t really afford to buy everything organic, so I do the best I can, within reason,” Olson said. In addition to planning a yearly garden, Olson seeks out other sources for healthy food. “Grassway Organics farm store just outside of Kiel is a regular stop for me. It’s best to know where your food is coming from, so growing it yourself or becoming a member of a local CSA are great options as well as buying eggs and meat from local farmers whom you know use natural, healthy farming practices.”
Since her diagnosis in 2013, Olson said not only have her family bonds been strengthened, but also her faith in God. “The threat of cancer has definitely strengthened our family and drawn us even closer together. I am thankful that I have not had one moment of physical suffering, and that my family has not had to watch me suffer.
“This experience has strengthened my faith and reminded me that the God who designed the human body also provided everything needed, food and medicine from the earth, to keep it functioning optimally.
“I have learned so much about real nutrition and health over the past couple years that I probably would not have learned if I hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer,” Olson said. “In the same way, I have had many opportunities to share what I have learned and share my faith with others.”
Had few risk factors
While Olson has wondered why she got cancer, she is not despairing or lamenting over her diagnosis, but rather has often considered how few risk factors she had for developing cancer. “I never drank alcohol or smoked, I had five natural births and nursed them all, I wasn’t obese, I was pretty active, I didn’t have extraordinary stress levels, I generally ate well, I wasn’t regularly exposed to high toxin levels, so why? It could be that God allowed me to get cancer simply so that I would do all this research, gain all this knowledge, and be able to share it with others. I am content with that idea.”
Olson said her hope for the future is a confidence in the Lord that He knows the number of days she has on this earth, and it is not bound by her treatment decisions. “If it is God’s will that I live another 40 years or that I only live a few more years, then that will be accomplished whether or not I have chemo. One hope for the future is that no matter what occurs in my life, I will respond in a way that brings honor and glory to my heavenly Father. Another hope is that God would use me to be instrumental in pointing others to Him and sharing the hope that a personal relationship with Christ makes possible. My hope for my kids is that they would grow up to live lives that are pleasing to God as well.”
“Another hope I have is that the medical establishment will recognize the most basic necessity of true health, which is real nutrition, and start training doctors and nurses in comprehensive nutrition instead of pushing pills and doing surgeries and other procedures that increase some company’s bottom line without the patients’ best interests in mind.”
Olson said she feels blessed by what she calls the overwhelming positive responses she has received from people who find out about her story, the choices she has made, and the reasons behind those choices. “Some people have an interest in dealing with health problems in a more natural way but don’t know where to start. Others have sought me out just to fellowship with someone who views health the same way they do. People are hungry for better options than what standard medical treatments offer, and it’s a joy for me to share what I have learned.
“I would like people to know that there are other options for successfully treating and beating cancer and so many other health issues besides the standard treatments offered by Western medicine. I want to encourage people to advocate for themselves, ask questions, do the research, and make truly informed decisions. Not everyone is going to make the same choices I did, and that’s OK, because there isn’t always only one right answer. It is important to be confident and comfortable with whatever treatment decisions are made.”
Olson has shared her journey on a blog that can be found at www.notaspiritoffear.blogspot.com.
Loving the Lake Shore
Summer is a time for exploring things. Whether you venture alone, sneak off with a friend, or take the whole family, Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore has ample opportunities for all to enjoy.
In Eastern Wisconsin, it’s easy to overlook the beauty and the opportunity we often take for granted that lies just with a short drive from home.
Here’s a whirlwind tour of some of those opportunities that lie a short way from our doorstep.
The list is not intended to be inclusive of every opportunity, but more than anything, the highlighted activities based on family experiences, as well as relying on the fountain of knowledge that is the internet. You can find literally any opportunity for fun along Lake Michigan’s shore by visiting the various tourist information sites, and chambers of commerce. And, when you think you may have buttoned down several ideas, it’s always good to check with TripAdvisor to find out what your friends and others are saying.
TripAdvisor not only offers reviews, but rankings of featured activities and places to visit in each community.
So, join in here, if you will to enjoy a summary tour of Life on the Lakeshore to learn more about opportunities for fun in the summer sun.
Let’s start on the south end of our Verve readership area with Sheboygan, or shall we say the Lakeshore just immediately south of Sheboygan.
Nothing speaks to summer like the beaches at Kohler-Andrae State Park.
Kohler-Andrae is a true gem on the Lakeshore, with its majestic sand dunes and miles of golden beaches, sparkling clear blue Lake Michigan water, towering whispering pines, an abundance of wildlife and recreational activities for everyone.
Kohler-Andrae, as a Wisconsin State Park, is one of the last great natural preserves along the Wisconsin shoreline of Lake Michigan.
Nature trails and cordwalks along the dunes are great ways to see the park firsthand. Hiking, biking and horse trails provide additional opportuntiies. Most trails are under two miles, and several of the trails can be connected to form longer loops.
Camping is a mainstay at Kohler-Andrae, with 137 units available in the family campground. Of those sites, 52 are equipped with electrical hookups. Reservations are recommended, and can be made online.
Two additional group campsites for tent-only camping are offered.
Visit the Sanderling Nature Center in the northern area of the park to learn more about Kohler-Andrae and its surroundings. It’s open every day from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. May through October.
A variety of fun-filled educational programs for all ages. Volunteers staff the Sanderling Center, and the park is always looking for volunteers to help out.
Moving north into the city of Sheboygan itself, many great opportunities await visitors.
The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, located downtown, is a must-see and its FREE! Designed with an authentic historic Kohler family home, ruins of the old library and a beautiful windowed entry way, the arts center offers ever changing displays, classroooms, gardens, an event hall, and some say the coolest bathrooms in the world.
Bookworm Gardens is also a free attraction (although donations are appreciated). The Gardens are a place where children’s books come alive. Tree houses are big enough to hold 30 people. The Three Bears are life-sized. You can venture inside Hansel & Gretel’s house. No matter your age, you will feel like a kid when you make this visit part of your day.
Sheboygan’s Harbor Center offers spectacular lake views, superb dining, cozy accommodations, top notch entertainment and eclectic shopping. Here, throughout the summer, you will find a variety of lively lakefront festivals, twilight park concerts or just a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk.
If you like to walk, you can take a stroll along the beach near the Blue Harbor Resort, or further to the north along Deland Park and North Point.
At North Point, many people delight in walking on the breakwater. From North Point, you can look up the shoreline to Manitowoc.
Charter fishing opportunities abound in the area. Check out the many choices on the internet.
Take your children to the Above and Beyond Children’s Museum. Or, how about a trip to the Sheboygan Railroad Museum, where old displays, new displays and displays you can play with abound.
Two disc golf courses are available at Vollrath Park and the Jaycee Quarry Park.
Fountain Park hosts the Sheboygan Farmer’s Market every Wednesday and Saturday. Concerts are presented weekly in the park.
To find out more, visit the Sheboygan Squared website.
Just north along Lakeshore (LS) Drive, south of Cleveland, visitors can connect with one of the international marvels known as Whistling Straits. The 36-hole championship golf course is a world class venue.
From Aug. 10-16, the course will be inundated with the trappings of the PGA Championship, the third time the Straits has hosted the championship. Previously played here in 2004 and 2010, the PGA championship brings the worlds top golfers to Eastern Wisconsin. Whether or not you play the game of golf, the views of Lake Michigan are spectacular. For a diversion, stop out to the Straits and enjoy a dinner or beverage on the veranda overlooking the 18th green, enjoying the cool lake breezes on a hot summer afternoon or evening.
Right in Cleveland, HIKA Bay Park offers a great chance to sit and watch the waves roll in, enjoy a family grill out, or launch your boat for some fishing action.
Continuing up LS, outdoor enthusiasts can check in at the Fischer Creek State Recreation Area. With about a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, scenic woodland bluffs, grasslands and wetlands, Fischer Creek offers opportunities for hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing and relaxing on the beach. Much of the shoreline consists of bluffs that rise as much as 40 feet from the shore. The area also includes 600 feet of frontage on Fischer Creek.
Moving northward, the Manitowoc area provides the next opportunity for visitors to interact with Lake Michigan. Some of the best opportunities lie on the south side of the city, with Silver Creek Park offering lake access. Picnic areas are available throughout the park and on the bluffs overlooking the lake. Silver Creek enters into the lake and allows for hiking. Disc golfers will also enjoy the opportunity to play their favorite game at Silver Creek Park.
Just slightly up the road from there is one of Manitowoc’s great little stops—Cedar Crest Ice Cream. Look for the large cow statue on the west side of the road to point out the ice cream manufacturing facility and ice cream parlour. Stop in to try one of 32 hand-dipped flavors of ice cream, sherbet and frozen yogurt.
Red Arrow Park on the city’s south side offers a handicap-accessible lakefront and beach walkway.
Downtown Manitowoc marks the start of what tourism outlets refer to as The Schooner Coast, a stretch of Lake Michigan that spans the shoreline north to Sturgeon Bay. Schooners were dependable and speedy ships that came into prominence during the Civil War era.
Though not officially part of the schooner tradition, one of the great functional ships of our time still docks in Manitowoc and serves as a transportation means for crossing lake Michigan. The SS. Badger Carferry arrives in Manitowoc at noon, and departs for Ludington, MI at 1:55 p.m., carrying passengers and vehicles. From June 10 to August 28, the Badger makes a second round trip each day, arriving in Manitowoc at 11:30 p.m. and departing at 12:55 a.m. Fare information can be found on the website.
Just north of the Manitowoc River mouth lies one of Eastern Wisconsin’s true gems, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, complete with a restored World War II era submarine, the USS Cobia.
Tours are available throughout the day as needed, and are offered seven days a week, weather permitting. Tour times vary by season. Allow three to four hours to fully explore both the Museum and tour USS Cobia. Special adventure programs allow families to spend a night on the Cobia.
If you need a refreshment break, you aren’t far from one of Manitowoc’s favorite spots on Eight Street—Beerntsen’s Confectionary offers special treats for the sweet tooth, be it an ice cream sundae or specially made chocolates. In fact, the website says, “We must assume you are interested in chocolate or you wouldn’t be here now.”
North of downtown Manitowoc, you can consider a detour west along Waldo Boulevard to enjoy the confines of Lincoln Park. Picnics are great, but your kids will really love a chance to enjoy the animals at the park’s zoo, which is open free of charge.
The Mariner’s Trail also starts in that area, and runs along the shore of Lake Michigan to connect with downtown Two Rivers. A great trail for hiking, jogging and biking alike, the Mariner’s Trail is one of the great cooling off spots in summer time with its many turnouts, gardens, sculptures, parking, rest rooms and picnic points. Roller blades are welcome too. The six-mile trail is paved.
Animals on leashes are welcome, and pet owners are reminded to clean up after their animals. Expect the trail to be breezy most days.
Near the start of the trail, heading north, you will encounter West of the Lake Gardens. The West of the Lake was designed and named for its unique location by Ruth West in 1934, with numerous additions through 1950. Six acres of backyard gardens on Lake Michigan on the estate of John & Ruth West featuring a rose garden, Japanese, sunken and formal gardens, with more than 900 feet of herbaceous borders with colorful annuals. You can also visit the link to view a virtual tour of the gardens at West of the Lake. The gardens are open for public touring Memorial Day Weekend to Mid October. 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. seven days a week weather permitting. Admission and parking are free.
If the six-mile route from Manitowoc to Two Rivers isn’t enough, you can pack the bikes on your car and venture out to Rockwood on the northwest side of Manitowoc. There you can catch the Devil’s River State Trail, and hit the limestone screenings trail for a 30-mile round-tripper to Denmark, WI and back.
The west side of Manitowoc also offers one other interesting side trip at the Pinecrest Historical Village, where real architecture from Manitowoc County’s history offers insights into life from earlier times. This 60-acre outdoor interpretive museum of local history features over 25 historic buildings with period furnishings from Manitowoc County’s early settlers. See the church, railroad station, blacksmith shop and more.
On the north end of the Mariner’s Trail, you will come to Two Rivers, also known as Cool City, because it’s always cooler in Two Rivers than anywhere else in Manitowoc County.
Just off the main highway in downtown Two Rivers, you can get a look at history.
Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum has been open at their new location, 1816 10th Street, for a whole year. The new address is a short distance from our original location with a stunning view of Lake Michigan. The building is more than twice the size of the original museum and was previously owned by the Formrite Company of Two Rivers.
East of the main thoroughfare, you can find the Washington House. Staffed by volunteers, the Washington House offers historical exhibits for free. Donations are accepted. Oh, did we add—they serve great ice cream, too! An upstairs ballroom is used for occasional music concerts and jams.
Down at the harbor, visitors can hook up with the Rodgers Street Fishing Village, a great place to learn about Lake Michigan and the shipping/fishing industries. Celebrating 175 years of commercial fishing, the Rogers Street Fishing Village and Great Lakes Coast Guard Museum exhibits an 1886 historic lighthouse, shipwreck displays and artifacts, and of course our commercial fishing exhibits. For 175 years, commercial fishermen have battled Lake Michigan for their living and even today, fish tugs haul in the day’s catch.
The Susie Q Fish Company is open six days a week. The company is run by the LeClair Family, one of the longest running fishing families in Two Rivers, with more than 130 years in the business. Stop in for fish smoked the old fashioned way at 1810 East Street.
The trail system continues in Two Rivers where the Mariner’s Trail ties into the Rawley Point Trail, which takes the user through Two Rivers and into Point Beach State Forest. This seven-mile section utilizes city streets, limestone surfaces, and a five-mile section through the State Forest.
Point Beach State Forest is home to three State Natural Areas—Wilderness Ridge, the Two Creeks Buried Forest and Point Beach Ridges. Point Beach State Forest features 3,000 acres of land and six miles of sandy beach along the shores of Lake Michigan. Point Beach offers family campsites, two large group cabins and an outdoor group camp. A popular feature within the property is the Rawley Point Lighthouse, which has been operated and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard since 1853.
Traveling north to Kewaunee, visitors can enjoy a pair of wineries. Both the Cold Country Vines & Wines and Parallel 44 Winery are located just south of Kewaunee off Highway 42.
Cold Country Vines & Wines produces hand-crafted wines from cold climate cultivars. Many varietals are harvested from our own vineyard; others by the experienced hands of fellow grape growers throughout the Midwest.
At Parallel 44 the visitors tour includes a walk in the vineyard, a tour of the production facility and a tasting of Parallel 44 wines.
In Kewaunee, a pair of beaches offer family picnic opportunities. Kewaunee also hosts the starting point for the Ahnapee Trail, a former railroad bed converted to a biking/hiking trail. Crush limestone is the surface for the trail which runs all the way to Sturgeon Bay.
A pair of lighthouses can still be seen in Kewaunee, one is the pierhead lighthouse, which is operational and can be viewed by walking to the end of a pier for a closer look. The former Kewaunee Life-Saving Lighthouse, operated by the US Coast Guard until 1947 can also be seen in Kewaunee, with its original watch tower and boat house still a part of the building. Summer Sundays bring a live music concert series.
The tugboat Ludington rests in Harbor Park near downtown Kewaunee. A 115-foot WWII sea-going tug, the Ludington was built in 1943 and served in D-Day invasion. Visitors can climb aboard and get an inside look at this workhorse of the sea.
Nature lovers can catch a glimpse of wildlife on the Marshlands Walk, along the Kewaunee River. They can also see fish traveling upstream to spawn at the Department of Natural Resources Anadromous Fish Facility.
Heritage Park in Algoma is a great waterfront park with spectacular views of the lake. It makes a great place for family picnics, with an opportunity to watch local fishermen come and go from the Algoma marina.
Algoma is also the site of two major shipwrecks, the Daniel Lyons and the Lady Ellen. Remnants of the Lady Ellen still remain in the Ahnapee River, and can be seen when the river levels are low.
Downtown, the Von Stiehl Winery-—Wisconsin’s oldest winery—was founded by Dr. Charles Stiehl. Get a taste of some of Wisconsin’s finest wines made from fresh Door County fruit as well as California and Washington State’s finest fruits at Wisconsin’s oldest winery. Von Stiehl Winery in Algoma is listed in the Federal Historic Registry. Tours include a visit to the Civil war era underground limestone caverns where wine is fermented and aged. Learn how wine is created and sample over 25 varieties of grape and fruit wines.
Just south of town, The Flying Pig Gallery & Greenspace is set along the uncluttered Lake Michigan shore. It is the owners’ mission to bring an amusing, inspiring and educational peek at art and gardens. The site includes indoor galleries, creative environment, sculpture gardens, display gardens and unique plant selections in an eco-eclectic environment.
Just like most other Lake Michigan towns, charter sport fishing opportunities abound.
All decked out...Relax outdoors on those great summer evenings
Nothing beats the outdoors in summer time.
It gives everyone a chance to enjoy that perfect evening of relaxation while basking in the warmth and glow of a warm summer’s eve.
Enjoying live music....sipping your favorite glass of wine....conversing with friends....gushing over a glowing sunset....or simple enjoying some quiet moments are all favorite activities for partaking at Eastern Wisconsin’s destinations. Both large and small venues have opened their spaces up to accommodate those who don’t want to be walled in during the summer months. Decks and patio opportunities offer the best in hospitality, while combining it with the open air environment that feels so welcoming to patrons.
Whether it’s a simple street-side cafe that attracts your interest, or a lakeside venue overlooking one of our great Wisconsin lakes, decks and outdoor seating offer a special opportunity to soak in the summer, while relaxing.
For many people, finding just the right deck hospitality beats having to stay at home on that same old deck, where you have to serve yourself—and clean up afterwards.
Something liberating occurs when you leave the service and the hospitality up to others.
In eastern Wisconsin, you can find all sorts of great decks on which to enjoy your favorite weeknight or evening.
Some spots, like resort areas in Elkhart Lake offer a great regimen of live music on weekends. You can check out the Elkhart Lake chamber website, and those Elkhart Lake businesses on these pages for more information and scheduled performances.
The Osthoff boasts a great Lake Deck, expanding from the resort out to the shores of Elkhart Lake, and interacting with the five-star resort’s gardens. The Lake Deck is open to the public throughout the summer months.
Just outside of Kiel, off Highway XX, you can find The Cedars Bar & Grill, situated above lovely Cedar Lake for an afternoon or evening of enjoyment.
Neighboring towns have businesses that expand their lounge space into the outdoors, either on patios, or on specially constructed decks.
At Millhome, the Millhome Supper Club offers a generous outdoor seating area for the patrons of its upper bar area. Outdoor cocktails are always a great option either prior to dinner or during that time when dinner is settling in.
Up the road in Brillion, the Bakkheia Wine Bar has a wonderfully landscaped outdoor patio and garden, to extend its hospitality into the outdoors for its clientele.
El Camino Restaurant in Sheboygan has an interesting take on a deck. They offer outdoor seating on a rooftop deck, overlooking parts of downtown Sheboygan at Michigan Avenue. Those great margaritas taste even better under the setting sun. Ole!
PJ Campbell’s in Plymouth has ventured into the outdoor deck scene in a big way, constructing a wonderful outdoor venue, with elegant stonework and a roof overhead to protect from both rain and unbearable hot sun.
What follows is a summary of deck and restaurant options from participating advertisers in this Summer Verve edition. They represent a selection of deck opportunities offered in our readership area. We invite you to check out their decks for the 2015 summer season.
We hope you find that getting all decked out is a great way to enjoy the summer months.
THE LAKE DECK
The Osthoff Resort
The Lake Deck at The Osthoff Resort offers resort and public guests panoramic views of breathtaking Elkhart Lake while enjoying a traditional menu of fun food such as nachos, quesadillas, brats, Chicago-style char dogs, burgers, salads, wraps and sandwiches, pizza, snacks, beach treats, waffle cones and ice cream sundaes. Soft drinks, lemonade, ice tea, smoothies, wine, beer, cocktails and other special summer beverages are available at the Lake Deck Bar.
Live entertainment is featured each weekend throughout the summer season. Some of the performers include the Abler Boys, Jones, MonRo, Burgundy Ties, Ethan Keller, Rosetti & Wigley, Marc Ballini, Strawberry Jam Band, Redfish Remix, Joe Kadlec, Quiet Storm, Acoustic Graffiti, The BBMC featuring Dave Steffen and many more! For a complete list of performers, visit www.osthoff.com.
In close proximity to the Lake Deck is The Osthoff Resort’s water sport building which is also open to the public seasonally and provides both bike and water equipment rentals for recreational enjoyment. Experience Elkhart Lake on a pontoon boat, sailboat, hydro-bike, canoe, kayak, paddle boat or paddle board. Coffee and Evening Cruises are also offered. Visit www.osthoff.com for more information.
This year, The Osthoff Resort celebrates its 20th anniversary. As part of this celebration, The Osthoff Resort is displaying memorabilia from the original Osthoff Hotel which includes a 1940 neon sign that reads “The Funspot” which was the name of the old hotel’s Art Deco bar and dining spot that housed the obligatory gambling devices. Guests may view this neon sign at the Lake Deck where it will be displayed throughout the summer.
The Lake Deck is open Memorial Day – Labor Day on the Osthoff lakefront.
Amenities at Siebkens resort include, two restaurants, Sissy’s Coffee and Ice Cream Shoppe, an outdoor pool and hot tub, the historic Stop-Inn Tavern, meeting facilities, and our private sandy beach. Golf, shopping, water sports rentals and a day spa and salon are all within steps of the property.
A great outdoor deck opportunity exists off the Stop-In Tavern, with a chance to socialize and enjoy live music. The Stop-In Tavern also offers a screened porch.
Wine bar, Brillion
Picture this, you’ve had a long day at work. You aren’t ready to deal with the stresses of home. A crowded bar doesn’t seem very relaxing. You just want to be free of the madness of the day and sit back with a glass of wine. Come relax at Bakkheia, where we offer a warming environment of relaxation, friends, and wine. Sit down in our comfortable lounge area or cozy up to our bar with a few friends. If you’d like some fresh air, have a seat in our outdoor bistro.
If wine isn’t enough, we also offer top-shelf spirits and micro-brews. While you are here, you may work up a small appetite. Ask us about our various food items - from gourmet pizzas to cheese or bread plates - we offer something for everyone.
MILLHOME SUPPER CLUB UPPER BAR
Millhome Supper Club welcomes patrons to its “Upper Bar” year round, but in the summertime, when the weather’s fine. They have an outdoor seating area that beckons to enjoy those warm evenings in the great outdoors. Take your cocktail, favorite beer or glass of wine onto the deck for a great conversation with friends.
Stop on out and enjoy our spacious upper bar with week-night specials including Two For One Tuesday’s, Wine Wednesday and our Thirsty Thursday with 2 buck domestics and 3 buck old fashioned’s all night long.
Featuring a special menu with a variety of appetizers, flatbreads and sandwiches along with a specialty drink menu the upper bar is a great place to unwind after a long day of work or to stop for a casual dinner.
In addition to Millhome’s great drink specials, appetizers are half price Sunday through Thursday nights (closed Mondays).
Our upper bar area features large booths, high top penny tables and a spacious bar area for you to enjoy.
In addition to plenty of seating and great food and drink, the atmosphere includes several big screen televisions, a 150 gallon saltwater fish tank and some of the nicest bartenders around.
El Camino, located in the Heart of Sheboygan, is the perfect venue for all occasions. The dining place is well known for its festive and colorful atmosphere. a wedding rehearsal, a private get together or a team building experience.
El Camino is the place to be! Treat your guests to the feel of Mexico without crossing the border. Our private group room is large enough for 120 people seated and if you need a dance floor around 80 people. There is a separate bar area just next to the hall that can cater to your needs. El Camino offers many buffet options making the possibilities endless.
Enjoy your favorite Mexican cuisine in our dining room, but in the summer be sure to enjoy our hospitality on our rooftop deck, overlooking Michigan Street. It’s a great place to enjoy awesome food and great fun.
You’ll find a celebration of German-American traditions on the patio of PJ Campbell’s at The Depot in Plymouth.
At PJ Campbell’s, the patio space is built with comfort in mind and sets the mood for those beautiful Wisconsin nights. All of the outdoor patio furniture was hand crafted and provides a relaxing feel, especially when the fireplace is lit.
For four years, owners Patrick and Judy Campbell have carved out their own niche in Plymouth’s eclectic dining scene with an abundance of German flair.
“We are fortunate to have a lot of diversity for dining in the Plymouth area, which makes it a special place,” Patrick said. “It’s the local businesses that we can really hang our hat on.”
The surrounding region, from Kohler to Elkhart Lake, also provides opportune tourism that bring in fresh faces and eager appetites to the Plymouth area. That is especially true in the summertime when the weather allows the Campbell’s to open their Beer Garden outdoor patio.
Patrick grew up working in his grandfather’s restaurant, washing dishes as a youngster. Being in the environment nurtured his passion for the restaurant industry, which led him to becoming a chef and eventual business owner. Patrick also worked for a former German restaurant and saw opportunity for the niche in the Plymouth area where he has brought his unique menu to life.
“I think it’s important to have something that stands out in today’s world,” he said. “You have to stay true to what you do and do it well.”
From rouladen to sauerbraten and a variety of schnitzels, PJ Campbell’s’s take on German cuisine offers a variety for the eager pallet.
“We offer our German Combo Sampler, which is very popular,” Patrick said. “It gives people, especially ones who haven’t been here before, a chance to try a few new things.”
On top of their core menu, PJ Campbell’s also offers four to five rotating specials and fresh seafood. In the land of the Friday night fish fry, Patrick and his staff have developed their own unique take on the tradition.
“We call it our Friday Night Fish-Try,” he said. “We feature a variety of fish on a weekly basis and invite people to try our featured fish entrée.”
PJ Campbell’s also offers a variety of beers and drinks to accompany their eclectic menu. For the folks that chose to try the Friday night fish special, they are rewarded with a drink coupon that they can redeem on their next visit.
“It’s a great community to be apart of here in Plymouth,” Patrick said. “We have a lot of events and things for people to do and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Special events in Plymouth bring the community together and offer PJ Campbell’s a chance to showcase their flavors alongside their dining counterparts in the area. The Jazz Crawl, Taste of Plymouth, Mill Street Festival, and the Autumn Festival are just a few milestone events that unify the Plymouth area and bring people to the Beer Garden to enjoy the day.
“The local support between businesses here in Plymouth is special,” Patrick said. “We treat each other like family and it’s a collective effort.”
PJ Campbell’s knows that the support between businesses is what makes a small town grow and prosper and they are thankful for it.
For more information and a closer look at the menu, visit www.pjcampbellsatthedepot.com.
Nothing beats a great deck and tiki bar overlooking the beach. You will find such a place at The Cedars, just four miles northeast of Kiel on secluded Cedar Lake.
The deck overlooking the lake offers both great dining and social opportunities—a great place to gather with friends and family.
Join the fun at the Tiki Bar every weekend of the summer
Better yet, bring your kids to the beach, and observed them as your relax on the deck.
The Cedars offers a full menu, plus sandwiches and its own special pizza.
Kids visit the 1800’s
Some parents send their children off to a different community for summer camp—and some have been sending them off to a different era.
For more than the past decade the Wade House state historic site in Greenbush has hosted several different summer camps for children, and those camps are now enrolling youths for the 2015 sessions.
Pioneer Day Camp
Pioneer Day Camp will be offered in two sessions, June 16-19 and July 28-31, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day and is intended for youths ages 8 to 13.
Pioneer Day Camp introduces children firsthand to daily life in Wisconsin nearly 150 years ago. Children will get an up-close look at blacksmithing, woodworking, candle making, sewing, hearth cooking, and much more. The program culminates with a horse-drawn stagecoach journey to the Wade House as many Plank Road travelers took during the heyday of this historic hotel.
Kathy Dimig is the lead interpreter for Pioneer Day Camp. She said the various camps at the Wade House generally draw between 7 and 20 youths. About 75 percent of them are from the local area, but camps also see students attending from Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan or even from Illinois or other states as their parents might be staying in Elkhart Lake or the child might be staying with a grandparent during the summer.
Activities during Pioneer Day Camp include baking cookies, making candles, working in the garden, and having a family picnic on the last day complete with homemade ice cream. “We try to immerse them in the 19th century as much as possible,” Dimig said.
Civil War Day Camp
Civil War Day Camp also is offered in two sessions, June 23-26 and Aug. 4-7, with the same times and ages as Pioneer Day Camp. Paul Edmonds is the lead interpreter for Civil War Day Camp and said there is some flexibility on those ages. “Just like the war, we have occasionally fudged the numbers,” he said with a smile.
The Civil War Day Camp is predominantly boys but not exclusively. Youths explore the world of Civil War soldiers. Edmonds said they are issued equipment including a wooden musket and haversack (backpack), and they sign enlistment papers. They do marching drills and maneuvers, and Edmonds said it is always fun to see how their proficiency improves from the start of the camp to the end.
To some degree Edmonds goes into character with the youths, showing them how a Civil War soldier would have loaded and shot a musket and what they would have done on their off time such as “mathematical probability”—also known as gambling.
Civil War Camp runs from Tuesday to Friday, and on Friday families are invited to visit as their young soldiers are mustered out. During the week the children have been given the names of actual soldiers from the area who fought in the Civil War, and at the end of camp they find out what happened to their namesake—including some who did not make it home.
Encampments including tents are set up near the Wade House, which remains open to the public during the various youth camps. Dimig said the visiting public gets a kick out of seeing the youngsters in period clothing and doing activities from a long-ago time.
Needle Arts Day Camp
A newer addition at the Wade House is Needle Arts Day Camp which provides a fun and educational way for children to learn the traditions of needle arts in a historic setting.
A sewing box will be made at the Needle Arts camp July 7-8, while a slat bonnet will be made at the camp planned for July 21-22.
The Needle Arts Day Camps are for older children, ages 14 and up. Dimig said the Wade House had so many return campers that they wanted to offer something for older children. “If we’ve got kids coming back, they’re obviously enjoying it,” Edmonds said.
The Civil War and Pioneer day camps each cost $130 per child, with the Needle Arts Day Camp costing $65 per child. Participants bring a bag lunch each day. For more information or to register a child, call (920) 526-3271. Camps do fill up so call soon.
Change in Direction
by Margaret Richman
It started as a tender gesture to assist a friend and led to the path of entrepreneurism. With a continuous and impressive upward trend on the business line graph, Olivü 426, the Sheboygan based maker of natural personal care products, wraps up yet another successful year culminating with Hollywood attention. The company’s products were featured in the swag bags given to the presenters, winners, and related media of the 2014 August Emmys and the 2015 January Golden Globes. As owner Caitlin Brotz said, “It has been quite a ride.”
In 2003 when Caitlin’s then boyfriend Adam was badly burned, she was given a recipe for a lip balm from St. Mary’s Burn Center in Milwaukee. His lips and grafted skin would benefit from products that promoted healing versus merely lubricating and avoidance of alcohol infused products found on most store shelves was recommended. After creating the lip balm Caitlin began to research and experiment with additional natural products giving birth to her second creation of Whipped Lotion.
Two years later when Adam was tragically killed in a car accident, Caitlin took time to reflect and reevaluate her life direction. Ultimately she complimented her Business Degree from Lakeland College with an entrepreneurship certification and her experimentation of skin care products and selling of those products was expanded into her business, Olivü 426. The unique name is derived from the use of olive oil, a nod to the linguistic similarity to ‘I love you’, and 426 is a tribute to Adam. The number was Adam’s semi-pro snowmobile racing number; a number that Caitlin believes has brought her good luck.
Located at 511 8th Street in the Harbor Center District of Sheboygan, Olivü 426 has already expanded their space to meet the production demands of their loyal and growing clientele. From its 2006 opening to a staff of eight today, there is a continuous stream of visitors to their store and online purchases.
Brotz explains her traverse in the business. “Initially, I did a great deal of research in understanding the benefits of specific natural substances and how to blend products. Resources were limited at the time so I experimented quite a bit engaging in much trial and error. The process is similar to mixing chocolate, tempering the ingredients,” she said.
Today their products are numerous, 120 in all. From the start of lip balm and Whipped Lotion her inventory now includes a full line of products for body, bath, men, and babies. Numerous lotions, soaps, scrubs, deodorant, sun screen, bug spray, and shampoos are offered along with specialty items for anti-aging and more. All Things Emu is a line of products utilizing Emu oil from a local source ensuring for a 100% pure product that provides health benefits for the treatment of psoriasis, eczema, arthritis, scaring and painful joints and muscles.
Descriptions of ingredients along with the natural health benefits of all Olivü 426 products are detailed on accompanying cards found in the store and on their Web site for online purchases. Herbs, oils, fragrances and more are explained for their healthful properties. Blue Malva Flower will disinfect wounds, Calendula is used for treating bruises, minor burns, and varicose veins, and Eleuthero Root helps the body address stress and boosts immunity. These are just a few among over 27 ingredients utilized along with several dozen flavored oils and fragrances, all of which combine to make the numerous personal care products.
“All of our products are made fresh unlike general store products that may sit on a shelf for up to two years. Those products require the incorporation of alcohol and other substances for increased shelf life that may be detrimental to your skin,” Brotz said.
In addition to their available products, Olivü 426 will also customize orders for both in store and online purchases. Customers also have the opportunity to blend their own products in the store where lip balm creations are a favorite among children.
Brotz has been featured in numerous newspapers and television segments as well as received recognition from HuggingtonPost.com. Olivü 426 has been nominated for Business of the Year from the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce and was a co-winner in 2010. The latest honor of having her products featured in the swag bags of the Emmys and Golden Globes has brought further attention to the business.
“The organizers contacted me saying that I make the exact product that they were looking for. I was asked to submit products to them that went before a jury. They liked what they saw and said they would love to have my products in their swag bags. For the August Emmys I shipped 100 bags that contained our most popular lip balm, pomegranate, and our anti-aging face serum. For the January Golden Globes I shipped 150 bags,” Brotz said.
The attention is welcomed and the focus is now in business direction. “I am now carefully controlling the ship because of the continued growth. We already expanded our physical space utilizing the upstairs of the store for our production area and need to address our capabilities. We cater to our loyal customers and want to maintain our relationship with them and affordability of our products,” she said.
Share in the brush with Hollywood by visiting the Sheboygan store Monday – Friday 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or peruse olivu426.com for product information and online purchases.
Navigating Life's Adventures
Life is anything but boring for Trisha Propson
For Trisha Propson of Brothertown, life is meant to be lived. With the adoption of two children and a dramatic weight loss journey all occurring in a two year time period including the opportunity to now help others navigate both adventures, life is also anything but boring for Propson.
Propson, 41, grew up the middle child to Al and Pat Lisowe of Brothertown. Older sister Tina and younger brother Todd enjoyed outdoor activities with Propson while growing up. “We did a lot of things outdoors and enjoyed building forts and playing in the sandbox,” Propson said.
Propson married her high school sweetheart Larry Propson and is now a fields claim representative for Acuity Insurance of Sheboygan. Trisha and Larry are 1991 graduates of Chilton High School and recently celebrated 25 years of dating and 15 years of marriage.
Now relishing her life working from home, maintaining her weight loss and being a mother to two young children, Propson’s journey to motherhood and weight loss was anything but easy.
“I have always wanted to be a mother and the day I was told we would not be able to conceive ourselves I became very sad,” Propson shared. “I knew that was not going to be how it was going to be for our life story. So we reached out to Lutheran Social Services, an open adoption agency of Appleton.”
“We started the process of adoption in 2006 by jumping through all the hoops that are required including background checks, finger printing, home inspections, physicals, references and financial history,” Propson continued. “Not a simple process by any means.”
In May of 2009, Propson received the call they had been waiting three and a half years for. “They said we had been chosen by a birth mom,” Propson recalled. “That first meeting with the birth mom was one of the most terrifying days of my life. What color do I wear? Do I wear my hair up or down? Do I shake her hand or hug her?”
“The meeting went great and our experience with the birth mother was very memorable.” Propson and her husband were able to keep in close contact with the birth mother during the pregnancy, attending doctor appointments and ultimately sharing the birth experience in the labor and delivery room.
Their experience with open adoption was a positive one and the Propson’s were shocked when within a year they were contacted once again by Lutheran Social Services telling them the birth mother that had given them their first child was pregnant and wanted them to adopt this child as well.
“We were together for 19 years, it was definitely the right time,” Propson said. Most rewarding for Propson during the adoption process is the fact that she now has a son and a daughter; the family she and Larry had longed for.
With the knowledge that the adoption process is not an easy one, the Propsons now reach out and are available and open to other couples going through the experience. “We speak a lot to other couples,” Propson said. “The “I don’t know’s” and uncertainty of adoption is difficult. We try to help other couples through the adoption process.” Propson said her strongest advice to others is to not be close minded to any situation.
The adoption of her children also spurred another change in Propson’s life when she realized the possibility of her weight holding her back from living the life she wanted to live.
“The “Freshman Forty” definitely was a realization for me and my struggle with weight after high school,” Propson said. No longer active in sports and getting comfortable living on her own, Propson said she never really had a day to day meal plan.
“I tried it all,” Propson said of her struggle with weight over the years.
Propson said she ate most during stressful times in her life and gained a total of sixty pounds during the two adoptions which occurred between 2009 and 2011. “In 2011 I realized that at my age if I wanted to keep up with the kids and the younger parents we were getting to know, I needed to do something,” Propson said. “In 2011 I wrote a letter to myself and I still read it often when I need to.”
Most challenging for Propson is not reverting back to old habits. “Every day is a challenge,” Propson admits, “For a long time I kept an apple on the countertop and if I found myself in the kitchen looking for something to eat, I would look at the apple. If I wasn’t hungry enough to eat that apple, I realized I wasn’t that hungry.”
Part of Propson’s successful weight loss was joining a kickboxing class in the Valley. Propson said while she tried to stay committed, the circumstances made it difficult. “With the drive, working full time and being a mom, two hours out of my day was hard,” Propson said. In April 2012, Propson turned to her friend Trisha Oakley, who Propson said was on the same rollercoaster journey with weight. “Together we committed to each other that if I got two punching bags we would do a workout a couple of times a week,” Propson said. “Well those two bags then turned into six and then eight and finally stopped at ten. I had family and friends start committing to classes and the next thing you know I had a private facebook group of over twenty people and classes four times a week happening in my garage.”
“If they call and say they just don’t feel like coming, I tell them if you give up on yourself, you are also giving up on me,” Propson said.
Teaching kickboxing classes at Fox Valley Technical College came as a surprise to Propson. “I was contacted by Lori Popp of Fox Valley Technical College in Chilton in April of 2014,” Propson said. “She found out that I was doing this out of my home and asked if I would consider teaching classes out of the tech.”
Propson agreed and started her first five week session of two classes a week at FVTC in the September of 2014. “My first session had eleven students,” Propson said. “My second session had fourteen with six returning participants.”
Her third session started January 6 and will be followed with another session from February 17 through March 19 and again on March 31 through April 30. “It is a good stress reliever,” Propson said of the workout that she said is high intensity and goes to the beat of music.
Her personal workouts now include two nights a week with family and friends and two nights a week teaching at FVTC. Propson is blessed to have had up to 28 friends and family members that have joined her at one time with her home kickboxing workout. “I have about six to eight of the original group that are still participating,” Propson said. “They include ages 16 to 65.”
Propson said her regular workout routine and weight loss have changed her life. “I have way more energy,” she said. “More self confidence and I am more fun to be with.” From January 2012 through October 2013 Propson lost close to 100 pounds and is proud to say she now participates in 5K runs.
Now two years into her weight loss, Propson is amazed at how happy she has become. “I love that I learned to love myself again,” Propson said. “It has to be both in your heart and your head; it can’t be one or the other. If people are ready to take the journey, they have to do it for themselves.”
Sun & Skincare
by Dr. Andrew Campbell
Sun protection is the first and best way to prevent and slow skin aging. Genetics have a very significant impact on a patient’s skin appearance later in life, but protecting the skin, regardless of the season, is of utmost importance for those of us who want to maintain a youthful appearance.
It is important we understand the variety of UV waves coming from the sun. UVA, UVB, and UVC rays each create different problems for the skin, such as damaging elastin, causing wrinkles and pigmentation issues. All forms should be blocked with appropriate skin care, and I explain to my patients that a quality sunblock is a mandatory purchase for skin health. Most people are more familiar with “sunscreen” as opposed to “sunblock”. Sunblock acts as a physical block to prevent skin damage from all harmful sun rays, whereas a sunscreen allows some of the rays to filter through, allowing a potential for skin damage.
At Quintessa Aesthetic Center, we recommend all of our patients apply sunblock, of at least an SPF 30, every day. Unfortunately, lotion sun protection only remains active for approximately two hours, so reapply often or include a mineral sunblock for adequate protection. Mineral based sunblocks do not hold bacteria and are not made with talc, allowing them to blend in with your skin tone. I prefer sunblocks that have titanium and zinc minerals in them, as these ingredients create a barrier of protection against all UV radiation, protecting the skin extremely effectively.
Quintessa offers an array of sunblocks, making protecting your skin easy. Apply Obagi’s SPF 50 Matte SunShield or Quintessa’s Illuminating SPF 45 for a daily moisturizer. Patients rave about Colorescience’s Sunforgettables portable SPF 50 mineral sunblock that is applied through a refillable makeup brush, as it offers on-the-go protection for all ages.
Once you’re in the habit of protecting your skin, maintain your anti-aging regimen with a Broadband Light treatment, where flashes of light treat sun damage, age spots, freckling and redness. We recommend our patients receive at least two Broadband Light treatments per year, as studies have proven regular treatments across several years dramatically decrease a person’s perceived age.
Wreath Factory has the great smell of greens at holiday time
If there is such a thing as a heavenly scent, it must be what The Wreath Factory smells like each November and December.
Since opening its doors to the public at N6625 STH 57 just north of Plymouth in 1993, The Wreath Factory at Otter Creek has been making its own fresh wreaths for everyone from walk-in customers to businesses, organizations and individuals thousands of miles away.
The wreath making effort actually began a decade before that when owner Michael Beeck made wreaths for a 4-H club to sell. Family and friends joined Beeck in the effort as they worked out of a nearby shed with no running water or heat.
These days somewhere between 15 and 20 additional staff members come on board for the holidays, working out of a large room near the rear of The Wreath Factory. Mardell Blohm oversees the wreath aspect of the business and is blessed to have other “seasoned” employees helping make the wreaths. Some of those wreath makers are retired individuals from the area. Some might work 20 hours per week making wreaths, while others work up to 60 hours per week at this time of year.
Matt Trotter, who handles marketing for The Wreath Factory, said the average wreath maker working at a good pace can produce 50 wreaths per day. They need that type of production because The Wreath Factory sells thousands of wreaths during the holiday season.
Cedar and pine used for wreaths comes from Wisconsin, but balsam is brought in from Nova Scotia as it is of a different quality which lends itself well to wreath making. Botanical flowers, berries, eucalyptus and other adornments are brought in from California and elsewhere.
When it comes to wreaths, The Wreath Factory has virtually every size, shape, variety and price point to please any customer, from a 12-inch wreath to a 72-inch wreath and from $20 and up.
Employees who are new to the wreath making operation cut their teeth by cutting the greenery for the wreaths. Their cuttings are then taken by the wreath makers who use wire forms and a relatively simple but important foot-operated machine to pinch the wires around the greenery. Use too little cedar, pine or balsam and the greenery can fall out; use too much and the wires cannot be closed properly.
Decorators then take the wreaths and add flowers, berries, bows and other adornments. As Trotter said, the entire process is really an artistic team effort.
An important step comes near the end as their wreaths are sprayed with a safe preservative which allows them to be shipped to businesses, organizations and individuals around the country. Trotter said the combination of fresh products and the preservative allow The Wreath Factory’s wreaths to often last until Easter, and some customers indeed choose to keep them up until then.
The Signature is the name of one of The Wreath Factory’s most popular sellers. That wreath features fresh, fragrant mixed evergreens, seeded eucalyptus, bay leaf and red berries.
Other wreaths carry some unusual names, including American Spirit, Flying Advent, Merry Berry, Ring a Ding, and Southern Charm.
Custom orders can sometimes be done on the spot if the store is not too busy, but pre-orders are the preferred way to go. Some orders for individual or bulk wreaths have already arrived, others will be coming in throughout November, and still others will arrive just days prior to Christmas. The Wreath Factory employees even have been known to do installation of wreaths throughout eastern Wisconsin.
Customers also are able to purchase their own wreath making ingredients from The Wreath Factory and make their own wreath, or take part in classes which are conducted at the sprawling location.
In addition to wreaths, The Wreath Factory also provides evergreens as hanging baskets, boughs, garlands, and potpourri bags, according to Tina Nohl, event planner for the year-round business.
Nohl said the week before, during and after Thanksgiving is prime time for the Christmas rush at The Wreath Factory, which is open seven days per week and often hosts bus tours and other groups.
Learn more about The Wreath Factory at www.wreathfactoryonline.com.
Happy Birthday to you! AND Merry Christmas
by Faye Burg
STACY MILLER, Plymouth
“It taught our boys a few things. It taught them that gifts don’t have to come from Santa as Mark was a gift from God.”
Stacy Miller’s Christmas baby boy came as a surprise. “We thought we were done having children,” Miller explained. “Mark was a huge surprise.”
Miller, of Plymouth, was in the process of completing her Masters in Science of Nursing while expecting her Christmas baby. “I graduated on December 13, 2013, took my Nurse Practitioner state boards on December 16, 2013 and had Mark on December 26, 2013,” she said.
The Millers plan to celebrate Mark’s first birthday on his actual birthday of December 26 and not mix Christmas with birthday. “This will be strictly a birthday party,” Miller said.
Given a lot of advice on how to handle a Christmas birthday, Miller said they might change how they celebrate as Mark gets older. “One person told me she has all of Christmas packed away before her son’s birthday on December 28,” Miller explained. “We will not be taking down the Christmas decorations.” Miller also received suggestions of keeping Christmas and birthday separate and celebrating the birthday in the summer. “We are seriously pondering that for future birthday parties.”
Miller said they will work hard to make Mark’s birthday special. “Mark’s Godfather has a Christmas birthday as does another very close family friend, so at least he is surrounded by empathy and support should he need it as he gets older,” she added. “They both talk about how their birthdays were combined with Christmas and they didn’t tend to get separate birthday and Christmas gifts, but one big gift to cover both. There weren’t separate celebrations so the big gift would be presented with the opening of the Christmas gifts.”
The biggest challenge for Miller at this time is figuring out what food to serve for Mark’s birthday. “There is so much around the holidays that we’re not sure what to serve,” Miller explained. “I’m not sure about the cake as we usually have two cakes, one ice cream and another regular cake. I don’t know what we’ll end up doing considering there are already tons of cookies and candy.”
We felt really special having Mark the day after Christmas last year because we considered him our best Christmas gift ever. It taught our boys a few things. It taught them that gifts don’t have to come from Santa as Mark was a gift from God. It also taught them a lot about selflessness. Of course they were excited about Christmas and presents, but that was nothing compared to their enthusiasm to meet their baby brother. Instead of praying for “stuff” during their bedtime prayers, they asked God for a healthy baby brother. When we got him, they thanked God. They all quickly learned to put his needs before their own because he is so helpless. They did this without ever complaining and to this day all three of Mark’s older brothers adore him and help take care of him.”
“I think that will help elevate the excitement factor for Mark’s first birthday because his brothers are so excited to celebrate with him,” she added. “I think we should embrace our birthdays no matter what time of year they are. We can’t control the calendar but we can control our response to how holidays and birthdays land and how we celebrate.”
Happy Birthday to you! AND Merry Christmas
by Faye Burg
“Oh, Mama, he is the best Christmas gift of all.”
“In the year 1956 on the 20th of December I gave birth to our number three son,” Marion “Petie” Christel of New Holstein shared.
“On the 24th of that year I brought this son home,” Christel continued. “I remember clearly that the day was sunny and bright and the snow was melting and running down the sewers. This little boy of mine was a sight to see, a baby wrapped in a fuzzy bright yellow bunting. He had golden, curly hair and bright blue eyes looking up at me. A real sight to behold.”
“My husband Spitzee had brought the older boys along to pick up the baby and me,” Christel explained. “Mike was in first grade and Rick was in kindergarten. Since the Lord Jesus already knew what was going to happen, I feel that it was a wonderful delay as the baby was due on the 16th of December; he was born four days overdue on the 20th, making it possible for what happened next.”
“As they say, “out of the mouths of babes,” our five year old Rick leaned over the seat to look at his new little brother. He was heard to say, “Oh Mama, he is the best Christmas gift of all.” No one had thought of exchanging the baby for something else. That is one scene I will cherish forever. A 5 year old brought us to the true meaning of Christmas. A baby was born then too.”
On Christmas Eve as Christel sat rocking new baby Duane and thinking of what Rick had said. “That was certainly the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season.”
Happy Birthday to you! AND Merry Christmas
by Faye Burg
“Later as I lay watching my husband hold his son in his arms...I knew that every single minute was worth it.”
Kiel resident Joie Baldock knew her baby would be born close to Christmas, so she meticulously planned and made sure everything was ready and organized several weeks before the baby was due to arrive. With her suitcase packed and baby things ready and waiting, Baldock worked at finishing Christmas baking and shopping. “All I had to do was wait,” Baldock said. “Each night as I kissed our 10- and 7-year-old daughters goodnight I would say maybe the baby will come, but each morning they would greet me with “oh mom you’re still here” when I woke them up for school.”
Labor began late on Christmas Eve but Baldock did not deliver the baby until a cesarean section was performed 24 hours later. Baldock was blessed with a 10 pound baby boy. “Later as I lay watching my husband hold his son in his arms with tears of happiness in his eyes, I knew that every single minute was worth it,” Baldock said. “Not a day has gone by that I haven’t said thank you to God for my wonderful husband, our two lovely daughters and thank you for our beautiful son.”
Happy Birthday to you! AND Merry Christmas
by Faye Burg
DENA MOONEY, Chilton
“At this point we are not sure how we will handle his birthday. The only thing I do know is that there will be cake.”
Dena Mooney, Planner at the Calumet County Courthouse, is due to have her second child on December 24. Although she knows the child will be a boy, Mooney and her husband are not considering a Christmas related name. “However, if it was going to be a girl born on Christmas Eve, we would have named her Eve,” Mooney added.
Mooney is new to the Christmas birthday concept and open to advice. “No one in our family has a Christmas birthday, so I am open to suggestions,” Mooney said. “At this point we are not sure how we will handle his birthday. The only thing I do know is that there will be cake.”
With her husband’s family located in Minnesota, Mooney said combining the child’s birthday with Christmas is a possibility. “I would like for things to be separate but combining everything would be a lot less work and with family in Minnesota we often celebrate multiple birthdays and holidays at a time.”
Mooney said she is not worried about making her child’s birthday a special and memorable occasion. “I have a feeling that his birthday will overshadow Christmas actually,” she said. “I think it will be a neat thing and will probably tell him that everyone will always remember his birthday.”
“We are just so excited for this little guy to arrive that no matter when he comes we are blessed beyond words,” Mooney added.
Happy Birthday to you! AND Merry Christmas
by Faye Burg
“Being able to celebrate my special day around my favorite holiday made me love both even more.”
As a child Olivia Cully of Chilton loved the fact that her December 22 birthday is just a few days before Christmas. “I look so forward to the holiday season, especially Christmas, so being able to celebrate my special day around my favorite holiday made me love both even more,” she said.
Cully remembers the story her parents shared of spending their first Christmas with her in the hospital. “There was a crazy storm that caused the hospital to lose electricity,” Cully said. “Thank goodness for generators.”
“Winter weather, beautifully decorated hospitals, jolly nurses, Christmas music, holiday on-call schedules and travel plans can all lead to interesting welcome to this world stories,” Cully added. “Something that’s unique to that time of year.”
Now as an adult, Cully still loves celebrating her special day close to her favorite holiday. “My husband, family and friends are still wonderful about celebrating both days separately,” Cully said.
Several birthday celebrations made Cully’s birthday a special event. “Each year I usually had a friend birthday party, an immediate family celebration with a favorite dinner, cake and gifts and once we moved closer to extended family we had a celebration with them as well,” Cully explained.
“My parents, family and friends were mindful of separating the two special days for me,” Cully added. “I would receive separate presents for my birthday and Christmas. I do appreciate their thoughtfulness in making the effort to make my birthday a special day in itself.”
School birthday celebrations were hit or miss for Cully depending on how Christmas vacation was scheduled. “My mom would bring in birthday treats before school let out for Christmas break so that I could still celebrate with my school friends just like most of the other kids,” Cully said. “I remember one year we made ice cream clowns.”
Cully is grateful to her parents for creating fun and lasting memories. “I have fond memories of some wonderful birthdays,” she said as she remembered uniquely themed parties including an artist visit, taking friends to a production of the Nutcracker, and playing in the snow.
Cully said the best advice for dealing with Christmas birthdays is to make it a goal to create the kind of birthday for each child that they can one day look back upon and cherish. “Make the birthday about them, what they love, what their interest is and what makes them excited,” Cully suggests.
“Christmas birthdays are special,” Cully said. “I never wished my birthday was a different day or at another time of year.”
“If you do know someone with a birthday on or around Christmas do take a few minutes to ask them their thoughts on their birthday and what their ideal birthday situation would be,” she added. “I have been asked about my birthday being close to Christmas quite a bit over the years and it’s never bothered me to talk about it. I appreciate that people are sensitive to it and that they even think to ask.”
Happy Birthday to you! AND Merry Christmas
by Faye Burg
SANDY BURG, New Holstein
Most of us probably know someone with a birthday on or near Christmas. Perhaps we even have personal experience with sharing our own birthday with the holiday season. When my editor discussed this story idea with me, I couldn’t help but chuckle as I told him that not only is my birthday a few days before Christmas, but the Lord also blessed my husband and I with three Christmas babies.
As a child I remember the Christmas tree was always in place and decorated in time for my birthday and yes, sometimes a larger present would be given as both a birthday and a Christmas present. In addition, two close family members’ birthdays are literally a week after Christmas so it has always been a busy time of year for our family.
With two of our four children born a few days before Christmas and one born right after Christmas, I have always not only looked forward to the holiday season, but tried to prepare as well for what can only be referred to as the rush and flurry of activity and planning that came with it.
Christmas decorations were up, but each birthday was also decorated for and celebrated individually. Special dinner celebrations in our home complete with streamers, balloons, cake, gifts and the grandparents were our tradition. With one of our daughters birthdays falling a day before one of our sons birthdays, it would be up with the pink streamers and balloons one day and then taking them down the next day so we could put the blue decorations in their place. A few days after Christmas pink decorations went back up for yet another birthday celebration. Separate cakes and birthday dinners for each birthday in addition to Christmas meals, candy and cookies meant a lot of good leftovers for quite some time.
In my mind each child was a special gift from God and each child deserved a special celebration just for them as they grew to adulthood. When we think of the fact that we are only given 18 birthdays with our children before they are grown and leave the nest to venture out into the world and start their own lives and families, it is easy to want to make memories and grasp and treasure each precious moment with each precious child.
Between birthday and Christmas shopping and wrapping of presents, planning birthday dinners and cakes and school birthday and holiday treats along with the traditional holiday cookies and candy, I was a certified shopping, baking and planning fanatic for about two weeks straight every December.
Our children are now grown adults and we still celebrate each birthday, most often by meeting at a favorite restaurant chosen by the birthday boy or girl.
As I delved into this story to see how others handled their own holiday birthdays or those of their children, it was fun to see similarities and differences in family celebrations and traditions.
“I didn’t know what it was like to have another special day during the year.”
Sandy Burg of New Holstein was born on Christmas Day. “I didn’t know what it was like to have another special day during the year,” Burg said. “It was all that I knew so it was fine with me.”
Burg remembers attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and then having lunch which always included a birthday cake. “After midnight it was officially my birthday,” Burg explained. “To this day, we still celebrate Christmas Eve with my family and it always includes a birthday cake. My husband and our two sons always make it a special time for me.”
Burg said she never felt slighted having a birthday on Christmas Day. “My husband and our two sons along with their wives and our two granddaughters have always made the day special even though they’re spread thin over the holidays with other families involved,” Burg said. “My parents were and my mom still is right there to make sure my birthday isn’t forgotten, as well as my siblings.”
Burg was surprised one year as her husband planned a 40th birthday celebration for her on Labor Day weekend. “He surprised me with a party at our house,” Burg said. “We arrived from a golf outing and when we opened the garage door all of our guests were sporting brown paper bags over their heads that had my graduation picture blow up and affixed to the bag. The eyes were cut out where they could look at me and all I could see of their faces were those beady eyes. Talk about getting freaked out.”
With her youngest son’s birthday on January 6, Burg said they learned over the years to save one of his Christmas list suggestions for his birthday.
Burg’s advice for others with holiday birthdays is simple. “Keep the gifts separate. Don’t purchase a more expensive item and say it’s for both celebrations. Treat the birthday as a whole separate event.”
Burg enjoys having a birthday on Christmas Day and is thrilled to find someone who shares a birthday with her. “I feel a special something with that person,” Burg said, who after finding out her neighbor shared her birthday, would sent a Christmas birthday card to her every year. “I have family and friends who never fail to send me one of those. It’s nice to know that they went out of their way to find a Christmas birthday card just for me.”
“It really is no different than many other days throughout the year,” Burg added. “My husband’s birthday is June 17 which is very close to, if not on, Father’s Day, so his birthday is observed on Father’s Day. He deals with the same issue really.”
Black Friday FREAKS
Black Friday, the paramount shopping day of the year; a buying spree spurred on by retailers creating a sense of urgency to score on unheard of deals.
An irked Philadelphia Police Department laid claim to coining the moniker in the mid-60’s. A sea of traffic jammed cars and overcrowded sidewalks needing their intervention were not a welcome diversion from their essential duties. Otherwise go with the more popular belief that the day provides a magical line of demarcation on a retailer’s accounting books, stores no longer running in the red to operating in the black. Where the name originates is not of interest to those who embrace the day. What is important is that it is here to stay.
Shoppers, oblivious to sleep deprivation gaining an adrenaline rush from the frenzy, accepting the lines, and plowing ahead with re-caffeinated bodies adds to the moniker. They are known as Black Friday Freaks. What motivates them to participate in the annual fever pitch and what tips do they share for those wanting to join the club?
Tammy DeFatte of New Holstein has three decades of Black Friday experience. As a child the Thanksgiving meal at her grandparent’s house in Fond du Lac was followed by the gang perusing the ads in the paper looking for special deals and the freebees which were standard in the early days. Grandpa was an early riser and Tammy enjoyed joining him on the Friday hunt. “Back in the day, every store pretty much gave out free stuff. JC Penney’s gave away snow globes and Fleet Farm stuffed animals or a matchbox size semi. Sears even gave out gift cards which were a big draw. My grandparents eventually tired out of the experience but the excitement of the day was in our blood. I then shopped with my sister and am now joined by our father who enjoys bonding with daughters during the day,” said DeFatte.
Tammy has her routine down. “We try to get to the store one hour before it opens and usually are between the first and 20th person in line. It is warmer by the door. My dad has a handicapped sticker so using his car is an advantage for parking. Dad brings a chair to sit down in line. He stays behind us since he jokes that he is afraid we will run him over and then adds that if he goes down he will act as the speed bump to hold off the others. When doors do open, dad gets the cart and goes and stands in the checkout line while I start running around the store,” she said.
DeFatte and her father arise earlier each year as the stores have changed their hours but their routine remains unchanged. Check the flyers, note which stores have rainchecks, which store has the most items they want to purchase, and keep in mind the typical longer lines at Menards and Shopko. The excursion is usually over by 10 a.m. “We also go to Fleet Farm Toy Opening in mid-October and call this our practice round for the big day. I love the energy and excitement; it is a strategy thing and we work well as a team. I think people should try it at least once,” DeFatte said.
Kiel resident Cary Johannes has headed to the Sheboygan area with her mother, sister, and mother’s cousin for their annual Black Friday expedition for years. It is a day to get together and she believes her shopping cohorts are low key in comparison to the hardcore freaks. “We set aside this one day per year to shop together. It works for us since my sister and I have young children; we and our husbands are off of work and they are able to care for the kids,” Johannes said.
The foursome looks through the papers the night before and individually makes their list. They decide on who has the best deal as their method of choosing the first stop. “Despite the stores switching to earlier openings we stick to our 5:30 a.m. time slot and have found that the lines aren’t as bad since the mad rush is over. For us it is all about attitude, if we get the item then it was meant to be if not, oh well,” Cary said.
“We have found a few shoppers are insensible but most are very gracious. It can be fun to have a conversation with someone while waiting in the long lines and inevitably we run into people we know,” she said.
DeFatte tells the story about meeting the same couple on an annual basis. “Every year we seem to run into the same couple waiting for the doors to open at Fleet Farm. We don’t know them nor see them outside of this day but it is fun to make small talk about how our year had been,” said DeFatte.
Johannes tops off her annual event with their husbands meeting them for lunch and everyone then going their separate ways.“We are now just sticking to tradition,” she said.
Dawn Woelfel readily admits that she is one of those hardcore Black Friday Freaks. Thanksgiving meals have even been moved up a few hours to accommodate her concentration on the upcoming shopping frenzy. By 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, she and her daughter Tanya head out of Chilton to meet up with her sister Debbie Schmitz at her home in Fond du Lac.
“We look through the papers and flyers that we get from several papers over and over, sometimes 20 times. Just when we think we have planned our shopping trip we end up starting all over again. We go when the doors open never going to bed that night. We have stood in lines at the door freezing for 2-3 hours,” Woelfel said with a good hearted laugh.
Practice makes perfect and this group knows the ropes. “Target is the best organized in terms of their lines. They have it barricaded and cops are around. The line is single file so no one can butt in ahead of you. It is really annoying when that does happen. My sister always brings a chair and sits down in line. She also packs mandarin oranges to eat to keep going,” she said.
An error to not repeat is hesitation. “The hardest part for me is that they put merchandise in different spots that day so sometimes there is confusion as to where to go. Once I made the mistake of hesitating trying to decide if that was the specific item I wanted when someone grabbed it out from under me and I lost my chance,” Woelfel said.
Surely a hardcore Black Friday Freak has scored on that ultimate deal. “The biggest deal that comes to mind happed at Kohl’s. Personal DVD players had recently come on the market and they were very expensive at that time. Kohl’s had the players on sale plus were giving out $50 in gift cards with purchases so I ended up buying several for $20 a piece,” she said.
Mixed in Dawn’s memory bank of this day is the year she and her sister stayed awake for 48 hours. “We had returned home from the trip and had to go straight to the hospital where our mother had been taken. We stayed with her all night since she was nearing death and had then passed away. Her memory is now with us each year on the shopping excursion,” Woelfel said.
Dawn feels the day is not a game but more of an adventure. “It is more of a rush just doing it. It really isn’t about the big hot buys but the excitement of watching the crowds. It is an adventure,” she said.
Rachel Schroeder wins the prize for shopping stamina. In 2013, she and her cousin Jenny broke their personal record for their Black Friday madness going at it for 36 hours while traveling to three major cities. This unshakeable shopper asserts that she doesn’t tire out and is fuelled with the amusement of people watching. “Sometimes while standing in line you can get warm and then feel the fatigue. Usually I do not get tired. I have so much fun watching the people that it keeps me going,” said Schroeder.
Rachel and her cousin have been at it for 10 years and are occasionally joined by others but their tag-a-longs tend to be short lived. Schroeder laughs as she describes those with less endurance. “We have been joined by my mother, another cousin, and one year my son. They usually go one or two years with us and then never join us again. One year my middle son was around 13-years old and had gotten his deer early. So with no need to hunt he joined us. By 2 a.m. he called it quits and went and slept in the car. We would check on him between stores to see if he was still breathing,” Rachel joked.
With Walmart opening at 6 p.m. her routine has been altered. “We start at the Walmart in Chilton and will arrive sometime between 6-8 p.m. since they stagger what will be on sale. We then head to Appleton, mainly the big department stores. We find the lines at Best Buy and Target impossible and usually avoid those stores unless there is something that we really want. We never lollygag in a store; we go in for the specific sale item only. Sales are usually over by noon so we have returned to a store later if we want to just wander,” Schroeder said.
Last year the duo diehards returned to their homes in New Holstein after the Appleton shopping segment, took a shower, refueled and then headed out to Sheboygan for more bargain hunting. A third sequel in Fond du Lac followed the Sheboygan jaunt creating history for the two Black Friday Freaks.
“We have so much fun,” she avows.
Within the human experience, the definition of fun is rather diverse. Good luck Black Friday Freaks chasing those sales; go time is just around the corner.
Tradition meets vision on the lake
by Mike Mathes
Blending historic Elkhart Lake traditions with new adventures has been a successful vision for Victorian Village.
That vision, held by current owners Judith and Kenneth Salzwedel, has bolstered Victorian Village as of one of Elkhart Lake’s historic lakeside resorts. Quaint traditions of the resort community have been infused with new facilities and traditions to build a great ambience for visitors from near and far.
This year, the Salzwedels are celebrating 15 years in business, giving them an opportunity to look back on some very important growth and change.
“Fifteen years seems like it has gone very fast. But, it feels good,” Judith Salzwedel said.
“When we bought the place, it was in dire need of repair, and that is being very kind. A lot of people thought it was an insurmountable project.”
Salzwedel beams with pride at the improvements that have been made to Victorian Village. “Everyone who comes here enjoys it. We are proud to be preserving a great Elkhart Lake tradition,” she said.
Despite the challenges that seemed daunting to others, Salzwedel and her husband felt a connection to preserving the deep, rich history that is part of Victorian Village—dating back to the days the resort was a haven for Chicago business people and known as the Schwartz Hotel.
“That’s what meant a lot to me, to care for that history and wanting to keep it going. Beyond that, we’re writing new chapters in the history of Victorian Village,” she said. “People enjoy history—like the fact that the Grand Victorian Lady dates back to 1882. We have too many things in our country that are getting torn down these days.”
Restoring the Grand Lady
One of the major projects the owners tackled was the reconstruction of the Grand Victorian Lady.
The familiar building was literally ready for the wrecking ball, when the Salzwedels decided to strip it to the studs and rebuild it. “We rebuilt the exterior as close to the original as we possibly could,” Judith said.
They saved artifacts from the demolition process and built them into other structures, including things like posts, staircases, rocks and stones. “It was just our way of incorporating the old history into the new whenever we could,” she said.
“Everyone else said the construction we did was such a daunting project, but I loved that. I am into renovating, designing and decorating,” Judith acknowledged.
Some of that background comes from her prior experience as a real estate agent, designer and developer.
Salzwedel continues her role in real estate today.
Her husband, Kenneth, came to the resort with a mechanic’s background. “He can fix anything and everything and that comes in handy when you run a resort,” she noted.
No prior resort experience
With no prior resort management experience, the Salzwedels embarked on their incredible journey with Victorian Village rather humbly 15 years ago.
“We knew how to enjoy good food and good drink, and that was our base,” Salzwedel said.
She acknowledges that the learning curve to get comfortable with resort ownership took about 10 years.
“It’s all about hiring and having the right people. You have to be able to understand your customer and what they are looking for. What the customer thinks is what matters most,” she said.
Building the experience
For the Salzwedels, building the overall Victorian Village has been more involved than simply renovating and adding buildings.
Their 15 year tenure at Victorian Village has been marked by the desire to build the overall resort experience for their guests.
“We have become a great place for weddings and family reunions,” Judith said. “Victorian Village offers rooms in every price range, and it’s a great place for families to gather.”
With experiences ranging from water sports to Wednesday stage shows, weekend entertainment at the tiki bar and great food and drink at the Back Porch Bistro, Victorian Village offers great selections for visitors.
Salzwedel said that the resort is blessed with the gift of the beautiful clear waters of Elkhart Lake and a community that hums with summer activity.
“We like to say that people can come here for an extended summer vacation, or by simply enjoying a few hours at our tiki bar, they can go on vacation for a day. Either way they can feel relaxed in knowing they have enjoyed a summer day on beautiful Elkhart Lake,” Salzwedel said.
It’s a life, a fun life
To the Salzwedels, resort ownership and management is far more than a job.
“It’s a life,” Judith said, “....but it’s been a fun life.”
She speaks to the fact that owners must be intricately involved in running a resort.
The Victorian Village owners have managed to weave business and family life together with great advantage. “Our children and grandchildren have been here working with us, and it has taught them a lot. In the process they meet people from all over the world.
But, to Judith, the term family extends beyond her immediate kin. “It’s not just our family, but our employees are truly family. In turn, we also consider ourselves part of a larger family that is our village.”
She and Kenneth appreciate what it means to be part of the village family.
“It’s more about cooperating than competing by a long shot. We are all in this business together, and we all understand that. When someone comes to Elkhart Lake for a visit, we all want them to have a good experience wherever they go or wherever they spend their time in our village. We all want them to come back, because their time here with us is a benefit to everyone,” she said.
“Our resort neighbors offer experiences that we don’t, and we like to think that we offer some unique experiences for visitors too.”
Nov 19, Reading Between the Wines book club, Bakkehia Wine & Spirits
Nov 20, Pizza & Wine Night, Bakkehia Wine & Spirits
Nov 21, 22, 23 Schroth Floral Christmas Open House
Nov 26, Live Music by “The Chickendales”, Bakkehia Wine & Spirits
Dec 3, An Evening In Paris-French Dinner & Wine, Bakkehia Wine & Spirits
Dec 17, Reading Between the Wines book club, Bakkehia Wine & Spirits
Dec 5, 8am-5:30pm Taste of the Holidays, Vern’s Cheese
Dec 6, 8:30am-2pm Taste of the Holidays, Vern’s Cheese
Dec 7, 1pm Sounds of Chilton, The Engler Center for the Performing Arts, Chilton High School
Nov 29, 6:30pm Elkhart Lake Chamber of Commerce Tree Lighting, Village Square Train Depot
Nov 29, 4-6:30pm Wine Tasting Event, Lake Street Café, Paddock Club & Vintage
Dec 5-14, 10am-5pm Osthoff Old World Christmas Market
Jan 23-25, 2015 Elkhart Lake Chamber of Commerce Schnee Days
Dec 12 & 13, 6:30pm Calumet County Community Theatre Singers, Village Hearthstone
Dec 6, 9am-3pm Howards Grove Holiday Market & Bake Sale, Howards Grove High School
Nov 29, 7pm Christmas parade, Fremont Street
Dec 5, noon-8pm Frolic on Fremont, shop the stores on Fremont St. Food, beverages & horse-drawn wagon rides
Dec 5-6, 9am-5pm Millhome Nursery Open House
Dec 6, 10am 20th Annual Sleigh Bell Run/Walk, Kiel Middle School www.sleighbellrun.com
Dec 6, 8am-noon Jr. Achievement Breakfast with Santa, vendor fair, bake sale, Kiel Middle School
Dec 6, 6pm Kiel Municipal Band Christmas Concert; Kiel Middle School
Nov 21-23 Wisconsin Holiday Market
Nov 26, 6:30pm 26th annual Lakeshore Holiday Parade. Visit Santa at the Rahr-West Art Museum 4:30-6pm and after the parade
Nov 29, 30, Dec 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21,27, 28, l-4pm Timm House Christmas, www.newholsteinhistory.info
Dec 7, 12-5pm Country Christmas, New Holstein High School; Festival of Wreaths; holiday craft projects, food and beverage; photo with Santa & Mrs. Claus; choral concert, free carriage rides, www.newholsteinchamber.com
Nov 28, 4-7pm Merchant specials, chili cook-off
Nov 28, 7pm Christmas parade
Nov 30, 5pm Jaycees holiday parade
Dec 5-7 Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas
Horses have an amazing impact on HUMANS—Free SPIRIT Riders, Inc.
Free SPIRIT Riders, Inc., located in Fond du Lac County, is on a mission to enrich the lives of children and adults with disabilities through safe, therapeutic interaction with horses.
Founded in 1987 by Emmy Butzen and Mary Narges, Free SPIRIT (Special People in Riding Therapy) Riders is governed by a six-member Board of Directors and has 10 part-time employees and over 100 volunteers.
“A needs assessment demonstrated that there were interested people and a large enough population with disabilities to support a therapeutic riding program in our community,” Executive Director Mary Narges said. “We sought to provide an experience that was challenging, but fun to a population that does not readily have the opportunity to engage in sport and recreation.”
According to Narges, Free SPIRIT Riders primarily provides therapeutic horsemanship in the form of riding lessons. “We also offer ground skills and grooming,” Narges added. “We have offered cart driving for those whose weight precludes them from riding and hope to do that again in the future. For two years we had a drill team made up of our more independent riders. We offer field trips in the spring and fall for special education class field trips.”
Free SPIRIT Riders’ season typically begins in early May and runs through mid-November with classes held during the afternoon and evening three days a week. “We add classes during the daytime on Wednesdays during the summer break from school as well,” Narges said. “Our facility includes an indoor and an outdoor riding arena and we have riding trails on the 38 acres of land we own.”
Geared for participants 3 years of age and older with a diagnosed disability, Free SPIRIT Riders’ goal is to promote active therapy, provide a valuable experience that is enjoyable and challenging and promote the rehabilitation of individuals with physical, psychological and learning challenges through equine-facilitated services. “The major benefits include improvement of muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, motor development and emotional and psychological health,” Narges said.
“We offer an experience that normalizes their life experiences and makes them feel confident in their abilities. The caretakers enjoy a brief respite from their caretaking and are empowered by the participant’s smiles and excitement about their adventures with us.”
According to Narges, most participants are brought to the Free SPIRIT Riders program through word of mouth as well as referrals from social workers, doctors, and physical therapists. “We have had as many as 120 participants per year,” Narges added.
“I have seen many participants become more verbal and demonstrate improved social skills. Most participants make friends with other participants and our volunteers. The biggest difference for most is the big bright smile on their faces that last beyond their time riding with us,” Narges said.
“Not only do we affect the lives of our participants, our volunteers receive benefits from helping others, some are referred by their psychiatrist or therapist due to depression and after a few hours with us they begin to feel like a different person who has found empowerment and fulfillment from helping challenged people who enjoy what they are doing and working with the horses.”
Twelve horses provide the horse power at Free SPIRIT Riders with most of them coming to Free SPIRIT Riders as donations. “The horses we incorporate into our program undergo a 90-day trial period during which they demonstrate their ability to help us meet our mission by their calmness, strength, agility and more,” Narges explained. “If they do not meet our needs, they are returned to their donor. If they stay they continue conditioning and training to increase their ability to help us.”
Finding and increasing funding to maintain the facilities along with the care of the horses can be a challenge for Free SPIRIT Riders. “The construction of our facility on land owned by our program in 2001 is a highlight as is providing services from our own facility,” Narges said. “I am proud of the fact that we are accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International at the Premier level.”
“We are uniquely qualified and prepared to offer sport and recreation to those whose challenges prevent them from engaging in sport and recreation that is so readily available to others,” Narges explained. “The horses move diagonally, laterally, up and down and forward simultaneously. This simulates the human walking motion. While sitting on the horse and maintaining proper posture, the abdomen is exercised; this aids in vocalization. Physically challenged individuals benefit from improved balance, posture, range of motion, circulation and stamina. The action of the horse relaxes and stimulates unused muscles and joints, builds muscle tone and improves coordination. The warmth and rhythmic movement of the horse quiets and stimulates the senses required for a child with ADHD to maintain concentration and focus.”
Narges said riding horses exercises the mind as well as the body. “Program participants with cognitive challenges develop better attention spans, listening skills and concentration. They learn to follow directions and enjoy the responsibility of giving directions to their horses.”
Narges said after a 4-year-old boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder started participating at Free SPIRIT Riders, he changed his bedtime prayers to begin ”In the name of the Father, the Son and Free SPIRIT Riders, Amen.”
Free SPIRIT Riders will hold their 24th Annual Ride-a-Thon on Saturday, Aug. 24. “It is a pledge raiser with a silent auction, raffle, roast pork lunch, Wild West show, musical entertainment by K G & the Ranger, riding demos by our program participants, barn tours, interaction with our horses, walks in our garden and more,” Narges said. “This is our largest annual fundraiser.”
Located at W3950 STH 23 in Fond du Lac, Free SPIRIT Riders can be reached at (920) 924-9920. Additional information can be found on their Web site, www.FreeSPIRITRiders.org, or by e-mailing isinfo@FreeSPIRITRiders.org.
“For participants with emotional challenges, riding provides excellent opportunities for positive social interaction. Learning to respect and control their horses becomes a valuable first step toward controlling their own lives. The list truly goes on and on for the many benefits the horse provides. Statistics aside, we know that our program activities enrich our participants’ lives, building confidence, pride, and self-esteem. We hear it from the parents and guardians, therapists, teachers and counselors who tell us so. We know it from the growing demand for our program. But best of all, we know it in the expressions on our riders’ faces.”
Horses have an amazing impact on HUMANS—REINS
For 31 years REINS—Recreation and Exercise for Individuals Needing Special Assistance—has been providing Sheboygan County with equine assisted activities and therapies.
The non-profit corporation is committed to improving the lives of those with special needs through individually structured classes using therapeutic interactions with horses.
The 501c3 corporation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and first began as a class project at Lakeshore Technical College in 1982 when students started a therapeutic riding class that blossomed into a full-time program. REINS provided services to as many as 74 disabled individuals each week.
“When LTC disbanded the equine program in 1994, REINS, Inc. was established as a 501c3 and moved to the farm of Tom and Barb Slatter where it remained until this year when we moved to Brackenwood Farm in Sheboygan Falls as a transitional barn while we look for a permanent dedicated facility,” Board of Directors member and future chairperson Deana Hamel explained.
According to Hamel, REINS offers both therapeutic riding (TR) and equine facilitated learning (EFL). “Our EFL program is focused on serving at-risk youth,” Hamel said. “We provide services to individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities and significant mental health needs. Our participants are referred to us from schools, group homes, social service agencies, doctors and therapists. Our goals and lessons are structured to meet therapy goals and to increase strength, range of motion and balance.”
REINS is a premier therapeutic center accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International and serves individuals from ages 3 to 70. “We are one of three premier facilities in Wisconsin,” Hamel added. “We strive to provide personal growth and development through equine assisted therapeutic education and recreational activities.”
REINS is currently able to provide 53 individuals per week with specialized equine assisted activities and therapies.
Instructors are paid for their services at REINS and are assisted by a volunteer base numbering 187. “This does not include the community and business groups who donate time each year as workdays for projects,” Hamel said. “We also add that our horses are paid staff as their care is a significant portion of our current budget.”
REINS uses six to eight horses for both therapeutic riding and equine facilitated learning, with each horse going through a rigorous evaluation and screening process. “Our horses are donated to us for use during the program season, which currently runs May through August,” Hamel explained. “Each horse is evaluated and screened for the program by our instructors, equine specialists, volunteer coordinator and board members. Horses that pass the evaluation and screening are then trained by our equine specialists, instructors and skilled equine volunteers to accept the special needs and equipment of a therapeutic program.”
Participants are referred to REINS from schools, group homes, social service agencies, doctors and therapists, and tuitions include $150 for a five-week session. “Tuition covers 29 percent of the cost of this special program,” Hamel said. “Many of our students are unable to pay the tuition so REINS has a comprehensive scholarship fund. No student referred to REINS is turned away based on ability to pay.”
REINS sees many return participants each year with instructors and volunteers thriving on watching the progression of each rider. “Becoming a part of their ‘family’ is very meaningful for our instructors and volunteers,” Hamel explained. “Volunteers come as families and their support becomes generational—those who volunteered as youths now bring their children or grandchildren to volunteer. Some of our current volunteers were once riders in our program. Current riders are also volunteers. Seeing the ability of participants and volunteers to both give and receive support is very rewarding.”
Most of the challenges for those involved with REINS include funding and running the program, Hamel said. “However, meeting those challenges makes us develop deeper ties within our community and opens us to new perspectives and insights as we grow and change. Not having a dedicated facility or executive director has been one place that continues to challenge our ability to offer a full range of therapeutic services to the area. We are committed to overcoming that challenge in the next year.”
“REINS can only offer these wonderful and beneficial services through the support of the community,” Hamel continued. “Each year we are able to expand the services we provide because of the generous donations of talent, time and financial support given by individuals, corporations and foundations. It is a remarkable thing to see the growing commitment to provide equine therapy in the area. There is a growing body of work supporting the unique benefits of this therapy and we a proud to offer these services to our community.”
According to Hamel, REINS Board of Directors adopted an aggressive five-year plan in 2013 designed to bring a wider range of equine assisted activities and therapies to area individuals. “We are working in cooperation with therapeutic and community partners to fulfill this plan. The need is growing in our schools, with returning veterans, with families and throughout our community. We are committed to working together to help meet those needs.”
Hamel said she looks to the future with hopes of moving into a fully dedicated facility that can accommodate a wide range of programming. “This will be a big undertaking and require tremendous support from the communities we serve. We are excited about the future but we need your help. If you are able to share your time, talents and treasure with us, we would welcome you to contact us. We are always happy to speak to individuals, groups and corporations about the benefits of equine assisted activities and therapy and our desire to serve the needs of the community.”
Hamel invites anyone wishing additional information or to schedule a presentation to contact REINS at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (920) 242-6101.
“REINS means something different to each of our participants and their families,” Hamel said. “For some it is the first place they hear their child speak, to others it is a place to belong and a place where everyone needs assistance and to some it is a place to regain motor skills lost due to accident or illness. To some it is the only place where they feel the sensation of walking and for others it is one of the few activities that calm their minds and bodies. It is a place where they experience unconditional love first from their horse and then their therapeutic team. Some find a sense of accomplishment and empowerment and still others find it a place where they gain insight into their own places of hurt and open the doors for healing.”
Horses have an amazing impact on HUMANS—BEAMING, Inc.
he documented impact horses can have on humans is nothing short of amazing.
That comes as no surprise to horse owners or people who work around horses. They have seen it themselves and, in all likelihood, experienced it themselves.
Northeast Wisconsin offers multiple opportunities for other people—including people with special needs—to be helped by horses as well. In the paragraphs which follow, read about how people from a former Army Ranger with a brain injury to a blind child working to find the courage to get up on that horse have been helped by exposure to these majestic animals.
Three women with a passion for horses who believed there was a community need for special needs therapy that could be met through the partnership of horses and humans made their dream a reality in 2004 with the creation of BEAMING, Inc.
Located in Neenah, BEAMING—Building Equine Assisted Mobility into New Growth—is run by a board of directors and employs one director, three PATH certified instructors and over 150 volunteers. The mission of the BEAMING staff is to enhance the quality of life for individuals with special needs ages 4 to adult through developing connecting relationships with people and horses.
“BEAMING , Inc. provides EAAT (Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies) to individuals in the Fox Cities and surrounding areas with diagnoses including but not limited to Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Developmental and Cognitive Delays, Spinal Cord Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury and other neurological, orthopedic and behavioral diagnoses,” Director Julie Van Lieshout explained.
Numerous programs are offered by BEAMING including Private Riding which is geared for individuals age 4 through adult who receive lessons designed to enhance physical, cognitive and emotional well being. “Each class can accommodate four to five riders and lessons are held once a week for a 10-week session,” Van Lieshout said. “Riders are charged $35 a lesson.”
The Partners in Riding program is a collaboration between BEAMING and local school districts and provides an adaptive physical education program for children with special needs.
A mother shared her thoughts as she watched her young child participate at BEAMING. “As soon as I open up the car door, she realizes where we are. She begins fighting against her car seat yelling “OK, OK.” She remembers what BEAMING is and wants to get on the horse.
When you have a child with limitations, you come to except that there are moments you will not have with your child—they will not be the quarterback, they may not have the friendships others their age have, and they may not even be able to communicate. But when she is on that horse, I get a few of those moments back. I get to see a group of people cheering her on, I get to see the volunteers interacting with her and helping her interact with the other kids, I get to see her use her body and sometimes words to communicate with the horse. It makes me feel proud watching her. Then I look at all the volunteers. They are always upbeat, always excited to see the kids. They truly do make a difference in these lives. We are so thankful for all that BEAMING has given our daughter.”
Another featured program at BEAMING is the Horses, Hearts and Heroes program which was created for veterans with visible and not so visible challenges. “This program is offered at no charge to our veterans,” Van Lieshout said.
Van Lieshout spoke of an Iraqi war veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury and how his life was changed by his participation at BEAMING. “He will proudly tell you he was an Army Ranger that served in Iraq. Although he cannot always remember your name, he will remember the name of his horse and will stand at attention and proudly recite the Ranger Creed.”
The veteran’s mother wrote a letter to the BEAMING staff on behalf of her son and his experience with BEAMING programs. “I wanted to thank you for the wonderful gift the program Horses, Hearts and Heroes has given to my son. Matthew is a veteran and suffered a traumatic brain injury six years ago. The Horses, Hearts and Heroes program has given back to Matthew what he has needed and so much more. Not only in the short time he has been involved with the program has his focusing improved, but his balance along with his memory has as well. He took pride in riding with other veterans. I also feel what he enjoyed most is a sense of belonging and as he stated, ‘When I’m there, Mom, I don’t feel different. Everyone accepts me for who I am.’ The sense of belonging and being a part of such a wonderful program is what Matthew enjoys so much. He has met so many wonderful individuals and is proud to say he rides at BEAMING.”
Camp F.I.L.T.E.R. is a collaborative program between the Christine Ann Center and BEAMING which focuses on self-esteem and relationship building for teens and a collaboration between BEAMING and Clarity Care provides the Day Camp for Adults with Disabilities program.
A teen who attended Camp F.I.L.T.E.R was so moved by the experience she chose to partner with BEAMING for her Honors English “Passion Project.” As part of that project she raised money for five children at Merrill Elementary School to attend five weeks of riding at BEAMING.
Christine Ann Prevention and Youth Advocate Bryan Wright commented, “The teen F.I.L.T.E.R camp was one of the most motivationally uplifting, hope-filled camps I have ever been to. The connections that were made, stories that were shared and obstacles that were overcome were incredible to say the least.”
Another popular program offered at BEAMING is the Saddle Up for Success program which is also a collaborative effort between BEAMING and local school districts and encourages healthy life style choices to middle and high school youth.
“There are many benefits to therapeutic riding including greater muscle strength, postural control and coordination, improved memory and cognitive skills and a renewed ability to focus and balance,” Van Lieshout said. ”In addition to the physical benefits is the increased self-esteem and self-confidence as each encounter with their equine friend helps the rider discover their new abilities.”
“This year BEAMING has changed the lives of over 75 riders, each with their own story to tell of what brought them to BEAMING and what keeps them coming back week after week,” Van Lieshout continued. “It is each of these stories that inspire us to continue our mission. We hear often from riders and volunteers that BEAMING is a place where they are accepted, where they feel like they belong.”
The growing interest in Equine-Facilitated Therapy has meant an increased demand for programs at BEAMING. “The most difficult challenge has been managing that demand by maintaining a slow and steady growth of the organization to help assure a solid business foundation,” Van Lieshout said.
Participants from the Fox Cities and surrounding areas hear about BEAMING from volunteers and community partners. In 2014, BEAMING is anticipating providing over 800 rides to more than 95 participants.
Twelve American Quarter horses are used in BEAMING’s programs and are provided by horse owners. All horses used in the programs have passed a trial test and have gone through a training period before being mainstreamed into the programs. “Many of these horses are retired or semi-retired show horses whose owners allow us to use them for our BEAMING programs as well as the EWD (Equestrians with Disabilities) program through American Quarter Horse Association.”
Van Lieshout said she fondly remembers the very first participant she worked with at BEAMING. “I will never forget a young boy with autism,” Van Lieshout said. “I met him at the door before lessons and he was holding the hand of his caregiver and staring blankly at the ceiling. I was told he was non-verbal. I took his hand and led him into the arena where I placed a brush into his hands and proceeded to help him groom the horse, moving his hands in large circles and introducing him to his new friend the horse. Slowly, during that first ride I saw life in his eyes. He began looking around, smiling, and giggling out loud as we trotted. I was speechless as tears welled up in my eyes. As the weeks progressed he began signing and then making sounds. He loved to trot and would make a ‘tah’ sound when he wanted to trot…and a ‘wah’ sound when he wanted to walk on. The final week of the six-week session I put on his helmet and we walked into the arena together. He ran to pick up the grooming bucket and then to the horse, picked up the familiar brush and made quick circles on the shoulder of the horse as he knew the routine. He quickly returned the bucket back to the storage area and proceeded to run towards the horse in an effort to jump on. I was in awe of the power of the horse that gave this little boy a voice.”
The memory of a young child who was blind is still vivid in Van Lieshout’s mind. “It took us weeks to get him on the horse,” Van Lieshout explained. “We would sit next to the horse, feel the horse, listen to the horse breathe, sing to the horse. We had to practice wearing a helmet, sitting in a saddle, and we used a wheelbarrow to train for the riding experience. It took a few weeks until he was finally comfortable with the idea of riding a horse, but when he did it was beautiful to watch. He would sing to the horse as he giggled and together they made their way around the arena with the help of the volunteers that had by then become familiar friends.”
BEAMING has formed partnerships with several groups at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. In conjunction with the College of Nursing, BEAMING served as a clinical site for their senior nursing students for both pediatric and community nursing and mental health outreach. “We have also formed a partnership with the UW-O Kinesiology Department, who utilized our riding program as a field experience opportunity for adaptive physical education major students,” Van Lieshout said. “BEAMING will be a participating site for the QUEST III Community Engagement Project in the Fall of 2014. In addition, BEAMING has partnered with the Marian University nursing students and is a site for their community nursing clinical.”
Additional BEAMING community partnerships include Neenah Joint School District, Oshkosh Area School District, Christine Ann Center and Clarity Care.
“A few weeks ago we gave a ride to a woman in hospice. She rode a horse when she was younger and her wish was to ride a horse again. The smile on her face as she rode confidently around the arena as her family watched was priceless. I was in awe of the power of the horse. It gave this woman hope.”
BEAMING, Inc. riding facilities are located at KK Quarter Horses, 2962 CTH GG in Neenah and can be reached at (920) 636-5001. Additional information can be found on their Web site, www.beaminginc.org, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
“Through BEAMING, we have had the privilege to work with some of the most amazing people,” Van Lieshout commented. “Our Board of Directors, our staff, our donors, our volunteers and most of all our riders. They have all taught us to appreciate life, live a little harder, love a little more, but most of all they have taught us that nothing is impossible when you believe.”
“Whether you come to BEAMING as a board member, volunteer, rider or just as a visitor you will never be the same,” Van Lieshout said. “The passion, kindness, compassion and dedication of all involved are contagious.”
Grape Location—Armstrong Apples Orchard and Winery
The votes have been tallied and the results of the 2014 International Women’s Wine Competition are in. Armstrong Apples Orchard and Winery entered two wines and won two medals.
This competition was expertly judged by the wine industry’s leading professional women. The competition not only recognizes the best wines that appealed to our judges, but also the wines they feel would most appeal and influence other women wine buyers and consumers. International Women’s Wine Competition is committed to the highest standards of competition. On June 25 more than 975 wines were judged.
Armstrong Apples Orchard and Winery submitted a red grape called Passion that won a silver medal in the red wine division, and their True Blue, blueberry wine won a bronze in the fruit wine division. When asked: Why did you select this competition for your wines? Owner Lisa Klein responded “We usually submit our wines to the Wisconsin State Fair Professional Wine Competition and our Marquette Reserve which is a deep dry grape, won a silver medal there this year. However, we wanted to try something different by competing on an internationally larger scale. The international women’s competition has wineries from all over the world and all the big wineries in California. To do as well as we did among the really great wineries of the world, tells us that we are on the right track. This is the first time we made grape wine and both the Marquette Reserve and the Passion are made from locally grown Marquette grapes. The winemaker for the grape wines is Dan Aussem of Glendale WI. He has been making wines for 20 years for a select group of wine conesurs. All of our wines continue to win awards with the apple wines winning silver, peach won a silver while the raspberry wine won a gold at the International Cold Climate Competition in Minneapolis.”
Armstrong Apples has been growing apples in Armstrong for 20 years. They planted peach trees about 10 years ago and pear trees four years ago. There are a total of 14 apple varieties on approximately 3000 trees. In the fall they also sell their fresh apples and every manner of apple product including: pies, fritters, turnovers, apple oatmeal cookies, fresh pressed cider, a large variety of preserves, salsas, and butters and apple wines. There are lots of fun activities for the whole family.
During the summer you can tour the orchard in an apple wagon, play disc golf, picnic or the kids can enjoy the play area while the adults sample wine in their beautiful tasting room. New this year is live music under the stars with great live performers.
Music nights are on Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and sing along to your favorite tunes or get up and dance. In the Fall, after the apples are ripe their customers enjoy the slingshots using deer apples to hit the apple targets.
Armstrong Apples is currently open Thursday thru Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. but expand their days of operation to Tuesday thru Sunday starting September 1.
They are conveniently located in the beautiful Kettle Moraine area; east of Eden, between Fond du Lac and Plymouth and three miles from Long Lake. Come enjoy some of the best wine in the world and celebrate their award winning wines.
While it might not be wise to judge a book by its cover, you might do well to consider defining a lounge by its name. That’s especially true when the name of the wine bar is derived from Bacchus, the Roman God of wine and the frenzied feeling it may induce.
Bakkheia opened its doors in September 2013, offering Calumet County its first experience at a wine bar. Named after Bacchus, the wine bar is located at 425 West Ryan Street, Brillion the southeast corner of a business complex.
Brittany Horn manages the wine bar for business partners Douglas Buboltz and Dave Mathiebe.
Bakkheia came into being after the owners saw the building open for more than six months. They thought they would give the wine bar life.
Mathiebe is a wine conniessuer, and has visited similar wine-themed lounges in Appleton and Green Bay. “We thought we could bring something unique to this area, so that people might be able to enjoy a great glass of wine without having to travel,” Buboltz said.
Bakkheia offers more than 70 different wine labels from many international origins. A wine afficionado can find brands from Europe and South America. They can also enjoy great wines from Wisconsin. Bakkheia offers wine from the Ledgestone Winery, just up the road in Greenleaf. The wine bar also carries Wollersheim wines from Prairie du Sac, a well known Midwest winery.
At any given time, Bakkheia will have from six to 10 different wines on its pour list. Sample tasting is available.
Other wines are also made available by the bottle to enjoy in the Bakkheia lounge, outside on the patio, or to take home.
Bakkheia shouldn’t be confused with a sports bar, as it has an ambience all its own. If the television is on, it’s likely to be playing music instead of ESPN.
More than just wine
In addition to wine, guests at Bakkheia can also enjoy beer. Bakkheia complements its large selection of bottled beers with three tap choices. That selection usually includes something from Rowlands, a brew from Stone Arch in Appleton and another from Leinenkugels.
Cocktails are also on the Bakkheia menu.
This summer, the wine bar completed its outdoor patio. With grassy areas enhancing the stone poured patio, the outdoor area also inclues a stage for live music.
“We just had our patio grand opening recently, and it was a great success,” Buboltz said.
Bakkheia is open on a limited basis, just Thursdays through Saturdays. Doors open at 4 p.m. and close at 11 p.m.
Private parties can be booked any day of the week. Approximately 40 people can be seated indoors comfortably, although the outdoor area allows for larger groups to be accommodated.
Grape Escapes—The Blind Horse
Enjoying a great wine experience doesn’t require a trip to California’s Napa Valley.
Kohler’s Blind Horse Restaurant and Winery have brought the Napa Valley experience to Eastern Wisconsin.
Two years ago, the restaurant portion of the business opened its doors on County O, just north of Kohler. This April, the winery welcomed its first guests.
Thomas Nye, general manager/winemaker of The Blind Horse, said the goal is simple. Between the winery and restaurant, The Blind Horse seeks to provide an enjoyable experience mixing great tastes in food with some awesome wine experiences.
Fine dining a plus
At The Blind Horse, the combination of fine dining and a winery on the same property create a great opportunity to serve guests in unique ways.
Dining guests at The Blind Horse have the opportunity to learn about interesting wines to complement their meals—including both selections from The Blind Horse and some of the best wineries in America.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays.
Even though the restaurant was opened a year and a half before the winery, Nye said it was always the dream of the Moeller Family, owners of The Blind Horse, to focus on the winery.
“They knew it would take a little more time to plan and execute the startup of the winery, but it was always their original dream,” he said.
Focus on dry wines
The Blind Horse Winery wants to be known for making great dry wines. “We want to hang our hat on becoming a great producer of dry wines,” Nye said.
The winemaker has nothing against the many sweet wines available. “We already have many good ones here in Wisconsin. Since we love the California style dry wines, that’s what we seek to bring here,” he said.
Although the first wine production period was officially last fall, The Blind Horse has already earned accolades in competition. At the Wisconsin State Fair, The Blind Horse received a silver medal for its syrah entry and a bronze medal for its dry rosé wine. “To obtain that recognition right out of the barn was a real feather in our hats,” Nye said.
In all, The Blind Horse offers 17 of its own wines. They are complemented by opportunities to taste and purchase select wines.
The winery started its first year with an aggressive plan. Approximately 2,000 cases were created between the 17 different brands in the first season alone. “It’s unheard of to start a winery with that level of complexity,” Nye said.
In addition, The Blind Horse will feature reserve wines—special wines crafted in small batches. Two of those varieties were started before the winery was even built.
Fall is the time for production mode at The Blind Horse—as grapes need to be processed as near to the right harvest point possible.
Wine tasting opportunities
Tasting opportunities start in the elegance of the winery’s tasting room.
Traditional tasting opportunities are available at The Blind Horse, with options for guided tours.
Wine and food pairings are presented by The Blind Horse in its one-bite pairing opportunities. Five small bite-sized pairings can be sampled on one plate. They include offerings like grilled watermelon and feta cheese paired with pinot gris. Or, wine afficionados might enjoy candied bacon with blueberry relish with cabernet sauvignon.
“The food alone is great,” said Nye. “The wine alone is wonderful. But when we bring them together it’s amazing.”
Guests have a choice of three pairings in the tasting room:
• Food & Wine Pairing
• Cheese & Wine Pairing
• Chocolate & Wine Pairing.
Jazz and wine nights
The Blind Horse has also paired its ambience with great musicians from Wisconsin on its Thursday Jazz and Wine nights. “We have been getting some great bands and drawing people from as far away as Milwaukee,” Nye said.
In addition to the great wine selections, Thursdays feature gourmet flatbread pizzas, also a great hit on the musical evenings.
The Jazz & Wine evenings are hosted on the popular Patio Bar which overlooks the beautiful outdoor gardens. Winery hours offer tastings from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays.
Service on the Patio Bar is available from 5-9 p.m. on Thursdays with Jazz & wine events beginning at 6 p.m.
Fridays hours are 5-10 p.m. Saturdays, the Patio Bar is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Food truck nights
This August, The Blind Horse featured a major event—The Gourmet Food Truck Festival.
Nye feels this is the beginning of an annual event that will define The Blind Horse’s place as a Wisconsin destination.
“We are excited to be doing this, and we hope it will be a wonderful signature event for Sheboygan County for years to come,” he said.
“Some of the most inventive foods in the culinary trade are coming from food trucks. They are extremely popular.”
Fall Harvest festival
Join the fun September 20 as The Blind Horse Winery celebrates its 2nd annual Fall Harvest Festival. The festival includes the following fun activities:
• Live music on our
• Grape stomping competition
• Horse shoe throwing competition
• Make your own pizza – learn to throw like a pro!
Special event capabilities
The Blind Horse welcomes guests to consider holding their special events or meeting in the beautiful wine cellar. Guests are surrounded by wine in The Blind Horse cellar which can accommodate up to 24 people - the perfect venue for team meetings, rehearsal dinners, bachelorette parties or just a fun night out with friends and family. Reservations are required.
More information can be obtained on The Blind Horse website:
Special five course food and wine pairings are also offered through The Blind Horse restaurant and winery. Though none are currently scheduled, customers are encouraged to check the website often for new listings.
Great community presence
Located just outside of Kohler, The Blind Horse is easily accessed by travelers coming to or passing through Sheboygan County.
“Being associated with the Kohler community and Elkhart Lake is something that the Moeller’s appreciate,” Nye said. The opportunity to add to the importance of those Sheboygan County communities as destinations for visitors is important to The Blind Horse.
“We are confident that The Blind Horse will be known as a great destination as well,” Nye said. “That will only enhance what we already have in Sheboygan County and give people another reason to come, visit and stop here.”
Nye comes to The Blind Horse, with 12 years experience as a winemaker. He previously spent nine years as the owner and winemaker of The Grape Escape Winery in Dayton, NJ.
Connections in Eastern Wisconsin
For Nye, the appointment as general manager and winemaker at The Blind Horse enables his wife to return to an area she calls home.
Nancy Seifert Nye was born and raised in Manitowoc County. She and her husband are excited about raising their daughter in the area she grew up and among her family.
Have you ever longed to find that place where you can enjoy a glass of fine wine along an ambience that speaks of relaxation?
You might think such a place can only be found in a metropolitan atmosphere.
At Pourvino, Sheboygan County’s premiere wine bar, it’s easy to surmise that life is all about the wine. To a degree that’s correct. Pourvino is a wonderful place to enjoy great wines.
But, to owners Sally and Frank Maydak, Pourvino is also about the ambience, a truly unique atmosphere that brings a big-city experience to small-town Plymouth.
“We have always enjoyed relaxing with a glass of wine,” Sally Maydak said. “When we moved here four years ago, we looked around to find such a place. Finally, we decided it would be nice if we could create a place like this in Plymouth. It’s a fabulous town with lots of great venues. We thought our concept would add something special to the portfolio of the community.”
In November 2013, after going through the necessary red tape, Pourvino opened its doors, sharing its comfort and coziness with the public for the first time.
“We like to think of the Pourvino experience as one of casual elegance, with a touch of class,” Frank said.
Great wine selections
Pourvino offers more than 100 wines to choose from. The wines are on display in a glass encased wine “cellar” located on the ground floor of Pourvino.
Customers can purchase wine by the glass or by the bottle. In the event they don’t care to finish the bottle at Pourvino, the wine bar is equipped to re-cork the wine for transport.
Knowledgeable lead bartenders offer their expertise in helping guests make the best wine choices. “It’s important for our staff to bring knowledge and answers about wines. Our customers appreciate their insights,” she said.
No wonder it’s important. Pourvino offers wines from all around the world, including 22 different glass pours.
“Our red blends are very popular, as are the cabernets and moscatos. It’s all about personal taste, and that’s what our staff is trained to help people find,” Sally said.
In some cases, it’s important for customers to try several tastings before they select a wine they would like to settle in with.
We love options
Pourvino likes to give its guests a chance to sample many varieties of great wine. A large segment of the customers like to sample the wines in flights—three ounce pours featuring multiple wine choices.
“We have a lot of people who come in and decide to take a bottle of their favorite choice along home,” Sally said.
In fact, Tuesdays have become a featured day at Pourvino. “We offer 50% off on all bottles on Tuesdays, whether they drink them here, or take them home,” Sally noted. “That’s a great savings, and a great way to get introduced to some of the more upscale wines.”
More than wine
Although wine is the featured pour at Pourvino, the options don’t stop there.
Pourvino has also ventured into offering fine scotch and bourbon. Just like the wine, guests can enjoy a glass, or try varieties by sampling in flights.
Martinis are a specialty of the house, made with Grey Goose vodka. Bottled beer and soda are also available.
In addition, Pourvino offers a fine selection of cigars to be enjoyed in the outdoor smoking lounge.
Food is also part of the equation, as Pourvino offers small plates of cured meats and cheese, specialty dips, sweet treats, and dessert for those who like to nibble while they sip.
Part of the community
To the Maydaks, blending Pourvino into existing venues in the Plymouth community is important. “We want to be seen as being part of the community. We aren’t trying to be the whole deal all on our own,” Sally said.
Pourvino would like to be known as a great place to stop before or after dinner.
Pourvino also aims to be a destination for out of town travelers. Already, the wine bar has attracted visitors from Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Art and wine
A specialty program offered by Pourvino combines wine with creativity. Art & Vino takes place once a month, combining the talents of a local artist with the opportunity to sample wine.
The participants actually get to work on their own paintings while sampling specialty wines. Seranya Studios of Plymouth offers the instruction. Pourvino can also host private Art & Vino parties. Remaining Art and Vino sessions this year are planned for August 21, September 18, October 23 and November 20.
Pourvino also has an event room available for gatherings. The room is offered at no charge. Catering is available if your event requires food service. Many different types of events have already filled the room, including bridal showers, wedding rehearsal dinners, anniversaries, corporate dinners, Christmas parties, meetings and more. The event room seats 40, but has the spill-over opportunity into the rest of the Pourvino space.
As Pourvino completes its first year in business, the owners are excited about being able to bring something really special to the area.
“We want to be an upscale venue, without being over the top,” Frank Maydak said.
To that end, Pourvino keeps creating the illusion that one can be transported somewhere else in the world of ambience, through a sip of wine and a quiet conversation.
At Pourvino, they can enjoy the journey without ever leaving the comforts of Plymouth, Wisconsin.
Joan Lechler—Women in Finance
Assistant Vice President
Joan Lechler credits professional mentors, a supportive family, and learning through the ranks for her 32-year longevity and rise in the financial world. Lechler began her career as a teller at Farmers & Merchants Bank in Marytown, a four-employee bank. Early on she was given direction and mentoring from Tim Meyer, an educator by profession who worked in the banking world in between his teaching career. Meyer’s initial coaching and the sideline cheering from her family initiated her advancement throughout several banks covering roles from teller, bookkeeper, loan processor, loan officer, manager, investor of annuities and securities to her current position as Bank Mutual assistant vice president in Kiel.
“I started at the ground level and worked my way up and have found that to be an asset. I eventually learned everyone’s position and what they go through. Tim really pushed me along toward management at times telling me that I was going to take a particular class. Diane Thorson (also featured in this article series) was also a mentor to me, a great sounding board. My husband put up with my hours and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him. I often got home at 7 p.m. with him in charge of the kids,” Joan said.
Lechler points out the evolution of the banking industry and the role of women along the way. “The world of banking is so different from when I started. Computerization changed everything. We were once more directly involved with the lives of our customers; we actually knew when people were sick because we hadn’t seen them in the bank for a while. ATMs, direct deposits, and online banking has changed the culture. I saw few women early on in management, mainly in HR roles and no women on a bank’s board of directors. Today there are more women in management but still few on the board of directors. Boards are still very male dominated most likely because the group is made up of business owners, an area where women are still making progress,” she said.
Joan said she feels her gender no longer presents a challenge today and mirrors Thorson’s view that involvement in the community is a key component to success.
Diane Thorson—Women in Finance
BMO Harris Bank
With just shy of four decades in the banking industry, Diane Thorson likes to jokingly tell others she was 3 years old when she started her career. Her lifelong profession did start early with a high school co-op position at a former independent M&I Bank in Ripon. She found banking to be a good fit for herself and utilized the opportunity to work her way through undergraduate and graduate school. But Thorson’s combined experience and higher education were not enough to advance her to a higher level in the industry. Perseverance and self-advocacy became her driving forces.
From what she describes as starting out in that typical female role of receptionist to gradual advancements and title today as vice president of Chilton and New Holstein branches, Thorson pointedly states, “You really have to want it.”
“I remember too many conversations wanting advancements. I fought for my position and had enough of men getting the job. Eventually they did send me to banking school and in the late 1980s I became the first female loan officer in the Ripon branch. Today it is different, the male/female ratio of management is close to 50/50,” Diane said.
Personal ambition and a willingness to relocate paved Thorson’s road to advancement. “I was the controller of bank financials and operations and later branch management in Ripon but had plateaued in my position. I wasn’t afraid to move out of the area. If you want to advance you have to put your foot forward,” she said.
Once that foot is firmly in place Diane emphasizes that going the extra mile does not end. “You need to be willing to be involved in the community, nonprofit groups, and functions. Involvement in various city chambers is always helpful and know once you are on any board as a banker you will always be asked to be the treasurer,” she said with a laugh.
Katia Korchagina—Women in Finance
Community Bank & Trust
Senior Vice President, Chief Credit Officer
Katia Korchagina’s traverse of success in the financial world is reflective of a strong personal belief and one that she would pass on to other women seeking the same achievement. “You must work hard but your foundation to build upon is education. Success is achieved with the combination of hard work, education and believing in what you do,” Katia said.
Korchagina is a highly educated woman obtaining a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Accounting in her native Russia and later a MBA and CPA in the U.S. Her U.S. education provided her educational fortification and the needed jump from conversational English to articulating in the business world. She began her career 13 years ago as a credit analyst and continued her path as senior credit analyst, credit department manager, VP chief credit officer to her recent promotion as senior vice president at the Sheboygan location.
Korchagina said she feels she has had parallel growth with the company as needs and opportunities arose. “I have not had aggressive career goals. It is organic growth. As the company has grown I took what life gave me and grew with the company. I have had freedom in my work and have never been micro-managed but with that freedom comes ownership. I have always needed to take ownership of my ideas and decisions and find that I compete against myself reflecting on if I can do better next time,” Katia said.
She said she has felt a barrier as both a foreigner and as a woman and has learned her method of circumvention. “I feel in general women are more technical and detail orientated. I have always put more research into my ideas and present more facts, often being a little more prepared than most males. I have found a woman needs to do more homework to prove her point versus a male,” Katia said.
Passion for your profession is the seed Katia plants for career growth. “I have lived the American dream. If you work hard and invest your knowledge and energy you will get something in return. In my case, I am appreciated for what I accomplish but I also believe in what I do. If you put your heart into it, people will follow. You must be passionate,” she said.
Amber Tenpas—Women in Finance
Wisconsin Bank & Trust
Assistant Vice President, Commercial Banking
An ability to be coachable from her entry level position on up resulted in Amber Tenpas obtaining top performer status throughout her 10-year career in banking. The advancement from teller to senior teller, personal banker, assistant manager, branch manager and now a commercial lender by choice occurred in a mere six years. WI Bank & Trust in Sheboygan is her third banking institution and Tenpas has been guided by both male and female mentors along her career journey.
“I have always been coachable accepting criticism and the ability to be molded by others in order to take that next step. I have had both male and female mentors although it was a male, a former business associate, who recruited me for my position today. I am told that I am a likeable person with an upbeat and energetic personality that draws others toward me,” Amber said.
Tenpas said her early career ambition was driven by personal goals around family responsibility and later for professional enhancement. “Initially my aspirations were related to supporting my daughter and the desire to provide her the lifestyle I felt I wanted for her. Later, I became more self-driven. I decided to leave management of others to focus on my own career in commercial banking. I miss the ability to guide others to their full potential but enjoy my role today,” she said.
Tenpas takes an omniscient view of her various positions in banking and feels that her gender has only recently been tested. “I really didn’t see an issue of being a female until I focused on commercial banking. Most other areas of banking are a greater mix of males and females but commercial banking is male dominated so I did sense the barriers. I needed to learn how to separate myself and navigate into the circle with what I have to offer. As a result, I have become more focused on women-owned businesses. I feel I can offer women recommendations on balancing career and family, providing solutions to their challenges,” Amber said.
Tenpas exudes excitement for the financial industry and provides encouragement to other females. “There is a lot of opportunity for females in banking. Nothing is impossible. There is so much more available than traditional female tellers,” she said.
Barbara Van Grinsven—Women in Finance
To climb the ladder of success in the financial world requires more than muscle endurance.
How does a woman ascend the rungs in what is no longer a male sport? Female financial leaders discuss factors influencing their ascent and the challenges with their climb.
Barbara Van Grinsven,
Thrivent Financial, Financial Advisor
Barb Van Grinsven is decorated with numerous Thrivent Financial awards including number one in the country for new members in 2011 demonstrating her enormous success in the profession.
Thirty-seven years with the company provides her a wealth of professional experience as well as what she believes is equally important—life experience.
Van Grinsven initiated her career in the company’s Human Resources Department working for 26 years before entering management of reps in the field. After three years of assisting others, Van Grinsven decided she wanted to build her own practice. Beginning out of her home with a cell phone in hand to today’s multi-room office suite in Chilton with three employees, her accomplishments transpired over a short six-year period.
Barb cites what drove her engine of success. “Thirty-seven years ago about 10 percent of the reps nationwide were women,” she said. “Today it is getting better but I am estimating it is still only about 30 percent. When I was in a mentoring role helping the reps understand the products, I saw a difference between the males and females. I found that women show what they feel providing extra empathy, going beyond care and compassion while men tend to want to close the sale. I provide that empathy. The ability to impact lives when people are at their lowest and highest points is an honor to me. My motivation is serving others and trust must come first. People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care,” she said.
Van Grinsven describes herself as a workaholic, noting that her profession is not for a part-timer and the love of her personal connection fuels her daily. Her advice to other females pursuing financial careers is a set of mantras that she has followed to pave her own success. “Have passion, do what you love and do it well. Get your priorities in order and fight to keep them there—faith, family, and community. Take risks; sometimes it is necessary going with your gut and conquering your fear. Network with other women, mentors, and role models and never stop learning. Lastly be extremely well organized and efficient, surrounding yourself with a good team and support from a great spouse,” Barb said.
Luan Leonardelli—Women of the Theater
Luan Leonardelli—Women of the Theater
by Mike Mathes
Unlike many theater enthusiasts, Luan Leonardelli didn’t fall in love with theater from being under the lights.
She doesn’t feel a particular call to being on stage, or even acting out her favorite role.
Leonardelli literally loves everything else about the theater just as much.
She found her passion for theater out of a search for friendship.
Almost two decades ago, she was a newcomer to the Manitowoc area, and found herself invited to join her spouse and some co-workers to see a play in Tisch Mills.
“I got to know the others who came along and they invited me to come to meetings of their club that does plays.”
The organization was The Masquers, Inc.—a well-known non-profit theater group from Manitowoc.
“I wasn’t looking to join the club to be on stage. I was looking for friends and I found them,” Leonardelli said.
“From the moment I walked in the door, I was impressed by the warm, friendly welcoming group. I had always enjoyed plays, but I found myself thinking, ‘This is a nice group of people.’”
None left a greater impression on Leonardelli than an older couple, Loris and Leo Touhey, who have since passed on.
“They had done the season ticketing process for many years, and they asked for someone to help them. I volunteered, and they mentored me in the process,” she noted.
But Leonardelli took more than season ticket advice from the Touheys.
“Leo is the one truly who empowered me with his passion for the theater. He was like a 65-year-old kid-in-a candy store when it came to sharing his love of theater,” Leonardelli recalled.
He offered her a tour of the Coach House, the Masquers clubhouse next to the Rahr Museum. He later took her on a tour of the Capitol Civic Center.
“I remember him telling me that no matter what role any of us have, when we walk through those doors, we are a Masquer,” she recalled.
“Leo’s energies were amazing. He always shared his vision that anything is possible. That was so amazing for someone who had been with the organization for more than 50 years,” Leonardelli said. To this day, she tries to keep that spark in front of her fellow club members. There is great value in being willing to try things, even if they seem too big to tackle on the surface, Leonardelli learned from her mentor.
“He would always say, ‘Let’s try that, or let’s do that,’ He was one of the oldest members, and yet we were all able to see his passion and say—’Why not?’” she noted.
Passing the torch
An interior designer by trade, Leonardelli has worked her way through the Masquers organizational hierarchy to its presidency. Her greatest hope is that she is continuing the torch passed to her in welcoming everyone’s contribution as well as being able to think big.
After years of ticket sales, and working behind the scenes, she responded to the call to take the helm of the organization a few years back, when it was facing trying financial times.
“We really needed to pick up the pace financially, and I felt that I had some ideas I could offer to help make things better,” she said. “We have had some bumps in the road, but I feel like I have helped taken the club down a road they didn’t expect to go.”
In an effort to reach out to new patrons, Leonardelli helped steer the group away from its typical conservative production selections. She also brought a business sense to the operations. “It’s more than just a club. Yes, we want to have fun, but if we are going to do this for a really long time, we have to run it like a business. That means we have to create production budgets, sell tickets and get sponsors. If we can’t go out and find the funding for what we want to do, we will be out of business and we won’t have the club,” she said.
As the president of Masquers, Inc. Leonardelli has the task of overseeing all the committees that carry out the function of the theater troupe. Her involvement comes as an ex-officio member of those groups.
Beyond organizational work, Leonardelli has used her business mind to find another way to become involved in the theater.
In her many years as an observer, she would make notes about improving sets, productions, scenes and the like. As that outside observer, she eventually became attuned to the things an audience would want to see. Over time, that’s what prompted her to raise her hand to volunteer as a show producer.
“Eventually, the things I would see would point to the need for a really good producer to tie all the loose ends together and focus on some of the details that would be forgotten. I thought I could put a little bit more of my organizational skills into the way I produced,” Leonardelli said. “They were pleased with the results. Apparently, I have both left and right brain skills and that’s what allows me to be good at what I do.”
“I have tried to put the emphasis on how other people would view our productions,” Leonardelli said. “When I produce, I am the ‘other people.’”
“I look for something that I would buy a ticket to or would want to work on—something that has a benefit for the community. I ask whether the audience would love it and if it would sell tickets. Is this a show I want to see on the stage?”
Leonardelli said that just because a script may give one of the actors a chance to spread their wings doesn’t mean it will be a script that will sell to an audience.
To Leonardelli, the most important things are keeping the Masquers traditions going.
Those are the traditions she learned from the Touheys and everyone else who spread their sense of hospitality and friendship to her.
She loves the tradition, yet is willing to break with tradition to engage a new and younger generation in community theater, whether it be as participants or spectators.
Even Leonardelli knows that her time at the helm of The Masquers will have to come to an end. She is hoping that other committed members will soon step into that leadership role. After all, it’s only healthy for leadership in such an organization to be spread among many hands. To Leonardelli, that’s one of the ways of insuring the organization will remain fresh and vibrant.
No doubt, when that time comes, she will continue to take on administrative and other volunteer duties in various committee roles. You won’t likely find her under the stage lights, though.
Once upon the stage
She hasn’t forgotten her one brush with stage stardom, however. It came during the production of “Harvey” several years ago. The director asked Leonardelli to consider taking the part of the maid, during a show Luan was producing. “I politely informed her that I was the producer and not interested,” Leonardelli suggested.
The director wouldn’t relent and said that Luan would be perfect—besides it didn’t make sense to bring another actor in for one line in one scene.
“It eventually turned into more than one line and one scene, but basically I got to dust on stage and answer the door and telephone. I was also the invisible rabbit behind the scenes,” she said.
So much for glamour under the lights.
Dianne Fett—Women of the Theater
Dianne Fett—Women of the Theater
by Mike Mathes
You’ll have to pardon Dianne Fett if her acting aspirations don’t include Broadway.
She’s not quite certain she’s ready for prime time—or divine time for that matter.
At least that’s the sense you get from the name that she, her husband and a friend tacked onto their church theater group a few years back. Dianne and Al Fett teamed with Dr. Mike Hetzner to initiate a group called the “Not Ready for Divine Time Players” at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church between New Holstein and Kiel.
The “Not Ready” group was founded back in 2002 and has been going strong ever since. Each year they perform a dinner theater production over two weekends, inviting the community out to their church for a show. Fett handles much of the leg work for the production, including serving as the show’s producer, overseeing the dinner preparation, handling publicity and tickets, and working down to the last detail of enlisting ticket takers.
“It’s a really big undertaking, but it’s something I do as a service project for the church,” Fett said.
Each year, the production involves transforming the worship space into a stage. Church members prepare the meal that is served to guests between the two acts. Member of the cast come out to serve wine with the meal, remaining in their characters from the play.
Rooted in chancel ministry
A lover of the theater, Fett recalls that the “Not Ready for Divine Time Players” got their roots back in a desire to start small group ministries, and particularly a chancel ministry in the life of the church, almost 20 years ago.
“It was Mike Hetzner who suggested the dinner theater,” she said.
“The first play we ever did was, ‘Who Stole the Boston Cream Pie?”
Like all their productions the “Not Ready” group selected a comedy, and it was a big hit.
“We like to do comedies, but we have to be careful about the language, particularly with some of the newer shows,” Fett said.
At Gloria Dei, the theater group is a vital part of raising funds to support missions and ministries in the life of the church. Proceeds have been funneled to local families—this past year to the family of a young man with lung cancer, where the father had lost his job. Other benevolent causes have been served, while the church has also benefit with needs such as new carpeting.
“We probably have well over 1,000 hours of volunteer time devoted to each production,” Fett said. “That includes getting the church ready, baking desserts, meal preparation and getting ready to perform the show.”
When the production is over the group’s fundraising efforts are supported by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans which offers matching grants for the group.
That Fett is even involved in theater is somewhat of a surprise. Growing up, her mother told Dianne that she couldn’t sing.
Despite that early admonition, Fett finds herself attracted to the theater beyond her own church walls in a group called the Calumet County Community Theater.
Her mother would be all the wiser if she knew that some of those productions have been musicals.
The Fetts were encouraged by fellow congregation member Miki Wise to participate in the community group. So Dianne traveled along with her husband to see what the audition process was all about. “I wanted a part in that first show, and they made me sing. I actually did okay,” she said.
She has since had multiple singing parts, including two in a lead role.
“Mothers aren’t always right,” Dianne mused.
Regardless of singing issues, Fett loves being in front of an audience, whether the role is dramatic or comedic. “Mostly, I love to make people laugh. But, I also love drama,” she said.
In one role, for “The Night of January the 16th” she spent most of her time on stage crying—hardly a way to bring laughter to the audience.
“I also did a serious part in Damn Yankees. I am a ham, but when you get a meaty part like Meg Boyd, it’s fun to bring out the character in a drama too.”
For Fett, the stage continues to be alluring. She notes that many of the local theater groups have no trouble finding women to play roles, but often are challenged to find enough female parts to keep all the acting members happy.
Some plays, like Brigadoon, for instance, up and coming on the CCCT performance slate, the group does run into challenges filling younger leads. “When it comes to the younger set, we sometimes struggle getting younger people to the shows and to play parts,” Fett said.
To Fett, the theater is a hobby, albeit one that requires a healthy amount of her attention. “It seems like I go right from one production to the next,” she said. “There doesn’t seem to be any break time or separation. About the only time when I am not involved in doing a show is in the fall.”
If the work isn’t tending the millions of details involved in producing a show, Fett’s labor of love is devoted to learning her lines.
When she has a show coming up, it’s nothing for Fett to get up at 5 a.m. and pour over her lines. She does that every day, except Thursday, when the work of preparing for the theater is interrupted to participate in Bible study.
“Even on the morning of the last show, I still get up and go through the script to make sure I am on my game,” she said.
It’s lot of work indeed—for a hobby.
Still, she wouldn’t give up the theater for anything. In fact, Fett is already part of a group trying to resurrect the Bauer players, a New Holstein Community theater group that was once headed up by the late Jim Bauer.
Miki Wise—Women of the Theater
Miki Wise—Women of the Theater
by Mike Mathes
You won’t find moss growing under Miki Wise’s feet, and that’s not just because she loves to dance.
Wise’s love for dance has turned into a love for performing and growing theater opportunities for others. When she isn’t auditioning, rehearsing or shining under the lights, you might find her working on a project for the Calumet County Community Theater group, or supporting Chilton’s Engler Center for the Performing arts.
She readily admits that her life rarely has a dull moment, even though she is always trying to find a way to say no and do less. Wise is fortunate to have the support of a family that understands her need to pursue these dreams.
“My husband was an actor in both New York and Los Angeles. He understands what it takes, and he has been supportive because I never got to do this type of thing,” Wise said.
She belonged to a dance company in Racine, her home town, but once moved to Chilton, those dance opportunities withered. For years, she has done a two-person road show with her husband, performing at libraries and schools. But, there was always more out there that lured her inner longings to be on the stage.
“Theater was a chance for me to perform dance. Theater became the avenue for that,” Wise said. “To me, performing is about the art and the creating. When I dance, I am an artist on stage.”
Art teacher by trade
An art teacher by trade, Wise’s current day job is entrenched at Kimberly High School. Prior to that, she taught art at the Kiel Middle School.
Yet, it’s dance and theater that have her attention in remaining hours of the day.
To her, creating a character or choreographic routine is just an extension of art. To make the stage presence work, Wise has to come up with the story line behind the character. She researches, goes through historical background of the show and starts to fill in the blanks in the character.
“You want to put your own twist on the character, to make it your own, not just doing it the way someone before you,” Wise said.
She looks at choreography the same way. Having choreographed many shows, she knows her job is to come up with ideas to shape the show. “It’s almost like being a sculptor,” she said. “I like sitting further back in the house, watching the dancers and making sure that the picture they are creating is what I want. The only difference between dance and painting is that people are the medium,” she said.
From ‘monotone’ to many leads
Wise has had a stage presence since she first got a job working in a Nigbor Furs fashion show.
Yet, one of her earliest memories of performing was being branded as a monotone singer in kindergarten. It wasn’t until she turned 27, when Wise made an important discovery.
Trying out for the lead dancer role in “A Chorus Line” she needed to be able to sing to earn the role. The director brought the keyboard over for that fateful test, and ‘voila’ Wise proved she could sing—opening her world to singing and playing lead roles ever since.
“My parents still marvel at the fact that I was the girl who couldn’t sing, yet I got to plan Anna in ‘The King and I,’” she said. “Teachers and parents sometimes don’t realize that the things they say to young children stick with them forever.”
Since then, Wise has become a prominent face in many plays offered by the Calumet County Community Theater and UW-Fox Valley Theater groups. This April, she just wrapped up a lead in “Dream Role” with the Menasha based group.
“It was truly an honor to be involved with that show. We had a huge cast and a lot of very talented people, with people from all over the Valley auditioning for the show,” Wise said.
She was involved in a lot of numbers and even got to sing a solo as Anita in ‘America’ from West Side Story.
Her lengthy list of credits includes key roles in productions like A Chorus Line (for the 3rd time), Rent, Hairspray, Chicago, Damn Yankees and more.
Bringing theater to the people
Yet, Wise’s connection to theater runs deeper than the stage lights would indicate.
When she and her family moved to Chilton 18 years ago, she had been doing theater in the Fox Valley and she missed it. Wise wanted to do something locally, but the old Chilton High School facilities just didn’t suit the purpose.
Then, the Engler Center for the Performing Arts arose as part of the new Chilton High School construction project, thanks to a generous donation from the Engler Family. Wise had a venue for her dream.
The Calumet County Community Theater group was beginning to feel a breath of life.
“I was really fortunate to be involved in the planning of the Engler Center, including the technical aspects,” Wise said. She still serves on a supportive group for the Center, as president of the Friends of the Chilton Performing Arts.
But, it was her dream of forming the CCCT that started to grow. It took two years from the start of planning until the first performance.
“I did a lot of research on forming a non-profit group, writing articles and lots of research and blood, sweat and tears. We ran newspaper ads, asked for interest and sought others to be involved,” Wise said. “When it was all said and done, six people showed up at my dining room table. Turns out they would be some of our first board members,” she said.
Wise would direct the first CCCT performance at the Engler Center. It would be “Music Man.”
The Calumet County Theater group isn’t the smallest theater troupe in the state. In terms of participation numbers, it probably ranks on the smaller end of middle. But, it is a group that Wise takes great pride in, as it has formed in the midst of long-standing theater companies in Manitowoc and Appleton.
To Wise, it has brought some of her most enjoyable moments in her theater career.
“When we did some of our first performances, and people found out I was the founder of CCCT and came up to say thank you, that was really special,” she said. “I realized that before that, we had nothing. Then, we were graced with performers and an audience, both full of joy. All the hard work was worth it.”
Wise would love to see a growth in appreciation for theater in Calumet County. “I would like to see people include theater as a normal recreational activity, just like they would plan to go see a baseball or football game,” she said.
She gets a little frustrated to hear people who come out to the theater saying they were not aware Calumet County had these kind of opportunties.
“I want to create a cultural appreciation for what we do in theater. I want to make it a habit for people to go to the theater,” Wise said.
“We are fortunate to have such a beautiful facility here in Chilton,” she said.
In addition to providing a cultural opportunity for spectators, Wise sees other opportunities streaming from the Calumet County Community Theater. “We have a lot of people in our area with a lot of talent who otherwise wouldn’t have an outlet for sharing their joy. Many who have moved in from outside the area have found us and taken advantage of the opportunities CCCT provides,” she said.
CCCT is still “her baby” as Wise calls it. That means sometimes she has to pull her wings in and fly closer to the ground, as she will be this summer when coordinating “Brigadoon” for the Calumet group.
“I have been flying pretty high lately, and I actually said no to two jobs this summer to just be able to do Brigadoon with CCCT,” she said.
Claran LaViolette—Women of the Theater
Claran LaViolette—Women of the Theater
by Mike Mathes
Claran LaViolette’s creations have seen far more stage time than she has.
As the costume mistress for Masquers, a Manitowoc-based theater group, LaViolette has helped shape theatrical images for many stage performances in the last 15 years.
For LaViolette, an early experience that fizzled didn’t hold her back. Despite doing some work for Masquers while she was employed by Goodwill in the 1980s, she dropped the notion of making theater costumes. She was simply not moved by the experience.
Many years later, in 1999, LaViolette was working with a woman who happened to be a stage manager for a Masquers show. “She was looking for someone to help with costuming for ‘Singing in the Rain’ and she encouraged me to come along and join the fun,” the costume designer said.
“I got involved and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. It opened me up to such a great group of people. We have become good friends and have so much fun together,” LaViolette said.
Her excitement for costume design was likely born out of a childhood love for dressing up at Halloween time. “My mom was a seamstress and she would make my costumes for Halloween. Dad helped, too. I always got to pick what I wanted to be,” she said. “And, I always liked everything about that.”
It wasn’t long before she was designing her own costumes. LaViolette recalls shaping a vampire costume in college from an old wedding dress picked up at St. Vincent de Paul. She dyed it black and added a long, draping cape and a big stand-up collar. “It was my first really great costume design,” she recalled with pride.
Ever since, she has been collecting things and making new costumes. What started as a personal hobby grew into an opportunity to make costumes for others, including the theater group.
While costuming is just one of the teams that comprises an overall Masquers production, LaViolette takes her part of the game seriously.
“I oversee the inventory of costumes and am in charge of pulling things out for shows, also determining what we need to acquire or make,” she said.
LaViolette surrendered an important confession, “I love to shop. That really helps. I’ve been collecting costumes for 40 years, and the collection has become extensive.”
Some of the costumes are housed in the Masquers collection at the Coach House (official clubhouse of the Masquers) while others may be in separate locations.
LaViolette and the Masquers costume group also makes the costume collection available for rent by other groups to help keep their costs reasonable.
Occasional rare request
Most costuming needs are basic, and can involve re-using materials or making new designs with ease.
However, occasionally, a show comes along that tries even the most tested costume designer.
LaViolette recalled a need for the play “The Producers” several years ago. One of the characters had to wear a dress that embodied the Chrysler Building. “It was in the script. We couldn’t fudge it,” she said. “We called rental places all over the country, and we would have paid enough to rent that costume to eat up our budget for the whole show.”
What else could she do?
LaViolette and her team went to work. “I am lucky to have some very good seamstresses. These ladies spent 16 hours at my house making this dress,” she said. “We made the
costume for about $75 worth of materials rather than spending more than $300 to rent it.”
LaViolette says there is no better feeling than sitting up in the balcony on opening night and watching people’s reactions to the imagery she has helped to create.
“Just seeing the crowd react to the final product, and how they enjoy it is a great reward,” she said.
Times can be harrowing for a costume mistress too. “Something always rips or breaks. You have to be ready all the time for emergencies,” LaViolette said.
Of course, there are last-minute harrowing deadlines to meet. LaViolette recalls an experience about five years ago, struggling with costumes and a crown for Pharaoh in the production of “Aida.”
“We had 30 people in the cast and many of them had six costume changes. We were still sewing during tech week,” she noted.
“I had to get the crown to fit and stay put so it wouldn’t fall off. Luckily, we had it right in time for a Wednesday dress rehearsal.
LaViolette said the work of a costume mistress never ends. Between Masquers shows, summer church theater shows and Halloween costumes, she is always creating something.
For LaViolette the excitement of producing something creative is matched by the social benefits of belonging to the theater group.
“It’s definitely a great social thing as well as being a creative thing,” she said. “We get to work with great people.”
“We are all part of the troupe no matter what our role. We are all Masquers. Whether its putting up posters, fund raising, or putting together costumes, we are part of the show. You get to be part of something bigger than yourself,” she said.
“Granted, there can be drama. It’s theater after all. But in the end, everyone’s working to the same cause, and we do a beautiful job of it.”
For LaViolette, the lure of costuming will always be a connection to theater. But she admits she has taken on stage roles on occasion. “Most of the time it’s some sort of character actress—a crazy old woman part,” she said.
Though it helps the show go on, LaViolette would cast those acting roles aside to be remembered for what she does best—putting others in costumes that make great theater.
Rachel Elizabeth Thuermer—Women of the Theater
Rachel Elizabeth Thuermer—Women of the Theater
by Mike Mathes
Spreading the Joy to Young People
Rachel Elizabeth Thuermer traces her theater career to age four.
She had no clue she was opening herself up to the theater by serving as a member of the Stonewall Brigade Civil War re-enactment group.
It was just something her family did.
Then, in her high school years, that early indirect connection to the theater began to blossom.
“I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere,” she said. “I found a home and friends in the high school theater program. That truly planted the seeds of love for theater in me,” Thuermer said.
“It was there I found out for the first time that theater can make a difference. It can save a person by giving them a place to belong,” she added.
At Wisconsin Lutheran College, Thuermer found further evidence for that theory. She connected with a college theater professor who had the same vision for what theater could mean for people.
It was at Wisconsin Lutheran College where Thuermer became involved in the creation of the campus’ theater program.
Not only did she help found the college theater program, it was there she founded her own theater group, called Dare to Dream. After graduation, she helped for three years to form a developmental theater program for inner city, first-generation college prospects called Pathways to College.
Thuermer was acting on her belief that theater can be a catalyst for life development.
A family move to Manitowoc prompted her to bring her theater dreams north along the Lakeshore where Dare To Dream took on a new life form.
Serving the Lakeshore
Today, Dare to Dream Theater is a non-profit theater company serving schools and families in Manitowoc and the surrounding counties.
Dare to Dream Theater enlightens families with quality affordable theater education, opportunities to perform together, and uplifting and thought-provoking glimpses into history, culture, and social issues through productions based on award winning and popular literature. At Dare to Dream people from all ages and backgrounds have a chance to make a difference together and benefit from life skills learned through theater.
Dare to Dream’s home is located on North 10th Street in Manitowoc, in a former church building.
It’s the location for most of the Dare to Dream rehearsals and performances, although the troupe has worked at other locations. For Thuermer, Dare to Dream is a wake-eat-sleep-breathe journey 24 hours a day and seven days a week as necessary.
The bottom line is to provide as many opportunities for young people as possible.
“We like to say that we meet children where they are. We help them learn to grow and flourish. Dare to Dream helps them learn life skills by developing stage skills,” Thuermer said.
Most of Dare to Dream’s productions are cast with young people. Some casts involve 14 and under age groups. Some have 18 and under casts. Some casts may include a handful of adults.
Approximately 60 young people are engaged in every production.
Though based in Manitowoc, Dare to Dream participants may come from as far away as Green Bay, Milwaukee, Sheboygan or other areas.
“We are always open to working with new people, but we do have an important participation requirement,” Thuermer said.
“The parent of the child needs to be involved in some way. We try to match parent contributions with their skills. But, everyone can sell an ad or help build a set,” she said.
“It’s so critical to our success. When the parent and child are both involved in building toward the same thing, it builds important bonds between the parent and child. It’s not a drop-off site. Hosting children without parental involvement would leave them heartbroken,” Thuermer added.
Joint school venture
Recently, Dare to Dream began a partnership with the Howards Grove School District. Some of the cast members in last year’s production of “Shrek” noted that they wanted more drama opportunities in their school.
“This spurred conversations with decision makers at Howards Grove. We agreed to start a partnership and build a drama program,” Thuermer said. “This is really our first effort of this nature. It’s a really new role for our theater company.”
Though performances may be hosted in Manitowoc, some performance experiences are also extended out to area schools and libraries.
Last fall, Dare to Dream sought to tour area libraries with part of its “Dora” production.
In the past five years, the Dare to Dream Theater group has also taken small groups of young performers to Atlanta to participate in the Junior Theater Festival. Dare to Dream Theater is pleased to announce the opportunity to perform at the National Performing Arts Festival at Walt Disney World February 19-23, 2015! Dare to Dream will be performing a 20 minute selection from its Spring, Summer, or Summer Camp Musical!
Directing gives wider view
In order to run Dare to Dream Theater, Thuermer has had to put her desire to perform on the back burner. The business demands that she serve as the director. She has adapted, though.
“I used to think I needed the performing. But, I am finding that when you get to be the vision of the show, it’s a lot like being the artist who opens the container of paint and puts the paint to work,” she noted.
“Being a director is like painting with people. Everyone comes with their own skills, art and colors and as a director you get to mix them together,” Thuermer mused. “As an actor you know your lines, but as the director, you put yourself into everything that happens on the stage.”
For now, Thuermer takes joy in providing opportunity for numbers of children, and also for literally creating something from nothing.
“We are looking to grow and improve our support network, and we rely on volunteers,” she said.
But the bottom line, like it is for so many other theater people is that Thuermer loves her work.
“That’s why I do this, because I love it. I don’t think I could live without it,” she said.
Part of operating a theater troupe for young people is fundraising, something Thuermer admits is not one of her strengths. “I am not very good at asking people for money. But we occasionally have volunteers who really make a difference in that way,” she said.
One means of supporting Dare to Dream stems from a superb costume effort. “We have an amazing costume designer in Amanda Johnson from Howards Grove. We are able to rent out some of the costumes to help pay the bills for the theater,” Thuermer said.
If you would like to register as a volunteer, suggest additional locations, or receive more information, contact Rachel Elizabeth Thuermer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Rabideau—Women of the Theater
by Mike Mathes
Dreams of Streisand lead to teaching others
Susan Rabideau loved the theater at an early age. She can remember being a “theater person” when she was just five years old.
It’s no wonder that her career has evolved into one that teaches an appreciation of theater to others.
Rabideau, who holds a Master of Fine Arts in Directing, serves as an associate professor of Theater and Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley. She has served in that capacity for the past 12 years.
In her role, Rabideau also experiences the joys and challenges of running the university’s theater program. She also takes part in local community theater programs in the summer months.
From Rabideau’s perspective, theater is about creating community. “We bring students and community members together. Many times it can be people who are truly square pegs fitting into round holes. Yet, they are so accepting of each other. They essentially create their own family,” she said.
“We have had many occasions where we have people who have been saved from the brink come together. They give up their free time to create art together, and its a pretty cool thing,” Rabideau said.
To her the biggest factor in building a theater community is the acceptance factor. “We emphasize the fact that everyone is welcome,” she said.
Team building capacity
The arts have a tremendous capacity for team building and creativity, both of which are highly valued in the workplace.
Planning, preparation and presentation of a theater production carries with it many hours behind the scenes. “That work is so important, and we all have to support each other. You can’t just have a group of actors who want to work weekends, but aren’t willing to build sets,” she said.
That amount of work also requires an intense planning effort, one which usually beings a year in advance of a show for Rabideau.
“It’s important for us to work very long range for our productions,” she added.
One show, the production of “Tarzan” required a pre-production period of nearly two years.
Blending the workload
Blending a 4-4 teaching load with the community theater responsibilities can be harrowing at times.
Rabideau says it requires great organizational skills and admits she is somewhat of a “freak” when it comes to organization.
“I love my lists. I also plan to work an hour a week on each show in the pre-production phase. I actually set a timer,” she said.
Lists are critical. She has one 80-point checklist for any show that she starts checking off early in the process.
“You have to do that, because every show gets overwhelming during tech week. You have to have so many pieces in place prior to that,” she said.
Dream of the spotlight
Rabideau began to focus on her organization skills right after college. “There was a time when I dreamed I would be the next Barbra Streisand and take my career to Broadway,” she said. “But after college I realized I didn’t have the skill sets to allow that to occur.”
She found her penchant for organization, realizing that she has a rare combination of being half business-brained and half creative-brained.
Rabideau came to the realization that directing and producing theater is really a small business operation. Her path directed her back to business classes, where she enriched those ingrained organization skills.
“I have been very fortunate that people have realized the value of the rare combination of organization and creativity,” she said. “And I hope I have been able to draw on that to make our theater productions successful.”
A lot of work involved
For Rabideau, the early lure of the stage has boiled down to the realization that theater involves a lot of work, a lot of which isn’t very glamorous.
“There is not a job I haven’t done. People have seen me sweeping stages,” she said.
Her greatest sense of accomplishment, though comes from yielding her ego to overall success of the production.
“On opening night, if I have done my job well, nobody thinks about me. They just think about how all those people came together to make this art,” she said.
“If it’s a good show, that feeling really mushrooms.”
The other thing that brings a sense of accomplishment to the educator is the opportunity to see people coming into their own and growing their sense of self worth as part of a theater production.
In fact, Rabideau encourages everyone to consider an opportunity to be enriched through theater.
People are enriched through watching, but the enrichment is even greater when participating.
“My advice to people is that they should jump off the cliff and put themselves out there to get involved. Audition or call someone to offer your talents. I have never met a theater artist that has turned down help,” she said.
“Tell yourself you want to try this. It could be a spectacular failure, but nine times out of ten you are going to find a new home,” she noted.
Rabideau can’t emphasize enough the cultural value of theater art in our society. “We are losing social interaction, and it would be a sad world without that. Theatrical events have a community feel to them. It’s actually a time where we turn off text messaging and we may even speak to the person next to us,” she said.
Located on Midway Road in Menasha, UW-Fox Valley boasts a relatively new, 14.7 million communication arts facility—one with a marvelous footprint for theater. A schedule of upcoming theater opportunities and performances can be found on the university’s website— http://www.uwfox.uwc.edu/cac/theaterevents.html.
It’s a great place to check out the schedule, and it even includes opportunities to “jump off the cliff” by auditioning or signing up to volunteer.
Though starring under the spotlights may once have motivated Rabideau, she has found her niche educator/organizer in building communities, teaching appreciation for the theater and helping others realize their dreams.
“I truly have my dream. I do what I love and I get a paycheck at the end of the week. It’s really cool,” she said.
Women of the Theater
by Mike Mathes
Broadway might be located half a continent away in the real world, but for local women, the opportunity to be a part of the theater might linger just around the corner.
Whether they are attracted by the bright lights of the stage, or prefer to do their work behind the scenes, women have turned their talents and interests into wonderful theatrical opportunities.
Those opportunities may be for their own gain, but many times, there is an altruistic aim of bringing an appreciation of the theater to others.
Whether they find their joy in creating costumes, performing a dance routine, acting their favorite role, directing, teaching, or simply volunteering for the many mundane tasks that bring theater to life, the women associated with theater in Eastern Wisconsin are doing their part to build cultural appreciation.
Their rewards are personal.
They are often as simple as fulfilling a childhood dream.
Some see the theater as an opportunity to flex their wings and soar in the creative arts.
For others, the rewards are even simpler yet. They seek a place to belong. They search for friendship.
They long to be part of something bigger than themselves.
We share six profiles of area women whose involvement in theater has brought great joy to their lives. They are a mere representation of the larger group of women who love to express themselves through theater.
Bringing Light into places of despair
By Mike Mathes
In a world filled with darkness, a young Kiel native has answered the call to be a beacon of light.
Rachel Mathes graduated from Kiel High School in 2007, like many of her classmates, with an eye on college, and a profession beyond.
What started out to be a pathway into the graphic design profession and an avocation for fastpitch softball was only the first step on a faith journey that would lead her around the globe. The travels would be marked by an effort to bring hope and comfort to some of the world's poorest and most needy people.
Yet to turn 25, Mathes has made five worldwide mission trips, and serves currently in an inner city outreach center in Milwaukee. Her objective is simple. She feels called to bring the light of Christ to others who need that ray of hope.
Mathes' first mission trip came during her sophomore year at Concordia University of Wisconsin, where she was immersed in softball, pitching in relief for the Falcons while studying graphic design.
She felt God's call, and it wasn't an easy one to accept.
Softball would have to be put aside to make her first journey to India. Mathes discussed her plans with her coach, then came home to inform her family of her decision. Instead of pursuing her role on the college softball team, she was now a member of the Jesus team, heading for a faraway land.
"Jesus put the desire in my heart to go to India, before I even understood my relationship with him as my Lord and Savior," Mathes said.
Working through Bethania Kids
Making the decision to join the India mission team was only the first step. A simple matter of raising the money to support the journey-a tidy sum of $2,500 had to be raised by her and every other member of the India team-was the next hurdle.
Fundraising events and support from friends, family and fellow believers helped achieve the necessary financial goal. As is often the case, the mission teams received financial support from others, but more important is the prayer support for their effort.
The mission team traveled as a group based out of St. John's Lutheran Church in West Bend. That congregation had supported Bethania Kids in Southern India with prior mission ventures.
Through the Bethania presence, the traveling messengers would ground themselves in a relatively established presence in India. Christianity is a significantly minority religion in the country. But, the Bethania Kids homes are results of Christian efforts to help the disadvantaged-young boys and girls who might not otherwise be supported in Indian culture.
The young mission traveler recalled the exhaustion of the long flight halfway across the globe. Exhaustion would soon be replaced by the desire to interact with the children they had traveled to see. As a team member Mathes helped organize songs, skits and told stories about Jesus in her relatively low key role.
"We had 19 people on our team that first mission trip, and that was a huge team. I would never take that many again," she said.
The group visited children's homes starting out in Chennai and moving on to Kodaikannal. Mathes remembers getting off the bus to lines of children ushering them into their buildings screaming and shouting with joy.
"We were there to serve them, and they were blessing us so richly-literally treating us like royalty. I couldn't help but thinking, 'I am no one, why are you so excited to see me.'"
What she learned in the background and the safety net of the large group would pave the way for her next role-team leader. That would come on her third trip to India, where she had to take responsibility for planning and carrying out the entire team effort.
Learn to just love them
Mathes said one of the earliest and easiest things to comprehend is that the people on mission are simply there to share God's love for those they visit. "It's amazing how they just love you-they just need you to be there to reinforce their faith," she said. Sometimes it mean playing games, laughing together, drawing silly pictures or stumbling through language obstacles. For Mathes, the added gift of playing the guitar and singing helped her connect even more with the young people.
"It didn't take long to notice each of the children. Their clothes were heavily worn. Many were not wearing shoes. Yet they were still so happy," she said.
"You are amazed that they can be this happy while you can only imagine what they have gone through in their lives."
Visits involved singing, dancing and skits with translators. The guests would perform, and the children would share bits of their culture in return. Together, they ventured into the universal language of prayer.
"We prayed with and over each child. We spread out blessing them," Mathes noted, indicating the process that would be repeated at each location.
Of course, one of the intentions of the trip was also to bring supplies directly to the homes-items like blankets, vitamins, water purification systems, sweatshirts and other necessities were hauled along, making sure the good would actually reach their intended destinations.
Serving as a Christian mission person in a distant land brings its set of challenges. In India, for example, Christianity is accepted as a minority religion in the south, where some freedom to choose religions exists.
Some parts of the country practice a hybrid theology, combining Catholicism with tenets of Hinduism, offering mixed blessings to the Christian faith.
Moving north, however, Christian beliefs are not part of the culture, and are frowned upon.
For the mission team, it's all about trying to find the right time to portray the message of Christianity. The travelers felt at ease witnessing to people in the market while surrounded by Indian friends and translators. However, on a second trip to India, Mathes and fellow team members encountered a driver who became offended when the group played some of their worship music on a CD. "He got pretty mad at us and came close to pulling the car over and leaving us out in the middle of nowhere," she said.
Mathes said she learned early among her four trips to India that Americans, in particular, often have the wrong idea about the role of mission teams. Too often, they see themselves as fixers.
"We think we are there trying to help them, to give them something or to do something for them. Worse yet, we think we have to tell them how to live and whatever comes along with that," she said. "You can't go in somewhere-a place where you have no idea of what's happening-and decide what's best for someone else. You have to build the relationship. You have no clue of what's happening before you have been there," she said.
"If a person can realize the value of just being there and just loving one other person in a way that they are seen as the presence of the Lord, that's what really speaks to my heart," she said.
Listening for the Voice
Following her year as team leader, Mathes heard the call to return to India yet a fourth time. This time would be different. Instead of joining up with a team, Mathes and a roomate, Marcy Kelto, were called to make the trip on their own. Traveling to familiar Bethania settings and being called to venture into the non-believing north of India, this trip would be different.
Imagine being conflicted by hearing the call, yet being in a position where finances would be a huge issue. "I had graduated from Concordia and was making minimum wage as a day care facilitator at a Lutheran church. I lived in Grafton, then moved to Milwaukee. Big parts of my car had broken down two months earlier, sapping my savings. If I took this trip, I would be basically homeless upon my return to the Milwaukee area. I had no money to pay for my trip," she said.
"We had some people together praying for the trip. All I could remember was thinking how I needed $3,000 by the end of the week in order to make this journey," she said.
By 10 p.m. the group finished praying and was ready to depart, when someone noticed an envelope left at the entrance. In crayon, Rachel's name was scribbled on the envelope.
To her surprise, when she opened it, the envelope contained an anonymous cashier's check for $3,000-the exact amount needed to cover the journey. Her friend Marcy received a refund check from a grant in the mail the next day, and it was obvious Jesus had answered their prayers.
It was on this fourth journey, Mathes said, that she began to understand fully why God calls disciples to the nations. "It's not to make us feel good or say things about the cool places we have been. It's to demonstrate God's love for them," she said.
It can mean showing acceptance for disabled children in a culture where they are outcasts. It can mean helping women find their faith and sense of self-worth in a society where they have been abused or rejected. "We get to laugh, sing, talk and share with them. We get to pray together. We get to dream with God about their possibilities," she said. "We get to tell kids without earthly fathers that they still have a Father who cares for them.
"It's amazing to see the difference even one person can make and delivering God's message of love to the people," Mathes noted.
In a dark place
On her fourth trip, the mission called for Mathes and Kelto to journey to the north, to a place where a Christian mission was just taking a toehold in the midst of a strong Hindu tradition.
The American visitors felt the voice of God calling them to visit a major Hindu temple and pray. While that may not seem like a daunting task on surface, it was a place where Christians weren't allowed. As they explained their request to visit this place to a local Christian pastor, he silenced them.They were in a restaurant, fearing others would hear of their plans.
Later at the hotel, he advised, "Don't do this, it's really unsafe. But, if you want, I will try to get you there."
Take them he did in his car, despite Marcy feeling ill the whole trip.
They were able to get past the first checkpoint into the shrine but were halted as they passed the second guard, who charged the car yelling furiously. Apparently the pastor had the name of Jesus written on the windshield of his car. A second, younger man came over, explaining that the province practices freedom of religion, so it was okay to pass, provided the name was covered up with newsprint.
Together the duo prayer walked around the shrine, noting the solemn looks on the faces of those who came to wait their turn to enter the temple. "We didn't preach or start a riot," Rachel said. "We didn't see three thousand converts. We only did what God asked us to do and prayed for this place."
Adults and children alike at the shrine bore solemn looks on their faces, almost as if they were about to die.
Yet, while the two women walked they encountered one young girl who couldn't stop looking at them. "She was beaming. She could not take her eyes off us. She was seeing something different than everyone else on that mountain," Mathes noted.
Diverted to Africa
Mathes was locked in the throes of planning her fifth trip to India and a return to the children she loved working with. But things changed dramatically.
"I had plans and had sent in my deposit to go, but God stopped me. The ministry planning the trip was shutting things down, and I could not go alone," she said.
Attending a Burn 24-7 event, Mathes said a friend communicated that Rachel would be going to Africa, not India-something learned in prayer.
After prayerful consideration, and some scurrying to circumnavigate last minute deadlines, Africa was the destination indeed.
"I didn't have much time to decide, but prayer helped us understand we were being called to go to the Congo," she said.
That's Congo, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a central African nation torn by warring rebel factions, and decimated by disease, famine and abject poverty. No place on earth has a higher incidence of rape or sexual violence. The DRC is not the sort of place a woman would seek on her travel agenda.
In recent wars, genocide was practiced as Rwandese and Congolese battled for control of the country and its limited resources.
"I was well aware of the dangers," Mathes said. "We had visited with some of the ministry people connected with the trip and we were well aware we might be going into the bush."
After a lot of praying, Mathes and those she would be journeying with were buoyed by their faith. They had to trust that God would protect and keep them safe as they were venturing on this important mission to support Christians in the backcountry of one of the world's darkest places.
"All of us on the team felt at peace with the mission because we were going to see the friends who had been called to ministry in this place," she said.
Loving, gracious people
Halfway around the globe, in the midst of this strife, Mathes and her fellow travelers took stock in the hearts of the people they encountered.
"The people in the Congo are the most loving and gracious people I have ever met. They were hospitable and wanted to take us in. And, this was in places where the country was so war torn that their natural love and hospitality has been beaten down. It's sad to see that people so willing to give are being stolen from and abused," she said.
It was in this place where the mission team struggled to find words and answers.
"Where is God?"
"That's a common question for the Congolese to ask. They tell us, 'You come and talk about God and we believe in Jesus. It's so hard to keep believing when we don't see him bringing peace,'" Mathes noted.
She admitted feeling uneasy-having never experienced the level of pain and the trauma associated with the plight of the Congolese.
In the end, it's most important that the visitors leave the message of hope that God still cares about these people. "We are there to let them know that someone came to care about them, to care about the hurting in their nation and to care about the injustices. Our presence brings the Light to their darkness," she said.
While in the bush, Mathes and others with her conducted a "burn" or extended worship time, with guitar, praise singing and prayer leading the way. Working with a ministry that had been active in the Congo, the team reached out to local pastors to bring them together for worship and prayer.
"It was amazing to worship with the Congolese. They worship like no one I have seen. We danced and sang praise to the Lord all night long," she said.
"We taught them how to be intimate with God during worship and worked with 30 pastors in the process," she said.
During the midst of the burn, completely exhausted at 3 a.m., it was Mathes' turn to lead worship for two hours. She remembers the joy-filled 12X16 room jammed with 40 people-mostly pastors. The group soon wore itself out and some stretched out to sleep on the floor. One of the Congolese played the drum while two others from the American mission team remained awake. "We just keep singing out the goodness and hope of Jesus," she said.
One of the pastors, whom she thought was sleeping, had remained awake to tearfully greet her at 5:30 a.m. on the way back to the house she was staying.
"He started to cry," she said. "He told me, 'You all mean so much to me and to God that I wanted to give of myself to bless you.'"
Mathes said the pastor told her he was moved to see her awake at 4 and 5 a.m. singing God's goodness over his country.
"One of the pastors that was reluctant to do anything of this sort said they would do this on a regular basis, and he would organize it-he was that moved by God's presence," she noted.
To her it was evidence that mission work isn't about changing people.
It's about serving as God's presence in their midst.
"The seeds you plant are the seeds that will grow," she said. "It's incredible to know that something changed in their hearts. They wanted to continue what God started while we were there."
On her journeys, Mathes has seen the changes that can occur among believers of the faith.
In India, a country where women are very oppressed, especially in poorer areas of the country, she felt her presence made a great statement. "The mere fact that we were women in these countries demonstrated to the women there that we are valuable as people. We got to speak that value and self-worth into women's lives," she noted.
She recalls meeting an Indian woman on her first visit. As she was leaving the village, the woman asked the mission traveler to pray for her. Later, Mathes found out the woman was being abused by her husband, who didn't like the fact that she had turned to Christianity.
On her last trip there, the woman came up to Mathes and spoke to her in English, explaining the she had been freed from the abusive relationship.
"It's scary to go to some of these places as a woman, but to see how we impacted so many of the women we encountered makes it all worth it," she said.
Meeting life in the pit
Mathes, who serves back home in Wisconsin as director of worship and creative services for Adullam Outreach Center on Milwaukee's northwest side, acknowledges that her life is far from normal.
She lives and works in a community where she is a minority, surrounded by all the challenges that poverty, unemployment and mistrust foster. Yet, she knows, it's the life she is called to in her relationship with God.
People live in fear of racial mistrust and divisions because walls need to be broken down.
The hardest part of that "inner-city" ministry is getting to break down the walls that exist in the cultural divide. "I want to get to know the people-their needs, their dreams, what moves and shapes them. But we continually run into walls. The racial divisions are a two-way street. It's difficult to help others, or become their friend when they push us away," she said.
Much of that comes from cultural differences, but also fear.
"Many of the people in the neighborhood are fearful that we may hurt them as others have in the past," she said. "Because we are different we get a lot of suspicious looks. Others may think we are cops or spies, instead of someone truly reaching out to help."
So, the focus for Mathes boils down to her job within the ministry-creating an atmosphere through worship and prayer where people can feel safe, not judged nor rejected.
"We want them to experience the radical freedom through Jesus to feel loved and cared for," she said.
"I often ask myself why would God send a white girl who doesn't know anything about the people here, who never grew up in Milwaukee, who was raised next to a cornfield and throw her into the middle of this chaos. But, a huge part of why I am here is the same reason I have traveled to other dark places-If I can even bring hope to one person, to see one child loved, to see one life transformed-then I have fulfilled my purpose," she said.
"It's a circle. When one person is touched by God, it doesn't stop with that person. It touches another and another, and so on.....," Mathes added.
"My lifestyle is not normal. That's the best part about it. I get the opportunity to see lives change, not because of who I am, but because of how good God is," she said.
"Jesus wants to meet people in their despair, in the crap and in the pit of life," she said.
"That's why I am called to go to the darkest places....to war zones and places without much of a future. Even in my own country, in a place where I can speak the language there's a different pit to attend to," she said.
"As long as someone needs the hope and needs to know that Jesus is good, that's where I'll be."