Sussex women VOW to serve community
It's a community tradition for The Volunteer Organization of Women in Sussex (VOWS) to celebrate Mothers Day with the Sussex-Area Outreach Services Food Pantry.
For the 13th year in a row they've been able to collect donations – stationary, jewelry, personal care items and sweets – for area mothers who might be experiencing hardships. It's called the Mother's Day Gift Bag Project and this year they put together about 100 gift bags.
They have other traditions, too.
Each year, they raise money to help a Hamilton High School senior with a $500 scholarship.
"We always look for a young woman who has demonstrated a commitment to service, is an active volunteer and finds joy in helping others. And because of our successful fundraising efforts we're able to give out two $500 scholarships this year!" Treasurer Amy Seay said.
The VOWS also donates new or gently used spirit wear for area schools, which is great for families who have difficulties affording sportswear or clothing with the school name on it.
They coordinate funds for the Cooperating Churches of Sussex (CCOS) teen mini-work camp, a program where teens volunteer with adult leaders to help senior citizens. Volunteers pitch in around the yard by painting, raking or washing windows. The group also visits local senior facilities to do crafts or play games with some of the residents.
You can also see the group at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life – and there's still time to register and donate for the June 21 walk if you haven't done so yet.
They participate in Adopt-a-Highway, too.
"I think the (VOWS) group draws the people who are interested in giving back to the community," Co-Presidents Kristi Klemencic explained.
Klemencic said each woman might have different reasons for joining but the group, now at 19 members, is connected through that desire to give back.
"Some women work and others stay at home. Some of the women have children in school, others have nests that are empty but really it's just that they want to give back to the community," she said.
That's how Seay got started in 2001.
"Because I just went from working full time to being a full-time mom and I wanted to find a way to volunteer," Seay said.
"Joining the VOWS not only gave me the opportunity to do volunteer work in the community I lived in, but it helped me make new friends, too. If you come to one of our meetings or join us at an event, you'll notice that our members truly enjoy being together. Our wide range of backgrounds and interests keep things interesting and fun," she said.
If you'd like to learn more about the VOWS, visit vows-sussex.org. Online you can also view their newsletter, The Vine, to stay up-to-date on the groups upcoming events or fundraisers. They also have a Facebook page.
Guests are also welcome at every meeting. The VOWS meet on the second Tuesday of the month from September through June. Meetings start at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Waukesha State Bank on Highway 164.
"That's really the best way to get to know us. There's no obligation to join, and I think that's a great way to see what we're all about," Seay said.
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