DeWitt men donate week of service

From left, Don Fuglsang, Tom Walter, Bill Mueller and Greg Tigges take a break from a service trip in David, Kentucky, in late October.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DEWITT — Inspired by youths who traveled to David, Kentucky, each year to volunteer and the need by the facility they served there for fall assistance, four men from St. Joseph Parish helped brighten the day for residents in late October.

For more than 20 years, youths from the parish and their parents made the trip to St. Vincent Mission in Kentucky. “For many, this has been a life-changing experience,” parishioner Bill Mueller said. He had been to the mission before, so he knew the importance of the project.

St. Vincent Mission representatives toured areas of the Diocese of Davenport a few years ago, making presentations and selling items. They mentioned the need for help with fall work and welcomed adults to volunteer, Mueller said. Volunteering from St. Joseph Parish last month were Don Fuglsang, Greg Tigges, Tom Walter and Mueller. Before their departure, Father Stephen Page, pastor, and others “prayed for our trip to be successful — which it was,” Mueller said. One St. Joseph parishioner helped fund the trip with generous donations.

Pat Sheil, retired director of faith formation for the parish, sent along “more food than we could eat. This included lasagna, beef stew, frozen pork loin and bacon, with a big loaf of homemade bread. All the extra food went to Sister Kathleen (the mission’s retired director), and the convent where she lives.” The volunteers also brought household items to the mission for people in need in Floyd County, Kentucky.


St. Vincent Mission has served that area of eastern Kentucky, the heart of Appalachia, for more than 50 years, Mueller said. It is about 20 miles from the border of West Virginia and is one of the poorest areas in the country, he noted. “Everyone helped by St. Vincent, if able, donates time back, working with one of the many programs the mission offers. While we were there, the place was a hive of activity.”

Erin Bottomlee, St. Vincent’s director, kept the group busy with a variety of projects. Some were 15-20 miles from the mission and another 45 minutes into the mountains. “Our group assembled shelving for the Christmas store. We helped tear down a home, which was being salvaged to build a new one. We replaced sheet rock in a second home and painted a door in a third. One afternoon we built a platform to hold a huge water container, which is part of the mission’s organic gardening program.” Mueller, a driver’s education instructor, took one morning to help a young man prepare to get a driver’s license.

The group stayed at the volunteer house on-site for six nights. Previously, volunteers stayed overnight elsewhere. Staying on-site provided more time for service projects. “This was a great experience for all and we hope in the future we will be able to bring many more men to share in this awesome experience,” Mueller said.

Other volunteer projects available at St. Vincent Mission include training programs that involve gardening, a food pantry and the Christmas store. The next trip is planned for the last week of October 2022.

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