Message from our 2010/2011 Board Chair

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director

June 22, 2010 Eric Witczak, Senior Vice President, Retail Banking Manager of Nicolet National Bank became the board chair for the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter. Having a couple of months under his belt as board chair, I sat down with him to see what his vision, goals and objectives are as incoming chair.

Eric has three main objectives: 1. Create more awareness in the community of the services and of the work of our dedicated volunteers.  2. Assist in recruiting additional board members and active participation within the board. 3. Get people to ask,“How can I help”?

“The American Red Cross has an incredible volunteer base that is dedicated to serving our community,” said Witczak.  

As coach of his 8 year old son’s football team in Pulaski, Eric experienced this dedication first hand this summer. One of the moms told him she had to go. “My son’s aunt will be here to pick him up. There’s an emergency and as a Red Cross volunteer, I need to leave to go help.”

“I was amazed by this volunteer’s dedication to serving our community, literally dropping everything going on in her life to go help someone else in need, said Witczak. “This is true humanitarianism.”

Because of this experience Eric believes we need to communicate better with the community on the amazing work our volunteers do every day.  We also need to remind the American people it is because of their financial generosity the Red Cross is able to provide the services we do in the community. We need people to continue to support us year long, not just in times of disaster.

Eric even dancing for a good cause! 2010 Winner of the Fundraising Mirror Ball Trophy for the American Red Cross Dancing with the Stars.

Eric hopes the volunteers, staff and board working together can all help bring greater awareness to the work the Red Cross provides in this community.

One of Eric’s greatest strengths is his drive and passion that he brings to any committee or board he is on. He would like to utilize those skills and his leadership in assisting to obtain additional board members.

“Everyone brings something to the table and we need to hit on that strength to have a committed, high energy, active board,” said Witczak. He recognizes that everyone is not a fundraiser, but maybe it is someone’s time, connections or a skilled expertise that is their contribution to the board to further the message of the American Red Cross.

By creating more awareness of our programs and services in the community, having a strong, active board of directors Eric hopes this will create greater funding for the organization. Funding is vital, because if the Red Cross is not there in times of disasters, who will be?

“I look forward to the challenges going forward and continue to communicate the One Red Cross message,” said Witczak. “The challenge I want to give people is what are YOU going to do to help? Volunteer, give blood, or give a financial gift today to support YOUR American Red Cross.”

American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers and Contributors

The American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter held its Annual Meeting and Volunteer Awards Banquet June 22, 2010 at the Rock Garden in Green Bay. We were pleased to have 182 volunteers and guests attend the event sponsored by the Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance and Lyndahl Funeral Home.

 The officers elected to the Lakeland Chapter Board of Directors include; Eric Witczak, Nicolet National Bank, Board  Chair; Chris Vanderheyden, Double Digit Sales Growth, LLC, Vice Chair; Cathy Dworak, Green Bay Packers, Secretary, and Mike Gallagher, Schreiber Foods, Treasurer.

Following the annual meeting and dinner, the following individuals and groups were recognized for their outstanding volunteer support.

L-R Steve Maricque, Executive Director, Amy Hess, Judy Gregory, Disaster Services Director

 Amy Hess, Kerrie Forster Emergency Services Award for exceptional work in preparation and response to disasters in our community.

Rich Hermans, Earl and Viola Nelson Health and Safety Award for outstanding dedication to Health and Safety Services.

Pulaski Senior Center Red Cross Volunteer Drivers, Andrew Janssen Transportation Award for providing quality transportation throughout the community for seniors and those with disabilities.

 Janet Gollnick, DanceSport of Green Bay, Community Volunteer Services Award for dedication to the spirit and growth of promoting the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter and volunteerism in the community.

American Transmission Company, Corporate Benefactor Award presented to a business that has provided exceptional level of commitment and support of the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter.

Jeff Bassindale, Individual Benefactor Award for achieving an exceptional level of commitment and support financially for the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter.

Eric Witczak, Mrs.Crane (Mary) Murphy Award for exceptional contributions by a board member to the advancement of the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter.

Steve Maricque, Executive Director, Kimberly Sawyer, 2010 Miss Wisconsin, and Eric Witczak, New Board Chair and recipient of the Mrs. Crane (Mary) Murphy Board Award

Richard Nelson, Ed McHugh Worker of the Year Award for exceptional reliability and dedication to the blood program

Kalie Mullins, Pulaski High School, Teen Lifeline Award, designed to recognize outstanding leadership among the Teen Lifeline Representatives of the ten area high schools.

 Our Lady of Lourdes Blood Drive Callers, Business, Group or Organization of the Year Award, presented to the group for years of dedication to the American Red Cross Blood Services program

Curt Dhein, Tosca Ltd., Hillary Lesperance Blood Services Award for demonstrating extraordinary support and significant impact on the Blood Services Program

Jerry Prellwitz, Volunteer of the Year Award for demonstrating long-term commitment and exceptional work to multiple programs of the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter

Steve Maricque, Executive Director, Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director, Jerry Prellwitz, recipient of the Volunteer of the Year, Judy Gregory, Emergency Services Director, and Tina Whetung, Transportation Office Manager

 The Lakeland Chapter serves Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee (WI), Menominee (MI), Oconto and Shawano Counties and is located at 2131 Deckner Avenue, Green Bay 54302.

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Board Spotlight: Mike Gallagher

Mike Gallagher brings energy to his position on the Lakeland Chapter Board with a genuine interest in helping the American Red Cross. He is an active supporter through his help on the finance committee and with the Annual Door County Golf Event.

Eric Witczak, Vice Chair of Lakeland Chapter Board, suggested Mike for the Board and when he was looking for a good person for the Finance Committee he came up with Mike’s name again. “I don’t think I asked him. I think I volunteered him and he obliged,” says Eric.

“I suggested Mike because he seemed like a go-getter, one that doesn’t just sit back and watch others,” says Eric. “Mike gets involved, gets results and is always looking for ways to make the organization even better.”

In the past, Mike has demonstrated his commitment to community through participation in organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and spending several years as co-chair of Schreiber’s community impact team.

Mike thinks helping those in need keeps him focused. “It makes you take a step back to realize there is more than oneself or the company you work for and to think about the community and make sure we are taking care of those in need.”

Mike says it’s a privilege to be part of some of the decision-making processes and to raise money for an organization as selfless as the Red Cross. He really enjoys working on projects and fundraisers that make a big impact because they help people when they need it.  “Due to the relatively small board, members can feel like they are making a tangible impact on an organization that benefits the community.”

“I have two nice kids and a wonderful wife,” says Mike. Mike and his wife, Melissa, have two boys who are 4 and 8. The family enjoys traveling and spending time together. Along with participating in the Boy Scouts, Mike also enjoys being an assistant coach depending on what his boys are involved in that season.

Mike w/ his team from the Red Cross Door County Golf Outing

Mike was raised in Green Bay down the street from his current employer. He didn’t grow up hearing much about his neighbor, Schreiber Foods, the world’s largest customer brand dairy company but it is a place that he can say he is proud to be. Its 100% employee-owned and helping neighbors in need is one of their core beliefs though they don’t always seek out recognition for their support. “People do the right thing because it’s in everyone’s best interest,” says Mike.

Mike is currently training for a half marathon and looking forward to the challenge of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. For those who may scoff at the idea of running, Mike says it’s really not that hard. “Its doing it incrementally that’s important. You start out with a mile or two miles and before you know it you’re running 11 or 12. You can run hard or at a moderate pace.”

Mike recommends the same approach to volunteering. “The best way to learn is to give it a try and apply yourself,” says Mike. “Sometimes it’s just getting your foot in the door.”

Any amount of time is noble. “Some months you can give a lot of time other months you can’t. With every organization I’ve worked with they are very understanding that people will give what they can and when they can’t there’s no shame in it.”

Mike says he finds it important to consider the efficiency of an organization and how much money is spent on overhead and administrative costs. “The Red Cross is lean and makes sure as much of the dollars that come in make it out to the community as possible. “

Mike is proud of the efforts of the Red Cross but he also enjoys his support. “If it’s not fun, you have to question why you are doing it. Its easy to get energized about something that benefits the community.”

Local stars dance to benefit American Red Cross

$96,700 raised at 2nd annual event for the Lakeland Chapter

By Kelly McBride • kmcbride@greenbaypressgazette.com • February 22, 2010

Click HERE to view the story online at the Green Bay Press Gazette Website.

Eric and Janet (Corey Wilson/Press-Gazette)

A group of local celebrities got to shake, shimmy and sway their way to $96,700 in charitable contributions Sunday during a fundraiser for the American Red Cross.

Radio and television personalities joined local businesspeople for the second annual Dancing with the Stars event benefiting the Lakeland Chapter of the American Red Cross. Held in conjunction with DanceSport of Green Bay, the sold-out event paired the celebrity dancers with local ballroom experts for an evening of fun and fundraising.

“It’s a great, fun event,” said Mauree Childress, director of development for the Lakeland Chapter, “and the people who participate make lifelong friends, and a have a great deal of fun — and really serve as community leaders. They really are community leaders for stepping out there.”

Tickets for Sunday’s fundraiser, based on the popular reality TV show of the same name, ran $50 for individuals and $600 for a corporate table. Dancers brought in additional funds by soliciting $1 votes prior to and during the competition.

Most of the celebrity dancers started practicing for the event around Jan. 1, said Janet Gollnick, production director for the show and owner of DanceSport of Green Bay. She and the DanceSport interns who pair with the celebrities donate their time for the event.

“The routines are entertaining, but they’re not cartoonish,” Gollnick said. “They’re filled with real dancing technique. … It’s real good ballroom dancing with an entertaining focus, and playing to each star’s individuality.”

Mindy and Ben (Corey Wilson/Press-Gazette)

None of the stars had any prior ballroom experience, Gollnick said. For star dancer Mindy Bennett, owner of Balance for Body and Soul, learning the routines was a great chance to try something different.

“It’s been a blast,” she said before Sunday’s show. “I just thought it would be something new, an enjoyable experience. And it’s definitely lived up to that expectation.”

Watching the stars go from no experience to performing full routines is the best part of the experience for DanceSport intern Ben Wolf, who was Bennett’s partner Sunday.

“To see that transformation as the process goes on … it’s just the neatest experience to see them through that whole process, from start to finish,” he said.

Eric Witczak, a senior vice president at Nicolet National Bank, teamed with Gollnick to win the competition.

In its second year, the dance competition has become the Lakeland Chapter’s biggest special event. After exceeding expectations by raising $50,000 last year, organizers were optimistic for Sunday’s event, Childress said.

Raising awareness also is important, she added. Organizers plan to hold a third Dancing with the Stars event next year.

“You usually think of the Red Cross and you think of disasters and blood collection,” Childress said, “but we do so many other things.”

Eric Witczak honored as a Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce BBJ magazine’s ‘20+10 People You Should Know in 2010’

Eric Witczak, and his wife, Kelly at the BBJ 20+10 reception

The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 5th annual BBJ magazine’s “People You Should Know” awards tonight, honoring 31 local individuals including Eric Witczak of Nicolet National Bank in the Banking Industry.

These honorees – and the February/March 2010 issue of the BBJ magazine – were unveiled at a reception hosted at the Swan Club at Legends in De Pere.

“If Eric Witczak is on your board, you can guarantee things will get done,” said Jody Weyers, volunteer and communications director, for the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter.  “As vice chair for the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter he is a great role model and leader and we are very proud to have him recognized for his accomplishments by the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s awards, entitled “20 + 10 People You Should Know in 2010,” honored 21 individuals (due to a tie) who have more than 10 years of experience in their respective industries and have made a significant impact in their fields. The awards also honored 10 individuals with 10 or fewer years of experience in their respective industries or fields who have made a significant impact in their fields. All honorees met criteria for which the BBJ “People You Should Know” awards are known, including accomplishments/contributions in their respective industries; spirit, drive, ambition, innovativeness and creativity; employment at Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce members; and living or working in Brown County.

“I’m pleased to celebrate the 5th anniversary of our BBJ magazine’s ‘People You Should Know’ by honoring some of the mainstays in our community,” said Paul Jadin, president, Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. “These individuals – all of whom have made a significant mark in their respective fields – play a significant role in making life ‘Better on the Bay.’ To all of them, I say, ‘Congratulations.’”

Profiles on the all the honored individuals – including their photos – are featured in an online version of the BBJ magazine, available at http://www.titletown.org.