Making a Difference in Poynette, Population 2503

Gratitude Day 512

Fri., Sept. 18, 2020

Acts 20:35: I’ve left you an example of how you should serve and take care of those who are weak. For we must always cherish the words of our Lord Jesus, who taught, ‘Giving brings a far greater blessing than receiving.’”

For the last five years, Hubby Rick and I have lived in Poynette, WI, population 2503.

There are a lot of great people in our little village. People we’ve come to know. People we call friends and neighbors. Folks we love and who in turn, love us.

Earlier this year, the Poynette Village Board created a Volunteer of the Year Award for an area person who gives of themselves within our community. At their board meeting this past week, they handed out the inaugural award to Mel and Ruth Ann Waugh.

I don’t know the process by which the Waugh’s were selected. What I do know is there is not another couple within this community who are more deserving.

For over ten years, the Waugh’s have headed up the local food pantry. Completly support by the local community, our little food pantry receives no financial backing from outside of the donation’s area folks, businesses and companies give, along with some grants. Each month, it serves between 55-75 area families; many who depend upon it greatly.

A ton of folks partner in making the food pantry an integral part of the community. But it’s the Waugh’s who are the hub of the wheel from which all spokes spread out. When locally grown potatoes are ready to be donated, it’s the Waugh’s that receive the phone call. When excess sweet corn or carrots or onions or tomatoes or other vegetables need a home, the Waugh’s are contacted. When the Scouts, the post office, area churches and the Poynette National Honor Society collect food for the pantry, the Waugh’s arrange drop off. If someone needs community serve hours, the Waugh’s may coordinate for this to happen at the food pantry.  

For several winters, the Waugh’s have spent several well-deserved weeks of sabbath in Alabama. When it came time to organize who would do what while they are gone, a team of people filled the various roles the Waugh’s have assumed. Since the Waugh’s recognize the value of allowing other people to serve within the community, these teams now fulfill some of the roles that the Waugh’s previously assumed.

With health and safety in mind, the decision was made to limit the number of people volunteering at the pantry during the pandemic. The Waugh’s have provided much of the people power during these last six months.

If the school district needs additional snacks for a classroom, the Waugh’s make it happen. If snow boots or jackets or extra gloves are needed, the first line of contact is often the Waugh’s.

Serving their community is not an afterthought for the Waugh’s. It’s their first thought. Just yesterday, they helped pack the weekend Blessings food bags for school-aged kids. When we looked into starting the Blessings program, it was Ruth Ann who said the food pantry would donate the necessary $5,000 to get it rolling.  

For about 10 years, the Waugh’s coordinated the assembly and delivery of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to folks within our community who might not otherwise have a holiday meal. For years, Mel and Ruth Ann organized and had these meals delivered before they gathered with their own family.

My first contact with the Waugh’s began when I started serving a church in the Poynette community. It didn’t take long for me to discover if there was something I needed, I could call the Waugh’s and they would do what they could. Countless times, the Waugh’s hosted kids at their farm for a fall hayride, bon fire and fun night of Wednesday Night Church School. When something at the church needed repair and Rick wasn’t available, Mel would be down shortly after I called him to check it out.

It takes a village to raise kids in a community. It takes a village to serve and help those who are going through a hard time. It takes a group of people who have a servant’s heart and a willingness to ask, “What can I do?” and then go ahead and do it.

This is what Mel and Ruth Ann have done in our little community. They have donated their time, energy, gifts and leadership in so many ways. When it came time for someone to receive the first Poynette Volunteer of the Year Award, I hope there was even a second option of who should receive it.

It’s people like the Waugh’s that inspire me … and hopefully you … to see where and how you can make a difference in your community. Too often, we expect someone else to do it. Folks like the Waugh’s accept the responsibility to do what they can to make a difference in people’s lives, one person at a time. And they do it.

Thank you, Mel and Ruth Ann, for all that you have done for our little community of Poynette, population 2503. You’ve made a huge impact on many of those people’s lives. You make a different in our village.

Here’s another little story that shows how one person is making a difference in his village. I think you’ll enjoy watching it.

For wonderful examples and witnesses of local servant leadership and hearts, I am grateful.

Almighty God – when Jesus said, “Help the poor,” he meant it. And when he said, “Feed the hungry,” it was not a suggestion but a mandate. Thank you for folks like Mel and Ruth Ann Waugh who heed these words and put them into action. Amen.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

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