"I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink..."
Renae Koch, St. James-Stephen 510, Oshkosh, Wis., is not one to shy away from a homeless person on the street. In fact, on August 9, 2018 she sought them out. Renae is always looking for new, unique ways to make an impact.
A few months ago, Renae called to tell me she bought 576 bottles of water. I was immediately interested to see what she was planning to do with them. Renae exclaimed, “I always look in the magazine (Catholic Forester) for event ideas and to see what other courts are doing, and I got inspired.”
The temperature was reaching the upper 80s when Renae handed out water to the homeless in her town. She didn’t just walk around aimlessly though. She rallied up her husband and daughter, Allan and Amy Koch, and Chief Ranger Joe Youngbauer, all of St. James-Stephen 510, to set up a table in front of the Salvation Army entrance during lunchtime.
Nearly one in 10 Oshkosh households uses the Salvation Army Oshkosh food pantry for emergency food assistance each year. In addition, approximately 50,000 meals are prepared and served free of charge per year1.
“I enjoyed this day so much!” Renae excitedly told me. “Nobody [in our town] has done this. It is an easy, inexpensive way to help our community.” She said the most rewarding part of the event was helping people of all ages, and she was surprised by how welcoming and accepting all the recipients were to her. “I would do this event again, but of course it has to be on a hot summer day when people really need it!”
Renae remarked that when they handed out water to people, they snatched up the bottles with no hesitation. She encouraged the recipients by saying, “You have two hands, so take another!”
It was an event that was so simple but impactful. "Because we are such a small group, we wanted to do something beneficial and worthwhile,” Renae explained. She even offers water to their mailman in the summer!
I had the opportunity to join in on the selflessness and it was delightful to see so much joy on the people’s faces when receiving the water. I heard one recipient exclaim, “Wow, it is even purified!”
Vice President of Fraternal Judy James joined, too, and said, “It was nice to see the kids’ faces light up when they received something as simple as a bottle of water.”
Renae is a perfect example of how it just takes one person to start to make a difference.
Article by Brittany Demendi.