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Magazine: Leave it to St. Rose of Lima

“It’s the kids, after all, who are the true servants in these campaigns!”

“I just saw this on social media this morning and took a screenshot of the information to send to our officers. Count us in for hosting events.” Little did Holly Wortmann of St. Rose of Lima 2509 know that when she sent this email to Fraternal Outreach Coordinator Kaitlynrose Bicek, her court would skyrocket to a comfortable first place in the “What’s Hours is Yours” campaign. Though St. Rose of Lima 2509 hosted three Feeding God’s Children (FGC) events during the campaign, one stood out. Working with St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Holly arranged a grounds clean-up of the school. Normally, this annual event occurs in the spring, but it was interrupted last year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This meant extra work had built up for school groundskeeper and custodian, Jason Tomsu.

Jason, while keeping the school clean and safe during a pandemic, had also been undergoing personal challenges. “He has a young family and an autistic son who requires a lot of extra help. He has taken on so much more this year with disinfecting our church and keeping our school safe. As court officers, we decided to give him a break,” explained Holly. They called the event “Leaf it to Us” and asked Jason to leave the clean-up for them. The original plan was to meet one Saturday in early November to clear the grounds, but as 2020 would have it, Crofton, Nebraska, experienced a sudden snowstorm making it unsafe for the schoolchildren to volunteer that day. Showing resilience, St. Rose of Lima 2509 refused to cancel the event and rescheduled it to the day after Thanksgiving. “To burn that turkey off!” said Holly.

When that day arrived, the students showed up with masks on ready to clear debris and bring Jason some much-needed rest. But then, out of the blue, Jason arrived.

“Can you believe it? He is just that sort of guy,” said Holly. Despite his surprise appearance, many hands make light work, and the volunteers were able to clear the grounds in a few hours. “We collected two large dump trailers full of leaves and debris,” said Holly. St. Rose of Lima 2509, with Holly Wortmann at the helm, was able to overcome pandemic conditions and a snowstorm to hold its Feeding God’s Children event and give back to a deserving member of their community.

While “Leaf it to Us” shows the character of St. Rose of Lima 2509, it was not the only event it held last year. In addition to “Leaf it to Us,” St. Rose of Lima 2509 held two more events: one with its Catholic school and one with St. Rose of Lima religious education classes. With St. Rose of Lima Catholic School students, they gathered care package items for Mount Marty University students in South Dakota as they entered finals week. “We stuffed 30 bags with items such as microwave popcorn, ChapStick, candy, cozy socks, prayer cards, letters of encouragement, and a Feeding God’s Children T-shirt,” said Holly. “This connected younger students with college students.” The event was supposed to last a week, but the students were excited to collect so many gifts that the principal lengthened it to a two-week drive. Packages were distributed through Mount Marty University’s campus ministry program. The college students were thrilled to receive them.

With St. Rose of Lima’s parish religious education program, St. Rose of Lima 2509 hosted a diaper drive and collected 32 boxes of diapers for a pregnancy center. The students and teachers dedicated a portion of their class to pray for expecting mothers and fathers and the babies born from these unexpected pregnancies. “Of all the FGC events we have done this year, this one was my favorite!” Holly said. “I liked joining two different groups that have never been involved with Catholic Order of Foresters.”

Holly Wortmann, Vice Chief Ranger and Youth Director of St. Rose of Lima 2509, spearheaded these events by working with community partners. Altogether, her coordinated events amounted to 440 hours of service work. Winning the $500 grand prize, Holly and St. Rose of Lima 2509 decided to split the money between St. Rose of Lima Catholic School and the parish’s religious education program. “It’s the kids, after all, who are the true servants in these campaigns!” said Holly.

Article by Kaitlynrose Bicek

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