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Walking the Walk

Often, we emphasize how important it is to reach out to and assist your community members in any way you can. This fall at Catholic Order of Foresters, we took our own advice.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit so closely in terms of time that weather forecasters and meteorologists frequently said the former when they meant the latter. At COF, we jumped into action on Thursday, August 31, 2017, and it couldn’t have been too soon.

Assistant Vice President of Fraternal Judy James helped me develop the idea, and together we listed items to collect and researched where we’d donate the items. Judy’s team, Charles Spiewak and Josh Koch, helped us prepare the bags we’d use for collecting. Brittany Demendi and Audrey Kopecky, (you know them as the Fraternal Outreach Coordinators) teamed up with Brittany Hans to pass out the bags, and the office was abuzz with excitement. The urge to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey was brought to light, if not brightened, by the invitation to participate in this effort. One team member’s husband expressed that he his and his coworkers (who happen to be local first responders) were looking for a way to donate. One team member’s son (who happens to be a new COF Agent), rallied his friends to collect a pickup truck full (I’m not exaggerating) of water, bleach, garbage bags, diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, flashlights, batteries and clothing, organized neatly in containers.

As people swung by my office to add to the mountain of items, some said, “We might have to do this again for Florida next week.”

There was no “might” for me. The donations kept coming! As a result, we shipped items to Marco Island Police Department in Florida, the small island where Hurricane Irma made its second landfall.

To those who donated, participated, or helped us pack, carry or ship the items, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. Barely being able to walk into my office because of the plethora of items was overwhelming – in such an inspiring way I found myself smiling as I looked over at the bright colored bags.

I didn’t count the items that came in because the numbers didn’t matter to me. And, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting the turnout we received!

We donated to The Texas Diaper Bank, St. Vincent De Paul, Houston Independent School District (at College of DuPage’s Hurricane Harvey Drive), and the Marco Island Police Department.

I tell you this story not to brag; in fact, I tell you for an entirely different reason. I hope this story inspires you. You CAN make a difference. You can help those in need. And when you have a team like COF supporting you, we’ll walk the walk together. 

Article by Katlyn Gerken.

Brittany Hans helped and sort pack items to ship to Marco Island.

COD Hurricane Relief Drive

Brittany Demendi, Audrey Kopecky, and I dropped off items at College of DuPage's Hurricane Harvey Relief Drive.


My office was packed with items. This picture was taken after we shipped half of the items to St. Vincent de Paul. 

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