Avid Bicyclist Finds Time to Knit & Crochet for Community

By Rosemarie Dick
Program assistant

Donna Wittmann is one of those volunteers who loves to keep busy. During the colder months, with our wicked Wisconsin winters, Donna is at home knitting and crocheting hats for Hooks ‘n Needles, a service activity of the Retired & Senior Volunteer 55+ Program (RSVP), which is sponsored by Volunteer Fox Cities. She loves the fast-paced hobby of creating hats and scarves because they go quickly and there is no detailed pattern to follow. Completed hats pile up fast and before you know it, she is walking through our door with a smile and a bag full of knitted items to donate. In 2020 alone, Donna has logged 550 hours of knitting and crocheting! That’s a lot of hats and scarves keeping a lot of folks warm and cozy all winter. She is among 31 members of Hooks ‘n Needles who reported 10,938 hours of service from Jan. 1 to Dec. 10, 2020. The group donated 1,576 clothing items that were distributed to local nonprofit agencies that in turn give them to disadvantaged families in the Fox Cities.

Donna Wittmann and her husband, Darrel, pose next to their tandem bicycle in Washington, D.C.

Donna’s energy does not stop there. As spring approaches and the buds are blossoming on the trees, Donna trades in her knitting needles for a bicycle. She and her husband, Darrel, travel to their favorite spots around the country and even in Europe. Aboard a tandem bicycle, they have cycled along the Danube in Austria and Rhine in Germany and across the countryside of France. Trips down the west coast and northeast parts of the country certainly give that tandem bike a workout and Donna and Darrel love every minute of it. Maybe we should have Donna write an article about her traveling experiences! 

Donna calls herself “a self-proclaimed social creature by nature and enjoys the camaraderie of working with nice and fun people.” Naturally, when the opportunity came up to become a trishaw pilot, Donna was intrigued and jumped at the opportunity! She loves to exercise and continues to make health a priority, so Cycling Without Age was right up her alley. Donna signed up, went for pilot training and was all ready for her first rider. Then COVID-19 hit and suspended the pilot training and all subsequent activity. 

I’m sure she is anxious for its return one day soon, just as I’m sure she is ready to return to traveling and tandem bike riding with Darrel.  

Social distancing has also curtailed many of Donna’s other volunteering activities. She told me she volunteered at her favorite first grade teacher’s classroom until COVID-19 curtailed that pursuit. Dedicated time tutoring English at Fox Valley Literacy and volunteering at ThedaCare At Home also were discontinued because of social distancing and the virus spreading. Most of us are feeling the same impact, being unable to do our favorite things. That brings Donna back home, knitting those much-needed hats and scarves.

Thank you very much, Donna, for doing what you do best-giving back to our community!

Donna Wittmann