Volunteering in the Community Becomes a Way of Life

Volunteering isn’t just a way to pass time for Barb Ketter – it’s a lifestyle. She volunteers at Community Child Care Center, helps with special events at Westside Elementary School, serves meals at Loaves and Fishes and has been volunteering at the St. Bernadette rummage sale for the last three decades.

RSVP volunteer Barb Ketter observes first-hand the effectiveness of her handmade bib that is being worn by 19 month-old Caden Peebles at Community Child Care Center in Kimberly.

“I get back more than I give,” the Appleton resident said.

Ketter credits her husband, Dave, for allowing her time for volunteering because he watches their granddaughter, Taylor, while she is out in the community.

“Taylor just finished 4K, so she will be in school next year,” she said. “Then I will be able to volunteer more!”

Her connection to Community Child Care Center began in 1988, when she worked there as a substitute teacher while her children were going to school. She refers to the center as a step above others.

“They always seem to put importance on the quality of teachers they hire,” she said. “They have a philosophy of learning through play. They let them develop through stages of play. It’s very basic, but there are so many things that develop through their interaction with each other.”

She began sewing bibs for the center nearly a decade ago, when her grandchildren were enrolled there.

It takes her about three hours to sew six bibs. She uses material with colorful patterns, such as flowers, cats, owls and footballs. She gets the material wherever she can, including from the St. Bernadette rummage sale. Sometimes folks donate material.

Ketter takes the same pattern, makes it larger, and sews adult clothing protectors. She sewed them for Century Ridge assisted living facility in Chilton when her mother was a resident there. She has a niece who has cerebral palsy and lives at a group home in Brillion, so she made clothing protectors for everyone at the group home, too.

She also makes sheets for the cots children use during naptime at Community Child Care Center.

“It’s a good feeling to know that you can help someone else,” she said. “In society, child care centers don’t get the credit they are due. Early age is so important for the development of children. I want to keep volunteering there. By doing these little things, it saves them money that they can use for resources and programming.”

Ketter’s role at the center varies. As a self-proclaimed organizer, she sorts through the back room puzzles and toys and discards toys that are cracked or broken. She vacuums, organizes the teachers’ library and mends books.

She has a license in special education, so if teachers need assistance she is more than happy to lend a hand.

“I am a person who will do whatever they need to have done,” she said. “They all seem happy to see me. Just knowing that you’re making a difference in the center, they need you and you can help. I always think you get back more than you give.”