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AmeriCorps Spotlight | Cathy Paynter

Cathy Paynter

We’d like to say a HUGE thanks to our amazing VISTA’s (Volunteers In Service To America, a program through AmeriCorps), Cathy Paynter and Lou Hull.  Both ladies will be finishing up their VISTA service with Habitat this week.

I grew up in Southwestern Wisconsin on a dairy farm. I didn’t realize the impact of growing up on a farm would have on me personally. It taught me a lot about responsibility, accountability and understanding that you just needed to do what needed to be done to get the work done. It really didn’t matter if you wanted to do the task or not – it needed to be done and it needed to be done correctly.
In fifth grade, I knew that I wanted to get a degree in Home Economics and go to UW-Stevens Point, I did just that. In 2009, I received my MS in Curriculum and Supervision at UW-Oshkosh. I have worked as a Nutrition Educator with the dairy industry, an Extension Home Economist for two counties and Director of Continuing Education at UW-Fox Valley.
In 2014, I retired, and I was looking for something to do with my free hours. I tried some opportunities that were related to my education. However, most of them just didn’t trip my trigger – so I just kept looking to see what I might be able to find.
So, how does someone with a passion for Home Economics related topics end up associated with an organization that builds homes? I can either credit or blame Tim DeHart. One week at church Tim was asking for volunteers. So, I decided to volunteer. I became more involved with Fox Cities Habitat with the expansion of the Midway Road office. I started with knowing nothing about construction, but I could not believe how patient the Senior Crew members were in teaching and helping. I was also impressed with the quality control system they had in place.
I decided that this group might provide the challenge I was looking for. I was right. Additionally, the interaction among the Senior Crew was remarkable. So, I started volunteering on a weekly basis. Along with the actual construction “assignments”, I also enjoyed providing lunch for the group. (Remember, the connection to my background??) Additionally, it was great to never hear one complaint about what was for lunch. The volunteers were always so appreciative.
For the past several months, I have been serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA Resource Development member. During this time, I have learned so much about the internal components of the organization. Fox Cities Habitat volunteers can be proud to be associated with a wonderful organization.
In my spare time, many of my hobbies connect back to my formal education. I enjoy cooking, baking, quilting, sewing, home decorating, and creating DIY projects. Some of my favorite DIY projects have resulted from items that I have picked up from ReStore, or from rehab houses, and sometimes from people that were throwing windows, doors, etc. away.  I also enjoy taking something that seems chaotic and making sense out of it, especially if it involves solving a problem, or developing a plan for a project.
When working on many of those projects, I discovered my love for sanding, and staining. While most people hate to rip anything apart when sewing – I love ripping out – I have ripped apart a quilt that was about 85% done. Yes, I did finish the quilt project. – I know CRAZY. I also enjoy doing hand stitching, especially applying binding to quilts.
My favorite quote – “You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting.”

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