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Habitat News

Senior Crew Spotlight | Jeanne Bellin

Background and family
I’m retired twice. I worked at AT&T for 30 years, starting when I was in high school, and retired in 2004 when I was pension eligible.  I then worked for ThedaCJeanne Bellinare, part time, as a medical coder for 10 years, retiring again in 2014. Since my job was changing completely and I only planned on working on more year, I opted out of the training but said I would stay til my replacement was trained.  April 10, 2014 was a beautiful, warm, bright sunny day and I walked into work and decided I didn’t want to do this anymore!  I told my boss I was thinking about leaving sooner than planned, so she asked when I wanted to leave. I looked at the clock and said, “how about 9:00”? I was out the door at 9:10!
I feel fortunate that I was able to work part time at ThedaCare because my husband and I lived on a small farm northwest of Appleton where we had animals, a huge yard and a lots of upkeep.  I had more time to take care of things while he still worked full time until he could retire.  It certainly made things easier for both of us.
Unfortunately, life interfered with our retirement plans. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer early in May, 2011 and passed away at the end of the month. I stayed on the farm about a year before selling it and moving to Appleton to be closer to work, family and friends.
When I left ThedaCare, I started looking at volunteering options. My brother (Jim Weyers) has worked with Habitat for years and liked it, so I thought I would give it a try.  I knew I did not want to do the actual builds or rehabs – I lived through enough of those over the years!  I attended a volunteer meeting in 2014 and was surprised to see all the things habitat gets involved in and the many volunteer opportunities available.
What has been the biggest surprise to you about habitat?
The entire process, from taking applications, the Almost Home Program, the homeowner and good neighbor training, and of course the actual construction or rehab and all the training that goes with that, is remarkable!  So much is done to ensure the  new homeowners are ready and able to be responsible , successful, happy members of the community.
What do you do for Habitat?
I have volunteered in both the Habitat and the Restore offices, helped with the first Rock the Block planning, and I have made lunches for the crews.  That was a learning experience for me, because my husband did most of the cooking; thankfully I haven’t had any complaints (at least none that made it back to me!)  I enjoy seeing the progress when I go to the build sites, and everyone working there is so nice.  Normally I bring my 2 geriatric Boston Terriers along when I deliver lunch, and many times we go for a walk while everyone is eating.
When I’m not volunteering at Habitat, I love to read and have belonged to a book club for years, and I dabble in creative writing too. I garden which keeps me busy in the summer and I recently started volunteering as a  reading tutor for first graders in an AASD program which I really enjoy. Of course I follow the Packers and Brewers and Timber Rattlers, and get to games occasionally. One of my dogs, Buddy, is a certified therapy dog, and we’ve been involved in the “Kids Reading to a Dog” program at both the Library and grade schools, and we do nursing home visits occasionally.  My other Dog, Amos, is a rescue who came from Wisconsin Boston Terrier Rescue and I have helped with their fundraising; last fall Amos even worked in a kissing booth at a pet expo!
What thing about you might surprise the person working with you on a habitat project?
When we lived on the farm, we had llamas.  Five of them, Pasqualli, Spinatto, Lucy, Lightfoot and Lilly and I learned to process and spin their fleece into yarn.  Still working on learning to knit.

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