ray pryor

2015 Volunteer Award Recipients


The GEORGE GREENE AWARD for exceptional service by a guest turned volunteer is named after founder and long time Gathering Board President. The 2014 Award was presented to Ray Pryor, a faithful Breakfast Program volunteer. Ray could not be present at the event as he recently became employed as a truck driver.

Breakfast coordinator, Angela, presents Ray with the George Greene Award

Breakfast coordinator, Angela, presents Ray with the George Greene Award

The following individual volunteers reached SERVICE MILESTONES in 2014 for number of years of continuous volunteering:

25 years – (Saturday Cooks) Vergie Bond, Toby Carney, Nick Eusch, Joe Graf, John Keene, Lee Klugiewicz, Roger Kocher, Tom Nabke, Maria Phelps, Chuck Thimmesch, Dean Thome, and Judy Young; (Breakfast Volunteer) Mary Rockstad; (Saturday Cooks & Coordinators) Shari Egan, Dorothy Evans; 10 years – (Saturday Coordinators) Harry Ansley, MaryBeth Ansley, Cheryl Ganske, Harvey Ganske, Marie Hoven; (Breakfast Volunteer) Deacon Ned Howe; (Saturday Cook) Tom McGinn; 7 years – (Saturday Coordinator) Roger Carroll; (Saturday Cooks) Michelle DaCosta, Linda Cesario, Roger Dickinson, Karen Meunier, Mark Meunier, Richard Thickens, Jason Thurow; 5 years – (Saturday Coordinators) Joe Kaja, Kris Ochocki; 3 years – (Saturday Cooks) Paul Acker, Sue Acker, Betsy Fryda, Amy Fryman, Nick Hirsch, Nick Hirsch, Lisa Hirsch, Regina Hirsch, Rita Hirsch, Erin Puariea, Coco Rodriguez, Millie Tillman; (Saturday Coordinators) Kelly Boettcher, Kunal Kapoor; (Saturday Cook and Coordinator) Sherry Walker

Volunteers played picnic games like Bags. For some, it was their first time! 

Volunteers played picnic games like Bags. For some, it was their first time! 


The following groups reached SERVICE MILESTONES in 2014 for number of times volunteering:

350x – Marquette University High School; 175x – Emmanuel Community United Methodist Church; 150x – Thomas More High School; 125x – Slinger High School; 85x – North Shore Presbyterian Church; 75x – Youthworks; 50x – Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, St. Stephen the Martyr Lutheran Church; 35x – East Troy HS NHS, Hillside Community Church, Northwestern Mutual, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church; 25x – Mt. Calvary Lutheran School Hope Club, 15x: God’s Work Our Hands, Slinger High School Skills USA; 10x – Associated Bank, Casa Romero Center, Christ UMC, Faith UCC-Slinger, Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Manpower, Salem UCC, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, St. Monica, Ulster Project.

Matthew, breakfast volunteer, excitedly accepts the Goodwill Volunteers’ Friend of The Gathering Award

Matthew, breakfast volunteer, excitedly accepts the Goodwill Volunteers’ Friend of The Gathering Award


Given to agencies, groups or individuals who have demonstrated exceptional compassion and dedication to The Gathering itself or to those we serve:

Jim Ardis and Dennis Stokhaug (Retired Gathering Operations Managers); Goodwill Volunteers (weekly breakfast volunteers); Duane Drzadinski and Compost Express (Fresh Produce Preservation Project collaborator); UW-Milwaukee Center for Community-Based Learning Leadership and Research & Marquette Midnight Run (weekly student volunteers); Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church (monthly muffin donations); St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (ongoing in-kind, monetary and volunteer support); Suzanne Foster and St. James’ Congregation – Mukwonago (thousands of homemade Christmas cookies and treats)

Volunteers enjoyed picnic fare

Volunteers enjoyed picnic fare


Given to individual volunteers who have reached milestones with the Fresh Produce Preservation Project:
35x – Eileen Duffey; 10x – Jill Kortebein and Lisa Kortebein

Volunteer Spotlight: Ray Pryor

For Ray Pryor, not volunteering with the Gathering was never an option. Ray has always been a hard worker and prides himself on his ethic and work commitment. As long as Ray eats meals at the Gathering, he will volunteer his time, energy and expertise to give back.

Ray and regular UWM volunteer Elena pause after a busy breakfast meal

Ray and regular UWM volunteer Elena pause after a busy breakfast meal

Ray was laid off. Once his unemployment ran out, he struggled to keep his head above water while dealing with homelessness. In order to stay busy, Ray has volunteered with the Gathering’s breakfast program Monday-Friday for almost a year.

“[Volunteering] gave me something to do ‘cause I just got laid off. I didn’t feel like I just wanted to walk around all day not doing anything, so this gave me something to do in the morning. I come every day. Every day. Most of the time it does take my mind off of a lot of stuff. So, it’s good for now. I appreciate the people. Networking and stuff. Cause y’all do get a lot of really good volunteers that are really nice.”

Aside from volunteering, Ray spends a lot of time on the job hunt, making phone calls, doing research and applying for various positions. Over the past 20 years he has held jobs in Waukesha, Portage, the Dells and Milwaukee.

Despite his work ethic and commitment, Ray explained that, “karma gets bad and you end up back where you started.”

For those of us who have not experienced homelessness, getting laid off and ending up on the streets may seem impossible. Ray demonstrates that because of globalization and the job market, it is not as distant as you think.

“You work for a job for 16 years. Then the company decides, we’re giving you employees too much money and we’re paying the state too much money. We’re gonna move down to Mexico. And you’re like 45 … 48 … now you try to get another job before your unemployment runs out, but a lot of companies they want the young kids and stuff like that, they’re looking at your age. So you study, you’re knocking on doors, all of a sudden, unemployment runs out, you can’t get an extension, you lose everything. So you’re stuck, out here, in the middle of winter and hoping that there’s an old folks site that they will let you go to and get out of the cold. Now I gotta get off the cotton-pickin’ streets before winter time comes because if I don’t, I’m sleeping outside until the temperature is so unbearable that they will let me in because they got an overflow site.”

Thankfully, Ray is hard-working and focused. He is able to stay strong and positive to set his mind on volunteering at many different places, applying for jobs, and surrounding himself with positive friends and people who support him.

“You have to keep your head on straight. Cause if you don’t you end up out here for 20 or 30 years and wonder what happened to your life.”

The Gathering helps him be positive and focused. He feels comfortable and supported at the Gathering.

“I like it over here [at the St. James’ breakfast site]. I really do. See, I used to come here back in the 80s before I started working again. I didn’t volunteer then but I had a buddy that worked here. And … I like it here for the simple reason that from the first time I started coming over here until now, don’t matter who they have running it or who they have working it - they always have the same mentality that they had back then. And that mentality is to treat people with dignity and remind them that they’re not an animal and that things get better. When you treat people with respect, and stuff like that, they tend to not think that they know better than anybody else. We’re all the same, Everybody goes through certain things. That’s the way it was back then and it still holds true to now.”

It is the dedication and strong example of guest volunteers that keeps the Gathering focused on promoting dignity and respect. It is the consistent commitment of all volunteers that keeps the Gathering’s mission alive. And, in the end, it is individuals like Ray who set an example for others experiencing hardship. This network of individuals makes ending hunger and homelessness a real possibility.