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Meet Denise & Gail

Family Promise of Waukesha County has over 1,000 volunteers. Most of these individuals serve through their congregation. Other volunteers help with mailings, drive the van, assist with administrative tasks, or participate on a committee, and many more tasks. Periodically we recognize a volunteer (or three.) This is to acknowledge the goodness of people.We are extremely happy and fortunate to have ALL of our volunteers. Today we recognize Denise O’Halloran and Gail Frangiamore.

Denise O’Halloran and Gail Frangiamore collect furniture, store it and deliver it the apartments that will serve as new homes to the families in the Family Promise of Waukesha County shelter. They furnish and stage every apartment before a family leaves the shelter. Suspending our shelter program due to Covid-19 means they have not been able to stage an apartment recently, but we are working on changing that AND we hope they will help us furnish the new Day Center. Read this Q + A with both Denise and Gail! DENISE O’HALLORAN HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH FAMILY PROMISE? Gail had helped–out a friend who needed to leave an abusive marriage and was so fulfilled by the experience we started talking about doing this type of service on a regular basis. Coincidently soon after that, our sister-in-law sat next to the first FP Director at a luncheon and asked if FP needed this kind of help. After a few conversations our involvement was welcomed. WHAT IS IT ABOUT FAMILY PROMISE THAT MADE YOU WANT TO VOLUNTEER? I love the whole model. The involvement of many different churches working together to serve families in need is especially beautiful to me and perfectly models ‘faith in action’. WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU VOLUNTEERED AT FAMILY PROMISE? We store a large amount of donated items and when a family is ready to ‘graduate’ to their own apartment we talk to them about their needs. Many times the families are completely starting over and need everything including beds, living room furniture, linens, kitchen table set and all essential kitchen items. Usually moving is a two–day process. The first day we pick out and pack up all the items and the second day several people help move the furniture into the apartment. It takes about 5 hours to put up and make the beds, clean and stock the kitchen with plates, glasses, and cookware. To make it a real home we add decorative touches like artwork, frames for photos and pillows. WHAT HAS BEEN REWARDING ABOUT YOUR SERVICE? When the family sees their finished home for the first time, I always wish that each person that donated an item could be there to witness their appreciation. It’s amazing how the donations show up right when we need them. WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE? Our biggest challenge is not being able to accept all the great pieces that we are offered. Picking up the donations can also be a challenge but thankfully we do have an enclosed trailer and my husband Kevin is a huge help with the heavy lifting.

GAIL FRANGIAMORE HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH FAMILY PROMISE? I had a friend from high school who needed to leave an abusive marriage quickly.  A group of us friends helped her move out and into a place of her own.  She did not have much, so we all pitched in and brought or donated items to furnish her home.  She came home to a completed house.  We then threw her a house–warming party to replenish all the items that we did not purchase.  People were so generous.  The experience touched me in a way I cannot even describe.  I knew I had found my passion. Soon after Denise and I got together to help others who needed the same kind of help.  And who better to be on this journey with, your sister! WHAT IS IT ABOUT FAMILY PROMISE THAT MADE YOU WANT TO VOLUNTEER? The people!  Everyone who is involved is in it for the right reasons.  Helping people on their journey, whatever that may be.  No judgements!  WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU VOLUNTEERED AT FAMILY PROMISE? We collect good, used items for their homes.   We store them, clean, paint, sew, or fix things as needed.  Most apartments are in need of everything to start over.  We try and coordinate items to make a nice, cozy and welcoming space for families to call their own.  It’s definitely a process.  But in the end, very worth it! WHAT HAS BEEN REWARDING ABOUT YOUR SERVICE? To see the families, mostly the children, come home to a finished space.  Their own bedroom!  We post our finish homes on Facebook to show where all the donated items end up.  Most people are so happy to see their previously own items given to a new family in need.  Also, we have a great core crew that we can call any time!  They all have their own jobs to do during each move, and they work really hard.  We divide and conquer on most projects! It’s amazing to see it all come together in a matter of a few hours!  WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE? Turning down really nice things that people want to donate because we just don’t have the room to store it all.  Also, wishing we would get more notice on our move ins.  Sometimes we only get a couple of days notice to move in a whole apartment worth of things. 


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