Reitzel is shining example of local volunteers

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Shelly Birkelo
Monday, June 16, 2014

JANESVILLE—Volunteer Dottie Reitzel is indispensable.

She's also a people person, dedicated, cheerful and spunky with a great attitude, said those who work with her.

The list includes Kim Whitford, catering manager for the Meals on Wheels at KANDU; Ranee Goodroad, nutrition program supervisor for the Rock County Council on Aging and Kim Quint, resident relations specialist of Riverview Heights Apartments. Reitzel spends 12.5 hours a week packing meals at KANDU for home delivery through the Council on Aging.

“She's the only volunteer that comes in the kitchen and takes the place of a regular, part-time employee,” Whitford said.

Her volunteerism frees the kitchen staff to do what they need to do, she said.

“It would be a lot more work for us (without her),” she said.

Reitzel also helps at the Council on Aging's dining center at Riverview Heights Apartments where she sets up, serves and cleans up at mealtime five days a week.

For the past fours years Reitzel's weekday routine has begun at 5 a.m. She reports to the Lincoln Elementary School Breakfast Club by 7:30 a.m., KANDU by 8:30 a.m. and Riverview Heights by 11 a.m. She finishes by 12:30 p.m.

Every other Saturday, Reitzel also provides the groceries, prepares and serves breakfast for about 50 of the residents at Riverview Heights where she lives.

Reitzel saves a little out of each disability check, gets some financial help from her daughter and accepts donations to buy supplies for the breakfast.

“I start at 6 in the morning and get out of the kitchen at noon, but I love to cook,” she said.

The residents—seniors 62 and older and those who are disabled—love it, Quint said.

“Dottie has such a big heart and is a blessing to Riverview Heights. She's always on the go and wants to jump in and help with everything,” she said.

Reitzel hopes the breakfast encourages residents to get out and mingle.

“A lot just sit in their apartments,” she said.

The 68-year-old Janesville woman said volunteering keeps her busy. “When you don't have anything to do, you get depressed,” Reitzel said.

It also keeps her focused on life with something to do.

“If I didn't have any of this to do, I'd be sitting in my chair feeling sorry for myself,” said Reitzel, who suffers from osteoarthritis, has metal plates on the bottom of her feet and screws in her ankles.

She is a “perfect, shining example of all of our 75 volunteers who are conscientious and really care,” Goodroad said.

Without them the meal program would not exist, she said.

“We would have to hire eight full-time employees to do what volunteers do, and there is no way that would be financially feasible. Without them we would not have any home-delivered meals or the dining centers. We just could not function without the volunteers,” Goodroad said.

Despite some health issues, Reitzel remains positive, committed and caring.

“She rises above it,” Goodroad said.

“And is here every day no matter what,” Whitford said.

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