A brotherhood of giving
Family: Wife, Rae; parents, Jon and Maureen Peterson; siblings Beth, 29, Jay, 27, and Cullen, 25
Occupation: Financial accounts representative
Hobbies: Cooking, remodeling, landscaping, travel
Favorite movie: "I Am Sam"
Memorable quote: "I feel somewhat empty if I don't (volunteer). I think I can always take care of myself, even if I put someone else first."
Describe your brother, Jay, in three words or phrases: Involved, caring, personable
Family: Parents, Jon and Maureen Peterson; siblings Ryan, 32, Beth, 29, and Cullen, 25
Occupation: Chiropractor, owner of Peterson Chiropractic Clinic
Hobbies: Golf, bowling, softball, travel, cooking
Favorite movie: "Big Daddy" or anything with Adam Sandler
Memorable quote: "As a doctor, I don't just want to do the clinic stuff. I want to make change. Edgerton is a community that has a questionable reputation, and I just know that it's not what outsiders see it as. I do my best to make it better from within, whether it be a nicer City Hall or a brand-new hospital."
Describe your brother, Ryan, in three words or phrases: Intelligent, dexterous, extremely outgoing for others
A pair of brothers spend their time volunteering in their communities...Milton and Edgerton. Kyle Geissler reports. Ryan and Jay Peterson are featured as part of the Janesville Gazette's "People Who Matter".
Giving back wasn't an option for Ryan and Jay Peterson growing up.
"Work and volunteer—that's a lot of how we spent our free time," Jay said. "Which is good; it kept us out of trouble."
The brothers have learned that lesson well as adults. Both are devoted to their communities—Ryan in Milton and Jay in Edgerton—though they show their devotion in different ways.
Jay, 27, is a joiner. As a chiropractor and business owner, he likes to be visible in the community and help make it a better place, he said.
A list of his activities could fill a book, but here are some of the highlights: vice president of Edgerton Noon Rotary, secretary of Edgerton Lions Club, Edgerton Area Chamber of Commerce board member, Edgerton Hospital Board member and Ad Hoc Edgerton City Hall Committee member.
"He's just really interested in the well being of Edgerton," said Mayor Erik Thompson, who went to school with Jay and called him "one of the most polite people I've ever worked with."
Ryan, 32, contributes through individual and quiet acts of charity. He's the type of guy to mow lawns and clear snow for elderly neighbors. He volunteers at his church. He's been known to give people in need all the money in his pocket.
One organization where he has made a mark is the Milton dog park committee. As chairman, he has dedicated much time and energy to making the park, Tails N Trails, a reality and inspired others to do the same, said Lynda Clark, member of the dog park committee and Milton City Council.
"Ryan is very motivated to complete things," she said. "If he has ideas—which he certainly is full of all kinds of good ideas—he is on top of them, and he will follow things through to the end."
The brothers learned through the example of their parents, Maureen and Jon Peterson, said Kathy Citta, who has known them since they were children through St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edgerton.
"For Ryan and Jay, it just comes second nature," she said. "It's who they are."
The brothers are alike in more ways than volunteering. They share a sarcastic sense of humor, they said. Both speak slowly, choosing their words carefully, and neither likes talking about himself—though each is quick to compliment and encourage the other.
And both make their mother proud.
Maureen choked up as she described Ryan helping neighbors after an ice storm and Jay picking up elderly patients for appointments and taking them to lunch afterward.
"Any parent would be proud to have either one of them for a son," she said.