Laurie Valley is a vanguard of generosity
People Who Matter
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Community: Lives in rural Orfordville. Works in Janesville.
Education: Graduated in 1994 from Parker High School. Earned an associate degree in police science from Blackhawk Technical College in 1996 and graduated from the college's police academy the next year.
Job: Janesville Police Department patrol officer since 1998. Member of the department's domestic violence intervention team.
Her twist of fate: Valley planned on being a math teacher when she grew up until, at age 17, Valley was reported to Janesville police as a runaway. Officer Jim Conley had several contacts with Valley, and the experience was so positive, she decided she wanted to do police work herself. Valley worked with Conley for several years.
Family: Husband, Nate, is a city of Milwaukee firefighter. Their kids are Paige, 7, Slater, 5, and Sophie, 2.
In her spare time: She's a Girl Scout leader and a T-ball coach. She plays city league softball; she bowls, and she plays mud volleyball.
And she sews. "That's kind of weird," Valley said.
How to be a good volunteer: "Everyone can find their own way to do it. You don't have to affect 100 people. But every day if you can find something to make a difference, that's all you need to do."
Her project: Valley collects and distributes clothing, furniture and household items for distribution at many of Janesville's community programs. To contribute or volunteer to help, call Valley at (608) 921-2998.
JANESVILLE If Laurie Valley was any more generous, she would have to get a bigger van.
Since early 2010, Valley has been the coordinator, driver and muscle behind a donation collection and distribution service. She has made public her personal phone number and has invited businesses and community members to call when they need to get rid of gently used household items, furniture or clothing, as well as personal hygiene products.
Valley, who is a patrol officer with the Janesville Police Department and a member of the department's domestic violence intervention team, loads the donations in her van and, on her own time, distributes them to community support programs.
"The second time she brought a large donation, I was expecting a couple small boxes, maybe a bag," said Patrice Sandlin, the Alternatives To Violence program coordinator at the YWCA of Rock County.
Instead, every inch of the van other than the driver's seat was crammed full of clothes, blankets and household items. Valley couldn't have gotten another thing in the vehicle, Sandlin said.
Valley has been known to pick up a yard full of furniture. Another time, she packed her van with a surprise donation from a Girl Scout troop. A coworker that day lovingly accused her of looking like a hoarder, Valley said.
She is compassionate about everything she does, Sandlin said.
Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore agrees. Valley is compassionate, sincere, energetic and always willing to help others, Moore said.
"Sometimes, I have to slow her down," Moore said. "Anytime I ask for an officer to serve on a committee or assignment, officer Valley offers her help."
Valley started collecting and distributing donations after a 2010 tour of the YWCA's Alternatives to Violence shelter. She saw the need immediately, she said. She found the opportunity shortly after that when she saw Janesville families bagging up unsold items to send to the landfill after garage sales.
"I am the link," Valley said. "That's where I put myself in many programs. I see a need, and it's not being met because one person's not doing it. So I become the link."
Often, the need is not being met because someone hasn't stepped up to facilitate donations, Valley said. It's just a matter of taking the time—sometimes just five minutes on the phone—to do so, she said.
Valley is generous with her time in other ways, Sandlin said. When she brings potential clients to meetings with YWCA staff, Valley won't leave until she thinks the woman is comfortable and has her needs met, Sandlin said.
"She will stay as long as necessary," Sandlin said.
Valley highly recommends the YWCA's Alternatives to Violence program, and that recommendation motivates the staff, Sandlin said.
"She sets the bar so high," Sandlin said. "It really challenges us to make sure we are offering everything we possibly can."