Getting by with help from friends
Northwoods United Way fills in during community need
By Eileen Persike
For about a dozen years, the Personal Essentials Pantry (PEP) has operated out of the basement of First United Methodist Church in Rhinelander. Twice a month, people in need of items such as toothpaste, shampoo or laundry detergent are greeted by volunteers who help them get what they need. But as is the case for many businesses and organization, the coronavirus threw a wrench into PEP’s well-oiled machinery.
Gov. Tony Evers issued the Safer-at-Home order March 25, which limited the number of people who can be together in any one space, and how physically far apart they must remain. Additionally, many of the organization’s volunteers fit into a higher-risk group for COVID-19 who were staying home and away from people as much as possible. But then help arrived.
“I started calling around last week to the agencies that we support, asking them what their needs were, what was happening, and whether they were running out of any supplies,” said Northwoods United Way Executive Director Nancy Sattler. “Dixie Mathews, the Personal Essentials Pantry coordinator, said they weren’t running out of supplies but they were running out of volunteers.”
Sattler said she rallied the troops and gathered a few volunteers Friday morning – six feet apart – to pack bags with PEP items to be distributed at the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry.