Mary Toutloff, a Freedom House Ministries volunteer, distributes jingle bells to a child before touring a nursing home to sing Christmas carols with the shelter's children. / Maria Amante/Press-Gazette Media
Steve Lapacz is passionate about volunteering three nights a week to help people who are attempting to complete their general equivalency diplomas to brush up on math through a Literacy Green Bay program.
How to help
Freedom House Ministries: freedomhouseministries.org or (920) 432-4646.
• Volunteers for: Freedom House Ministries, for about a year as a child care volunteer
• Nominated by: Amber Yahnke, Freedom House Ministries volunteer coordinator
• Nomination letter: “She is dedicated to her position and is a great team player,” Yanhke said. “It has been so refreshing to have someone with as much passion for sharing their talent and time as Mary.”
Mary Toutloff has dedicated her life to children.
After spending several years running her own child care business, she decided it was time for a change.
She closed up shop, but stayed in the business, getting a job at a Festival Foods, providing child care for shoppers. But that wasn’t enough — she felt compelled to give back and volunteer.
She eventually began working at Freedom House Ministries, which provides shelter for families and offers job skill training to adults.
Toutloff, 50, who lives in Sobieski with her fiance, John, began helping out at the Freedom House about a year ago. The facility needed assistance with its child care center, and given Toutloff’s background, it was a perfect fit.
“Always in your job, people say ... ‘My boss doesn’t reward me,’ or you don’t hear ‘Good job,’” Toutloff said. “I get that daily, 20 times a day, the minute I go to Freedom House. (The kids) give you a hug, and it’s always something new, never the same day. Every day is different, and I just love that ... they see you, smile, and say your name and get so excited. It’s awesome.”
Toutloff is now being recognized as one of seven volunteers honored in this year’s Press-Gazette Media Seven Days of Giving campaign aimed at showcasing individuals during the holiday season who donate their time and talents to people and organizations throughout the year. Amber Yahnke, Freedom House Ministries’ volunteer coordinator, nominated Toutloff.
Toutloff donated toys and materials from her child care business to Freedom House and worked to provide more structure and organization to the ministry’s child care program, Yahnke said in Toutloff’s nomination letter.
“She is dedicated to her position and is a great team player,” Yanhke said. “It has been so refreshing to have someone with as much passion for sharing their talent and time as Mary.”
Yahnke said Toutloff is warm, friendly and reaches out to people.
“Some people are more shy, she’s very outgoing,” Yahnke said. “Any time a new resident moves in, she introduces herself. It’s important to make that connection with the parents so they know who is taking care of their child.”
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