Esther is a woman of integrity and perseverance. She is no stranger to hard work and life's hard situations. Even in her "retirement" she is an advocate for herself, her family, her friends, and her community.
A Milwaukee native who was born at home, Esther graduated with honors from South Division High School, raised two daughters, and worked for the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds for 32 years. She served as President of the local AFSCME for 14 years and was an Executive Board member of the Milwaukee County Labor Council.
Esther didn't stop working when she retired in 1991. She helped organize the United Seniors of Wisconsin and served as secretary for 10 years. Esther, a 2004 graduate of the Senior Statesman program, is a board member for the Layton Blvd. West Neighbors Association and the Milwaukee Christian Center. Her Alderman, County Supervisor, and district Police Captain know her and of her commitment to make the Layton Boulevard Neighborhood a safe and welcoming place for all people that live there. She's been instrumental in forming the Boulevard Apartments Senior Warriors, whose work has included advocating for a stoplight at a dangerous intersection used by elderly residents of the neighborhood. She is participating in process that brings youth and seniors together in Peacemaking Circles and in the Connecting Caring Communities project that is working on making the Layton Boulevard Neighborhood a safe place for people to live as they get older.
Dennis has been a dedicated volunteer for many years, and he really doesn't expect any recognition for his efforts. Some of the causes for which Dennis has given himself are Shoo the Flu, Summerfest, the Ronald McDonald House, Welcome Home, St. Ann's, and St. Augustine of Hippo.
Dennis does whatever is asked of him, and he jokingly refers to himself as a "grunt." What he means by that is that he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. At Ronald McDonald House he drives the van, but also does the landscaping and preparing wood for the winter. He has been known to split wood in the middle of the summer heat, so that they will have wood for winter. For Shoo the Flu, he registers people, offers chairs to the elderly, and visits those who might need some company. He helped build Welcome House, which is a Bed and Breakfast for persons in wheelchairs. At Summerfest, Dennis works the lost and found, and he pushes wheelchairs for those attending the concerts.
On Friday nights, he rounds out his week by volunteering for the fish fry at his parish.
You won't find a harder worker than Dennis Kaluzny, nor will you find someone who gives his heart to every project the way Dennis does. He understands that there are people who have it worse than he does, and he goes out of his way to help them. He truly gives of himself emotionally and physically. He genuinely volunteers out of the goodness of his heart, and he expects nothing in return.
Jeanne McCue, R.N.
Jeanne has been described as an "Angel of Mercy, Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale all rolled into one." Her devotion to others is clearly visible in her devotion to family, a commitment to a professional life as a Registered Nurse and incredible volunteerism – a true humanitarian in motion.
She has been an R.N. for nearly fifty years. In December 1995, she retired from Doyne Hospital (Milwaukee County Medical Complex) and has worked at Froedtert Memorial Hospital since that time. Getting little sleep, she is always on call. "Her commitment to nursing is, wherever needed – she is there."
Jeanne has been noted for providing assistance to the hungry and homeless in Milwaukee, in her earlier years. Shortly after her son's death in a bicycle accident in 1989, she witnessed the suffering of the Bosnian people and knew what her life's mission would be. Since that time she has made twenty-seven trips to Bosnia-Herzegovina during and after the Balkan war. Her time off, stored vacation time, is used to gather medical and school supplies, blankets, etc. She travels to Bosnia at her own expense. Her most recent project includes providing goats to families to have milk and sell cheese.
She clearly reflects a lifelong vocation of reaching out to family and the most needy with "caring, compassion and commitment." Her granddaughter, Katy, says, "So many people love you, but none of them as much as me."
Ernestine's grandmother taught her life lessons through poetry. Her life reflects the elegance and compassion of her favorite poem, "A bell is not a bell until you ring it. A song is not a song until you sing it. Love was not put in your heart to stay. Love is not love until you give it away."
Upon entrance to the University of Michigan in the 1920's, she knew that there would be great challenges but her persistence and talents were far greater than the obstacles. She graduated and applied her skills in social work, then journalism. At the same time, she had a life-long interest in the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). In 1939, this led to her being a delegate to the First World Conference on Interracial Christian Youth in Amsterdam, Holland.
In 1952, she married Emile O'Bee, Funeral Home Director. Consequently, she became the first woman, licensed mortician in Wisconsin. In 1963, she became the first African American and Funeral Director in Zonata International.
Ernestine has been recognized on state, county and city levels for distinguished services to the community. She has served as a board member on the Dr. Terence N. Thomas Memorial Scholarship Fund for thirteen years, which provides $1,000 scholarships to help students move towards professional goals. At ninety-eight years of age, Ernestine continues to work, volunteer, and inspire all the lives she touches.