Community leaders write essays for Thanksgiving

Leader Staff

Thanksgiving is a time to step back and take stock of what you have, whether it’s good health, a big family, even a terrific job that you love.

Eight community leaders in Shawano and Oconto counties were invited by Wolf River Media to write about what they were thankful for, and they will be telling readers why they feel so blessed in a special section in today’s edition of The Shawano Leader. The section was also published in the Leader’s sister publications, the Oconto County Times Herald and the Wittenberg Enterprise & Birnamwood News.

Wendy Crawford wrote about her work with Leadership Shawano County, the new Sun Drop Dayz festival and the Boys and Girls Club, but she also pointed out that her good health tops the list and her cancer has been in remission for five years.

“Shawano is a good place to live when you get sick,” Crawford wrote. “It’s a small community and people are aware of what is happening to others. My family and friends rallied around me to help, and I was reminded I was not alone during my health crisis. What I’ve learned is that, in this lifetime, we take turns caring for one another.”

William Switalla, Wittenberg Village Board president and a member of the Shawano County Board, wrote about his wife and seven children being important reasons he is thankful this holiday.

“I’m thankful for my children. They keep us young and show me courage,” Switalla wrote. “They not only have given us grandchildren, but two of them have served our great nation in the armed forces.

Shawano business owner Todd Senzig wrote about being born and raised in the community, and how he is fortunate to have a successful source of making a living.

“I have a job that I love, which makes it so much easier to crawl out of bed in the morning,” Senzig wrote. “I have been blessed with the best employees anyone could possibly ask for.”

Ken Harter sits on the school and fair boards in Oconto Falls. He took time to note this own family as he wrote what he was thankful for.

“We lost my wife of 40 years and our daughter’s mother three years ago following her long battle with cancer. It is an experience that is difficult to cope with in any case but especially so when the one lost is relatively young,” Harter wrote. “I am very thankful for the family, friends, colleagues and others who continue to support and assist us.”

Shawano County Sheriff Adam Bieber wrote about how thankful he was to be born in America and raised in rural Wisconsin.

“I’m thankful to be brought up in a Christian home on a dairy farm where I learned Christian values and learned what hard work is,” Bieber wrote. “It was a blessing to work with my family on the farm all the way through high school.”

Kay Rankel, director for the Gillett Public Library, dedicated considerable space in her essay about the library growing and becoming part of a community center and community square.

“Thanks to donations (no taxpayer money), our library was able to purchase the bank building next door, and it was converted into a community center which opened in 2015,” Rankel wrote. “Public meetings take place there, and residents can rent out this facility for family gatherings.”

Stacey Cicero, executive director for Safe Haven, wrote that while she says she is grateful, she tries to make sure her actions match her words.

“As we move into this holiday season, our thoughts turn toward giving thanks and showing gratitude to others,” Cicero wrote. “It is also a time to be thankful for what we have and give to others, and now we know that the act of gratitude will also benefit our lives and increase happiness.”

Charlie Harvey, owner of Charlie’s County Market, wrote about leaving his hometown of Tigerton and making the move into Shawano.

“Leaving Tigerton after 50 years was not a decision Debbie and I took lightly, yet after having met so many wonderful people in Shawano, it made the move a little easier,” Harvey wrote. “Shawano has now become our home, and I am both thankful and blessed for the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, and the wonderful community I have been able to become a part of.”