July 2, 2018

Giving Whatever He Can

Pete Janowski is the epitome of what a member-volunteer stands for at National Mutual Benefit. He gives selflessly to others without second thought, no matter what the circumstance—always willing to help people in their time of need. In fact, Pete donated over 650 volunteer hours in the past year! It is no surprise that he was named National Mutual Benefit’s 2018 Fraternalist of the Year.

Pete has been involved with Green Bay Branch 694 for many years, serving in various capacities on the branch board. Currently, Pete serves as the vice president, a position he has held since 2005. If there is a branch fundraiser or event in town, Pete will be there. One of the key events he likes to help out with is a brat fry—a staple in the greater Green Bay area. The branch volunteers at this event to raise funds for the Miracle League of Green Bay—an organization that provides opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball.

If he is not out volunteering at a branch event, he is probably still in the community doing something to serve others. Like last July, when he helped work a food stand for Farm Technology Days. Last year was the first year that it was ever held in Kewaunee County. Living so close by, Pete jumped at the opportunity to help. He and several other volunteers spent three days working the booth, then cleaning up afterwards. Almost 20,000 people came through the grounds at that weekend’s event. It was a big project, but one that Pete absolutely loved being a part of with other local volunteers.

If you were to ask him what it means to work alongside other community members, he would tell you it is one of the main reasons he loves being involved with non-profit organizations. It is the “personal satisfaction of working with others to help others” that he really enjoys.

At the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in Green Bay, Pete and his wife, Jan, have a consistent opportunity to find that satisfaction. They have been volunteers there for the past twenty-six years. The performing arts season starts in September and goes through May. During that time, Pete and Jan sign up monthly for the events they are interested in working. Event duties include scanning tickets, ushering, and even helping out with security.

Pete and Jan also love to do work together at St. Therese Parish near Pilsen, located just about five miles outside of their home in Luxemburg. Each year, a number of kids and adults gather for a road cleanup that stretches a few miles throughout town. The local 4-H club is always there to supply road pick-up materials and help clear the roads. This is a small gesture done in a small Wisconsin town, but one that certainly does not go unnoticed to the residents of that community.

As a proud veteran, celebrating patriotism is another important aspect of Pete’s life. He is always one of the first individuals to step up and be on honor guards for National Mutual Benefit, and he never hesitates to work on Flag Day. (Stony Hill School, located in Fredonia, Wisconsin, is the birthplace of Flag Day and is one of NMB’s national causes.) He attends virtually every annual cleanup and will lend a helping hand wherever he is needed—whether it involves putting up flag poles, cleaning the grounds, or sprucing up the schoolhouse.

Pete takes part in many types of charitable work. While he gives a lot of time to local causes, he has also been involved at the state fraternal level for many years. On several different occasions, Pete has met with elected public officials to share stories of the impact fraternal members have in the state of Wisconsin. He has served on the Wisconsin Fraternal Alliance Board of Directors for the past nine years—most recently as their treasurer—and attends many of their meetings throughout the state of Wisconsin each year.

Not only is Pete a proud member of National Mutual Benefit, but he is also a proud member of two other fraternal societies—Knights of Columbus and Western Fraternal Life. He attends annual meetings for both of them as well, and helps out at many of their events. While Pete helps others through a variety of organizations, he also helps people from all walks of life and a variety of backgrounds.

When asked if he had any final words of advice for other NMB member-volunteers, Pete said, “Every single one of NMB’s volunteers is an MVP in their branches.” He went on to say, “Not everybody can be there for everything, but they still do whatever they can.” That is one of the most important things we can learn from Pete Janowski, this year’s Fraternalist of the Year. It does not matter how much you can give, it is simply the act of giving that makes you a valuable member of your community. Congratulations to Pete on this tremendous honor!