When Christine Reynebeau witnessed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, she was compelled to act. Reynebeau, then a high school student, ini- tiated a supply drive, sending a truckload of items to affected people in Louisiana. Today, that drive to help others continues.
First, Reynebeau’s “day job” as unit-serving executive for the Samoset Council, Boy Scouts of America, is rooted in community involvement. The Green Bay native moved to Central Wisconsin after college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and nonprofit work in Hudson, Wis. The Wausau transplant has called the area home for nearly eight years, and the need to help people who need it continues to drive her.
“Back then, I saw people suffering and it was hard for me to just sit back and watch,” Reynebeau said. “Today, I ask myself, how can and what I can do within my sphere of control to help others?”
More recently, she’s gotten involved with the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce serving as an ambassador. Reynebeau dons the standard red jacket to attend various Chamber events including ribbon cuttings. She said she’s benefit- ed tremendously from her involvement as it’s made her more aware of who the “gamechangers” in the community are while supporting communi- ty efforts, new businesses and business growth.
“I love knowing what is happening and it allows me to ‘connect things’,” she said. “I think knowing a lot of the moving pieces of the community is an asset I’ve been able to bring to the table as well connecting people in the community.”
Another volunteer effort of Reynebeau’s is her participation in the United Way of Marathon County’s Emerging Leaders board of directors and as a committee member for SERVE, which coordinates hands-on project work in the commu- nity. Reynebeau said she had heard a lot of posi- tive things associated with United Way, and so she said it prompted her to “up” her volunteerism in town, focusing on primarily young profession- al-focused activities.
Last January, she stepped up in the Emerging
Leaders group and the SERVE committee. The biggest project she’s been involved with to date is Smack Hunger, packaging servings of trail mix in partnership with the Marathon County Hunger Coalition alongside about 200 volunteers. She said that in years past, what was packaged was not always very desirable, so the group looked at revamping the product packed.
“We created a trail mix that fills a hunger gap and is healthy, and we know we’re redoing trail mix this next year,” she said. “It was a cool oppor- tunity to jump in and help to refresh a really good program.”
The Hunger Coalition directs where the trail mix goes. Last year, it went to about 44 Marathon County agencies within days of the packing.
Doing a project like that made it an easy yes for Reynebeau to more recently step into the board position with the Emerging Leaders. With that, she’ll be doing more strategic planning and board decision-making in addition to the “feet on the ground” type work through the SERVE com-
Being involved in both the Chamber and the
United Way also prompted Reynebeau to ask the question of how the two organizations can more strongly collaborate. “I think there’s an opportu- nity to foster strong collaboration between the two and to innovate how we as a community func- tion in a concerted way,” she said.
This past March, in the thick of the winter weather, Reynebeau also stepped up to volunteer for the Catholic Charities Warming Center as a volunteer. She primarily helps in the mornings, serving breakfast and helping the homeless com- munity members using the shelter to checkout for the day. Getting involved was an outgrowth of Reynebeau’s passion for helping people experi- encing homelessness, something she witnessed in her role at the YMCA in Hudson, Wis.
There, she was part of a group of community members who jump started and founded a youth resource committee to bridge the resource gap for youth suffering from homelessness or who were at risk of homelessness.
“My intent this season is to work morning shifts every other week, making a warm meal,
offering coffee and chatting with the community members to try to get their day started right,” she said. For that, she sets the alarm clock earlier to tackle the 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift and then heads to work immediately after.
Through work, she connects businesses, organizations, volunteers and youth throughout the community to “make” Scouting happen for boys. Her youth orientation extends to another of volunteer activities as well, as Reynebeau serves on the PATCH-Central Wisconsin Community Advisor team. PATCH (providers and teens com- municating for health) empowers and teaches teens about their rights for equity in healthcare as well as provides workshops to peers and providers to better educate on teen health. Teen advocates work on various projects with area providers, learning about healthcare rights along- side the providers who learn how to create a safer, more open environment for teens in the health- care industry, said Reynebeau.
“It’s really focused on teen advocacy, teaching providers how to communicate with teen patients,” Reynebeau said “There’s a lot of teen- to-provider work that happens.”
In this capacity, Reynebeau taps her experi- ence in youth development as well as community connections. The team hosts monthly meetings to discuss the needs of community action teams, gaps in the program, community resources, etc. Reynebeau calls what she does for PATCH “very behind-the-scenes work.”
She said it’s work she’s fortunate her signifi- cant other, Ben, supports. She said that while she has a full slate of volunteer activities, both Ben and their dog, Walter, come first and she allots time on the calendar to them before scheduling any of her other commitments. “I do that because I wouldn’t be able to do 90 percent of the things I do in the world without their support,” she said.
She’s also learned how to say no over the years, and to make time for fitness so as to main- tain a healthy mind-set and not burn out.
“I encourage everyone to find something they’re passionate about and to choose one small thing to do [for the community],” she said. “It could be a matter of minutes each month. It counts. If everyone gave just a little bit, there would never be the question of, ‘Are we going to be OK in the future?’ ”