Generous Hearts Serve Wisconsin’s Hungry
After Amway IBO Gene Kamholz underwent extensive surgery in 2007, he was eager to find a way to enhance the healing process – and to get him out of the house. It was not long before he and his wife, Antonina, discovered the Washington County Food Pantry in Wisconsin was in need of volunteers; they both jumped at the opportunity. “My wife is a school teacher who works with Down syndrome students. She’s been a server ever since I’ve known her,” shares Gene. “We’ve always wanted to make a difference.”
On each service day, volunteers serve 40 to 60 families in the grocery store–like setup. “One night we served 72 families,” adds Gene, who is always on-call for the pantry. “Washington County Food Pantry doesn’t really turn anyone away. We help whoever needs help.
“We once had a woman drive in with an Escalade. She told us that her husband was a hand surgeon, but after a ski injury his hands were totally out of commission. She said they cashed out their 401K … They didn’t know how they were going to feed their kids.”
Gene can relate to the struggles of many who come through the food pantry. Growing up on a dairy farm in the 1970s, he and his family utilized similar programs when they lost everything in a fire. “I said to myself that I, too, would make a difference somehow, some day,” shares Gene, who comforts the Spanish-speaking families by conversing with them in their native tongue.
Having undergone five surgeries between 2007 and 2009, Gene has not let his physical ailments stand in his way of giving back. “I was once down to just using my left arm for everything,” he notes. “Through any adversity we have come through, we have always kept a ‘can-do’ attitude. We have shared this (attitude) with our three children, too.”
At times pantry volunteers provide items from their own shelves to ensure there is enough food for the families coming through that day. “As a volunteer, you learn that there are a lot of giving hearts out there.
“We have found that sharing has kept us building our Amway business for almost 18 years,” says Gene. “When we introduce people to the Amway business, we ask them, ‘What are you willing to do to change both your lives and the lives of others?’”