Volunteering, friendship and Tuesdays

“I applied in 1995 and started working in 1996. I guess it took awhile to check me out,” Ruth joked. “A year and a half later, Nancy (Lindquist) started working with us.”

Ruth Dahlgren, "Warehouse Ladies" volunteer

It’s just the way it is. If it’s Tuesday, the Tuesday warehouse ladies are at our In-Kind Warehouse.

It’s a tradition that started more than 20 years ago, when Ruth Dahlgren started sorting and organizing the gifts given to Catholic Charities by the community.

“I applied in 1995 and started working in 1996. I guess it took awhile to check me out,” Ruth joked. “A year and a half later, Nancy (Lindquist) started working with us.”

“We lived in the neighborhood,” Nancy explained.

And so it began.

Over the years, Judy Hillman, Molly Flowers and JoAnn Budd started coming too. They were joined by Karen Croonquist, Judy Foley, Martha Kinney, Karen Kitchen, Dorothy McClung and Jean Steffen.

They would meet for lunch then spend the afternoon organizing and sorting the goods.

“I really was kinda nervous when I started because I wasn’t sure I was going to fit in,” Judy says while sitting around the table.

The rest of the ladies laugh.

“Oh you fit in, “ one of them chimes.

“Judy is a real stickler for organization,” another says in a false whisper.

The ladies formed a true friendship over the years. In addition to their Tuesday volunteering, they gather for birthday celebrations, Ikea breakfasts and other outings.

Ruth was the ringleader of sorts, before Catholic Charities hired Gretchen Olmscheid to work as a full time warehouse and procurement specialist in 2014.

“This has been a very joyful time to get to know all of you,” Olmscheid said.

She gave the ladies pink roses because the flowers are a symbol of “gentleness, grace and joy, just like all of you.”

With Catholic Charities’ In-Kind Warehouse now moved to our new location at 341 Chester Street in St. Paul, the Tuesday Warehouse Ladies gathered one last time in their old location to remember their service over the years and discuss how they will continue to make such a positive difference for those most in need.

“This is a celebration of sweet sorrow,” Molly said. “To transition into either something or nothing, we’re really not sure.”

But, over lunch, the ladies crafted a plan to carpool from Minneapolis to the Distribution Center in Saint Paul.

We are so thankful for the Tuesday Warehouse Ladies, and all of the wonderful volunteers who make a positive difference for our clients and the community when they give their time and talents to Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.


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