The 920 | Upfront

UpFront – July 2021

Looking Out for Our Seniors:
Carrie Peters

by Tim Froberg

Elderly residents in the Fox Cities don’t have a better friend than Carrie Peters.

Peters, a senior sergeant with the Appleton Police Department, works diligently to assist those dealing with dementia and other age-related cognitive issues. She has guided various important initiatives at the A.P.D., including a new officer training program on dementia response. The program is partnered with the Aging & Disability Resource Center and Fox Valley Memory Project. Peters helps train officers and prepare them for experiences with individuals that have dementia and Alzheimer’s-related diseases.

Peters received a degree in human services and professional leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and has taken dementia courses offered by state, county, and law enforcement organizations along with the Alzheimer’s Association First Responder Training program.

Her work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Peters, a Winneconne High School graduate and an Appleton police officer for the past 13 ½ years, was recently named as one of Northeast Wisconsin’s Remarkable Women by television station WFRV-TV, Channel 5.

What inspired you to be a police officer?

“I had been looking at things more human services and social work-related, but I chatted with a couple officers from the Appleton P.D. at a career fair. I found out that social work and police work were really intertwined and very similar in the people we serve.”

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

“Dealing with people going through a bad time. What’s rewarding is you have the opportunity to help people navigate a very troublesome time in their life.”

Do you have a personal connection with dementia or Alzheimer’s-related issues?

“My husband’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He passed away in April of 2019 after a long fight with the disease. Later in his diagnosis, there were times where he didn’t know who we were, but we could still have positive interactions with him and do things that made him happy.”

What’s the most important thing one can do to help a loved one with these diseases?

“It’s really important to interact with them, because even though their responses and abilities may change, they’re still that person you love. Interacting with them makes them feel safe with you, because essentially, in their mind, they’re talking with a stranger.”

UpFront – June 2021

Meet the Piano Man

by Tim Froberg

Bill Steinert chuckles whenever people call him the Piano Man.

“Hey, that’s not a bad reference,” joked Steinert, referring to pop superstar Billy Joel who is best known for that nickname. “I’m his age and now I’ve got his hairline.”

Steinert plays the piano, too, and quite well. The 59-year-old Oshkosh native has been performing piano shows and popular sing-alongs for the past 38 years at George’s Steak House where he splits weekend duties with fellow musician Bruce Koestner.

Steinert grew up in a musical family, was introduced to the piano at the age of three, and has been performing since he was 15. But the piano was always a second gig for Steinert. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and UW-Milwaukee graduate taught English at Oshkosh West High School for 30 years, while also assisting in the counseling department. He is currently retired from full-time work but teaches college writing and research methods at Marion University.

What’s your most requested song?

“‘Piano Man.’ Every group that comes in from the dining room is like, ‘Hey, do you know … I’m like, ‘Yes,  I do.’ I still enjoy it even though I’ve done it so many times I could do it in my sleep.”’

Is there a particular song you play that you dread?

“I don’t know if there is a specific song. It’s more of a thing where someone may say, ‘Do you know anything by Poison?’ Or it might be some other 90’s hair band. I just kind of roll my eyes and steer them in another direction.”

What do you listen to?

“I like groups doing new things with old ideas merged into them — like Pink Martini. They’re phenomenal musicians. My daughter likes alternative music, and she’ll go into my online account and put something on there that she wants me to learn. She keeps me current.”

Any personal favorites you enjoy playing?

“I do a shortened version of Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ that I really like. As far as singing, anything by Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.”

Upfront – May 2021

Upfront with Kristy Meyer

by Tim Froberg

Stained glass windows have an undeniable beauty and elegance. Kristy Meyer is skilled at producing these gorgeous, eye-catching products.

Meyer owns Studio K Stained Glass in Appleton and has 19 years of experience.

The Seymour native worked 17 years at Coventry Glassworks before purchasing the business in 2019 from Linda Muldoon and David Haas and moving it to its present location at 2125 N Richmond Street. Muldoon and Haas served as mentors for Meyer, who started work as part of an internship program while attending Fox Valley Technical College.

“With stained glass, you either get it, or you don’t,” said Meyer with a laugh. “I always enjoyed the work and the artistic side. The business side has been new to me.”

Meyers spends her downtime dabbling with different art projects and enjoying sports with her husband, Kevin, and three children: Eric, 13, Vallarie, 11, and Brooklyn, 9.

Who are your customers?

“It’s a mixture of homeowners, churches, and chapels. We’ve been working with Lawrence University this spring restoring their windows at the chapel.”

How did you get so good at your craft?

“Lots of hands-on experience. Linda and David taught me a lot. You just pick things up over the years, and it’s a form of artistry where there is some natural talent involved.”

What drew you to this craft?

“When I was younger, I never even thought about stained glass. But I always loved artwork, drawing, and painting. I went to school for interior design.”

Any project you’re especially proud of?

“We did restoration work for Stubborn Brothers Brewery in Shawano. Their windows were buried inside a wall and they brought them in a bucket. It was tough putting everything back together and making them pretty again, but we did it.”

Upfront – April 2021

Upfront with Ann Engelhard

by Tim Froberg

Ann Engelhard’s optimistic nature gets reinforced every time she starts work.

As Vice President of Donor Services and Gift Planning for the Community Foundation of the Fox Cities Region, Engelhard gets a close look at generosity.

Engelhard works with donors to explore their philanthropic interests and secure financial gifts to help individuals, families, and supporting organizations in the Fox Cities.

A Chicago native who graduated with a psychology degree from Bradley University, Engelhard and her family relocated to the Fox Cities from Philadelphia in 1999.

Engelhard has served in her current position since 2017. She joined the Community Foundation in 2013 as its Donor Services Manager. Prior to that, she worked to secure third-source funding for the Twin City Catholic Educational System.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT YOUR JOB?

“The most rewarding part is seeing the generosity of our community. Our community has a history and a passion for being charitable and taking care of community issues and problems by solving them collaboratively.” 

HOW HAVE GIFTS TO THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION BENEFITED OUR AREA?

“Last spring, we had a donor who gave money for ThedaCare and Ascension to purchase additional ventilators at the beginning of the pandemic. We also had a donor who gave an extremely generous gift in the six figures to the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 response fund.”

HOW HAS YOUR PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE HELPED WITH YOUR JOB?

“It’s helped in so many ways — especially when it comes to working with different people and different purposes and trying to move things forward in a smooth way.”

HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED GIFTS FROM DONORS?

“Gifts have been incredibly strong. Donors have been very generous. They’re granting at unprecedented numbers right now.”

UpFront – March 2021

Upfront with Jodi Avery, Volunteer

by Tim Froberg

Downtime is a concept that Jodi Avery doesn’t embrace.

She is a retiree but leads a busy life as one of the area’s most dedicated volunteers.

Jodi is active with the Darboy Kiwanis Club and has served on its board for the past decade. One of her favorite projects is the Young Athletes program, helping young boys and girls with cognitive disabilities learn basic skills like running, throwing, and kicking. 

Avery is also involved with the Fox Cities Festival of Lights and serves as a liaison between the Kimberly High School Key Club and the Darboy Kiwanis. In addition, she volunteers with the St. Joseph Food Program and was a longtime board member of the Kimberly Area Soccer Association. 

How did you get involved in volunteering?

“My mom was always big on it, so it was engrained in me as a kid. She used to say, ‘Do something nice for someone else – then you’ll feel good and so will they.’ I remember doing trick or treat for UNICEF, bike rides for the March of Dimes, and a lot of church things.”

What do you get out of it?

“I love being around kids. It feels good to help people going through tough stages in their lives.”

What do you tell those who worry about the time commitment?

“If you love it, you’ll find time for it. If you’re feeling really stressed about it, then you’re probably doing too much.”

How has the pandemic impacted volunteering?

“Less people want to get involved because they’re afraid of getting COVID. Fundraising has been hit really hard because most of the fundraising events have been cancelled.”