Friends Form Bond Through a Lifetime of Giving Back

Friends Form Bond Through a Lifetime of Giving Back

etired nurses Dollie Newlun and Bette Thiesen have put in more than 19,000 hours combined. That’s nearly 900 hours every year for twenty-two consecutive years. Despite both being 88, this inseparable volunteer team refuses to slow down and remains fiercely devoted to Dane County.

Rooming together in the dorms at LaCrosse St Francis (now Viterbo), Dollie and Bette graduated in 1947 and have let the school motto “Love conquers” guide their adult lives. Along with RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) of Dane County, the pair is showing the power of senior citizens in the community.

Dollie & Bette’s Numbers:

1988: Year they began working with Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin

3,000: Number of non-profits the pair assisted when shoppers came to the food bank in person. Now, everything is pre-ordered and picked up. However, Dollie and Bette still enjoy meeting as many new people as possible.

40: Number of hours per week the pair eventually worked. They started out with once a week but couldn’t resist adding more

60: Number of years they’ve been working with people in the community, and they’ve loved every minute.  “We saw the need in the community and we enjoyed doing it,” says Dolly.

December 2011: Month the duo “retired” from the RSVP. They plan to volunteer at St. Vincent’s but have been too busy to start yet.

            The two agree that people should do what they love. That’s not a problem for these fiercely committed ladies with a passion for volunteering. Both believe you have to contribute and give back to your community.

“It’s good for you, keeps you busy,” says Bette. “You get as much as you give.”          

“RSVP gives you the chance do different things, but there’s something for everyone,” says Bette. “Many people just aren’t aware.”

Dollie and Bette believe there’s an innate goodness to volunteering. Speaking with them it’s clear that innate goodness applies to the volunteers as well.

Celebrate RSVP’s 40 Anniversary Luncheon with Dollie and Bette on October 25 at The Heights in Verona. Get involved in your community and learn more by visiting