The Service League of Green Bay was founded by Mrs. Jules Parmentier and Mrs. Leland Joannes with 33 members. Their goal was to assist welfare agencies, both financially and with volunteer help, to work with crippled and underprivileged children.
To work effectively, some of the members took a short course in casework from Msgr. E.J. Westenberger, who was then director of the Green Bay Diocesan Apostolate, and attended social service classes at what is now Northeast Wisconsin Technical Institute. They were trained to help needy families obtain necessary assistance. The beginning was simple, but rewarding. The league provided orange juice, cod liver oil and milk to those recommended by agencies, and sewed layettes for children born into low income families.
In these pre social welfare agency days, Service League members drove crippled children to Madison and Milwaukee hospitals for treatment.
The league started a weekly crippled children’s clinic at Bellin Memorial Hospital, staffing it and doing the clerical work. Members who had taken the social service courses did the follow ups with the families. The league purchased appliances and medicine for the children, and in that year also started to work at the Robinsonville Crippled Children’s Home. In addition to giving clothing and providing complete support for three of the children, league members gave of themselves. Mrs. J. Bernard Gueinzius went out once each week to give piano lessons and Mrs. E.F. Hasbrook taught handiwork.
During World War II, the league fulfilled large knitting quotas for the American Red Cross and took responsibility for the ARC chapter’s entire quota of clothing to be sent to war victims abroad. Members worked with the ARC Home Service, which provided aid to personnel in the armed services, their families and dependents. This program required an indoctrination course for all workers. Twenty five members also took the Red Cross first aid instructor course and taught first aid in the schools and to civic groups.
For the duration of the war, members staffed booths in 10 retail stores to sell war savings stamps and bonds. This was done under the direction of the Brown County War Savings Committee. The league assisted in establishing and staffing the Red Cross Bloodmobile to supply plasma for the armed forces, and organized groups to make USO scrapbooks to be sent to overseas hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
As the city’s needs changed, so did the Service League program, although knitting and sewing accounted for many hours of work. Its gifts ranged from a ceramic kiln to the Curative Workshop to an artificial kidney for St. Vincent Hospital. Members sponsored a carnival for 500 underprivileged children of Brown County at the WBAY auditorium, provided transportation for the handicapped at Howe School to the YMCA for the swim program, decorated the playroom at St. Mary’s Hospital, aided the Neighborhood Youth Camp summer programs, helped the Easter Seal Society promote its summer camp, assisted the Y’s summer camp, and bought toys for the Cerebral Palsy clinic.
“Disbursements” also include funds to assist Head Start, the Brown County Association for Retarded Children, Wisconsin State Reformatory, the Children’s Service Society to promote foster homes for retarded children, the Family Service Association, Donovan School, the Green Bay Apostolate, and the traditional Christmas and Easter baskets.
The portable incubator at St. Vincent Hospital is a gift from the league. Contributions were also made to the newly organized Boys Club, FISH, and toward a music scholarship for the Green Bay Youth Symphony.
In 1952 the league assumed sponsorship of the Green Bay Day Nursery at 716 Chicago St., which, at that time, was a Red Feather agency. The $12,500 debt was retired in 1955. A year later members decorated the rooms in the pediatric department at Bellin Memorial Hospital, furnished and equipped the playroom, repaired or replaced the toys.
Personal involvement accounted for success in another area. In October, 1956, volunteer service was introduced to supplement work of the professional staff in the pediatrics department of the city’s three hospitals. Members gave their mornings to read a familiar story, help with feedings, instruct the patients in arts and crafts or just give a friendly smile.
The league purchased the first ceiling projector with a library of books to entertain bedridden or immobile patients.
During that same year members assisted at the Cerebral Palsy evaluation clinic and donated terrycloth robes for the patients. In January 1957, members began to work with the CP youngsters at Howe Orthopedic School, teaching games and helping the children adjust to being with children and adults other than their own families.
An auxiliary to the Service League was organized in September 1958, for those no longer eligible for membership in league, but who still want to carry out its commitments.
In 1964 the league gave a substantial gift to Our Lady of Charity School to provide teaching aids and educational equipment. In fall of that year, the league responded to the increasing demand for a day care center and opened the second nursery at 333 S. Chestnut Ave. Sixty-four children are cared for in the two locations.