CELEBRATION OF GIVING: Stocks’ giving heart good for others’ health

Nicole Hixson

(Editor’s Note: The Shawano Area Community Foundation, in conjunction with NEW Media, has staged a Celebration of Giving Volunteer of the Year promotion for more than 10 years. Each year, select area volunteers are presented $1,000 cash grants for their efforts to improve the quality of life in the Wolf River Region. The awards, sponsored by area businesses, are then reinvested back into area nonprofit organizations at the direction of the award winners. This is the last in a series profiling outstanding volunteers in the community.)

The Shawano Area Community Foundation has awarded its Health Care Volunteer Award to John Stocks in this year’s Celebration of Giving Awards.

This award is part of an annual event recognizing Shawano volunteers who showed dedication and enthusiasm in their volunteer work, which ultimately created a positive impact and improved the quality of life for the community.

John Stocks unequivocally has earned this award, which was sponsored by ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano. Stocks has been volunteering five days a week, sometimes up to seven, in the therapy services division at ThedaCare since February 2000. His consistent dedication to the patients and staff have allowed the facility to operate more effectively and efficiently.

“John always goes above and beyond for the therapy department,” said Jennifer Herm, the physical therapy assistant at ThedaCare who submitted the nomination. “John is a bright part of not only the staff’s day but a lot of patients as well. Patients look forward to catch a glimpse of John and a quick ‘hi.’ We appreciate him so much and try to never take him for granted.”

As part of his duties, Stocks ensures the treatment rooms and locker rooms are always stocked with adequate clean linen. He only has a couple of minutes to do this in between patients, so must work quickly. He also has assisted in ordering supplies, ensuring and adjusting laundry levels and making sure any necessary items are in their proper place.

“I work every weekday morning from between 9 to 11 o’clock, and I hardly ever miss a day,” Stocks said. “I’m somewhat obsessive compulsive in what I do as a volunteer, but people have trusted and accepted me and that is all I can ask for. It’s really rewarding, no question. It’s the most rewarding aspect of my life after retirement.”

In his role at ThedaCare, he has also created a list of procedures to aid future volunteers who one day will take over his responsibilities. Twice a year for daylight savings, Stocks comes in to manually adjust the 20 clocks that are at ThedaCare’s therapy services. In the past, he even helped move and transition therapy services from Shawano Medical Center to the current ThedaCare facility.

“My role has evolved over the years, and I don’t know what I would do without it,” Stocks said. “One of the proudest moments was when I got my badge. It enabled me to come in on the weekend and it showed that they trusted me.”

Stocks began volunteering after retiring from his job at the FDIC and moving to a house on Shawano Lake. Needing to fill the free hours of retirement, Stocks heard of the opportunity from the Shawano Recreation Center and applied right away.

The most challenging time for him was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the volunteer program at ThedaCare was suspended. Stocks truly missed his volunteer work and would often check back to see when he would be able to return to the work he loved. When volunteers were allowed back, Stocks wasted no time in returning to the role, being one of the first volunteers to return.

“I’m excited and nervous,” Stocks said of receiving the award. “I guess I had no idea this was coming, and it’s sort of taken me aback. But the people here, they appreciate a lot of what I do and vice versa.”

As for the award’s $1,000 prize money, Stocks has chosen Shawano County Humane Society as the recipient of the funds. It was the first organization that he thought of as he has adopted several animals from them over the years, including his current cat.