La Crosse, WI (WXOW) – Lorraine Cafe says up until just recently volunteering helped fill a void.
The 71-year-old is this month’s Jefferson Award recipient.
“Up until last summer that’s been my life…abandonment until I was with diagnosed with breast cancer. I had surgery and radiation. And through those treatments God put in my mind what it took all these years to understand. That my mother did not abandon me. She knew she was not well. She left me in a safe place when she left me with her sister,” said Cafe.
Despite living with her own pain, Cafe managed to be incredibly compassionate passing that gift on to her children who say for them it was just the way she was.
“There’s so many stories. She does this knitting for premature baby hats that she gives to the hospital. And she takes old greeting cards and makes baskets out of them to give them to people in the nursing home so they can put their personal items in the,” said daughter Lauri.
Cafe’s husband is 25 years older. The two were neighbors on the north side of La Crosse. Cafe married him because he was kind and she wanted to help raise his three children after his wife died unexpectedly.
“She took on a huge task by coming in to that family at the age she was. It was a lot. She was 18. It just changed her life completely,” said Lauri.
Carol Brown met Lorraine when she was a teenager and says even though she spent 30 years of her life serving the poor in South America she looks up to Lorraine mostly because she serves others without expecting anything in return.
“I saw Lorraine give her life over and over and over again. Working with seniors. Working with disabled. Working with children, serving….volunteering…always in the background,” said Brown.
No matter your situation, Lorraine says every one of us have the ability to help someone else and in the process heal your soul.
“Number one you’re really helping provide a service and a need for someone who maybe is invisible in the community and whether you realize it or not you’re also filling a need for yourself,” said Cafe.