Kathy has been Executive Director of Interfaith Senior Programs since 2001. A native of Wisconsin, she lives in Waukesha with her husband Jim Durnil, and has two sons. Kathy can be seen often at local libraries, book stores, coffee houses, and just all over Waukesha enjoying the local businesses.
Welcome to The Next Chapter – a blog that will focus on people, events, and issues that represent new chapters in our lives here in Waukesha County.
My name is Kathy Gale, and I live in Waukesha. Coming up with a name for my very first blog was actually easy – I have found that my life as a wife, mother, daughter, nonprofit director, volunteer, friend, etc. has consisted of many different chapters. As an avid reader, I also have many chapters going at one time, since I’m usually reading at least two books, one for work and one for pleasure. In my work life, as Executive Director of Interfaith Senior Programs since 2001, I encounter many people who are looking at the next chapter of their life. Sometimes the next chapter happens by surprise, such as becoming a family caregiver for a senior with dementia. Sometimes the chapter is planned, such as a retirement or a big trip. Whatever those chapters are, they shape us as people, and give us opportunities to learn and grow.
Each day I am priviledged to come to work at Interfaith Senior Programs. We provide services to help seniors and adults with disabilities live independently, and place seniors as volunteers in schools and nonprofit agencies throughout Waukesha County. At Interfaith we have senior volunteers helping us in our downtown Waukesha office each day. These volunteers answer our phones, do data entry, and other projects. Recently I overheard some of them talking about Christmas gifts.
#1 gift that they don't need? More stuff! Many of them have downsized, or plan to downsize soon, and don't know what to do with the stuff that they have already. (They also talk about their kids who need to get their stuff out of the basement or attic.)
A few days ago my husband and I were discussing Christmas shopping, and it brought back memories of an earlier chapter in our lives.
When our two children were young, they asked for the typical gifts at Christmas - trucks, building blocks, stuffed animals, any type of toy that would shoot Nerf darts, and so on.
Earlier this fall my father, Stuart Gale, died after a very sudden and short illness. He was 80 years old, and the best father that anyone could want. He lived a very full life with my Mom, and was attending church group meetings and Learning in Retirement classes up until the week he was admitted to the hospital.
He was a band teacher in Wauwatosa, and we shared a love of music, especially organ music. My Dad attended every one of the concerts, recitals, programs, and operas in which I performed. I always knew that he was in the audience because I could identify his throat-clearing cough even in a large auditorium. Somehow, until I heard that sound, I wasn't completely settled on stage, but once I knew he was there, with my Mom, something inside me felt balanced.