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Kari first came to Spring Valley with her parents, Dell and Judy Skow, in 1971, just in time to start Kindergarten. A Cardinal through and through, Kari was active in school sports, theater and other countless other school activities, as well as Girl Scouts, St. John’s Lutheran Church and in the community. In 1988, she graduated from St. Olaf College and later also matriculated at Sund Folkehøgskole in northern Norway.
Upon returning to the US, she lived St. Louis Park, Minnesota, until her marriage to her former husband, Jeff, who is also a Spring Valley native. Together they bought a house in Eagan, Minnesota, where they lived for 8 years and were blessed with their two sons, Nicholas and Jordan. She worked many years for an executive benefits planning firm, commuting by bus or car to downtown Minneapolis. In 2001, their dream of moving “back home” came true, and they settled in to raise their young boys in the same house built by Kari’s parents, directly across from the local golf course. Like their parents (and some of their grandparents!), both sons were educated K-12 in Spring Valley schools, growing up close to family, friends, and good neighbors.
Since then, Kari has been involved in various community organizations, serving as Cub Master (Boy Scouts of America) for seven years and has even been seen in the odd performance at the community theater. Her other interests include golfing, camping, hunting and all manner of water sports and lake life at her family cabin up north. She is currently a volunteer for Seniors Staying Put, delivering for their Meals on Wheels program and other offered services. Kari is also a volunteer for and a dedicated proponent of the Alano Club of Menomonie. She remains an outspoken advocate of small-town life, specifically the many rewards of living in Western Wisconsin.
Rich O’Connell, President
“My career was in financial and retirement planning. I hope to offer advice and counsel to SVSSP in managing the financial portion of this group. I enjoy working with the people of this community and want to see Staying Put continue to grow.”
Sandy Thompson grew up in Elmwood Wi. In 1967 she began her career in banking. In 2016 she retired and is now working part time at the Spring Valley Drug Store. She enjoys her retirement, doing volunteer work, and spending more time with family. Spending time in her flower gardens and doing yard work is the hobby for which she is most passionate.
She volunteers at her church, the community gardens and for SVSSP.
She loves the opportunity that volunteering for Staying Put gives her to help others.
Our volunteers provide: rides to and from church, hair appointments, and community events; friendly visits and check in calls; help with light chores; grocery, library or pharmacy deliveries; local shopping assistance; caregivers time-out visits, socialization connections; references to services for hire and other available help.
Janice Ottman, Treasurer
Janice grew up in Ellsworth and moved to Spring Valley in 2010. She retired in 2015 and began getting involved in Staying Put in early 2016. She has volunteered in various capacities throughout 2016 & 2017.
Janice plays a key role in, and very much enjoys, the Memory Cafe program. She also escorts clients to the Menomonie dance event on most months. Recently she was elected to the Board of Directors at Staying Put, and has also accepted the officer position of Treasurer.
Margy Balwierz, Vice President (former President)
Margy Jean, who has lived in our area for 20 years, initiated the effort to bring Staying Put to Spring Valley. She was raised in Illinois and received formal education at UW, Madison; Mundelein, Chicago, and Macalister, St Paul. After widely traveling she became a wife, mother and grandmother who enjoys gardening and being outdoors, rocks, dragonflies and sky watching.
A retired Elementary Science Specialist she continues to be active in reading, cooking, yoga and creative arts, now producing original stoneware tile in her home studio.
“Hello! I am SVSSP's newest Board Member, Lori Peterson. It is an honor to join in this work for an organization that is playing such an important role in our community! The more I learn, the more impressed I am. I hope to bring my organizational development consulting background, my other current Board work (President, Spring Valley Stagehands and Board Member Slipstream, Madison WI), and my experiences as Co-owner/Director of the Silkesnas Nature Preserve and Leadership Center to bear in any way that assists SVSSP to advance its mission and continue to thrive here in Spring Valley!”
Ron has been a volunteer with Staying Put since fall of 2018. He has provided Meals on Wheels delivery service and also local transportation for Staying Put members. Ron is a client as well, and accepts various services from time to time. Ron joined the Staying Put board in January of 2020, and will serve a 3-year term.
Ron graduated from SV High School in May of ’58, and started working at DHIA (Dairy Herd Improvement Association) holding that position until December 31 of 2018 (60 years), where he took milk samples from the cows as they were being milked, for butter fat and protein testing and SCC (cell count).
Since retirement, Ron has been involved with food boxing at WestCAP, as Trustee on his church board for 6 years, and currently works with the Spring Valley Community Cancer Fund. He finds time to also volunteer as a member of Spring Valley Seniors Staying Put, and recently accepted the board position.
A few of Ron’s hobbies and interests are bowling (which he does once weekly), he was a 4-H member for 11 years, a 4-H leader for 16 years, and an open-class dairy superintendent for 20 years (with county fair). He was also in the WI National Guard for 6 years, 20 months on active duty.