A Catholic Education Is So Important

JoAnn 2009 WHIG Gene Grawe AnnceJo Ann Witte doesn’t remember life without the Western Catholic Union. As far back as she can remember, her family was very active in the local branch.

“While they were inside at the meeting I would be out swinging, playing kickball, and running around with my cousins,” says Jo Ann.

WCU events at St. Anthony’s Church in Quincy were big deals for the kids. Jo Ann had ten brothers and sisters, and there were plenty of cousins to join in on the fun. These activities were part of her family’s routine. Her father, Gene Grawe was president of the local branch “Forever,” according to Jo Ann. Gene was a member of the WCU for 66 years,and a National Trustee for WCU, who started the pancake and sausage breakfast that continues as a major fundraiser today.

When Gene passed away in 2003, Jo Ann and the rest of her family knew they wanted to do something meaningful to honor their father. They started the Gene Grawe Education Fund, which is also supported by some WCU Quincy branch activities, to help pay for Catholic education. “A Catholic education is so important,” Jo Ann says. “It’s about the values and family atmosphere, especially at Quincy Notre Dame high school.” The fund was set up to help families pay for Catholic Education to all four Catholic grade schools in Quincy, IL, Blessed Sacrament, St. Dominic, St. Francis and St. Peter and also, Quincy Notre Dame.

“It’s what keeps Jo Ann and her family active in the organization today. “The WCU is like an extension of my family. There’s a closeness shared by all the members,” she says.

Their mission statement is taken from “Ephesians 2:10.  It says, “It is God Himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Jesus Christ; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.”

“Dad spent his life volunteering and helping others. With this fund, I am proud and honored to be carrying on Dad’s legacy.”

Our biggest fundraiser for this fund is selling gift cards to over 300 merchants. Rebates are made from 2-20% from the merchants.

In the last three years, $28,000 has been given away. Last year each family received $300 to go for their tuition. This year each school will be promoting the Gene Grawe Fund to all parents. Therefore scholarship amounts are expected to increase significantly.

The circle of life continues. Now, it’s Jo Ann’s children who enjoy the activities like the pancake and sausage breakfast, Halloween and Christmas parties. It’s what Gene Grawe would have wanted, and Jo Ann, her husband Fred and many others are doing their best to see that these opportunities are here for generations to come.

“Remember God asks us to help each other, whether in big ways or small.”