Portraits in Philanthropy: Evaleen “Evie” Neufeld

Portraits in Philanthropy: Evaleen “Evie” Neufeld

“If you agree to join any organization, be sure you are able to be an active member, attending meetings and participating in committee work.  If you can’t, don’t accept the position.”

That’s the advice Evaleen “Evie” Neufeld would give to young women as they become involved in the community.   She speaks from experience.  For many years she has actively supported numerous local organizations, as a board member, officer, fund raiser and donor.

Evie Everson grew up in DePere, graduated from St. Joseph Academy and then received a degree in Social Sciences and Food and Nutrition from the College of St. Catherine in Minnesota.

Returning to Green Bay, Evie went to work for the Diocese of Green Bay’s The Apostolate, helping unmarried mothers place their children in adoptive or foster homes.  “It was a job I loved,” she recalls.  “My colleagues were committed in the same way I was, and we were able to help many women and children.”  Even today, Evie sees the success of her efforts; remarkably, one of the children she placed is currently one of her caregivers, helping her stay active and in her own home.

“I can’t remember when I didn’t know Joe,” Evie says about the man she married.  Friendship grew into love, and they were married in 1957.  Until his death in 2004, the couple cherished a close relationship, sharing a love of books, music and ideas.  As a couple and as individuals, the two gave exceptional support to the causes they espoused, including the Brown County United Way, the Greater Green Bay YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay, Encompass Early Education and Care, Inc., Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, Heritage Hill State Park and Wisconsin Public Radio and Television.

“At one point,” Evie says, “I realized I needed to evaluate the many requests for support, and select an area where I could have an impact.  Education came out on top.”  Her connections with St. Catherine’s, Joe’s alma mater the University of Notre Dame, and St. Norbert College became stronger.  Evie served as a Trustee of St. Catherine’s, and was awarded the Alexandrine Medal, given in recognition of outstanding service to a woman’s profession and her community. She and Joe were active supporters of Notre Dame, visiting the campus, attending football games and contributing funds. As a couple, they served on the University’s council of Institute for Church Life.  At each of the three colleges, they established Neufeld scholarships. Today, the Joseph and Evaleen Neufeld Charitable Foundation continues to contribute to educational institutions.

Evaleen’s father was educated by the Norbertine Fathers and later became a Trustee of the college.  Evaleen followed his lead, and in 1988 became the first woman to chair that Board.  Her tenure on the Board and as Chair illustrates her advice to women hoping to make a difference in our community.    Her education and work experience gave her the tools to organize, motivate and persuade.  There were changes she believed would increase the Board’s effectiveness, and she instituted several of these.  Over her four years as Chair, she established a pattern of rotation for the Board, insuring that new members would bring new ideas and perspectives.  She conducted exit interviews as members completed their terms, gathering recommendations for improvement.  An annual Board retreat was another of her innovations.  “There is so much business to cover at regular meetings, and little time to consider long-range goals.  The retreat gave us the opportunity to do that,” she says.

The Neufelds continued to support other organizations, but education remained their greatest commitment in terms of contributions of time and funding. Scholarship funds make higher education attainable for more students, and that is a benefit to all of us.  “Education is the key to success,” Evie says, “especially for women.”