“And he said, we’re from Widmer and you have won the $20,000 of office furniture and I know that I squealed very loudly. It was really special,” said Karen Zangerle, PATH Executive Director. “A moment I will never forget.” Karen is the Executive Director of PATH, a nonprofit call center in Bloomington, llinois that provides 24/7 access to help any person in need.
In January, Widmer Interiors started accepting applications from McLean County nonprofits to select the fourth recipient of the Widmer Wish: Highlighting Heroes program. Widmer Wish judges received over a dozen applications for a $20,000 office refurnishing and voted Karen Zangerle as this year’s Widmer Wish Hero.
After serving with PATH for nearly 30 years and pushing to expand the organizations’ reach through many efforts, Karen Zangerle has put much of her life into serving those in greatest need and bettering the McLean County community. This is just one of the many reasons why she has become our 2013 Widmer Wish Hero.
Karen’s background at PATH started in 1984 when she joined the team as a volunteer. In 1985, she was hired on to start a seniors’ program and eventually became the Executive Director of PATH. “I have gotten to see a lot of dreams come true here at PATH,” said Zangerle. One of those dreams has been the growth in outreach capabilities. Karen says when she started as a volunteer, the organization was taking about 1,500 calls a year. Now, the organization receives more than 90,000 calls a year!
Some big dreams that have been birthed, largely through Karen’s efforts and leadership, have been the addition of multiple senior service and homeless care programs. For Senior Citizens, the organization provides many services including elder care abuse intervention and money management among others. The homeless population benefits from three different service programs and the Central Illinois Continuum of Care which aides in finding homes and providing economic stability.
Currently the organization reaches multiple Central Illinois counties including Christian, DeWitt, Livingston, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Ogle, Sangamon and Winnebago Counties. However, Karen says they are in the works of possibly extending their 2-1-1 services to a number of other counties in the state of Illinois. It’s because of this continual community growth that Karen is most excited about showing off her new $20,000 worth of office furniture. “Frequently we have funders here. We have politicians coming in, so that’s why I say it’s nice to be able to present a professional and polished look so that people know we know what we’re doing and you can trust us,”‘ said Zangerle.
Widmer also recognizes that because nonprofits give so much of themselves to achieve their mission, office furniture is the last thing money is spent on. “I’ve never had an office where all the furniture matched. So, that’s an incredible thought to me!” said Zangele. “I have a furniture budget of $300 a year.” This year, Widmer Interiors provided Karen with new HON furniture for her own executive office, executive assistant’s office and PATH waiting room area with mail station.
“You may be in the furniture business, but I think people come first.” Congratulations to Karen and all of the community heroes at PATH!