by Danielle Wagner
WATERLOO (KWWL) Most weekday mornings, you can find Joe Fangman here in the food pantry at the St. Vincent de Paul office in Waterloo.
Joe has volunteered for St. Vincent de Paul for more than 50 years!
Now, he's semi-retired. He turns 81 this year, but he still puts together these food boxes.
Besides handing out food, St. Vincent de Paul, or SVDP, accepts useable clothing, household items and small appliances to sell in its Waterloo and Cedar Falls stores.
Joe Fangman remembers he was about 29 years old when he got started volunteering with SVDP.
"They wanted to know if I'd take out the truck to make pick ups, which I did, and it got to be a habit they'd call me every time they were short a driver. Finally, I just wound up taking over the job of driver for St. Vincent de Paul," said Joe Fangman.
Joe said he knew a little about SVDP from his mother. She frequently made donations to the organization.
"Unfortunately, I lost my mother when she was 52. She died suddenly of a brain tumor, but she's the one who really introduced me to SVDP first because she supported it," said Fangman.
After driving truck, a friend convinced Joe to join the board of directors. He recounts how he became a board member.
"At that time you were voted in with white marbles, and if you drew a black marble you were denied. unfortunately or fortunately, whatever you want to call it, nobody put in a black marble," said Fangman.
One of Joe's earliest tasks with the organization was getting the now annual Christmas Giveaway up and running. The event gives toys, clothing and food to hundreds of people in need.
So, more than 50 years later, why is he still volunteering?
"Well, I guess I just believe in what it stands for. The good Lord told us to help our neighbor," said Fangman.
For all his countless hours of service and the knowledge he shares with new board members and volunteers, Joe Fangman is fondly referred to as Mr. St. Vincent de Paul.
"I thank Joe all the time. Joe has been Mr. St. Vincent de Paul. He knows he's appreciated, but we want to tell him all the time," said board president Bill McGrane.
Reporter: Danielle Wagner