Cortina Ottinger pays it forward with $100 to St. Vincent de PaulPublished 10:09am Friday, January 22, 2010
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Corrina (Abiney) Ottinger plants trees for Modern Woodman insurance company, bakes as a PTO mom at Patrick Hamilton Middle School and pops corn every other Friday.
She’s been planting trees for at least three years.
Last summer’s went in front of Cass District Library in Cassopolis.
The 1984 Union High School graduate also does extra for Cass County Council on Aging beyond her job duties of caring for a woman for two hours until 12:30 p.m.
“I go shopping for her at night,” Ottinger said Thursday afternoon as she presented $100 to Marilyn Dye at St. Vincent de Paul, the thrift shop on W. Railroad Street in Dowagiac supported by Holy Maternity of Mary Catholic Church.
As far as volunteering, “Whatever anybody needs, I’m there,” she said.
“I bring in a lot of stuff for school bake sales. I make peanut butter fudge and my husband (Dave) makes homemade Suzy Q’s,” a cream-filled treat like a chocolate Twinkie.
“If people give me $20, I make them two batches of peanut butter fudge. I like to cook. I cook a lot for this woman” at the COA.
“A man who lives at Stone Lake Woods Apartments” in Cassopolis, “every three weeks I clean his house. I let people know I’ll help them cook, clean, shop. I’m not out to make a buck because I know they don’t have a lot.”
Modern Woodman presented her a $100 voucher in recognition of her volunteering.
In turn, she decided what non-profit organization she felt needed it.
“I picked these guys,” she gestures at Dye and her Aunt Flossie, “because they do so much for the public, but they don’t get recognized. They need to be noticed in town that they’re here and could use donations. Plus, come in and look at what they’ve got for really reasonable prices.”
Dowagiac’s St. Vincent de Paul store has existed for at least 45 years.
“Josh (Norris) was here 37 years and I’ve been here eight,” Dye said. “It used to be a liquor warehouse that belonged to John Nate. I think part of it was a feed store a long time ago, and one side had coal. We found birdseed in the walls when we remodeled – but no money.
“We had raccoons. Josh used to have my daughter catch them because she had a trap, then he’d say, ‘Take them out in the woods and let them go.’ ”
“God provides for us, so I don’t worry about it. Somehow we always get enough to survive,” said Marilyn, who works four days a week.
St. Vincent de Paul is open five weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hours on state food commodity days are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Tuesday and the third Wednesday every third month starting in February (Feb. 9 and 19).
“They have to sign up for that,” Dye said. “They have to come in and bring proof of income, proof of where they live, driver’s license and Social Security cards for everybody in the family.”
Commodities, which started in the ’80s with those two-pound blocks of surplus cheese, grew to encompass canned fruits and vegetables, juice, dry milk, peanut butter, egg noodles, spaghetti and name brand and generic cereals.
Where Dye loves oatmeal, Ottinger dislikes it and prefers Cream of Wheat, turning up her nose at the “gross” grits her dad enjoys.
Corrina said they have a lot of fish fries from her husband ice fishing.
Dave’s taking college courses to be an electronic technician.
“People really don’t know it’s here,” Ottinger said.
“They get bread and desserts from Family Fare. When it gets almost outdated, they give it away. They gave out so much for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
“The only thing we can’t do is pay their bills,” Dye said. “We don’t make enough for that.”
Dye said St. Vincent de Paul packed 210 boxes of food for Thanksgiving and 189 boxes of food for Christmas.
“They have a good selection of clothes here,” Ottinger said.
Dye said food distributed includes a two-week supply of staples such as macaroni and cheese, canned goods, boxed foods, vegetables, spaghetti (“if I give you spaghetti, I give you hamburger to make it with”) and tuna.
“It’s probably $25 to $30 in groceries that we give out to everybody,” Dye said. “Christmas boxes were worth $40 or more. Some of the bigger families got turkeys, and I gave ham besides at Christmas and Thanksgiving. We had over $1,000 in meat.”