PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – A local couple is using government funds to give back to the community, in memory of their late daughter.
“We’ve got a roof over our heads, we’ve got food on our table. There are people hurting right now and so… we thought of this,” said Julie Ozog.
The couple is involved with the non-profit, Rise Community where they regularly donate items for veterans. This year, the Ozog’s say they wanted to donate their $600 stimulus check to Goodwill, specifically towards the veterans’ program.
“I met Julie and Conrad during our Stand Down event in October so to hear back from them was very exciting. It’s nice to know they truly understood what we do here and how we help the community,” said Johanna Wagner, Goodwill Veterans Service Manager.
The Ozog’s said their passion to help others is in honor of their late daughter, Gretchen.
“My daughter passed away 2 years ago. She was a quadriplegic and on a ventilator for the last 20 years of her life, but to her, it was so important to help others,” said Julie.
Gretchen was diagnosed with meningitis at the age of 15, but her mother said that did not stop her from getting involved with the community.
“She helped military and children’s groups by donating. Even though she couldn’t speak, she went around and talked to these groups with her communication device to tell her story,” said Julie.
The Ozog’s said they will continue to give and help those in need, in memory of their daughter. Conrad Ozog said they’ve seen what Goodwill has done for the veterans and they believe the money will be in good hands.
“We serve our veterans all year long, not just at the one-time event in October in our Stand Down. You can see that there are many needs that they might have. Whether that be food, clothing, resources or just tools to perform a job… so the money will be put to good use,” Wagner said.
Next week, Wagner said they will invite around 180 veterans to come back to the facility to update information and check-in with them. They will provide bus passes, gas, and food cards as well.
“It will be nice to see how they’re doing, especially since we haven’t been able to see them due to the pandemic,” Wagner said.