Herman Family Generously Gives to Enrich Lives

Family time together and creating long lasting memories are the two constants when you talk to Dennis and Amy Herman, two wonderful caring members of the Angel family.

Residents of Eagle River, WI, they are the parents of four sons, Brandon, Andrew, Erich (Jessie), Nathan and one daughter, Danielle (Joel).  They have three grandchildren, Calvin, Jase and Tanner. Dennis owns and operates STF Construction in Eagle River and Amy works for the Ascension.

Volunteering and fundraising is one of their passions, and it has become a family affair through multiple golf sponsorships (always recruiting new participants) front line bidding at the silent and live auctions, donations, and the list goes on.

On how they first got involved with Angel on My Shoulder, Dennis explained:  “Approximately fifteen years ago, we were looking for a local foundation to make donations to from Cruising For A Cause”   In 2007 Dennis and his brother, Dave, created and organized a cancer focused fundraiser, raising over $60,000 through the years. Proceeds were presented with the help of Amy, along with other family members and AOMS was a recipient at the event.  Dennis explained that some of the greatest benefits  of becoming involved with Angel On My Shoulder are the involvement that they have with the kids, and how AOMS is so generous to people that are in need.

The Hermans’ understand the value of symbolic and meaningful details. Once again, the importance they give to family time together, while creating long lasting and meaningful memories showed a strong driving force guiding their projects, involvement and partnership with AOMS.  As good Wisconsinites, Wisconsin is in their hearts and they knew it was in the hearts of many that have benefited from their generosity.   For the past years they have donated six of their Green Bay Packer tickets for the pre-season home game to an AOMS child and/or family with cancer. They also provide each family member with a Packer’s jersey of their favorite player.   Dennis explained:   “Amy and I enjoy sharing this with these families, so that they can enjoy some time together and to make memories. We have been donating the tickets for a few years now and try to provide the family with jerseys for the game, AOMS has been so good at providing Gas cards and motel rooms for the families to make this a memorable experience, we love getting the cards, pictures from the families after they have attended the games. We are always looking for more things to do to make this a memorable experience for the entire family.”

Each year, the Herman’s also generously and graciously provide the funding for holiday dinners which greatly benefits two AOMS cancer families on very difficult cancer journeys. Dennis’s mom, Roberta, has also become part of this effort.

This year Dennis and Amy embarked on yet another incredible venture for our winter Camp Hozhoni families. They donated, prepared and served an amazing Friday night dinner (cookout around a bonfire) for these cancer families. And they plan on doing just that again next year.   Who came up with the idea of the “bondfire” dinners for families? we asked. “Amy and I thought it might be a good idea as a different way to spend time together”.

Dennis and Amy are both cancer warriors and survivors. We asked, what words of encouragement they would like to send to those battling cancer presently. “Amy and I have both been down this road and all that we can say is to keep positive, positive attitude is the major part of this battle, don’t ever give up and to keep fighting, more and more people are winning this battle every year and one day there will be a cure.”

We, at Angel On My Shoulder, would like to thank the Herman family for the years of dedication to our shared mission and for being wonderful caring members of the Angel family.


Camp Angel is a Perry Family Affair

Volunteering with Angel on My Shoulder is a family affair for Michelle and Jon Perry and their two children. Michelle and Jon serve as bus chaperones/supervisors for both summer and winter Camp Angel, while daughter Alayna is a Camp Counselor and son Reece joins as a camper.

A veteran who works as a commercial heat and frost insulator, Jon is also an avid hunter and fisherman. Michelle is an Educational Sign Language Interpreter for the Milwaukee Public School District.

Alayna is now a Senior at Rufus King in Milwaukee, with a passion for theater she’ll be pursuing in college. Reece is a 5th grader who’s involved in baseball, soccer and who recently went from a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout.

“Once we get to camp, we hit the ground running,” said Michelle. “We both help in whatever is needed to keep camp moving along.  I usually meet with Lolly and discuss how the trip has been thus far.  We load/unload the bus.  Jon is involved with making sure the camps are stocked with everything the kids need.  We offer support, take pictures, help facilitate activities and crafts.”

The Perry family first became involved with Angel On My Shoulder when Michelle was sick and undergoing treatment for APL (Leukemia). It’s been a family affair ever since.

“We wanted to be able to pay it forward after I was in remission,” Michelle said. “When Alayna went to camp, we met the bus chaperones that volunteered before us and decided it was an opportunity we would like to know more about.  We loved that we could do it as a family.”

Michelle and Jon pack everything needed for the bus on the way to Camp Angel and back. “This means we make sure there are snacks, meals and movies for the ride,” explained Michelle. “We connect with the parents beforehand, reassuring them of the experience (as this may be the first time away from home for some). We make sure they know about pick-up and drop off, what their child should expect while traveling with us, etc.”

Reece is a camper but will most likely become a counselor as he grows older. Alayna is currently a senior counselor and, along with brother Reece, helps with prepping before going to camp and upon their return.

When asked what some of the greatest benefits were of becoming involved with Angel On My Shoulder, Michelle said, “We have lost Jon’s mother, my uncle and several dear friends to cancer. My grandma was also a two time breast cancer survivor with mesothelioma. It has given our family an opportunity to have this time together and share our experiences first hand with others that are dealing with a cancer diagnosis in their family.”

“I like to think we have given other families hope that life can return to “normal” again,” she said. “Knowing firsthand what the children are dealing with gives us a unique perspective and opportunity to connect with them.”

Added Reece, “When we go to camp it takes our minds off of the sadness of our loved ones that are sick.  I like that you can have a happy time in your life even though sad things are happening at home.”

According to Alayna, “I used to, and sometimes still, feel quite alone at school and among other people because of my experience with cancer.  Camp Angel was a chance for me to learn that I am not alone when I was a child, and so now as a counselor I really try to enforce that mentality on my campers: they are not alone, we are all struggling together and genuinely understand what’s cancer is and can do to a family.”

Michelle said she remembers a young boy coming up to her and thanking her for doing what she does do and telling her he was thankful his grandfather had finally passed away.  He shared with her  how difficult it was to see him suffer.

Reece recalls the Saturday night of summer Camp Angel when they do the song at the end: “Calling all Angels” (a song Alayna likes as well, causing her to tear up when she hears it outside camp).

“My favorite camp activity is before my girls are winding down for the night and we all sit together in a circle and share why we are all at camp,” said Alayna. “This usually happens the first night of camp.  Before this the girls are a little shy of each other, but the next day they are inseparable.”

Asked what advice she would give to anyone looking to volunteer with an organization like Angle On My Shoulder, Michelle said, “I would advise for them to do it!  It may mean you have to step out of your comfort zone at some point but there are so many opportunities to help.  Something can be found for anyone’s level of commitment.”

“It has become a part of our life, a tradition if you will,” she added. “We have certainly gained more from these experiences then we have given and will be forever grateful for the opportunity to connect with some amazing and resilient people.”

Camp Angel (ages 7-12) was held January 26-28, 2018.

Camp Angel (ages 7-12) was held January 26-28, 2018. Our winter Camp Angel brought us forty-one amazing young campers.

This exuberant group of campers were welcomed by our campsite Co-Directors, Dick & Amy Lemke. The camper groups (Bunnies, Foxes, Bears and Wolves) and their counselors stayed in  awesome northwoods cabins complete with fireplaces. Together they enjoyed hot chocolate, snacks and a variety of games in a warm and cozy atmosphere of fun and friendship.

Our winter wonderland weekend began with Wildwood Wildlife stopping by on Friday evening. The campers got to meet and greet many wildlife furry friends up close and personal which always creates curiosity and smiles. We are beyond grateful to Wildwood Wildlife for this awesome and educational presentation which creates curiosity and brings happy camper smiles. Our Saturday day of fun was filled with many activities: snowmobile rides, ice bowling, sledding, climbing wall and snow shoeing. There were a variety of unique and interesting crafts including opportunities to make kaleidoscopes as well as warm and cuddly tie blankets to take home. Face painting, nail painting and hair braiding were also available . . . something for everyone. A great time was had by all.

Saturday night brought us a very special visit from Cliff the Magic Man who mesmerized us with his incredible bag of tricks. It brought smiles galore and was a huge hit with one and all.

We are extremely blessed and thankful for our outstanding counselors : Emily Kovach-Erickson, Alex Graziano, Nate King, Julia Naze, Tyrel Miller, Mckenzie Pipes, Cali Sanborn, Noah Weber and Walker Wendt led by Head Counselor, Myles Lemke.

A big round of applause to our entire Angel volunteer family (we simply couldn’t do it without them): Dick & Amy Lemke (Campsite Directors Extraordinaire), Wendy Lawfer & Cristina Reed-Roeser (Camp Nurses), Deana & John Bigley, Brad Gerdes, Rob &Traci Graziano, Brie Hoban, Jennifer Klingen, Marissa Martin, Eric Schoeneck, Joe & Joy Smoger and Mike Wolf.

A huge and heartfelt thanks to our Angel snowmobile team of volunteers: Ozzie Ausloos, Gary Groff, Carla &  Roger Klein and Penny & Mike McCormick for providing a day of exciting rides for our campers.

We gratefully acknowledge Camp Manitowish YMCA in Boulder Junction, WI (our winter campsite) and its fabulous staff for all their help in making this a memorable weekend.




Sometimes, when we look at all we have, we look for ways to pay it forward, with charitable intent. Doing so not only benefits the charity, such as ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER, however the donor receives tax benefits as well particularly when the gift is appreciated securities such as stocks and mutual funds.

Over the past few years, ANGEL has appreciatively received donations of stock from a couple in Milwaukee. Their gifting of stock motivated us to establish an account in which we can accept securities from donors like you who can also take advantage of the tax benefits while supporting our mission.

For information about donating stock or other eligible investments to ANGEL, you or your broker may contact Bonnie Stieber, VP – Personal Trust Services at WoodTrust Asset Management. Phone 715.301.1605 or write bonnie.stieber@woodtrust.com.

The Strauss Family Brings a Pirate Adventure to Angel Camps by Mark McNease


Steve and Linda Strauss, with the help of their children, set sail on a dream to build a pirate ship that would sail in the Eagle River chain of lakes during the summer months. The couple once ran a small resort on Duck Lake in Eagle River, and after recognizing a need for more family attractions in the area, they developed and pursued their vision.

Steve said, “With my background as an area carpenter for 15 years, in 2004 I decided to finally refurbish and customize a houseboat to build our ship.” Once it was built, they officially set sail on July 4th, 2004, and Eagle River Pirates was born.

“Being entrepreneurs and dreamers, we have developed a great appreciation for people that are passionate about their projects,” said Steve. After meeting Lolly Rose and hearing about Angel On My Shoulder, they experienced Lolly’s passion and wanted to be a part of it. “We spoke with Lolly and set up donated rides where the kids could have fun, join the adventure, and experience the beauty of our area lakes as they worked through the difficult times that brought them to camp in the first place.”

Steve said they always have fun with the Angel On My Shoulder crew. They do two events through the summer, one with younger campers, and one with Camp Teen Angel.

“When our younger campers arrive they are greeted by pirates and bravely board the pirate ship,” said Steve. “We set sail, and throughout our journey on the water, kids enjoy popcorn and lemonade (two true pirate delicacies).”

The kids each have blank white T-shirts and fabric markers. They decorate each other’s shirts, and get their shirts “tattooed” by Captain Steve, and signed by first-mate-Stevo (son Steve Strauss).

“The conversations and decorating of the tees throughout the cruise provide a nice bonding experience amongst the kids,” Steve said. “Also, they can document their memories on the lake with one-time-use cameras.” A similar experience awaits the Teen Angels, except they’re given a shore lunch and get to walk the plank!

“Our mission at Pirates Hideaway is to inspire a sense of imagination and play within the individuals that join us on our journey,” Steve said. “We feel honored that our services have the opportunity to inspire tremendously deserving children as they cope with changes that have such a personal impact on their lives.”

Steve, Steve-O and the Strauss family have been working with Angel On My Shoulder long enough that it’s hard to pinpoint just one standout experience among the many they’ve had. According to Steve, just getting to know the organization over the years has been heartwarming. He added, “Going from perceiving their mission, to truly understanding it, and really becoming a part of it has been beyond special and will always be memorable for us.”

When asked what he would say to anyone interested in getting involved, Steve said, “You will never regret it. By volunteering with Angel On My Shoulder you have the opportunity to share in a community where the founders, counselors, and volunteers all share the same positive passion and purpose. The privilege of working with the children is empowering, and you can truly make meaningful differences in their lives with your interactions and participation.”

The Lemkes Make Volunteering a Family Affair by Mark McNease


Dick and Amy Lemke have a genuine passion for helping kids, a passion they’ve shown through their involvement with summer and winter Camp Angel. Happily married for six years, Dick has two sons from a first marriage—Cody, who lives in Madison, Myles, who lives in Milwaukee, and daughter Taylor from his second marriage, who lives in Chicago with grandchild Ava, now three.

Dick works for Superior Diesel in Rhinelander and has been involved with Angel On My Shoulder since 2000, when his first wife Dawn was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and he decided to sign up for the first Polar Bear Plunge.

Amy became involved almost eleven years ago with her co-worker from the local radio station.  “Mike Wolf came up with the idea of the Polar Bear Plunge, and when he started working at WRJO he had an idea about doing an extended on-air fundraiser prior to the Plunge to help raise more money for Camp Angel,” Amy said. “And that’s when we decided to embark on our first Pledge-a-Thon!” Mike introduced Amy to the frigid January waters with her first Polar Bear Plunge and they have continued the Pledge-a-Thon ever since. Amy joined the crowd of jumpers for the next few years, then transitioned into the role of MC for the event and is still doing that today.

Dick met with Lolly during the plunge and she asked if his sons would be interested in coming to a summer and winter camp.  She was also looking for volunteers who had snowmobiles to give rides to children for the winter camp.  Both Dick and Dawn gave rides until her passing on 2008.  Their sons have been campers and have volunteered as counselors over the years. Myles continues to volunteer and is the head counselor for the winter camps.

As Co-Campsite Directors of the summer and winter Camp Angel, Dick and Amy coordinate the activities with each camp location, set up the food process, arrange for special needs for the campers, and all other details for the camp, including coordinating volunteers and the transportation needs for all the children.  “We also oversee any issues that may come up like weather, injuries, illnesses, etc,” said Dick.

After Dawn passed, Lolly asked Dick if he would get more involved with the camps. Then, when Dick and Amy got married, Lolly asked if they would like to become the directors for the winter camp and they accepted.  “After the annual newsletter for AOMS came out Lolly wrote that we were the winter AND summer camp directors,” Dick said. “Well who can say ‘NO’ to Lolly? “

Amy and Dick have been the directors for both camps ever since.  First and foremost in memory of Dawn. The camps meant very much to her, so the Lemke family wants to carry that on.  Also because Amy and Dick love to help these children, having seen the benefits first hand, not only through their own children but with all the campers over the years.

The Plunge holds a very special place for the couple: Not thinking what would happen if Amy said no in front of a thousand people, Dick proposed at the event, and the rest is history!

They’ve met many great people over the years who they consider a whole new family, everyone giving their time and love to these children.  Dick said it’s been a great benefit having his family involved, from his boys to his sister’s family and even his Mom, who plays a big part with the camps. Over the years these kids have stayed in touch, not only with each other but with Amy and Dick. “Being involved with Angel On My Shoulder not only changes a child’s life… it changes yours!”