By: Keith Skenandore, reporter
The gift that keeps on giving.
That’s how one would perhaps describe Betty Schroeder as she keeps giving of her time to help the Village of Black Creek become a better community.
For her dedicated volunteer service, Schroeder was named the 2012 Citizen of the Year.
Schroeder, 74, will be recognized at the Citizen of the Year banquet which will soon be announced, and also be the parade marshal during the sesquicentennial Family Daze parade on June 2 at 11 a.m..
If it was up to Schroeder, she would not be the recipient of this prestigious honor.
“I wasn’t going to take it,” she said. “There are more people that deserve it than I do.”
As a matter of fact, Schroeder said she would only accept the award so that she could thank the many volunteers who give of their time.
“All the volunteers,” she said, “this is their award.”
It all started for Schroeder on June 23, 1971. Her family had a house fire that day and numerous volunteers chipped in and helped the Schroeders.
“This was some way I get to repay the people,” she said.
What better way then becoming a volunteer.
And once her kids got older, she now had the time to give more to the Salvation Army.
Schroeder now heads up the back to school bags for those families in need. She takes care of Easter and Thanksgiving turkeys and helps out with the Red Kettles during the holiday season.
But her biggest duty, and the one she gets the most satisfaction out of, is heading up the special project for Christmas.
“For all my 30 years of volunteering, I get the most satisfaction watching people get their gifts at Christmas time,” Schroeder said.
When you can see someone cry after receiving a doll house or receiving a movie video, the expressions on their faces, Schroeder says, it’s all worth it.
“That’s why I get more out of it than what I put into it,” she said. “That makes it worth all the stuff that you do.”
But there is more than Christmas.
Schroeder also organizes the prayer breakfasts, appreciation dinner and helps with fundraisers. She volunteers with the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary #106, Black Creek Lions, Wild Grove 4-H Club, Boys and Girl Scouts, Outagamie County Fair and Hamburger Days.
She also gives time to her church, Seymour Lutheran, as she handles communion.
Schroeder says most days she leaves at 7 a.m. and doesn’t get home until 6 p.m.
“You always find time when there is something you like to do,” she said.
Schroeder enjoys it more, but unfortunately, it is due to the passing of her husband Harvey, 81, who died on Nov. 27, 2011, five months short of their 55th wedding anniversary.
“It takes away the days,” an emotional Schroeder said.
His passing now serves as motivation as she continues her volunteer duties.
“He was a big volunteer too,” she said.
With that motivation she took out an ad in the paper and did a cry for help as Black Creek was in need of their own Salvation Army building.
It was mission accomplished as a new building at 227 E State Hwy 54 was provided by Ralph and Roberta Lorenz about 10 years ago with an annuity for the Salvation Army.
Harvey is not forgotten in all of this as a sign is made up outside of the building in his memory and with the words “God Bless You”.
For Schroeder, volunteering is now a family affair.
She likes watching her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow into it.
“Ninety-nine percent of them volunteer one way or another,” said Schroeder’s daughter, Cindy Meulemans. “We have four generations of volunteering.”
Schroeder has five children: daughters Cindy (Dan) Meulemans, Nancy (Dennis) VandeWalle and; and sons Paul (Georgia) Schroeder who reside in Colordado Tim (Therese) Schroeder, and Jeff (Mary Beth) Schroeder.
Add to that group 12 grandkids and 13 great-grandchildren, that gives you a special volunteer group.
Whether it’s picking up food or furniture, packing boxes or baking for bake sales for the fundraisers, they all chip in.
“Here is how I start them,” Schroeder said as she showed a photo of her great-granddaughter Brooke Meulemans peeling apples for a bake sale.
Schroeder said none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for a fantastic volunteer group. There are too many to mention, but Schroeder definitely wanted that group of people recognized.
“If it wasn’t for them, there would be no way we could do it,” she said.
Schroeder’s way of recruiting is unique. It’s word of mouth, but she says laughingly, “People say if you talk to Betty you are a volunteer.”
Meulemans added, “Mom’s got a way that people can’t say no to her. That’s why we get donations too.”
How long will Schroeder keep on giving of her time?
“They say I’ll live until I’m 100,” she said, “so I imagine until I’m 100.”
Meulemans said people ask if Betty is still involved, and when told yes, they donate.
Schroeder said one volunteer, Rosella Maass, is 83-years-old.
“So I got a while to go yet,” she said.
And what keeps her going is her faith.
“If I didn’t have faith I wouldn’t be doing this,” Schroeder said. “We’re all working to have the same thing.”
Amen to that.