7/2/2019 8:49:00 AM Service for the better... All-activity couple represents Longville as 4th of July Grand Marshals
By Ally Garbe of the Press-Citizen
A 'volunteer' is someone who freely gives their time to assist in an event or undertake a task. Most folks find one cause they support and devote themselves to. Don and Mary Jo Shurtleff are not most folks.
The Shurtleffs have lived in Longville for the last fifteen years; they found their perfect home in 2000.
"It all started on a rainy day," Don said. "I was 'Up North' with some buddies fishing. We enjoyed the Longville area, so I decided to take the afternoon and just look at properties." Don found their future home that day.
Don and Mary Jo began their lives living in the Twin Cities. For over 36 years, Don worked for the US Postal Service, while Mary Jo worked mainly in Food Service at Highland School for 20 years. "It was the same school our children attended," Mary Jo mentioned. "I loved every minute of it, especially interacting with and serving all of the kids."
In 2004, Don and Mary Jo made the final jump to Longville, retiring from their careers.
Once they were settled into their new lifestyle, the Shurtleffs began volunteering around Longville, particularly town's weekly Turtle Races. Over the years, Don's usual post has become set up/tear down, as well as signage to direct passer-bys around Main Street.
"I supervise the Kids Fishing Game, I love it!" Mary Jo boasted. In addition to their love of Turtle Races, Don and Mary Jo participate in many other areas of town.
Back in the day, Don had been drafted to serve in the U.S. Army. He served his country for two years as a Tears Clerk, which Don described as a kind of dispatcher. Today, he's a member of the Sherman A. Yochum VFW Post 772. He attends events hosted or sponsored by Post 772 and walks in uniform during parades, such as the 4th of July. Mary Jo belongs to Post 772 Women's Auxiliary, a group that recently donated 15 quilts to Silver Bay Veterans Home. The quilts were made by Loving Hands Community Quilt Club; Mary Jo was a representative of Longville at the donation in May.
"Quilting, knitting, things like that have always been interests for me," Mary Jo commented.
Don is also a member of the Longville Snowmobile Club, helping with almost any duty, including grooming and maintaining trails. Most recently, Don volunteered at Community Clean Up Day on June 28, sponsored by Longville Area Foundation. He spent his morning sorting recyclable items and directing participants through the wildly wonderful day. For the last two and a half years, he's been working part-time at Ace Hardware. "It's a very fun place to work."
Mary Jo participates in SAILS classes at Empowered Fitness and Bone Builders at Salem Lutheran Church. "It feels good to stay active," she said. Her girl-time is had with the Red Hats of Longville.
Don and Mary Jo enjoy being social; volunteering is a way for them to get out of the house, make new friends, greet new ones and make a difference in the community they love so much.
"We haven't regretted a single moment here," Don said, while Mary Jo had a delightful smile on her face.
Many residents and fellow community members of Longville have stopped to say things such as, "Did they tell you how much they really do?" and "They're always willing to help with anything."
The Shurtleffs were told of their title as Grand Marshals at the annual Turtle Races Volunteer Appreciation dinner at the Anchorage on Inguadona.
"We were completely taken by surprise," Don said. "We feel so proud. We are so honored. We love being here," Mary Jo acceded.
Don and Mary Jo are extremely excited for the 4th of July. Their three children, Denise, Vickie and Steve, along with their seven grandchildren, plan to make the trip Up North to spend the holiday.
Volunteering connects you to others.
Volunteering is good for your mind and body.
Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life. Don and Mary Jo Shurtleff have learned these things by experience; they are two of the best.
When you see them in Longville this Thursday, remember to express your gratitude to them for their love of our community and the selflessness they express to help others they care about here in the little town of Longville. We're blessed to have them.