Bev Greunke sat at her kitchen table in her Arlington home looking through her monthly calendar. Each little square marked with events. It’s rare, she said, if one is empty.
“I have to keep a calendar handy because of everything that I’m involved in, but I would rather be out doing something for someone else than sitting at home thinking about myself,” she said.
Greunke, who retired in 2012 after 20 years as a paraprofessional at Arlington Elementary, has made it part of her life’s work to help others through volunteering.
“That’s one of the things God wants us to do is serve others, and so that’s the core of my volunteering is serving him,” she said.
Greunke first got involved when her children started school more than 40 years ago.
“I can remember back as far as when my kids were in kindergarten, I started helping at the school with their costumes for performances, with their need for drivers to go places to take them places and with their art projects if they needed a mom to come out and help,” she said.
Not long after, Greunke joined several church groups at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, including Lutheran Mission Women’s League, for which she served as president, and still belongs to today. Through those groups, Greunke volunteered with different service organizations such as Low Income Ministry and the Orphan Grain Train.
“She’s a tremendous blessing to our church, the people of our town and the community with the work she does and in her service to the Lord,” the Rev. Rick Kanoy of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church said.
Greunke expanded her volunteer efforts when she joined the Mrs. Jaycees.
“That’s probably the first service organization I belonged to other than church,” she said.
Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed, either. In 1981, she was given the Outstanding Mrs. Jaycees award.
But she didn’t stop there. Greunke also served on the Arlington Education Foundation Board for 25 years — 20 of that as the president. She joined the Arlington Housing Authority Board — which she still serves on today — not long after it began in 1986. On that board, she helped in the planning and building of the Leisure Life Apartments.
“When you’re in a small town, there are so many opportunities to volunteer and to share your time,” she said.
When Arlington Public Schools began the TeamMates program three years ago, Greunke jumped at the chance to be a mentor. She has been with her mentee, who is now a seventh-grader, all three years.
“I guess my love for children would put me in a position to do things that would help them,” Greunke said. “That would be my biggest love — well my biggest love would be my family, of course — but to do things with children. Children are my life. I’ve just worked with kids all my life.”
Kerri Harris, elementary guidance counselor for APS, said each mentor brings his or her own strengths to the TeamMates program.
“Strengths that Bev adds to the program include her sense of humor, her commitment to meet as often as she can and her creativity to make and do things interesting to her mentee,” Harris said. “ She is caring and has many experiences to share.”
Greunke also maintains the Arlington High School alumni mailing list. Besides her family, Greunke said the project is a big passion and she’s found different ways to keep track of alumni.
“I’m totally reliant upon people to keep in touch with me for getting me their addresses and stuff,” Greunke said. “I joined Facebook with that in mind. That is the best tool there is for keeping up with people and keeping track of them.”
Greunke’s love of photography led to another form of volunteer work — scrapbooks. Greunke has kept scrapbooks for St. Paul’s, the Arlington Education Foundation and the school.
“That’s just a sideline of mine,” Greunke said. “I’ve had to go back to them several times. If someone is retiring, someone will say ‘Bev, do you have any pictures?’ I’ll go back into the scrapbooks.”
If all that wasn’t enough, Greunke still maintains a part-time job, too. She is the assistant director of transportation for Arlington Public Schools, which she said she does mainly in the summer to set the bus routes for the school year.
But through it all, Greunke still finds time to spend with her family and her grandchildren.
“To watch my grandchildren grow up has just been amazing,” she said. “My children are wonderful parents. If I feel successful in any role it’s that they’ve become wonderful parents.”