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Celebrating Volunteers: Appleton woman dedicates years to giving back

Walter L. Rugland Community Service Award
Celebrating Volunteers: Mary Beth
Posted at 4:09 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 08:50:19-05

APPLETON (NBC 26) — This week, we're introducing you to some of your neighbors doing amazing things in the community. It's a part of NBC 26's Celebrating Volunteers with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

Nominations are now open for 2021 recipients, but first, meet last year's winners. Here's a woman, Appleton born-and-raised, who never sits still and has spent many years giving back.

At 77-years-young, Mary Beth Nienhaus is always up to something.

"I've told people if I don't have at least 5 things listed on my book of things to do for the day, I'm not happy," Nienhaus joked.

Most days, she's trading in her golf club for a hammer. The former professional golfer has spent much of her time giving back over the years, which is why she was nominated for the Walter L. Rugland Award. Nominated by a former student, this community service award recognizes someone for their long-standing leadership and positivity in the Fox Valley.

"I have a lot of Christian values, and I'm very blessed in that," Nienhaus said. "Sometimes it's just word of mouth how I get involved."

About 7 years ago, Mary Beth had her first experience building a home with Catholic Build and Habitat for Humanity. Since then, she's been a part of countless organizations and gone on several mission trips. But she not only gives back her time, she helps organizations with cash flow too. Nienhaus offers several match-donations for groups she's been a part of.

"It's fun when people give $10,000, but I really appreciate when people give like $10 or $25 to some of the groups. I love people to interact and come together and share whatever they have."

Those last words, really showing what it's all about: coming together and sharing. A lot of joy from volunteering, coming from the smiles and time spent helping others.

"I like to be with the kids and interact with people," she said. "I will leave my duties of hammering and play with the kids."

Because Mary Beth is a part of so many organizations, she chose to divy up her $5,000 award from Volunteer Fox Cities in partnership with Thrivent among several groups.

If you have a person in mind you think would fit this lifetime community service award, click here. There are also a few other categories you can check out for nominations which close next Friday, February 5.