GREENVILLE — Being a handyman can be a blessing and a curse, especially for those people, like Dan Albers, who are willing to generously share their time and talent. Dan and his wife, Mary, who helps Dan with most of the projects he works on, are at their parish, St. Mary, at least twice a week and sometimes as many as two to three times a day working on projects.
Mary and Dan have unique skill sets and use them to help the parish as well as the parish school. The two, who are originally from Green Bay, moved to Greenville in 1991 and began volunteering at St. Mary 13 years ago when their grandchild started school.
Dan, a retired electrical engineer, was on the parish buildings and grounds committee, which he also chaired for a time.
He said he managed a lot of maintenance departments in his career, which made the committee “a natural.” He also served as a parish trustee. Although he can’t do as much as he used to do, he is an active consultant.
This past summer, the couple organized a project to redo the landscaping around the home of Fr. Peter Mitchell, pastor. “There was water leaking into Father’s basement,” said Dan. He ordered the materials and organized the volunteers.
Mary is at the church every week year-round, working with the Scrip program (a program where organizations buy retail gift cards at a discount and sell them to their supporters at full price to raise funds). “We always bought Scrip and they asked if I’d like to help because I’ve done bookkeeping all my life,” said Mary, whose family owns Meyers Jewelers in Green Bay. “The Scrip program is a huge money maker for St. Mary’s because parents can use Scrip credit towards their children’s tuition,” she added.
“We’ve seen Scrip go from a couple thousand dollars a day to $20,000 to 25,000 a day. During the week it can be $40,000 or $50,000 and during the holidays it can get up to $60,000 per week,” added Dan.
Twice a year, Dan and Mary go through the church and school buildings and replace all the light bulbs that are burned out. Dan and a few other men from the parish put their woodworking skills to use to build cabinets, shelves and other pieces of furniture at St. Mary.
Dan has been a member of Knights of Columbus for more than six years and helped start a new council, the Immaculate Mary Council #16244, at St. Mary this past May. He is the Grand Knight and part of the fourth degree honor guard. “We were very, very successful recruiting at this parish. I credit this to Fr. Peter. He’s got people fired up here something fierce. We picked up 34 new men, from 18 to in their 60s, and we had 40 men transfer from the Hortonville council.”
The Knights of Columbus seek to raise money for charitable causes and to build the faith of its members. One of their biggest fundraisers is running the Curly’s Express booth at Lambeau Field (fourth floor) during home Green Bay Packers games.
Another project Dan and Mary do together is cook booyah for St. Mary’s Oktoberfest celebration. “It’s a family recipe,” noted Dan. “This year we made 60 gallons, which wasn’t enough. I bought another kettle so next year we can make 100 gallons. We have a fundraiser every year in the wintertime called ‘In the Spirit’ and we donate a half a batch for auction. The more people are familiar with it, the more desirable it becomes. This year it sold for $1,000.”
Dan and Mary, who have been married 51 years, say their faith brings them great joy and they are happy to be involved in their parish. “We were brought up in really good Catholic families, I’m the oldest of eight and Dan is oldest of seven, it’s just something I’ve carried through life,” said Mary.
“We do what we do … because Christ expects us to serve one another,” said Dan. “You get a lot of thank yous but I don’t do it for the thank yous.” Instead they do it “because it brings joy to people and so you get a lot of satisfaction. If I didn’t have that faith I’d be like, ‘Why the heck am I doing this?’ I’d be out hunting or fishing or going to a NASCAR race. … Because of my faith I give a lot to the church whether it be time or talent.”