APPLETON — Linda Muench was drawn to Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in 2003 because the people were so welcoming. Now she helps make people feel that same welcome.
With a desire to get involved right away, she volunteered to help out at the parish’s “Sweet Stroll,” a cookie and candy sale held in early December. Fourteen years later, she’s still involved with the fundraiser. This year it will be held Dec. 2 and 3.
Muench has been on the parish pastoral council at Sacred Heart three times, for a total of 11 years, and since her retirement two years ago she has stepped up her game as a volunteer.
“I was an English major at UW-Stevens Point and I worked at the Appleton Public Library in technical services full-time for 42 years,” she said. “I had worked there through high school and college part-time so the day I retired was actually 50 years to the day from when I started.”
Muench spent two months as a full-time volunteer at Sacred Heart in 2016. “That summer the parish secretary was off of work for health reasons,” she said. “I had a little bit of training and then I did her job full time for no pay.”
With no experience in that position, Muench said she asked a lot of questions from other staff members in the beginning, “but you just kind of learn.”
Now that she has a handle on things, Muench will come in and volunteer for the secretary as needed. While she said she doesn’t know nearly as much as her counterpart does about running the office, she can handle most things without asking so many questions.
Working a job and not getting paid is going above and beyond the call of duty, but it helps the parish financially and it’s been a good experience for Muench. “I’ve got the time, otherwise I’d be sitting home on the couch watching TV and eating bon-bons,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t mind doing it because it gives me something to do and they’ve always got stuff for me to do in there. Plus, I get to meet more people and put faces with names.”
Even when Muench isn’t filling in at the parish office, she’s still doing clerical work. “Right now we’re doing a pictorial directory. It’s a huge job,” she said. “Out of 600 family units at Sacred Heart, 170 signed up. That gave us several hundred we had to call. This week we’re going to all the homebound and the nursing homes and taking pictures.”
She recently took on the time-consuming task of scheduling liturgical ministers. “I can’t imagine that people have done it working in the office because there are so many interruptions when you’re here and it’s so hard to concentrate,” she said. “I do it at home and do a little bit here and a little bit there.” As a hospitality minister, she’s even on the schedule herself.
Muench won’t say no to a request for help from Sacred Heart if it’s reasonable and it’s in her comfort zone. She knows how it feels to be on the receiving end of help. “I had my knee replaced this summer. You can’t believe how many people stepped forward and were my Uber driver to take me to therapy. God sent all these people into my life,” she said.
Volunteering has been more than devoting time to her parish, said Muench.
“I like helping and it gives me something to do — it gives me satisfaction. My faith has deepened. I’ve met lots and lots of people,” she said. “I enjoy working with the people at Sacred Heart — we’ve got a very nice staff. They’ve got lots on their plates and they can use the help and I’ve got the time. If I can help out, why not?”