HILBERT — Sally and Mark Gruber believe in teamwork and use their volunteer efforts to promote it to others and enhance it for themselves.
The couple is active in their parish, St. Mary, and other community and educational service projects. Both are extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and work with couples through Marriage Encounter, Cursillo and Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP). They are also Special Olympics volunteers.
Sally Gruber is a team leader for the tri-parish RCIA program. Their Hilbert parish is linked with parishes in Stockbridge and Sherwood, and her husband is active with the Knights of Columbus, including chairing the KC’s knowledge contests for local schools. He is also involved with a men’s group that grew out of CRHP.
Community involvement has long been important to both of them. They met when both were members of the Jaycees, a local service organization. They will celebrate 30 years of marriage in October and have a daughter, Amanda, who will graduate from UW-Stevens Point in the spring.
“See,” Sally said with a laugh, “it’s a good reason to get involved with volunteering. You never know who you will meet.”
One of the organizations close to their hearts is Special Olympics. Sally is involved in many ways and her husband participates in a more limited way, helping wherever he can. Mark said he does this to show support for his family. Sally’s sister has long been a Special Olympics athlete.
“I started as a way to support her. She was in every sport when she was young,” said Sally. “Now I am involved in handing out awards and help mostly with the bocce ball tournament, track and field events and bowling.”
Special Olympics is “near and dear to my heart not only because of my sister,” she said, “but (because) watching her and the others having an outlet to compete and have fun … is just such a wonderful experience.”
Not only does Special Olympics help people with special needs “share camaraderie and show their talents,” she said, it highlights their dignity as children of God. “In our family, we forget she has special needs,” said Sally. “These young people are all God’s children and their lives have worth and dignity. We are there to support them.”
The Grubers also have been involved with an effort organized by one of the parish’s former deacons. He arranged an annual trip to Milwaukee where parishioners served and cleaned up after a meal at a homeless shelter. Afterwards, they would stop somewhere such as Holy Hill or, perhaps, a Brewers game, before heading home. It is another way of building community and sharing friendship.
The Grubers are active in the follow-up that goes with Marriage Encounter and Cursillo. This involves small-group gatherings after the initial event. “It’s a way to continue sharing faith and supporting one another,” they said.
“Initially, we got involved with these weekend experiences as a way to take time to get away from our daily routine,” Sally said. “We could focus on our relationship and our faith. Now, I’m on the team so I can help bring that experience to other people as well.”
Mark said he volunteers because he “enjoys doing my part as a Catholic and I like being part of a community.”
“These follow-ups help me to continue to focus on my relationship with the Lord and to be held accountable as we share with others. It’s a way to keep living out those experiences after the weekend is over.”
Sally has advice for anyone considering volunteering. “I say when you are invited to volunteer or join a weekend event, think about it then jump in. It can be a profound, life-changing experience if you really give it a try,” she said.