Behind the scenes: meet our longest-serving volunteer

October 20, 2017

When Mary Ann Waxler was a little girl, she and her friends loved to play office.

“My aunt lived with us and she worked in an office,” Waxler recalled. “She would bring home office supplies, like a form that had space for us to write on.”

Waxler’s interest in administrative work led her to become a bookkeeper and insurance claims processor. Nearing retirement in 1999, a friend asked her to volunteer at the Sanford Health Foundation.

There were a lot of Foundation volunteers at the time, but few had worked in an office as long as Waxler.

“They weren’t computer savvy at all and were afraid of using the computer,” Waxler said.

She was curious about the new role.

“I wanted to find out what they do in a different office,” she said. “It was more inquisitiveness than a desire to do more work.”

It turns out that the Foundation office is a lot of fun!

“They have such a nice staff here all the time, ever since I started,” Waxler said. “Some are good friends, others just come and go, but most people work here for quite a long time.”

For the first 10 years, Waxler volunteered nearly every day, driving the 15 miles from her farm north of Mapleton, N.D. She handled the usual office business: assisting as needed with special events, completing tasks on the computer and assembling mass mailings by hand.

“If we had a big mailing or something to go out, the woman in charge would call the troops,” Waxler told us. “We’d have 12 people or more all doing that job, stuffing all those thousands of envelopes. That was kind of fun because it was more like a party.”

Today, 18 years later, she’s one of two volunteers who come in once or twice a week.

“There were actually two of us that volunteered almost every day at different lengths of time, but it just gradually changed,” she said.

This November, Waxler and her husband, George, will celebrate 70 years of marriage. With George’s support, Waxler has logged in more than 6,600 hours at the Foundation. The 88-year-old still looks forward to helping out, and enjoys getting out of the house and socializing with a great group.

“The team makes me feel like I am a part of the team,” she said. “They are always very friendly. It’s like a big family.”

Thank you, Mary Ann, for your commitment and friendship through all the years.

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