Three years ago Tina and Garry Grewe’s lives changed drastically with a phone call from Lutheran Social Service, telling them their four-year wait to adopt a baby had come to an end.
In fact, the Grewes of Pequot Lakes had just two weeks to prepare for the arrival of not one baby, but twins — Teresa and Joshua.
More surprising, Tina didn’t ease her community volunteering when her family size doubled.
For that reason, Tina is the 2012 Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point Citizen of the Year, sponsored annually by Echo Publishing.
Tina’s volunteer commitments include:
• Chairing the Pine River-Backus Area Relay for Life. This year will be her 10th since reviving the event in the area. Before moving to Pequot Lakes, Tina was involved in a Relay for Life event in Park Rapids for 18 years.
“I had a high school classmate who died of cancer when we were sophomores,” Tina said, noting that spurred her interest in the event.
The survivors are what keep her going with the annual relay.
• Being treasurer of the Pequot Lakes High School Grad Blast for graduating seniors, This will be her sixth year helping with that event.
The kids are the reason Tina volunteers for Grad Blast. Every group is so different, she said, noting she sees another side of students at Grad Blast she didn’t know existed.
Plus, she realizes kids are influenced by adults other than their parents. Sometimes they’ll share information with another trusted adult that they won’t with their parents, or they’ll listen to a coach or other adult, she said.
“You don’t realize the impact you make,” Tina said.
• Singing in the choirs at St. Christopher’s and St. Alice Catholic churches in Nisswa and Pequot Lakes. Since becoming a mom Tina has cut back a little bit from singing at both churches, but she hopes one day to sing with her children.
• Serving on the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts board for the past four years. She’s secretary of that board and has acted in a couple of productions as well. Tina was involved in plays and musicals in high school and college.
• Being a Kinship Partner until her partner graduated. She hopes to have another Kinship Partner one day when her own children are older.
• Helping the Patriot Athletic Club, which operates concession stands at school events to provide funds for students in various activities.
• And, of course, attending Pequot Lakes High School boys’ basketball games (husband Garry is head coach), providing treats for the players for their return trips home from away games and coordinating scrapbook binders for each senior player each year.
“Nothing, and I mean nothing, ever slows her down,” said friend Brenda Greer, who has known Tina for the past 12 years and works closely with her on the Grad Blast committee.
“Three years ago, when they were blessed with the twins, Tina was still found attending all the basketball games and continued with her game day treats that were sent with the team on the away games so they would have a snack on the way home.
“Throughout the basketball season she would gather every newspaper article for the Patriot boys’ basketball team and put all of them in a neatly organized binder and gave one to each senior on the team at the end of the season,” Greer said.
“All three of my boys have one of these binders and will cherish and look back on them forever,” she added.
Tina said there are a lot of great people who give of themselves in the area.
“There are so many good people in Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point who do a lot of volunteer work, which is why our communities are great to live in,” she said.
Tina credits her parents for her desire to volunteer.
“They are the reason I am the way I am,” she said. “I have five brothers and we are all the same way because we had great examples in our parents... They are great role models and we are just trying to keep up with them.
“It is all my parents’ fault — I just like to volunteer!”
Tina also credits her husband, Garry, saying she wouldn’t be able to do any volunteer work without his support.
“She truly is one of the most kind-hearted, loving and caring women I know, with a heart of gold that always puts others before herself,” Greer said of Tina. “I feel blessed to know such an amazing woman.”
Tina feels blessed, too. While she now works as a grants compliance manager for the Catholic Health Initiatives Foundation office in Park Rapids, she previously worked for Lands End Development in Crosslake.
The four partners there — Brian Engen, Matt Balmer, Jeff Balmer and Jon Fogarty — were supportive when Teresa and Joshua came home. Staff members at Pequot Lakes School where Garry teaches also were supportive.
“The community as a whole has been very supportive of us with the kids,” Tina said. “We have certainly been blessed to live in a caring community.”