By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS
For years she has volunteered her time and skills, and on Thursday Mae Stifter received a well-earned thank you from the Winsted Civic and Commerce Association.
It presented her the Community Service Award.
In this small town, where news travels fast, the secret was kept. Mae arrived at the banquet, unaware that she was this year's recipient.
Her children waited by the door of the Blue Note Ballroom, out of sight until the appropriate moment, until the time of the surprise.
The list of Mae's involvement is extensive: dairy promotion activities, 4-H leader, Legion Auxiliary, organizing the kiddie parade, games and milk/malt booth at Legion Days.
For three years Mae has been the Civic and Commerce secretary, and has volunteered her time for the Easter egg hunt, Bratbusters, and the Winsted Winter festival.
Mae also volunteers her time to Holy Trinity. She is a volunteer at the parish center and is on the Council of Catholic Women. She volunteers at the high school library, for ice cream socials, blood mobile, church committees, serving meals after funerals, marching band fundraising, bingo worker, bake sales and silent auctions, school reunions and Winstock.
Stamm said one of Mae's children told her that their mother "approaches volunteer work with the same dedication that most people put towards their full time careers . . . she does it because she believes it's the right thing to do."
At the banquet, Mae joked she didn't do this all at the same time. But while she gave of her time, she also gave to her family.
Mae and her husband, Norbert, have raised six children; five sons and one daughter. They have nine grandchildren.
Being a mother and a grandmother, said C&C president Mary Stamm, "is so important, because if we don't take care of things at home first, how can we take care of things in the community?"
One of Mae's children recalled: "One thing I really remember was that when we were in sports, or 4-H, or whatever extra curricular activity that was going on, she was always there, cheering and screaming in the stands or sidelines.
"It made no difference if it was an away or home game, she was always there."
Now, Mae cheers for her grandchildren, and she continues to attend events her grown children are participating in.
Stamm related a story she heard about a game in Silver Lake where Mae became so
worked up she was asked to leave the gym. Mae added that happened more than once.
Stamm said one of her favorite things about Mae is her honesty. "People truly know where they stand with her, and I appreciate her willingness to express her opinion," Stamm said. Mae valued the opinions of her children and taught them to speak out when necessary to do so.
"Mae Stifter is the epitome of volunteerism, of giving back more than she takes, of reaching beyond her family and making the world a better place."