Here’s to our unsung community heroes

Posted on Nov 1, 2016 :: Editor’s Insights
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Every community has its unsung heroes.

They’re the people who see a need and then dive right in to help — without a thought for what’s in it for them.

Jean Long Manteufel is such a person. She runs a small moving company and has found a niche helping seniors through the tough transition of moving a lifetime of possessions out of their long-time houses. That’s one way she fed her personal desire to help people while growing her business.

But when you look at all she’s accomplished in the community — outside of A-1 Moving and Storage and Long’s Senior Transitions — the list is long and the impact, deep. This month, she is receiving the Athena Leadership Award from the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Her sense of fairness and desire to make a difference goes all the way back to her childhood. In sixth grade, she rallied against the exclusion of girls as members of the safety patrol, altar boys, paper boys and even the Boy Scouts. She wanted to do, or belong, to all these, and she either figured out how (subbing on her brother’s paper route) or sat quietly in the back (Boy Scouts).

As a young businessperson, she wanted to join the Jaycees, Kiwanis, Rotary — at the time, all men’s-only service clubs. When the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled in 1987 that Rotary must allow women as members, she immediately joined Jaycees and Kiwanis.

“If they excluded me, I wanted to be there,” she says. She has not missed a Kiwanis meeting in 28 years. Through service clubs as well as her own initiative, she’s taken on such tasks as leading a furniture drive for hundreds of Hmong refugees, organizing a special preview night at Quarry Quest for kids with disabilities as well as founding a service club for adults with disabilities. Most recently, she led efforts to relocate furnishings from the closed Thompson Community Center in Appleton to a temporary location.

If Long Manteufel is making a difference for people with disabilities and seniors, our Face Time subject this month is making her own dent in helping to create a community that’s attractive to young professionals.

Adrienne Palm, who appeared on our Insight cover in December 2014 as part of our story on what young professionals want from the places they live, has been among a core of community leaders rolling up their sleeves to inject art, music and spontaneity in their downtowns. She recently traveled around the country with the Millennial Trains Project to see what’s happening in other places that she might bring back to Northeast Wisconsin. Check out our story on page 15 to find out more.

While Appleton, as well as Green Bay, have recently championed public art and events uniquely appealing to young professionals, Sheboygan has recognized a need for housing, retail and entertainment venues for the influx of talent to feed a demand from growing companies along the lakeshore. “I think we’re playing catch-up,” says Dane Checolinski, director of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, attracting and keeping talent in our region is the hot topic at this year’s New North Summit, coming up Dec. 6 at the KI Center in Green Bay. Talent Triathlon is the theme, and business leaders will share their perspectives in “ED Talks.” Among them will be Wilson Jones, CEO of Oshkosh Corp., Sharon Hulce, CEO of Employment Resource Group and Craig Dickman of Breakthrough Fuel. No question, talent is top of mind for many employers today.

“Across all industry sectors, virtually all of them are experiencing some pressure in finding the appropriate talent for their business,” New North Executive Director Jerry Murphy says about company leaders he’s talked to. See the story by our new staff reporter for Insight, Jessica Thiel, on page 18.

As always, we at Insight are producing the New North’s annual Report to the Community. Watch for it at the summit and with our December issue. See you at the KI Center on Dec. 6!

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →