In ?retirement,? couple finds a place to serve

Many people envision retirement as a time to sit back, relax, and travel to warm, sunny locales during the cold, harsh winters.

Not so for Don and Marion Graumann of Hillsboro.

The Graumanns are spending their retirement working hard as volunteers at Tabor College.

The Graumanns are quick to point out that many volunteers donate their time and energy at Tabor.

?We aren?t the only ones,? Marion says. ?There are so many others who need recognition as well. They do so much.?

The Graumanns, who never attended Tabor College, moved to Hillsboro just a few years ago.

Why donate so much time and energy to this institution?

Says Don: ?We work a lifetime gaining volumes of experience. We learn how to cope with adversity as well as the more pleasant things in life. Do we then pack it into a suitcase, or do we use that which the Lord has blessed us with to make things better??

Adds Marion: We believe in Christian education. We?ve never been missionaries out in the field, per say, but if we can send out Christian teachers, and nurses and doctors, what more do we want to propagate the gospel??

Kirby Fadenrecht, Tabor?s vice president for business and finance appreciates their motivation.

?Their desire has been to serve the Lord,? he says, ?and their calling has been to serve him at Tabor. The Graumanns give sacrificially of their time; they give from their souls.?

Although the Graumanns are not Tabor alumni, they are no strangers to the school. Their two daughters, as well as numerous brothers and sisters, attended Tabor.

The Graumanns began volunteering at Tabor in the early 1980s. A group from their church in Harvey, North Dakota, came to Tabor to volunteer for several weeks. The Graumanns were part of that group.

They continued to return every once in a while during the next several years.

In 1988, the Graumanns discontinued their farming operation near Harvey. After moving first to several other places, including California and Minnesota, they decided to move to Hillsboro.

?We decided when we came that we would help Tabor,? Don says. ?We want to be available when they call.?

Because of the Graumanns? efforts, Fadenrecht says many remodeling, repair and cleaning projects at Tabor have been completed that would not have been done for a long time.

Some may not have received attention at all had the Graumanns not been so dedicated to helping Tabor.

?(The Graumanns) are so eager to help and the skills they have are of tremendous value to the college,? Fadenrecht says. ?We greatly appreciate them.?

Volunteerism has been a way of life for all of their 47 years of marriage. One of the first opportunities came in 1954, when they served with Voluntary Service, a Mennonite organization.

?We went to Wisconsin,? Don says. ?I worked in an institution for the chronically insane.? He says the work was tough, but enjoyable.

They returned to Harvey in 1956, where they farmed until 1988. During those years, the Graumanns found many opportunities to volunteer at their church and in their community.

Don and Marion say they are following their parents? examples as volunteers. Don?s parents volunteered on the Tabor campus during the 1950s.

Marion?s parents volunteered much of their time to build and remodel churches. Her father would build, and like Marion, her mother would paint and varnish.

As a child, Don remembers getting mad at his parents, ?because they would just give, give, give.?

He said one of his mother?s favorite verses was, ?It is better to give than to receive.?

In fact, when she was 90 years old, Don?s mother asked God to preserve her vision so she could sew quilts and donate the proceeds to Tabor. Before she passed away, more than $40,000 had been donated to Tabor through the sale of her quilts.

The Graumanns hope that telling their story will not draw attention to themselves, but to the opportunity for others to volunteer.

Marion says: ?We have such a good time when we all work together. It?s a great time of fellowship. But it?s something different. There?s a comradeship there, too.?

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