By Jennie Zeitler
Jenny Mayers is a Melrose native who got a taste of living somewhere else for a short time — and decided life was much better in Melrose.
Now, she spends her working life travelling around Minnesota and the United States for her marketing position, but at the end of the day she always returns home to Melrose.
While Mayers is honored to have been nominated to be a Peach Woman of the Month, her biggest question is, “Are you sure…?”
“There are so many people who should be honored,” she said. “I’m involved in my community because it’s important — our community is important.”
She’s echoing the same thoughts each Woman of the Month has expressed — that there are many people in a community who together, make the community what it is.
But each person is unique and each one is celebrated.
Mayers grew up four miles north of Melrose on the dairy farm where her parents, Bernard and Tillie Bussmann, still farm. Her husband, Rick, grew up in town. They moved away for 18 months after they got married.
“When we started looking for a house, we found this one and we’ve been here ever since (1989),” said Mayers.
While in high school, Mayers was active in DECA (previously known as Distributive Education Clubs of America) and worked for Tom and Peg Herges’ grocery store.
Even after marrying and moving to St. Cloud, Mayers came back to Melrose and worked on weekends — back in the days “when you still delivered groceries.”
“I’m attached to Melrose,” she said. “The people are so awesome. We have such great neighbors.”
Mayers was recruited to work for Business Innovations of Norcross, Ga., after meeting her boss at a marketing conference.
The company sells promotional items to financial institutions, telephone companies and presidential museums, to name a few.
Mayers travels around Minnesota, Wisconsin and sometimes Iowa, two to three days a week. Thirty days a year, on average, she travels elsewhere in the United States.
“I get to meet friends from all over the place and share ideas,” she said. “It’s fun and exciting. We’re all the same people, wherever we live.”
About 15 years ago, Mayers worked with friends in Melrose to organize the annual Halloween Parade. Although the Chamber of Commerce took over after the first year, Mayers still helps. Now the library is a sponsor as well.
Mayers had a hand in getting the “Day after Thanksgiving” fireworks off the ground, too.
“My boss, at the time, Simon Hellerman, helped support the event and find sponsors,” she said. “The Minidazzle Parade was added later. Now it’s a Chamber event, too.”
Mayers worked with others to set up a toy run for Project Give a Gift about 15 years ago.
“We have a motorcycle run to raise funds for toys for the underprivileged,” she said. “It’s not only for students, but adults who are alone.”
Now in its sixth year, Mayers established the Kickoff to Summer Car Show and Cookoff, a fundraiser to benefit brain cancer research.
“The year after Ralph Hellerman died, a group of us got together — Dottie Smith, Pete Rothfork, JoAnn Boeckermann and Ralph’s family, to plan the event,” said Mayers.
The event features a car show, silent auction, turkey and rib cookoff and a food court all day. In the evening is live music with a beer garden and fireworks at dusk.
“Joe Rieland, Sharon Roehrl Neuman and Rich Raecker, all in my 1980 class, also died of cancer,” Mayers said. “Why can’t we find a cure?”
The Tug McGraw Foundation donates items such as T-shirts, tickets and a signed guitar to the silent auction. It also helps distribute funds raised, which have been as much as $18,000-$21,000.
“People in our area are really generous with donating,” said Mayers. “People competing in the cookoff try to raise as much money as they can before the event, and earn more that day when visitors try the food.”
Mayers is also a Melrose City Council member.
“I like being involved; it’s who I am,” she said. “There are great people around me who help.”