Posted by Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Past President of the Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis was recently recognized in a Post Crescent story.  Members like Jean are what makes Kiwanis a great resource for our community.  
APPLETON - When Jean Long Manteufel heard there were hundreds of Hmong refugees being resettled in the Fox Cities in the mid-2000s, she knew she had to do something. 
 
So, she got together with a few people and started brainstorming. 
 
"We discovered that the State Department gave each person $300, and with that money they were required to buy things — there was a list. Each person had to have a plate, a knife, a glass, a chair, a bed, sheets, the basics for starting an apartment if you think of it that way.
 
"We thought if we supplied those things for them, perhaps they could use that money for food, so we put together a warehouse," she said.
 
Community members responded to the call, and for three years they donated items so refugees could have all of the essentials needed to start their lives here. Long Manteufel received the Janet Berry Volunteer of the Year Award in 2007 for her role in making the warehouse a reality.  The Janet Berry Volunteer of the Year Award is sponsored by The Post-Crescent, which has partnered with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region for more than two decades to put on the Celebrating Volunteers event..
 
"It’s been a privilege for us to sponsor the Janet Berry Award for all these years because it’s another opportunity to shine a light on people who dedicate so much time, energy and passion to doing good work for very worthwhile community projects, often behind the scenes with little to no fanfare," News Director Ed Berthiaume said. "It’s a way for us to say thank you but also to share their stories in hopes they inspire others to follow their lead."
Long Manteufel, whose monthly "Transitions" column on aging is published in The Post-Crescent, said she was humbled and proud to be honored for what she considers a community-wide volunteer effort with the Hmong refugees. 
 
"First of all, I was really honored, because I think that is the highest award that you could receive in the Fox Cities for volunteerism," she said, "It was pretty awesome to receive it, but then I also thought it was really the community that did it. I played a role, but the whole community showed upI was pretty proud on behalf of everybody."
 
In the decade since then, she has continued to spearhead efforts to help refugees settling in the area, as well as serving as co-chair of the Fox Cities Kids Expo and president of the Fox Cities Kiwanis. 
 
Long Manteufel's interest in helping refugees stems from her own family's history of immigrating to the U.S. 
"I hear back to the stories of when our family came over from Ireland and they weren't wanted and they had the worst jobs and were pushed away. I thought really when someone comes to a new community, if you make them feel welcome, they can become part of your community so much faster. It's just about helping each other out," she said.
 
That sense of community and the generosity shown by people in the Fox Cities is something that sets the region apart. 
"Our community has a strong volunteer base, and it's something that makes our community very special, that so many people give in so many ways. There are so many opportunities to reach out for anyone who wants to volunteer," she said.