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Shirley Long makes a difference every day

Chris Patterson
Thurmont Dispatch

(11/15) At the recent annual Thurmont Lions Club Making a Difference Day, Shirley Long was named Thurmont’s Volunteer of the Year, but that award comes as no surprise to those who know her.

Uncomfortable with the attention she is receiving about the award, Long, 62, quickly averts her eyes when it is mentioned. But she recovers quickly from her bout with humility when the subject of her most-recent project, Thurmont’s Trolley Trail, is raised.

Long’s enthusiasm for the project helped her work through the very time-intensive planning, organizing and fundraising responsibilities for the project. But the work was also very “satisfying,” she said.

Despite those who thought the project might not work, the Thurmont Lions Club, with Long running the project, worked to rehabilitate an old, approximately one-mile long trolley path into a recreational and exercise path through town. While the basic trolley path project is now complete, another grant is in process that will hopefully pay for exercise equipment along the path.

The biggest challenge was “trying to make sure we were getting the job done as fast as we could, but that we were not overspending…,” she said.

“She’s a great volunteer,” said Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Bill Blakeslee. “She and the Lions grabbed this concept (of the trolley) and they did far and above what I thought it would be…. Shirley Long epitomizes the voluntarism of the Thurmont Lions Club. No job is too big for Shirley. There is no job that can’t be accomplished.”

John Kinnaird, last year’s winner of the Volunteer of the Year award, said Long’s commitment to the project is like her commitment to everything she does. “I don’t think the Lions Club could get a better member than Shirley. She is community minded, works hard and does what she can to make Thurmont a better place to live for everybody,” Kinnaird said.

Long was inducted into the Thurmont Lions Club in 1994 as one of its first women members and became president of the club in 2004, the year the Lions celebrated their 75th anniversary.

She credits her husband, Gene Long, with getting her involved with volunteer work. Gene has also been a significant partner in completing the trolley project, Shirley said of her husband. In fact, Gene has done so much work on the path that one of the bridges will be dedicated to him.

Of course, as with all committed volunteers, Long volunteers whenever needed. For the last eight years, she has worked as treasurer of her church. Though retired from 32 years with the federal government, she brings her considerable experience with accounting and budget to that volunteer job.

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