MANSON: Gwen Ewing
Rewarded for her positive impact
MANSON — When Gwen Ewing learned that she was going to be receiving the fourth annual Impact Award earlier this year, she was surprised.
“I had no idea that that was going to be given,” she said. “This was the fourth year, but I had no idea that I would be nominated and picked.”
She described her feelings as “very surprised and humble.”
“There’s a lot of people that volunteer and do things,” Ewing said.
The Impact Award is given out every year by the Manson Economic Development Corporation and Manson Chamber of Commerce. It’s presented to someone who has both contributed to the town as well as promoted the town.
Ewing, a Manson native who was born and raised on the farm where she still lives today, has worn a variety of hats as a volunteer.
Much of her volunteer work happened while she served on the Manson City Council for 12 and a half years.
Initially, Ewing said she didn’t seek the City Council position. Rather, it came to her.
“They asked me because there was a vacancy in the middle (of a term), and of course I had to run when that person’s term was done,” she said. “And they asked me to fill the vacancy.”
She called her tenure on the City Council an “eye-opener,” because she didn’t realize how much work went into the position.
“You just go on thinking everything runs smoothly,” she said. “There’s a lot to that.”
While on City Council, Ewing became involved in the project that got the Manson Area Community Center, also known as the MAC Center, up and running.
“I was involved from the beginning, when they formed the committee to figure out what to do with the grade school,” she said.
It was decided, since the building had a gymnasium and a functioning kitchen, to convert the former school into a community center.
“Our goal was to get the senior citizen’s congregate meals over to the MAC Center after we got it going, and we did,” she said.
Ewing’s experience and skills as a painter also came in handy. She personally helped paint the hallways inside the MAC Center as it was being converted.
But Ewing is quick to add that she was not the only one who contributed to the MAC Center. She said there were several other volunteers who lent a hand.
“We did a lot of painting in the elementary cafeteria, which they rent out now for parties,” she said. “We had to redo that and we had lots of paneling we had to stain and varnish, and then there was the trim.”
Plenty of volunteers assisted Ewing in fixing up the building.
“So it wasn’t just me,” she said. “We had lots of help. They kind of said, ‘You get it organized and you say when you’re going to work.'”
Seeing the MAC Center up and running gives Ewing much joy.
“It’s fantastic because a lot of these towns don’t have the facility that we had to start with,” she said. “I’m very proud, and it is run so well.”
Today, Ewing serves on the MAC Senior Committee.
She said the MAC Center gets better every year in terms of membership. Ewing said it’s common for a facility like that to see its membership dwindle as the years go by.
“It has kept its membership plus,” she said.
Besides her involvement with the MAC Center, Ewing is also a Lincoln Township trustee, serves on the Manson Economic Development Corporation Board, and is a member of the WaTanYe Club.
The WaTanYe Club gives back to the Manson community in a variety of ways.
“We give money to the library, we help the Lions Club,” she said. “We have done so many things. We have a hoagie sale every year which is a good money maker so that we can give scholarships.”
They also help the local nursing home as well as give money to families in crisis and support the local food pantry.
Ewing said she’s also a member of a card club that’s active in the fall and winter.
“This year we have met at Golden Meadows which there’s a lot of people up there that can’t get out but love to play,” Ewing said. “We all go there and play with them.”
As for why she volunteers her time, Ewing said it’s all about interacting with other people.
“When you always say you want to do something, there’s always help,” she said. “So you aren’t there doing it yourself. There’s always people there to help. I think they take pride in their community. Everyone does.”
Ewing also enjoys the support of her husband and children, both of whom live in Manson with their own families.
But while Ewing is well-known for her volunteer work, she may be best known for her admiration of a famous celebrity; Elvis Presley.
In fact, she even has an entire room in her home dedicated to memorabilia from the King of Rock and Roll.
When she served on the City Council, Ewing said she would always bring treats on Presley’s birthday, Jan. 8.
And her interest in Presley doesn’t go unnoticed. She said she frequently gets phone calls from people letting her know about something Presley-related that’s coming up.
“‘There’s something on TV you better watch,'” Ewing recalled as something people have said to her.