SHIRLEY -- Marjorie Marcincewicz has been a familiar, friendly face in the town clerk's office for as long as most newcomers -- at least over the last couple of decades -- can remember, both in the new town offices and the former municipal building. From greeting folks at the window to answering the phone, she has provided a helping hand in that busy office for many years.
How many years, exactly, is hard to say.
In a brief ceremony before the selectmen's meeting Monday night, Chairman Andy Deveau noted that Marcincewicz started working as a volunteer for the previous town clerk, Sylvia Shipton, many years ago.
Town Clerk Amy McDougall said the earliest official record of Marcincewicz working in the office appears in the 1992 town report. But it's generally known that her service to municipal government and involvement in local affairs dates back before that, as a volunteer, temporary part-time employee or working with civic and social groups around town.
Later, Marcincewicz told a reporter she used to work on the census from home. Before she started volunteering, she worked for many years in the office at the old Sampson Cordage mill, she said.
In his prepared speech, Deveau cited her work with the Golden Age Club and the Shirley Friendship Fund, a longstanding, grass-roots charitable organization whose low-key but substantial efforts have helped needy families in town enjoy the holiday season for decades.
Shipton was there to congratulate her old friend and helper, along with town employees, friends and family as selectmen presented Marcincewicz with flowers, a wood-mounted plaque and other gifts.
Having recently decided to conclude her longtime volunteer career, the woman affectionately known as "our little Margie" will be missed, Deveau said.
Noting the perks a person gets from being part of an organized group, such as friendships, knowledge and support, Deveau said the greatest benefit of all was becoming a member of a larger family.
Most working people spend more time on the job than at home, Deveau said, and because of this "our work families become just as important to us as our home families."
Work "families" create special bonds, sharing triumphs with joy, mourning losses with sadness and gathering for seasonal celebrations. "We remain humbled, having known the friends that have meant so much to our daily lives," Deveau said.
"Tonight, we are here to recognize one of our family members whose time has come to step away from her work family," to spend more time with "her home family," Deveau said.
"Marjorie Marcincewicz -- Margie -- has been a member of our collective families for many decades," he said. "She is recognized as being the longest running and most steady volunteer that the Town of Shirley has ever known or perhaps ever will."
Her work primarily was focused in the town clerk's office, he continued, but beyond assisting with routine tasks essential to its operation, she was "always available to help those who just needed some direction or a little information," he said.
"It will be impossible to forget someone like Margie," who as a worker at town elections has " been there to check us in when we line up to cast our ballots, most of the time while handing out candy," he said.
She hasn't done that recently, Marcincewicz put in. But Deveau's message was clear. Although paid a small stipend for that job, as all election workers are, the candy was a gift to townspeople, like helping out there and elsewhere in town in so many ways.
At Town Meeting, for example, "She was there to make sure we were counted as voters ... and to collect our voter cards before we left," Deveau said. "With Margie, everyone knew to never try and leave before returning your voter cards."