Josephine Lunde never gives up.
More than a decade ago, Lunde started volunteering with the Town of Brookhaven’s annual Toy Drive. Her need to help Brookhaven residents landed her a full-time position at Brookhaven’s Youth Bureau two years ago, and because of her ongoing efforts to helping others, she has been named one of the 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers’ People of the Year.
“She was full time anyway,” said Maria Polack, a secretary to the tax assessor. “She does the work of, like, five men — for real.”
Polack met Lunde 15 years ago when Lunde started volunteering at the Town of Brookhaven. When it comes to helping others, Lunde’s work ethic is second to none. On many occasions, Lunde stayed up all hours of the night into the early morning to work on her many fundraising events. Lunde doesn’t only help organize Brookhaven’s Toy Drive, which helps about 7,000 children around the holidays, she also organizes a variety of events, including food drives, school supply drives, clothing drives, volunteer programs for senior citizens and the prom dress program, to name a few.
Lunde has led the prom program for around three years, according to Diana Weir, commissioner of Brookhaven’s Housing and Human Services department. The event allows girls from families in need to select prom attire, from dresses to purses, shoes and more. Schools allow their students to attend the event by appointment. Lunde started staying after hours to accommodate students and their families who couldn’t get a dress during the program’s daytime hours. Weir said Lunde’s dedication and desire to spend as much time as possible makes the Medford resident more special.
“She will never complain,” Weir said. “She never says boo.”
While every child who registers for the prom dress program gets special attention, Polack remembers Lunde going above and beyond for one high school student who thought she was too overweight to attend her prom. Lunde didn’t only get her a dress, she organized for the student to get her nails and hair done.
“The determination in Josie is bigger than both of us when she makes up her mind that she’s going to help somebody,” Polack said.
Brookhaven Town Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro (R) said Lunde is one who focuses her attention on those in need in the community, especially those who don’t always want to ask for help.
“A lot of those folks that she works with are people who are very proud, and who might not otherwise seek assistance. These things have gotten really expensive,” Losquadro said about Lunde and buying gifts around the holidays.
Lunde’s son Mike said his mother has always been one to help others but, almost to a fault.
“She doesn’t think of herself,” the son said.
When Mike was a child, his mother was a den mother for his Boy Scout troop, and took on other responsibilities when her kids were getting older.
Regardless of her accomplishments, Lunde likes to stay in the background. But whether she’s in the forefront at an event or working behind the scenes, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said the Town is happy to have her.
“Someone like her really adds to what it means to be a part of a town,” Romaine said. “She’s the heart of Brookhaven because she takes the heart of all the problems and tries to make them better. … We should have more people like her in this world. If we did, it’d be a much better place.”