Local Volunteers Recognized as Crow Wing County 2021 Outstanding Seniors
The Crow Wing County Outstanding Senior Awards go to people who spend their lives giving back to the community and volunteering at local not-for-profit organizations. Last week, the winners were notified of their accomplishments in a surprising way.
Each year, the state of Minnesota hands out a male and female outstanding senior volunteer award for each county. Volunteering is such a crucial part of keeping not-for-profit organizations up and running.
“Volunteering is important in the community because organizations like The Center, where I work, we couldn’t survive,” said DeAnn Barry, executive director for The Center. “They are our front desk, our greeters, they are our gift shop clerks, they are the backbone of our organization.”
“To win this award, a volunteer must be nominated by the organization they help out. Each person has specific criteria they have to follow and live up to.
“You have to be over age 65, you have to volunteer, have letters of recommendation, be nominated,” explained Barry.
After not having an in-person ceremony last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year they wanted to do things a little differently, which just ended up showing just how outgoing the two winners are.
“Today, we kind of tricked people. We said we were shorthanded for servers, so the volunteers that won today came thinking they were just serving lunch and staying to enjoy the presentation.”
Those volunteers, who were recognized as Crow Wing County Oustanding Seniors for 2021, were Donna Wheeler and Kenneth Saumer.
“I didn’t expect this. If I would have known about it, I might have stayed home,” joked Wheeler.
“I didn’t expect anything except to enjoy a little lunch and meet some friends that we haven’t seen for quite some time,” said Saumer.
Both award winners received nominations through the same organization they volunteer for, Essentia Health. Deb Anderson, Essentia’s Volunteer Services Supervisor, chose to highlight these two for their ability to go above and beyond what a typical volunteer does.
“Ken Saumer, he’s a wonderful volunteer, very dedicated, and whenever I ask him to come and volunteer, he always says ‘yes’. Very rarely does he say ‘no’, said Anderson. “Donna wheeler, she’s been a very instrumental volunteer for our gift shop at the hospital. She’s very knowledgeable for computer skills. There’s things that she knows how to do that I don’t know how to do.”
Each winner received a corsage, a plaque, and an opportunity to go to the Minnesota State Fair to be in the running for the best volunteer throughout the state of Minnesota.