Honoring a humble man

Stillwater’s Serfling receives 2013 Lifetime Volunteer Award

Jerry Serfling of Stillwater, left, speaks to the Washington County Board of Commissioners after he was presented the 2013 Lifetime Volunteer award by Community Thread and the County Board. Looking on are commissioner attorney George Kuprian, center, and County Admininstrator Molly O’Rourke. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

Jerry Serfling does not call attention to himself.

So it was not unusual for the Stillwater resident to plug the upcoming U.S. Postal Service letter carriers food drive at a ceremony Tuesday honoring Serfling for his volunteer work.

Serfling was one of three individuals and a group receiving volunteer awards from Community Thread during the Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning as part of National Volunteer Week.

Honored with Serfling were Outstanding Youth Volunteer Shawn Ramberg of Woodbury, Outstanding Volunteer Chelsie Moore of Forest Lake, and Outstanding Group Volunteers the Day Out! group with FamilyMeans.

Serfling might be an example of that humility. Jones said during her presentation that the Stillwater retiree did not want to accept the award because he feels so many people do more than he does.

“I think they got the wrong guy,” he said about his reaction after being told of his award.

Before retiring after 33 years with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, Serfling was on the United Way of Washington County-East board for 12 years and remains active in that group’s volunteer efforts. He also is involved with the non-partisan River Valley Action group and is still connected to the Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship program for students from union families.

“My satisfaction is feeling that I can still contribute to the community,” Serfling said.

Not only does Serfling contribute, so do his friends in labor, he noted.

“In the labor movement, when we put out a call for volunteers, labor members and retirees sure show up,” he said.

Commissioners praised both volunteers honored Tuesday and the many others who give their time to community groups.

“We really appreciate all the support of the people in the community,” said Commissioner Lisa Weik. “It’s really community support that’s vital.”

“There is a dollars-and-cents component to this all. But what’s priceless is compassion,” added Commissioner Gary Kriesel.

For Serfling, volunteering allayed one of his post-employment fears.

“One of my fears in retiring is that I would be totally useless and become a couch potato,” he said.

Those people helped by Serfling’s volunteer efforts would say otherwise.