County board recognizes volunteers

The Community Involvement Awards were first developed by Community Thread in 1975 to recognize volunteers in Washington County for their exemplary service. In partnership with Washington County, the awards recognize the value that volunteers contribute to the community. In pure dollars and cents, the value of a volunteer in Minnesota is $24.31 per hour, as reported by the National Independent Sector. Each year, volunteers in Washington County contribute millions of dollars of service.

A Community Involvement Awards Selection Committee is established annually and is comprised of award recipients from the previous years and representatives from the Community Thread Board of Directors and Washington County. This committee reviews nominations and selects recipients based on identified criteria.

Commissioner Gary Kriesel, left, congratulates Paul Skoug and Jenny Heaton on the legacy award given in honor of their wife and mother. (Contributed photo)

Commissioner Gary Kriesel, left, congratulates Paul Skoug and Jenny Heaton on the legacy award given in honor of their wife and mother. (Contributed photo)

Deanna Skoug

2014 Legacy Award Recipient

The Legacy Award honors the life of a Washington County volunteer who has passed away and left an identifiable legacy in the community.

Skoug was known in Washington County as “the volunteer extraordinaire.” Her kindness, caring, and generosity made life better for several thousand Washington County residents and inspired countless others to follow in her footsteps and make a difference as volunteers in their community.

Deanna and husband Paul moved to Stillwater in 1978. The mother of two daughters, she immediately immersed herself in the volunteer community by joining First United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school, coordinated funeral arrangements, led Bible study, coordinated ladies circle, visited isolated seniors and even made sure the plants got watered. Pastor Linda Gesling said Skoug “made the life of the church better and smoother for everyone.”

Skoug became a volunteer at Community Thread in 1978, where she continued to serve until her death in 2012, contributing more than 26,000 volunteer hours to the community.

Commissioner Ted Bearth congratulates Pam and Larry Hall. (Contributed photo)

Commissioner Ted Bearth congratulates Pam and Larry Hall. (Contributed photo)

Larry & Pam Hall

2014 Lifetime Volunteer Award Recipient 

The Lifetime Volunteer Award recognizes a volunteer for a lifetime of commitment to volunteerism.

Spend five minutes with Larry and Pam Hall, and it is clear volunteering is at the center of both their personal and professional lives. For both, their volunteer experience began at church. As a child, Pam learned early the importance of giving to her community as she regularly set aside part of her allowance for weekly church offerings. Larry began his volunteer career as the youngest person to ever serve on his church council.

This service was interrupted when Larry was drafted to serve in Vietnam where he was stationed in Saigon. During his military service, Larry witnessed the continued devastation that plagued the children and orphanages of Vietnam. Hearing about the conditions of these orphanages through letters and tapes, Pam promptly organized members of her church to collect clothing and necessities to send to Larry for distribution at the orphanages. Thus began more than 25 years of volunteering as partners.

Larry and Pam are longtime members of Woodbury Lutheran Church and devote many volunteer hours toward church related projects. In addition, for more than 10 years Larry has been a regular volunteer during the holidays, ringing a Salvation Army bell. Pam has a passion for children and volunteers regularly at Feed My Starving Children. Pam is also a sponsor of a young boy in Bolivia through Compassion International and supports him and his family’s ability to afford food, clothing and other necessities.

Larry and Pam have also integrated volunteerism into their professional lives. As owners and operators of Logistics Planning Services in Woodbury, they have made giving an integral part of the company’s philosophy.

Commissioner Gary Kriesel congratulates Olive, Eliza and Xavier Weston on their volunteerism. (Submitted photo)

Commissioner Gary Kriesel congratulates Olive, Eliza and Xavier Weston on their volunteerism. (Submitted photo)

Olive, Xavier & Eliza Weston

2014 Youth Volunteer Award Recipients

The Youth Volunteer Award recognizes a young person under 18 who completes volunteer service with an organization or project that helps to meet the needs of the community. This year’s recipients of the Youth Award are Olive, Xavier and Eliza Weston.

Olive, 14, Xavier, 12, and Eliza, 10, are regular and enthusiastic volunteers at Our Community Kitchen at Ascension Episcopal Church in Stillwater, where they set tables, stir oatmeal, shred cheese and flip pancakes, all while exuding a special kind of joy. According to Our Community Kitchen Manager Lynn Pagliarini, “It’s not uncommon to hear Xavier singing a happy song as he works. And the most amazing thing about these children is that they are having fun while helping others.” They also do regular food donation pick-ups at Rivertown Co-Op and unload the fresh food at Ascension Church. When asked about their volunteer efforts, Olive responds, “It’s nice to know you’re making a difference. There is a sense of community between volunteers and regular people that come to Our Community Kitchen.” Outside of Our Community Kitchen, the Weston children, along with mom Laura, volunteer at a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) garden operated by Sara Morrison. The Weston children plant, water, and weed the gardens and help deliver boxes of fresh produce each week to Our Community Kitchen.

Olive is an active ninth grader at Stillwater Junior High School, and Xavier and Eliza are students at Marine Elementary School.

In addition, when Olive was in second grade her class was challenged to donate extra change for “Loose Change to Loosen Chains,” a student-led effort to raise awareness and funds to end modern-day slavery. Olive came up with a plan to plant a garden and start a business selling produce at their Weston vegetable stand. As a result, Nature’s Home Goods was established and set up in the driveway. That summer, they raised $300. To date, Nature’s Home Goods has raised as much as $2,000 a season. Profits have gone to the World Wildlife Fund, Pennies for Peace, and Pennies for Patients. In the words of Diane Rollie, Our Community Kitchen Volunteer coordinator, “Truly, the volunteer spirit is alive and well in the Weston family.”

Commissioner Gary Kriesel congratulates Trudee Watson. (Contributed photo)

Commissioner Gary Kriesel congratulates Trudee Watson. (Contributed photo)

Trudee Watson

2014 Outstanding Volunteer Award Recipient 

The Outstanding Volunteer Award recognizes a single volunteer for commendable volunteer service in at least one organization during a span of one or more years.

Watson is a wife, the mother of two, and a business owner. Despite this, she finds time each week to volunteer at The Clothing Closet at Valley Outreach where she has served for the last four years. Watson’s volunteerism started in elementary school when she became a Candy Striper at Greeley Nursing Home where her grandmother was a resident.

Now a regular at The Clothing Closet, which provides gently-used clothing and accessories free of charge to men, women and children, Watson serves the clothing needs of a variety of clients, assisting clients with registration, assessing their needs, and helping them find appropriate clothing items. Watson also serves a vital role behind the scenes of The Clothing Closet by receiving and sorting donated items, and organizing them to be attractively displayed for clients.

Along with volunteering her time at The Clothing Closet, Trudee also helps out with the Valley Outreach fundraisers and special clothing drives. She has also volunteered at Community Thread, St. Paul Lutheran Church, and Ministering Angels Closet.

A group of the Tutor Team Volunteers from Solid Ground received the volunteer award, with Washington County commissioners Ted Bearth, Gary Kriesel, Autumn Lehrke, Fran Miron and Lisa Weik, back row, offering congratulations. (Contributed photo)

A group of the Tutor Team Volunteers from Solid Ground received the volunteer award, with Washington County commissioners Ted Bearth, Gary Kriesel, Autumn Lehrke, Fran Miron and Lisa Weik, back row, offering congratulations. (Contributed photo)

Tutor team

2014 Group Volunteer Award Recipient

The Group Volunteer Award recognizes a group of volunteers for outstanding volunteer service to the community. This year’s recipients of the Outstanding Group Award are the members of Tutor Team from Solid Ground.

Founded in 1989, Solid Ground is a nonprofit that uses a holistic approach to help families build the strong foundation they need to emerge from homelessness. Part of Solid Ground’s programing is the Learning & Enrichment Program, an after-school tutor program that works with K-8 students to improve reading, writing and math skills. Thanks to a dedicated group of about 50 volunteers from all walks of life, 25-30 students have access to one-on-one tutoring for two to three hours per week.

The Solid Ground Volunteer Tutors, who range in age from 15 to 80, have been in existence about 20 years. In 2013, 50 tutors volunteered 767 hours with students who attend many different schools but live within the Solid Ground complex. Many of the tutors have been with the program for 5, 10, or even 15 years, and three tutors have volunteered for 17 years.

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