Itasca County honored its 2019 Outstanding Senior Volunteers during Senior Day at the Itasca County Fair on Friday, Aug. 16. Susan Hayes and Marn Flicker were recognized for their long list of volunteer activities, as well as five other runner-up nominees.
Under the tents at the Trailhead Building, more than 600 people were served lunch and entertained by the Second Wind Harmonica Band before the award festivities hosted by ElderCircle. Outstanding Senior Volunteer award recipients must be 70 years old or older
“This is our favorite day of the year,” said Lisa Randall with ElderCircle who explained that they have more than 200 senior volunteers who work with various programs throughout the community.
Itasca County Commissioners were on hand to serve lunch and present awards to the runner-up nominees. Representative Sandy Layman, of Cohasset, and Senator Justin Eichorn, of Grand Rapids, presented plaques to the two winners who will go on to be nominated for state senior volunteer awards to be selected at the Minnesota State Fair and announced on Aug. 29.
“This is so important,” said Hayes. “I am honored to be awarded Itasca County Senior Volunteer of the Year.”
Hayes explained that she and her husband moved to Itasca County 11 years ago and since then she’s noticed that “there’s a spirit of volunteering that permeates within our community.”
“I’m proud to represent the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours that make Itasca County a special place to call home.”
Hayes focuses most of her volunteer work on improving both the mind and body. Her list of volunteer activities include the Grand Rapids Area Library, Friends of the Library, Reif Performing Arts Center, ElderCircle Bone Builders, ElderCircle Tai Ji Quan, Itasca County Historical Society, ElderCircle Matter of Balance, YMCA Active Living Center, Ruby’s Food Pantry, ElderCircle Receptionist, King Elementary School, ElderCircle Mailbox Buddies, American Association of University Women (AAUW), PEO, North Star Women’s Club and more.
In her nomination letter, ElderCircle wrote: “Susan has a never ending enthusiasm and zest for the library and for the arts, and works to promote healthy living through fitness and wellness classes designed specifically for older adults to improve physical strength, flexibility and balance. She played an integral part to expand these groups to new locations in Itasca County thereby making a positive impact on additional people. It is easy to see why Susan receives accolades like what one letter of recommendation reads, ‘She is polite, friendly, energetic, kind, fiercely dedicated, and her sense of humor makes activites she’s involved with fun and enjoyable. Her humble, generous spirit and heart for others drives her steadfast dedication for serving the community.”
After presenting Hayes with her award, Rep. Layman thanked ElderCircle volunteers or their work, “We have a richer community because of all of you.”
Flicker and his wife moved to Itasca County 13 years ago to retire.
“We have a unique community,” he said upon accepting his award. “I don’t think many communities have as many volunteers as we have.”
Flicker has dedicated his life toward helping others, from having served in his church as a child to volunteering for two U.S. Air Force tours in Vietnam to 22 years with Monticello Fire and Rescue in Monticello, Minn. Flicker’s list of volunteer activities include Jessie Lake Watershed Association, ElderCircle HandyHands, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, AARP Smart Driver Program instructor and National and District Coordinator, Minnesota Walleye Advisory Board, City of Grand Rapids Planning and Zoning Commission Let’s Go Fishing with Seniors and more.
In his nomination letter, ElderCircle wrote: “Marn combines his experience of responding to what he feels were far too many serious injury and fatal car accidents with his leadership and teaching skills to teach driver safety classes locally and to coordinate classes regionally and on a state level. Most recently, Marn serves as one of 12 National Advisors across the U.S. providing strategic planning and recommendations to the AARP Smart Driver National Office on matters pertaining to the volunteer experience. Marn’s heart for service, desire to develop others and compassionate leadership has made a difference for countless people in Minnesota and across the country.”
Hayes and Flicker had impressive competition for this year’s award. The other five nominees have also contributed considerably to the community. They included Suzanne Koprowski, Bernie Backes, Betty Denzel, Will Backes, and Jerry Tinquist.