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Senior volunteers of the year honored

Photo by Holly Henry1 / 2
Photo by Holly Henry2 / 2

"I really don't do that much," said an overwhelmed Lavonne Lagarde as she accepted her award as a Lake County senior volunteer of the year.

Evidence, however, proves otherwise.

The Silver Bay resident visits the elderly, installs Mainstream Messenger phones in their homes, is a respite care provider, volunteer driver and a member of the Northshore Area Partners Board of Directors. She crochets afghans and scarves to be used for fund-raisers and as gifts.

Lagarde also coordinates blood drives, provides hospice care, delivers Meals on Wheels and has been instrumental in helping several elderly residents remain in their homes.

According to Lake View Memorial Hospital Director of Social Services, Susan Frericks, Lagarde is a tireless and humble volunteer who is always available to help.

"She is known to get calls late in the evening from elders and she goes over to help with their needs," said Frericks, who nominated Lagarde.

"Lavonne is often seen walking through town and when I see her I think Hmmm, I wonder where she's off to now. It's certain that this woman, walking with her Diamond Willow stick, is on her way to something that will make a difference in someone's life or in our community."

Frericks recalled the first day she met Lagarde: "I had heard about Lavonne and all she had done," she said. "When I met her I immediately hugged her. She got things done and I was grateful. This gratitude only grew over time."

Gene Cotton, of Two Harbors was chosen as the male senior volunteer of the year. Cotton, who was nominated by Community Partners Program Director Kirsten Cruikshank, was recognized for his contributions to Community Partners, Rotary and the general community.

He was applauded for his willingness to mow neighbors' lawns, install door locks and make sets and props for community theater productions.

According to Cruikshank, many seniors depend on Cotton for a helping hand.

"A lot of seniors would not have someone to help them if it weren't for Gene's willingness to volunteer," she said. "They may have some funds to pay for supplies, but do they not have someone to do the work."

A recipient of Cotton's good deeds, Evelyn Salakka called him "a very kind man" who installed safety bars in her hallway and grab bars in the bathroom and shower.

Fellow Rotarian, Sarah Cron, said Cotton was a man with "a giving heart, who does not know the boundaries of time, money or human resources."

"If something needs to get done, he gets it done," she said.

The seniors were honored last week at a luncheon at the Lake County Fair.