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All volunteers are 'outstanding'

The Lake County Outstanding Senior Volunteer Awards were presented last week at the Lake County Fair to two truly outstanding people. What makes them outstanding?

Marge Laiti and Jack Pichotta are both outstanding for the contributions they've made to the community, and their willingness and ability to help people of all ages.

Marge volunteers 15 hours per week to help young children read at the Minnehaha Elementary School through the Foster Grandparent Program. She recently received recognition from the Foster Grandparent Program for five years of service; that's five years of working to help kids read! During that time, think of how she has shared a part of herself with the children: her smiles, her words of encouragement, high fives and even hugs. I've seen how the children light up when they walk down the hallway with "Grandma Marge" and go to the library to have that special small group or one- on- one time with her. The teachers say the children's reading shows real improvement, even higher test scores. Marge is truly making a difference in her work with young people -- and all this after reaching the age of 70! Marge has also volunteered to provide respite care through Community Partners, helped at the library and she serves as a council member and a deacon at her church, visiting shut-ins with communion and companionship.

And what makes Jack outstanding? Well, Jack founded and built the Environmental Learning Center, then served on the Lake County School Board for many years.

SBut what makes Jack outstanding for this award is his ability to work with North Shore Area Partners, helping older adults live independently. Jack is someone who served in a leadership role for many years and could very likely sit back and know that he has made a difference, but no, he continues to find ways to contribute to his community. Now he shares his time and talents providing rides, companionship, grocery delivery and other services to isolated senior citizens in very rural areas of our county. He is making a difference with his gestures of kindness and support.

Lake County has many outstanding volunteers. All volunteers are special and help extend the service of small nonprofit organizations like Community Partners, Northshore Area Partners, Socially Active Seniors and others. At Community Partners, volunteers are the heart and soul of the organization. They deliver meals daily, provide rides, share smiles, words of encouragement, and yes, even hugs. We wish we could recognize every outstanding volunteer. One by one, one smile or one hug at a time, volunteers strengthen our community and make it a better place to live.

If you would like to share your time and talents with others there is always a need. Presently, Community Partners needs more friendly visitors, grocery shoppers and volunteer drivers. We also need respite volunteers who can sit with older adults with memory loss while their caregiver takes a break. Call us at 834-8024 for more information