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Within each of the 24 non-profit organizations supported by United Way of 1000 Lakes, hundreds of volunteers give their time to transform their community and support social causes. They mentor youth, cook meals for the homeless, and fundraise. They paint and clean up community spaces, and offer companionship to senior citizens. 

“Our community is the benefactor of some of the most committed, dedicated and compassionate individuals. They invest their full selves into making life better for others,” said Kimberly Brink-Smith, Director of the United Way of 1000 Lakes. “They lend their time and voice to numerous causes and issues, and work tirelessly to advance the missions and work of our nonprofit sector.”

In honor of National Volunteer Month, United Way of 1000 Lakes celebrates the network of individuals who diligently and selflessly serve to strengthen and better our communities. This April, United Way recognized nine outstanding volunteer nominees with Spotlight Awards, including:

Habitat for Humanity – Jerry Tinquist is providing safe affordable housing.

Referred to by staff as a “jack of all trades with a giant heart,” Jerry Tinquist is the longest-serving volunteer at Itasca County Habitat for Humanity. Between framing, sheet rocking, flooring, and a plethora of other projects, Jerry has logged more than 2,500 volunteer hours since 2010.  Jerry lends his talents, provides leadership to volunteers, and invests in partner families as a part of Habitat for Humanity’s mission to put love into action by constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes in Itasca County communities.

Grace House – Kay Klingman is advocating ending homelessness.

Kay Klingman was a founding member of Grace House and served as one of the original board members. Twelve years later, Kay is still actively involved with Grace House, volunteering at the shelter, serving on the fundraising committee, and acting as the church coordinator and overflow volunteer. Kay is a passionate advocate for Grace House and is relentless in her efforts to serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our community.

ElderCircle – Anne Anderson is helping seniors live healthy, active lives.

Going above and beyond regular volunteer duties, Anne Anderson’s role as a Guardian is vital in accomplishing ElderCircle’s mission to maintain the independence of seniors by linking them, their families and caregivers to appropriate services. Anne has been a devoted advocate since 2015, using her strong communication skills and compassionate heart to serve ElderCircle in many capacities, from building rapport with senior living professionals, to accompanying wards to medical appointments, with the client’s best interest always being her priority.

KOOTASCA Crisis Nursery – Vicki Andrews is ensuring quality childcare for Itasca County families in need.

A champion of the Itasca Area Crisis Nursery, Vicki Andrews has been serving as a volunteer for 16 years, advocating for Child Abuse Prevention, building the Cherish Our Children program, and going above and beyond her regular call hours to ensure quality service is provided for families in need of emergency short-term childcare. Outside of the Crisis Nursery, Vicki also serves the Itasca County area by volunteering for Meals on Wheels and [Second Harvest] Food Shelf.


Project Care – (Pictured left to right) Tim George, Liz Thompson, Carol Kenschaft, and Simon Gretton are ensuring access to care for the under insured. (Not pictured - Mike Funk)

The success of an organization’s mission rests in the hands of individuals, each performing their role with excellence and always working together to provide the best possible service. At Project Care Free Clinic, a team of dedicated volunteers did just that. From securing fuel assistance to providing medical follow-up and emergent care, Liz Thompson, Tim George, Simon Gretton, Mike Funk, and Carol Kenschaft are diligent in their service to Project Care and together are making a genuine difference in the lives of the patients they serve.

Each volunteer are Project Care has a unique skill set that they bring to the organization and most have full-time positions elsewhere. Seen below, volunteer Carol Kenschaft is the first point and contact that patients see when they walk through the doors at Project Care.

Simon Gretton is a paramedic nurse who goes above and beyond with his volunteer role at Project Care, and helps patients with anything from paperwork to medical processes.

Team member, Timothy George, specializes as a paramedic nurse for both Project Care and Essentia Health. He delivers to every patient the necessary care they need, whether by in home follow-up or with supplies.

National Volunteer month is a great time to get involved and give back. Here are several ways individuals can take an active role with United Way and in their community.

  • Help with United Way fundraising efforts to ensure people get the help they need. 
  • Get involved by guiding goals, strategies and investments with United Way. 
  • Invite friends and family to lend a hand on June 21st for United Way’s community-wide Day of Action. 
  • Volunteer with one of United Way’s 24 member agencies. See agency listing and contact information here.

To learn more about how your strengths can better the community, visit our volunteer page or call 218-999-7570.

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