Salvation Army doles out swards

Published 3:02 pm Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rita Jette has been named Salvation Army Austin Corps 2009 Volunteer of the Year.

In addition, Jette has received the 2009 Salvation Army Northern Division’s award for volunteerism.

Jette was honored last Thursday night at the Austin Corps’ annual volunteer recognition banquet held at the community center. She has been a Salvation Army since 1983.

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With her husband, John, watching, she accepted the twin honors and said, “Mostly, I’ve worked in the Thrift Store, doing sorting, but I’ve also helped distribute commodities and worked with the Angel Tree.”

The volunteer expressed her appreciation to the Austin Corps and divisional headquarters’ representative, Tom McKee, for the awards.

McKee, director for volunteer services for the Northern Division, which includes Minnesota and North Dakota, was the keynote speaker.

McKee told the audience members that today’s Salvation Army continues to adhere to the mission of founder William Booth in 1865 by “preaching the gospel and meeting human needs.”

Doing that, McKee said, means “thinking beyond yourself to serve others.”

To drive home that volunteerism message, McKee quoted Rick Warren from the best-selling “Purpose Driven Life” book, where the pastor wrote “It’s not about you.”

McKee also quoted his own minister at Maple Grove, who advised, in part, “Do good, but don’t tell anybody.”

Helping those in need without seeking recognition means that act, by itself, is the greatest reward.

According to McKee, there are 82,000 volunteers in the Northern Division’s two states, who last year contributed 364,000 hours of volunteerism which has a value in the workplace of $7 million.

The demand for Salvation Army services has increased 150 percent and as economic woes and natural disasters in the Upper Midwest continue, McKee predicted there will be greater stress placed on non-profits and their volunteers to meet those needs.

Major Marlys Anderson, officer in charge of the Austin Corps, welcomed guests to the banquet.

Anderson told the volunteers, “We couldn’t do what we do without you.”

The guess enjoyed dinner and fellowship.

Flicek coordinates the work of more than 100 volunteers throughout the year at the Austin Corps. In December, the total swells to more than 1,000 volunteers, during the year-ending holidays.

According to Flicek, in 2008, 1,169 volunteers contributed 16,599 hours of their time and skills. That equates to $138,000 value in the workplace or eight full-time paid employees at the Austin Corps.

David Lokker, Beverly Lady and Carol Cottingham also received certificates of appreciation for their volunteerism.

Maurice Moore, a volunteer in the Family Thrift Store, gave the benediction prayer. Ron Haried offered an original prayer he composed about being a Salvation Army volunteer. Kim Hallman prepared the dinner served guests at the banquet. James Frank represented the Salvation Army advisory board and extended best wishes to Jette for her volunteerism.

Anyone interested in Salvation Army volunteer opportunities may call Flicek at 437-4566.