Volunteer of the Year believes in giving back

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer

Julie Zupko serves her community through a wide range of activities. She believes so strongly in volunteering that she pays for her employees’ volunteer time.

Julie Zupko serves her community through a wide range of activities. She believes so strongly in volunteering that she pays for her employees’ volunteer time.

The employees of Bieganek Insurance Agency, Randall State Insurance and Swanville Insurance unanimously agree that their boss, Julie Zupko, deserves the recognition she is receiving after being chosen Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year. 

“Julie has served on every committee of the Chamber of Commerce with the exception of the golf outing …,” the award nomination form read.

Zupko also serves on the boards of Morrison County Community Development, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Flensburg, Randall State Bank, the endowment board of Mary of Lourdes and volunteers for the Swanville Carnival and Horizon Health.

Zupko grew up in Little Falls. She started working at Bieganek Insurance in 1989 when she was looking for a full-time job. She purchased the agency in 2007.

“The insurance industry changes every day,” she said with a smile. “I just love changes.”

She recalls being named Employee of the Month in December 1994, her “first taste of the Chamber.” Being named Volunteer of the Year has brought her full circle.

“It’s been 20 years,” she said. “I was definitely surprised when I heard of the nomination.”

When asked about her extensive volunteer activities, Zupko summed it up.

“It’s important to give back to the community,” she said. “I’m willing to pay my staff to do it. That makes for a healthy community.”

Her employees said, “Julie is constantly encouraging us to volunteer, even during business hours.”

Zupko is a firm believer in the Chamber and its activities.

“Everybody brings something different to a committee,” she said. “With term limits, I moved around to different committees. It’s always good to get new blood in volunteers.”

She was on the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair Board when the change was made to a juried art fair in the early 2000s.

“We wanted it to stay truly arts and crafts and not include the resale of purchased goods,” Zupko said. “It reduced the numbers slightly at first, but resulted in a higher-quality fair for the consumers.”

The foundation of Zupko’s life is her family. She lives in Flensburg with husband, Doug, and their two school-age children, Autumn and Hunter.

“Doug and I always think that if we raise productive children who give back, then we’ve succeeded. The best way to do that is to lead by example,” she said.

“It take volunteers to make a healthy community,” said Zupko. “Everybody gives in a different form. I’m comfortable being on community boards and giving my opinion. Other people give in other ways.”

The Chamber, celebrating its 125th year in 2014, was one of the first places Zupko volunteered.

“The staff takes good care of their volunteers,” she said. “They are so good at keeping us prepared.”

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