Exchange Club chooses 43rd Book of Golden Deeds recipient
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Jeanette Ploof has been involved in the community most of her life. But it wasn’t until after her husband’s death in 2004, that it became a full-time calling for her.
Ploof was the eldest of seven children growing up on a dairy farm near Buckman. She graduated from St. Francis High School in Little Falls. In 1955, she married Don Ploof. They had seven children: Doug, Jean, Galen, Tom, Peter, Beth and Julie.
She has been involved with many different activities at Our Lady of Lourdes Church including helping with funeral lunches, chairing the annual bazaar craft booth, sewing baptismal vestments and quilts, delivering communion to shut-ins, serving as secretary for Catholic Aid, serving as rosary leader and as a religious education leader.
For more than 30 years, she was a telephone operator for Northwestern Bell, retiring in her 50s.
“I’ve been retired longer than I worked,” Ploof said.
The Little Falls Exchange Club received letters nominating Ploof for the 43rd Book of Golden Deeds Award from Marlene Williams, Dorothy Lindquist, Diane Korver, Karen Karnowski and Linda Johnson.
“She goes about her tasks with no thought of acknowledgement,” said Williams. “Jeanette brings along a beautiful and cheery personality. She shares her smiles and hugs generously.”
“Jeanette is one of those that is seen here, there and anywhere there is need of a volunteer,” Lindquist said. “Very often it’s a quiet, unnoticed project out of the limelight in a behind-the-scenes area. She is without a doubt an inspiration, a breath of fresh air to anyone in her presence and a great example of how we should all treat our fellow man.”
“Each person she visits is treated with dignity and love just as Jesus taught us to do,” Korver said. “The most common gift I see Jeanette sharing is her love of others.”
Don Ploof lived at home with Alzheimer’s for nine years under his wife’s care. Four more years were spent at the St. Cloud Veterans’ Home, where Ploof visited almost daily, Williams wrote.
During the past several years Ploof has volunteered at St. Gabriel’s Hospital, Minnesota Fishing Museum fundraisers, Share-a-Meal, home-delivered meals, rocking babies for Mothers of Preschoolers, making doughnuts at the Senior Center and Paint-a-Thons. She is a faithful supporter of Flyer sports and music programs.
When she has free time, she enjoys quilting, sewing, bowling, playing piano, baking, visiting and travelling. She also spends time with 18 grandchildren aged 6-30 and four great-grandchildren.
But Ploof had a hard time believing she had been chosen for the award.
“I’m just humbled,” she said. “They’re such simple things that I love doing. There are so many other people who do such big things who deserve it more.”
Those who nominated Ploof believe differently.
“She is happy to help out and does so with a caring smile and a wonderful attitude,” said Johnson. “St. Gabriel’s Hospital has been privileged to have Jeanette as a volunteer.”
“I have known her for many years and even have childhood memories of her helping others through her volunteering,” Korver said. “She is a very gentle and loving person who always brightens my day when our paths connect, with her energetic smile and soft, warm-hearted laughter. She always has positive words to say.”
What Ploof enjoys most about volunteering is that “people are so appreciative,” she said. “You are just thanked and thanked.”
She would like to encourage others to get involved in the community too.
“They don’t realize how much they would love volunteering,” she said. “Once I started, I didn’t want to quit.”
Ploof will be honored during the Exchange Club award banquet Thursday, Mar. 20 at the Falls Ballroom. Social hour begins at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. and program to follow.
Tickets are $12. Reservations can be made by calling (320) 360-2914.