By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
On Aug. 10, during the Morrison County Fair, two members of the community were name Outstanding Senior Citizens. Receiving the honor for 2014 were Alice Kahlhamer from Pierz and Tony Wenzel from Randall.
Kahlhamer, 79, volunteers with Faith In Action of Morrison County. She works two-three days a week, driving people to appointments and shopping. This service provides independence to those who need help from friends and family.
She also provides homemaking skills and helps with chores, home modifications and caregiver support through respite and friendly visiting.
Habitat for Humanity also benefits from Kahlhamer’s desire to help. She makes meals for the crews working on the homes, does office work and works tirelessly to raise funds for the organization. She also makes cookies for the golf tournament.
At St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Pierz, Kahlhamer is a member of the choir and helps with bazaars.
Kahlhamer received the Pierz Lions Hearing Research Fellowship in 2012.
Krisie Barron, director of Faith in Action, said of Kahlhamer, “Alice has been a volunteer with Horizon Health Faith in Action since 2007 and has given her gifts of time, talents and compassion to many people in her community that needed help staying safe and independent in their own homes.
“Alice has given 895 hours of time and has driven over 8,411 miles in the last seven years. She is willing to volunteer and help out where she can. When called, Alice not only provides rides, but also provides companionship and compassion to the people she serves,” said Barron.
Kathy Kahlhamer, director of Habitat for Humanity, said it was her pleasure to write a letter in support of Kahlhamer.
“Habitat of Humanity has been a recipient of Alice’s dedication and commitment during her years of service as a volunteer. … She had the ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ attitude from which a non-profit like Habitat for Humanity greatly benefits,” she said.
“Alice has volunteered at our golf tournaments, stuffed envelopes, and baked countless treats and meals for volunteer work crews,” Kahlhamer said. “Alice is a humble person who has a continuous smile and is always upbeat and happy.”
Like Kahlhamer, Wenzel volunteers at many different venues. For the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau, he provided artistic photography for the 2013 and 2014 Visitors Guide, committed to senior vintage photos for the elderly in the community, distributed more than 4,000 Visitors Guides and has taken pictures of classic car events in Little Falls.
With St. James Church in Randall, Wenzel is a lector, communion distributor, church council member, religious education instructor, chairman for the August Fest Church Bazaar where he works with marketing, donations, organizing volunteers and acquiring prizes.
At St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls, Wenzel’s volunteer duties include greeting patients and family members at the front desk and making them feel at ease.
Wenzel works with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association as president and banquet chairman. He helped raise funds to feed starving deer and to help with youth education.
At Camp Ripley, Wenzel is the liaison and chair person for the Army Retirement Seminar, helping veterans navigate changes in health benefits and retirement.
Wenzel created DVDs with photographs and music for a veteran with terminal cancer, for the Holdingford “Soldiers Shine” celebration and to help Little Falls with promoting the town as a travel destination or relocation option.
Wenzel is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Minnesota Sheriffs Association and the American Legion Post 46.
Linda Johnson, manager of the Volunteer Services and Lifeline at St. Gabriel’s Hospital, said, “Tony is an exceptional individual who has long gone above the call of duty,” she said. “He has been a key leader in advocating for veterans’ affairs. After his own retirement, he implemented an educational program for other retired soldiers and federal technicians. He led these programs for about seven years.
“Tony is friendly, helpful, enthusiastic and pleasant to the many patients, visitors and families (who come to St. Gabriel’s Hospital). He helps put people at ease,” she said.
The Outstanding Senior Citizen Award winners at the county level will be entered into the State Outstanding Senior Citizen Award competition. The two state winners will be honored at a ceremony at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul on Senior Day, Thursday, Aug. 28, 10:30 a.m. at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell.