Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 17, 1999

Volunteers receive bishop's medal for service

By Luis Puga

Richard Genty and Sylvia Artmann have been awarded the Bishop's Medal of Service from the Diocese of New Ulm for their volunteer work.

The award was presented by Bishop Raymond Lucker on Confirmation Sunday in the Holy Trinity parish recently.

The two Winsted residents were thankful for the honor, but also insisted that there were many other people in the community who were more deserving of the award.

That observation points to the importance and prevalence of volunteerism in the area, which both Genty and Artmann agree is good. Certainly, the two have contributed their fair share.

Artmann has been very active in the parish, participating in the social concerns committee, Bible study, sacristan, prayer network, and the liturgy committee.

She worked to create the comfort group, and also established the high school band at Holy Trinity.

She has also worked hard in the area of religious education, been a teacher's aide, chaperone, eucharistic minister, lector, priest cook, choir member at Holy Trinity and Norwood, and an organizer for the Meals on Wheels program.

And there's more.

In conjunction with the medal, the recipients also received plaques listing their accomplishments.

Artmann's read, "She has given countless hours of dedicated service to not only our parish, but also various communities" and described her as "a very active and selfless member of Holy Trinity parish."

Genty's accomplishments are also many.

A former public defender for the first judicial district, he has participated in the Knights of Columbus, the RENEW Committee, Foundations for the Future, education committee, boosters club, American Legion post, Meals on Wheels, and is a board member at the Adult Training and Habilitation Center (ATHC).

In the parish, he has been both a commentator and lector, and is proud to have "assisted the election of a pro-life legislative candidate."

He is also a member of the board of directors of McLeod Treatment Programs, Inc., an organization which provides temporary homes for displaced children.

His plaque reads, "He is like a founding father of Winsted."

Both Genty and Artmann insist on modesty, saying that one does not volunteer to be recognized.

Both believe in the importance of encouraging volunteerism as a part of life, not just for those directly aided, but for the community as a whole.

Artmann said, "A small town couldn't exist without volunteers. You'd never be able to do anything."

She pointed out the tremendous amount of volunteer work for Winstock Country Music Festival, noting that with 800-plus volunteers already, it still needs more.

The fact that such activities take place, she said, "is a credit to our community.

Personally, the work is also rewarding to the volunteer. A former post office worker for 35 years, Artmann was used to seeing many people on a given day. Through her volunteer work, she also gets that personal contact.

For Genty, the role of helping people is not new. As a public defender, he provided legal services for those who could not otherwise afford it.

Artmann added that Genty helped her through a very trying time when her husband passed away in a car accident, adding, "He saved my life."

For retirees, volunteering seems like a logical step with the amount of time that is freed up after work. However, encouraging the young to volunteer is also important.

Genty said, "You do that mostly by example."

Artmann interjected, "They always talk about the young people being so bad. There are so many good ones."

She then relayed a story of a card she had received from a recently confirmed youth who thanked her for her work and said she had set an example to live by. She adds that she sees a lot of youth volunteers, especially in school.

Time is always an issue and Genty admits that he does more volunteer work than he did while he was practicing law.

However, Artmann added, "If you really want to (volunteer), you'll find time."

So what have been their most rewarding experiences volunteering?

For Artmann, it is the visits to St. Mary's Care Center where, she said, you have to be prepared to be hugged. She said of the St. Mary's residents, "When you get there, they wait for you. They need you."

For Genty, the Meals on Wheels programs is important. The program delivers meals to those who aren't able to get a nutritious meal. Coupled with that is the senior dining program that provides affordable, nutritious meals to senior citizens at the Legion Club at a discounted price.

Genty said it was a struggle to get the program initiated, and the Legion was about the only place in town that could provide the space. The program delivers about six to 12 meals, and about 20 to 30 people attend the meals at the club where they can socialize with each other.

With good experiences, also come some difficult ones. Both have seen their share of difficult times: Genty at the military funerals through the Legion, Artmann with driving patients to hospital appointments.

However, the experience overall is one that is rewarding. Each has a long list of organizations, and particularly special events like Winstock and the Legion Festival, that need volunteers.

Genty is also seeking golfers to play in an upcoming tournament to benefit the ATHC.

Artmann adds there is never a shortage of things to do in the community.

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