HJ/EDJuly 31, 2006

Helen Yager can't imagine not volunteering

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Helen Yager of Winsted can’t imagine a life without volunteer work.

She could be considered a “full-time” volunteer, and continues to work with many different local groups and organizations. She was named KDUZ Radio’s Hometown Hero for July.

“I can’t imagine not volunteering,” Yager said. “It’s just been a part of my life. God has blessed me with the good health to do it.”

Yager, who is the current president of Post 407 Legion Auxiliary in Winsted, hails from Winona, but moved to Delano at a young age to live with her aunt and uncle, and to attend school there.

She said at that time, her family was one of the only Protestant families in Winona, and that the only bus that went by her home went to the Catholic school, so her family sent her to Delano. Following school, she worked at Delano Granite Works, where she met her husband, Woody.

The couple married, and raised their three children in the Delano area. Their daughter, Cheryl Weiman, has passed away, and Yager’s two sons, Greg and Bruce, both live in Calispell, Mont. She also has four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with one more on the way, she said. She and her husband are hoping to make it out to Montana this fall to spend some time with their family.

Woody has been in sales his whole life, Yager said, which led them to move to Hemet, Calif., where they resided for about 20 years. While there, Yager did volunteer work at the Hemet Hospital, where she co-managed a gift shop, netting $50,000 in profit for the hospital.

“The most rewarding thing I think I ever did was when another gal and I got asked to buy Christmas gifts for kids in a home for the mentally challenged,” Yager said. “We had to buy a variety of gifts on limited funds. There was one little boy who was bedridden. We gave him a little red car, and you would have thought we gave him the world. I’ll never forget the look on his face.”

The Yagers moved from California back to Minnesota about 11 years ago, she said. Since that time, she has become involved in her church, and volunteers at St. Mary’s Care Center, as well as with the Legion Auxiliary.

Yager was working on a project called Commissary Coupon Clipping, which helps families who are living overseas on military pay. She said, in May alone, the Auxiliary mailed out 7,600 coupons.

“Last year, we sent more than $15,000 worth of coupons,” she said.

In Yager’s spare moments, which she said are few and far between, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, and has made lap robes and quilts for veterans.

“I manage to keep busy,” she said with a laugh.

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