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Deerfield names inaugural volunteer of year

Julie Walsh (second from right) was the winner of the inaugural Deerfield Volunteer of the Year award, which was presented to her at the annual volunteer banquet on Thursday, April 24, at the Deerfield. Pictured (from left) are Deerfield Resident Services Director Jackie Waalen, Recreation Coordinator Amber Kusilek,Volunteer of theYear winner Julie Walsh and First National Community Bank President Thomas Mews. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

Being a volunteer has always been something Julie Walsh has enjoyed, especially when she gets to work with the staff at the Deerfield in New Richmond. Even so, Walsh was more than a little surprised to hear her name announced as the first-ever Deerfield Volunteer of the Year at the annual volunteer banquet on Thursday, April 24.

“I’m surprised and really overwhelmed,” Walsh said. “When she was reading the list of things that I had done I was like, ‘I didn’t do all of that.’ I was honored that I was selected to be the first Deerfield Volunteer of the Year. It is always a joy to volunteer with the staff here because they are so upbeat and grateful for all of their volunteers.”

Before announcing the winner of the award, Deerfield Resident Services Director Jackie Waalen read a short speech outlining the many good qualities Walsh had shown throughout her time as a volunteer at the Deerfield.

“This special and amazing volunteer has been a diverse and creative volunteer for around a decade,” Waalen said in her speech. “She started greeting our residents with her kind and caring spirit as a Deerfield receptionist. She shared her green thumb by pruning our bushes around the facility. She has organized unique programs, such as a variety of hat shows and Ladies Teas.… She has served our Deerfield with kindness, cheer and love.”

Waalen also ran through a list of activities Walsh helped with and some of the many projects she took on, including helping with the holiday events, decorating for the changing seasons and lending her creativity to design the gift shop so it had a variety of items to shop for.

The reason Walsh started volunteering at the Deerfield is a simple one. She was asked.

“I knew Jo [Wirch] and that is the main reason I started volunteering at the Deerfield,” Walsh said. “She is really good friends with my sisters, so I’ve known her since I was in high school. She called me one day and asked if I would be interested in helping and you can’t say no to Jo. That is what got me volunteering.”

Not only does Walsh enjoy helping the residents of the Deerfield, but she loves the staff and working with them.

“One of the main things that has kept me coming back is the people and the fact that I know so many of the residents here, too,” Walsh said. “The atmosphere here is great and that is another reason I’ve kept volunteering here. It is fun to volunteer in a place like this.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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