Tanett Hodge Staff Writer
Thursday evening brought excitement to some Gun Lake area residents as they sat in the upstairs ballroom of the Walldorff Brewpub and Bistro in downtown Hastings. Resident and long-time community volunteer Marjory Richards and the Orangeville Community Outreach group as a whole had both been nominated for awards through the Barry County United Way Volunteer Center. Richards, along with Mark Paradowski, Jerry Monroe and Marlene Gregersen, attended the banquet, along with Township Clerk Mel Risner, who nominated the OCO for a group award. No one knew which nominees would win as they gathered for the evening’s festivities. The fun theme for the night was “donut-centered,” and sweet excitement filled the air. Attendees were treated to a buffet of food provided by the Walldorff, and Morgan Johnson of the United Way Volunteer Center emceed the program, which was “sprinkled” with lots of confectionary puns. “I ‘donut’ know what I would do without volunteers,” she said to begin the program. “You all make a ‘hole’ lot of difference.” Twelve awards were given during the night, including individual recognitions for continued service, mentorship, leadership and excellence. Johnson said the volunteer center also recognizes that groups are a powerful tool in volunteering and often go the extra mile for people in Barry County. “A group can make a large impact when all work together toward a shared goal,” she said. After noting that the winning group has a total of 60 members of all ages who contribute more than 6,000 hours annually to uplifting the quality of life for citizens in southwest Barry County, Johnson revealed the winner of the group volunteer award to be the Orangeville Community Outreach. She thanked members for having the courage to “experiment with the ingredients to create something amazing.” “This is very nice,” Mark Paradowski of the OCO said. “I didn’t think we would win with the company we were in. There are so many great volunteers in this room.” “We couldn’t do it without all the volunteers that give their time,” Jerry Monroe said. “This is fantastic.” Marlene Gregersen said that they plan to put the certificate up at St. Francis Church, so people can see it. Paradowski expressed thanks to the United Way committee. “I know it had to be tough to make those decisions,” he said. Marjory Richards was presented with the “Be the Sprinkle Donut” award. She began her volunteerism as a Brownie and Camp Fire leader many years ago. She was the first female school board member of the Wyoming School district and is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Hastings. “She believes in giving back to her community and has served in many different capacities with the General Foundation of Women’s Clubs – Gun Lake,” Johnson told the crowd Thursday. Richards has been Vice President of the organization, involved in the scholarship committee and internationally with the GFWC by altering clothing for veterans with physical handicaps, knitting helmet liners for troops in Afghanistan and much more.