Jackson, Yost share many volunteer interests

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 26, 2003

Two volunteers who have worked quietly behind the scenes for years are being recognized as this year’s Outstanding Seniors of Freeborn County.

Theresa Jackson and Louise Yost will be honored at a special Senior Citizens’ Day

program at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Entertainment Square at the Freeborn County Fair, then again at the Minnesota State Fair.

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Both were nominated for the honor.

Theresa Jackson

In their letter of nomination, Lenore Fries and Beth Spande wrote, &uot;We believe that Theresa Jackson should be selected … because after 57 years of volunteering, it is time for her many efforts to be recognized. Although she has volunteered all of her adult life, she spends much of her time, now that she has retired, doing things to make life better for others in her community.&uot;

Of volunteering, Jackson said, &uot;I felt like I wanted to return some of the kindnesses I have received.&uot;

Jackson does a wide variety of volunteer work. Through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, she served for several years on the Senior Resources board of directors and has been a Peer Counselor. She helps with parties and shopping for residents of St. John’s Lutheran Home.

Jackson facilitates a grief support group meeting, helping people deal with grief and loss issues.

&uot;People need comfort and compassion, and they need to talk to someone besides family,&uot; she said of the group.

She has made use of her nurse’s training to give specialized service to Partners in Health, an organization that provides affordable and convenient access to people in need of health screening like blood pressure and cholesterol checks. She’s also an active member of the Naeve Alumni and Nurses Club.

Jackson is on the board of the Caregiver Outreach Program and is the mentor caller, checking up on caregivers and helping them with a listening ear and experienced advice. She’s also a willing helper for seasonal causes like selling daffodils for the American Cancer Society and ringing bells for the Salvation Army.

She particularly enjoys the work she does for Project Charlie. Twice a year, she dresses up like a bag lady and tells school children about the trials of homelessness. &uot;It’s fun to pretend,&uot; she said.

Jackson also does a great deal for St. Theodore Catholic Church, where she has been a member for more than 50 years. She’s been a member of the Council of Catholic Women since 1946, the choir since 1987, a eucharistic minister since 1991, and served as a trustee from 1992-98. She is also active in the ministry of care, making weekly visits to bring communion and prayer to home-bound, nursing home and hospitalized members. In addition, Jackson served on the parish council for six years, is a volunteer at St. Theodore School and served as a fund-raising team leader for the parish’s recent $600,000 fund drive.

&uot;In all of her unselfish volunteering, she is truly an outstanding senior citizen,&uot; Fries and Spande wrote.

Jackson said she only wishes more people would volunteer. &uot;It’s such a worthwhile thing,&uot; she said. &uot;I have a need to be wanted and needed.&uot;

She is grateful to have her health and the ability to do volunteer work. &uot;There are many people who are a lot younger than I am who are unable,&uot; she said. &uot;I thank God every day when I get up.&uot;

Louise Yost

Louise Yost is also an active member of St. Theodore Catholic Church. She works at funerals and calls for cake donations. She works at Loaves and Fishes and previously helped at fish fries. She is a board member and secretary of the Council of Catholic Women, is a eucharistic minister to the home bound, is a prayer chain leader, has worked in the church library and also watered church flowers.

Yost also served as a grief support group facilitator for five years.

&uot;Theresa was one of my helpers when I was widowed,&uot; Yost recalled of how she got involved with grief support.

And she took Jackson’s place on the Senior Resources board of directors. Also for Senior Resources, she is a member of the administrative committee and serves as a Peer Counselor.

An interest in history has led her to serve on the board of directors for the Freeborn County Historical Museum. She’s also part of the program committee there, and volunteers in the museum library.

A retired math and English teacher, she is on the calling committee for the local retired teachers’ organization.

In nominating Yost, Rose Zgoda wrote, &uot;Louise spends many hours each week working to better her church and community without any praise or thanks from the public. She is not one to put herself out front for special recognition, but stays in the background and serves her community with honor and grace.

&uot;The most outstanding qualities we look for in a leader are humility and sincerity. Louise Yost is a great example of both. Ask her to be president of an organization, she’ll probably turn you down, but ask her to be secretary, board member or just a worker bee and she’ll just smile and say, ‘I guess I can do that.’&uot;

Zgoda also said Yost is an excellent and involved grandmother, and visits shut-ins who are homebound or in nursing homes &uot;just to cheer them up. This is done out of the goodness of her heart.&uot;

(Contact Geri McShane at lifestyles@albertleatribune.com or call 379-3436.)