County fair recognizes outstanding senior citizen

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 9, 2015

By Madeline Funk and Elena Schewe

The Freeborn County Fair selected its 2015 Outstanding Senior Citizen award-winner.

Clifford “Cliff” Rask, a 78 year-old former family physician doctor, was the Golden KII Kiwanian of the Year in 2013-14.

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Kiwanis is a global group of volunteers who are willingly dedicated to improving the world by focusing mainly on children within a community.

Terry Tarvestad of Albert Lea has known Rask since they were members of Ascension Lutheran Church and Golden KII Kiwanis together. As vice president of his Kiwanis division, Rask came to Albert Lea in 2005, in which he and Tarvestad got to know each other.

In Tarvestad’s nomination letter for Rask, he stated that Rask is someone who always has a smile on his face and is ready to volunteer.

“The more I got to know him, I noticed how helpful he was to everyone, especially if they were handicapped,” Tarvestad stated in his nomination letter. “It’s been my pleasure to know Cliff; he always has a nice smile and is a great volunteer.”

Rask drove handicapped Kiwanis members to meetings so they could stay active, as well as to their appointments or to get groceries.

He has been a part of Senior Resources of Freeborn County’s ride services in which he has volunteered 3,000-plus hours and logged over 16,000 miles.

“Cliff is always willing to go over and beyond his normal volunteer days,” transportation manager Carol Marth said of Rask’s driving. “Cliff is a kind and giving man and never expects anything in return.”

Mary Wolesky, director of foundations and development for Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, stated in her recommendation letter that Rask is a very willing and committed volunteer who offers to attend and participate at any event.

Rask volunteers for numerous organizations such as the YMCA, caregiver network, Naeve Health Care Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis, Foundation Board of Trustees, Ascension Church, and Loaves and Fishes.

When he isn’t at meetings and conventions, he has helped out at schools and has been active in church.

“Cliff is a much-appreciated participant in the ministries of Ascension Lutheran Church, where his serving includes ushering, serving communion, working in the kitchen, driving fellow members to church, and well, you get the idea,” said the Rev. Mark Boorsma about Rask’s church help. “Where help is needed, Cliff steps up.”

“He is one of the most dedicated, helpful persons that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting,” award organizer Roger Lonning said. “He is a very dedicated Golden K2 Kiwanian. I think it’s really nice that he got the award because he is very deserving of it and is a real asset to Albert Lea.”

Rask will be recognized for his dedication to the community at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Freeborn County Fair at entertainment square.

Rask is now eligible for the Outstanding Senior Citizen Award for the Minnesota State Fair. Outstanding seniors will be recognized for their service at the award ceremony at the State Fair on Sept. 3.