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Volunteers recognized for efforts in the area

April is National Volunteer Month, and the Blue Zones Project in Albert Lea is recognizing volunteers throughout the month. The following are the people recognized and their involvement in the community:

Robyn Joel

Volunteerism plays a vital role in the well-being of worksites. Volunteering makes a difference, and employees get healthier, too. Employers find that volunteering employees are less stressed, more engaged and are developing important work and people skills. That makes employers feel good, too. Joel was recognized as Freeborn- Mower Cooperative’s Volunteer Employee of the Year.

Her favorite volunteer time is spent at the Humane Society of Freeborn County. The Humane Society is solely funded by donations and fundraising efforts. It has two paid employees; otherwise it operates with all volunteers.

Margo Wayne

People who volunteer feel a deeper connection to their communities and to other people. Wayne is a teacher at Albert Lea High School and volunteers for the 4-H program of Freeborn County. She also serves on the State Fair Rabbit Committee.

Sara Barnes

Barnes has a big heart and is always willing to help out in the community. She volunteers as a National Alliance on Mental Illness co-facilitator, for adults struggling with mental illness in the community. She is also a volunteer president for the Exchange Club for Freeborn County. Barnes is a busy single mom with three children — all in sports — and manages to make time for games/tournaments, practices, school functions and volunteers on a weekly basis.

Nikki Worman

Worman is the secretary at Sibley Elementary School. She volunteers with the Freeborn County Humane Society. She faithfully does chores at the facility and consistently fosters cats and dogs. She also volunteers for Ruby’s Pantry, a monthly food distribution for those in need of additional food assistance.

Gina Gullickson

Gullickson is a great co-worker within the Freeborn County worksite family and loves to help out. She has been part of the committee for the County Recognition Banquet to recognize others. She has also helped the Wellness Committee with activities when they have needed extra volunteers. She takes notes at planning workshops and helps out with projects for the administration and maintenance departments. She is a huge help to the Extension Office, especially around fair time with pre-fair tasks.  She is past chairwoman of Relay for Life of Freeborn County.

Laurie Neff

Neff is an activities clerk at Albert Lea High School. She is always willing to give a helping hand wherever it is needed. Most recently, Neff has been instrumental in working with an organization called Soles for Jesus. She traveled to Africa in December with the organization and has now established a local tie. She will be heading up a location in Albert Lea to collect used shoes to send to Africa. This is just one of her volunteer efforts. Her contagious generosity touches many around her.

Michelle Pink

Pink is a caring person who shares her time and talents to help others in need.  She is involved with Albert Lea Vineyard Church and uses her vacation time each year to go on mission trips to foreign countries with other church members. She volunteers with the Salvation Army, Ruby’s Pantry and many other community groups. She is not the type of person who brags about her community involvement — she does it and is comfortable serving behind the scenes.

Pink donated one of her kidneys to a friend from church who was going to die without a kidney transplant. Without knowing all the details, she probably had to use some vacation and sick time during that process, and then of course deal with all the physical recovery from the surgery. She just did it.