Geraldine Kazebeer (center) from Monticello was recently awarded an Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award from the Heritage Area Agency on Aging. Attending the ceremony with Kazebeer were Monticello Senior Dining Manager Judy Krouse and Kazebeer’s daughter Carol Merfeld and son-in-law, not pictured. (Photo submitted)
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
People volunteer in their community for a variety of reasons, but for 84-year-old Geraldine Kazebeer, volunteering for the Senior Dining program in Monticello is two-fold.
Kazebeer started volunteering for Senior dining in 2008 when Kathy Mesch was the site manager here in Monticello. She started out helping one to two days a week as something to do. As a widow, Kazebeer said she had a lot of free time at home and wanted to get out and do something.
“My husband and I would come to Senior Dining for meals,” said Kazebeer.
Before the program relocated to the Senior Center, Kazebeer helped wash dishes at the Berndes Center. Now, she continues her volunteer service by preparing home delivery meals, serving on-site meals, cleaning up and staying on site when Site Manager Judy Krouse has to be away. She spends 15-20 hours a week at the Center five days a week.
“It’s a great social time,” explained Kazebeer of the added bonus in volunteering. “The interaction with people means so much to so many. I’d be lost at home if I didn’t have something to do.”
In honor of Older American’s Month, the Heritage Area Agency on Aging, which helps fund the county Senior Dining program, held its annual meeting and volunteer recognition ceremony. The event honored various senior volunteers and organizations, one of those being Kazebeer herself!
Kazebeer was awarded the Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award, representing Jones County! She was nominated by Krouse, Senior Dining program Director Lisa Tallman and former Monticello Site Manager Jody Graff.
“I was delighted,” expressed Kazebeer. “I’m very proud of the award.”
For her service, Kazebeer admitted the program offered to pay her for her continued dedication, for which she politely declined.
“This is something I enjoy doing,” she said with a smile. It’s plain and clear Kazebeer takes pride in volunteering.
In their nomination letter to Heritage, Krouse, Tallman and Graff stated, “Over the years she (Kazebeer) has been an invaluable part of the team in Monticello. When there was an unexpected staff change at the Anamosa site and Graff floated between Anamosa and Monticello to help out, Gerry helped keep the Monticello site operating without a ripple in service.
She thoroughly enjoys helping others. She is very dependable, friendly, sees what needs to be done and does it without hesitation. Gerry is an integral part of the Senior Dining Program. She is dedicated to what she does and does it without no expectations. The services that we offer are enhanced tremendously because of her devotion to the program.”
For her role, Kazebeer said the program could not run without all the volunteers, including Sister Ruth and Emily Boots.
“There’s a whole list of volunteers we can call in case of emergency,” she said.
Aside from her volunteer service to Senior Dining, Kazebeer also gives time to the Wayne Zion Lutheran Church. She helps tie quilts and sews quilt blocks together at home for the group.
“There are many places that would not function without volunteers,” said Kazebeer of the importance of volunteering. “Organizations depend on volunteers.”