Jim Blaha introduced the Lewis Appledorn Award at the Healthy Community Initiative Luncheon with a tribute to Lewis describing him as a husband, father, grandfather, veteran, businessperson, boss, mentor, friend, and youth asset-builder. The latter being the purpose for the award and the preceding list the prescription of roles a person performs to become one. It all boils down to the description of someone who actively cared about and took an active interest in his community – his neighbors. To quote the tribute, “What he did so naturally is what we call youth asset-building. His contributions are testament to the idea that we can build a positive climate for youth by nurturing those with whom we share space and time.”
Marnie Thompson’s remarks in her keynote essentially said the same thing. We all need to reach out to the youth around us to connect and help them see they matter. Too many believe they go unnoticed and uncared for. I believe young people need to be seen and recognized by adults and we can either extend that recognition in a friendly way or wait until they get our attention some other way. It is not easy building and nurturing that sense of community but it is done by those folks among who show particular interest in the youth around us who are our future and will remember how we related to them.
Those community members recognized this year were Tad Hinnenkamp, an Americorp worker from Albert Lea. Susan Sanderson described Tad as someone who had great enthusiasm for working with youth. I worked with Tad when he helped at the ALC and he is a remarkable young man with keen interest in and ability to relate to youth in a positive way.
City Police officer Ted Berg was recognized for his work with the Police Explorer troop. Unable to attend the luncheon Chief Gary Smith submitted this tribute on his web log, “Sergeant Berg has spent most of his career with the Northfield Police Department as an advisor to our law enforcement explorer post. We have many of our officers who assist with the program; however, being the senior advisor to a program like this is challenging and demanding. As someone who was an explorer post advisor for nearly 18 years before I came to Northfield, I can tell you that you sacrifice family time and a lot of physical and emotional energy to run a law enforcement explorer post. Oftentimes many of the young adults in the program are shy, looking for some guidance or ‘fence sitting.’ A lot of emotional baggage is brought into the process as these young adults learn about policing. It takes patience . . . much of what is learned is through trial and error. It takes patience to accomplish this task. Ted has continued to move the post forward. As a former explorer himself, he recognizes the importance of building relationships between our young adults and our police officers. He does this well. Sergeant Berg’s genuine caring for our youth and our community made it an honor to nominate him for this award and an honor to thank him publicly for his efforts.”
The Lewis Appledorn Award was presented to Cora Scholz who for years has given her time and energy to Northfield Youth Choirs in Northfield and as Kathy Mellstrom indicated in her remarks, “it has been much much more than teaching music.”
I thought of the hard work and kind words of these youth asset builders later that evening as I helped register returning students to the new ALC program. It was good to connect with them and hear their stories again. Connecting and nurturing is what this work is all about.