This story comes from the amazing Brandon Baumbach of Emerado, who is one of the organizers of the annual Emerado Corn Feed:
One of the great things about North Dakota is just how rampant runs our volunteerism. This, coupled with our modesty, makes it nearly impossible to quantify or to even begin to conceptualize just how many people go above and beyond every day. Just think of all the ways you have volunteered (at your church, in your school, for a community event, or on an organizational board, etc.) over the past year or two; then make that same assumption about all the people you meet in a day. It’s overwhelming, in a very positive way.
So, rather than qualifying this points through the numbers of volunteer hours provided in the state, I will just share a story of one community member who has not quit volunteering for nearly 30 years.
In the small town of Emerado, ND (just west of Grand Forks 20 miles and located adjacent to the Grand Forks Air Force Base) an annual Corn Feed event is held in August. On this day, the community celebrates itself, history, future, and its people. The Lions Club cooks up corn on the cob and hands it out to as many people as possible (it’s all-you-can-eat!). At this event this year, the organizing committee took the time to name an inaugural Golden Kernel Award. An award that takes a moment to recognize a volunteer who may not receive recognition for all they do.
This year, Gary Carroll received the award. If you are from Emerado, you know Gary. If you are not, you still may. He has spent over 25 years on the city council with a similar term length on the local school board (and a part of two school expansions to help more kids get the education they need). Furthermore, he has been active on the park board in the past and was a part of the inaugural group of people who established the Emerado Volunteer Fire Department. This is all on top of owning and operating his own hair salon for nearly 50 years. Gary holds a moored value for family and it shows having been a care provider for his mother as she neared the dusk of her time -perhaps, his greatest responsibility served. And he treats all his community members as family.
Gary represents so many of us in so many communities across the state of North Dakota. In Emerado, we are grateful and overwhelmed by his relentless volunteerism. I implore you to consider your community Golden Kernel; and be sure to tell them!