The spirit of giving
Deb Reynolds carries on family legacy of volunteering
by BRYAN ZOLLMAN
Deb Reynolds has been on the receiving end.
And now, thankful for all that she has received, she is on the giving end.
A young mother of three, with two children very ill and in the hospital, Deb and her husband, Chuck, watched their house burn to the ground. She was 24 years old, and without insurance, and was suddenly without a home.
“Those were tough years for us,” she said. “But there were people there for me.”
Once she was back on her feet, she decided to give and follow a family tradition that began in her childhood. Her mother, Mary, and father Ken (Lawinger), set the tone for their nine kids.
“We grew up volunteering,” said Deb. “It was just a part of our everyday life.”
Deb has been a member of Community Connection for years and spearheads the Tender Loving Christmas program which serves over 150 families in the Sauk Centre area. April 6-12 is National Volunteers Week, celebrating people in communities big and small who have done selfless acts to help others.
Deb learned her volunteering skills from her mother, who served as a Christian Mother, volunteered at the former home school and also served on the park board. Her father, Ken, serves on the parish council at his church and also served as a city council member.
“He’s very quiet about what he does, but he does a lot,” said Deb. “Our family grew up knowing the importance of volunteering.”
Her siblings — Larry, Tim, Jim, Andrew, Geri, Alan, Chris and Jean, also do their fair share in their respective communities.
But Deb stands out. Tender Loving Christmas is just one of her selfless acts. As a leading member of Community Connection (formerly Jaycees), she is always on the go and always helping others. She is currently the president of the local organization.
“It’s my social life,” she said. “Some of my greatest and dearest friends were established through different volunteer organizations.”
Community Connection has a host of other volunteers, all worthy of recognition, who give back to the community. Whether it’s a benefit or a project, Community Connection is always willing to lend a helping hand. And with Deb at the helm, the organization continues to do wonders in the community.
“We try to give as much as we can,” she said. “Our focus is on the community.”
Deb would like to volunteer at a children’s hospital. She knows all too well what it’s like to have sick children. Her son, Nathan, a military member, was born prematurely and spent a lot of time in the hospital. Her daughter, Danielle, had benign tumors in her infancy that needed to be removed.
“I have a soft spot for children’s hospitals,” she said. “I would like to give back there.”
Deb has a soft spot for everybody. That is why she continues to serve her community.
And of course, like most volunteers, she doesn’t do it for the spotlight.
“There are so many great volunteers in our community,” she said. “None are more or less important than the other. Sometimes people do a lot that nobody sees.”
But all volunteers are important, and help make a community thrive, especially for those less fortunate.
Deb says she has no plans on slowing down. She will carry on the legacy that started with her parents and has spread down through her siblings and the community.
“I’ll do it until I die,” said Deb, “or until somebody makes me stop.”