The Minnesota Statewide Activity Professionals (MN SWAP) recently named Deb Dodgen as Volunteer of the Year for her work at Ecumen Meadows in Worthington, Minn.

“We aren’t the same place without her and certainly miss her when she isn’t here,” says Cheryl Dinsmore, Life Enrichment Manager at Ecumen Meadows, who nominated Dodgen for the award.  “She’s a breath of fresh air whenever she is around.”

In the photo, Deb Dodgen (right) is shown with Cheryl Dinsmore and the award plaque.

The Worthington Daily Globe recently profiled Dodgen telling about her deeply personal motivation for volunteering.  After 22 major surgeries had debilitated her, she reached out to helping others as a way of coping with her own pain and depression.

In presenting Dodgen with the statewide award, MN SWAP cited her “gift of humor and outgoing nature to lift those around her by helping them laugh…Seeking out people’s interest, she finds clever ways to meet others on their level…Her bubbly and vivacious personality make others naturally want to be around her.  Her laugh is infectious. While having what seems like boundless energy, she is warm and welcoming to all.  She is full of life and fun to be around.  She has a deep understanding of dementia and the aging process…She helps residents succeed in everything they try.

“Being ready with a smile and an outstretched hand, she knows when a resident needs a hug.  As an effective group leader, she readily leads groups big or small helping those around her to have a pleasant encounter or feel better about themselves.” 

Dodgen has been volunteering at Ecumen Meadows for three years through the Senior Corps program.