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Vivian Lee and Charles Korinta Honored

Honored at the fair were Outstanding Seniors Charles Korinta and Vivian Lee. Photo by - Vicki Gerdes

When Vivian Lee found out that she would be the recipient of the 2012 Becker County Outstanding Senior Volunteer award, she said, "it was a complete surprise."

"I had absolutely no idea," she added. "But it was a nice surprise. It's overwhelming ... it makes me cry."

Lee, who will be 85 in August, was presented with the award at Thursday's Becker County Fair, along with fellow Outstanding Senior award winner Charles Korinta.

Korinta, 82, was equally touched by the honor.

"When I consider all the wonderful people who have gotten this award before, it's a beautiful group," he said with a smile. "This really is an honor."

The two Detroit Lakes residents both plan to represent Becker County at the Minnesota State Fair during its Outstanding Senior Citizen Award ceremonies, set for Thursday, Aug. 30.

"I've never been there," Lee admitted. "But I hope to go."

Korinta, a lifelong resident of Detroit Lakes, said that he was just a little saddened by the fact that none of the 61 seniors he had worked with in the Senior Companion program since 1994 were able to attend Thursday's festivities at the county fair.

Over the past 18-plus years, Korinta has put in at least 15 hours a week with the Senior Companion program, averaging about 100 volunteer hours a month.

Besides his work as a Senior Companion, Korinta was also recognized for being a 22-year member of the Detroit Lakes Senior Nutrition Center, where he has served as board secretary since 1994.

In addition, he has served as a Stephen lay minister at Trinity Lutheran Church for many years and served as a family caregiver for a World War I veteran and mother. He has also been a member of the Acorn Club, Emmanuel Community Auxiliary, and the Becker County Council on Aging, where he has been both treasurer and secretary during his three-year tenure on the board.

In addition, he has been a 20-year member of the local card club, where he helps to organize and play games of whist.

Like Korinta, Lee has been a dedicated volunteer in the community for many years.

She has helped organize fundraisers for the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes, which raised over $35,000 through her efforts.

She has supported and mentored a Vietnamese family of four through First Lutheran Church of Audubon, who sponsored the family and helped them transition into the community.

A life member of the local VFW Auxiliary since 1975, she helps to plan the annual Memorial Day program and luncheon, promote patriotism and honor local residents who have served in the military.

At Sunnyside Nursing Home in Lake Park, she spends one or two days a week helping to wash, set and comb residents' hair, as well as assisting them in their personal care and grooming.

As a member of the Holy Rosary Catholic Daughters, she has served at various weddings, funerals and special church events, helping to organize lunches, bake sales, cake walks and numerous fundraisers. She has also assisted at bake sales, dinners and funerals for First Lutheran Church in Audubon.

"Throughout the years, my mother Vivian has always found time to help others, even though she was a busy mother of four," said Lee's daughter, Mary Jo Abbott, in nominating her for the award.

"She is known for being a wonderful cook and often times fixed a meal or baked good to share with others. Vivian even compiled a cookbook with delicious recipes she had received from family and friends.

"She will turn 85 years old in August and will leave a legacy of service to others and our communities that each of us should strive to duplicate."

Those sentiments were echoed by Karen Lenius, Becker County Coordinator on Aging, during her remarks at Thursday's festivities.

"Train a young person to volunteer," she urged those past and present volunteers in the audience, noting that she was afraid the concept of service to others was in danger of dying out.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454