Ruhland recognized for giving

Linda Ruhland was recognized for a lifetime of volunteerism in the Montgomery community on Monday, July 15, when she was presented the Roger J. Wolfe Award by the Minnesota Valley Action Council. She is pictured with the award and MVAC Executive Director John Woodwick.

Quilting for the poor, sewing for low-income families, organizing a craft group to make over 18,000 items for military and veterans, and helping start Holy Redeemer’s Prayer Shawl Ministry are just a few of the many ways in which Linda Ruhland has brightened the lives of others. On Monday, July 15, Ruhland received the 2013 Roger J. Wolfe Award at the Minnesota Valley Action Council Annual Meeting in recognition of her incredible dedication to others. 

The award was created in honor of the late Roger J. Wolfe, who served on MVAC’s board of directors for 22 years and was tireless in his commitment to volunteer activities. 

The criteria to be selected for the award include the individual’s volunteer contributions, how these impact the community, and how the accomplishments motivate and inspire others. One individual from the nine counties of south central Minnesota is selected each year for this honor. 

Ruhland was nominated two years ago by former County Commissioner John Grimm. This year, County Commissioner Joe Connolly re-submitted her nomination with a letter of support from City Administrator Steve Helget.

In addition to the list of volunteering above, Ruhland is also a longtime Red Cross blood donor and volunteer, provides rides for senior citizens, has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary for 28 years and involved in many veterans initiatives, leads an exercise class at Park Manor Apartments, served on the HRA board for five years, and was a Brownie troop leader for several years. 

Not one to stand by if a need arises in the community, Ruhland takes action. During the awards ceremony, MVAC Executive Director John Woodwick told the audience how Ruhland jumped into help after the devastating fire at Park Manor Apartments in 2009, which left 43 tenants displaced and in need of everything from a place to live, furniture, clothing, everyday items –– and someone to care.

Helget said that each day at City Hall, Ruhland would be there overseeing donations and making sure everyone had what they needed. 

“On the weekends, she and her husband Gary would go to garage sales to find items people needed, purchase it themselves and then deliver it if the person didn’t have a way to transport it,” Helget said. “She’s really deserving of this recognition.”

The kindness she has shown others isn’t something that will be forgotten anytime soon, as Ray Kotasek, one of the displaced tenants, explained. “I lost everything I had in that fire,” he said. “She and that drop-off site at City Hall really helped a lot of people.” 

In addition, Ray said he has been involved in the crafting group she leads to make needed items such as lap blankets, pillows and mittens for active military and veterans. “I’ve made several gloves and mittens she’s shown me how to crochet for the military and veterans project. She’s been a lot of help. It keeps me going –– keeps everyone going,” he added.

Ruhland said she found out she was receiving the award, she felt both honored and humbled.

“Some of it (volunteering) was very scary, like the Park Manor fire. It was very humbling to help people with no home or belongings,” she commented. “I had help from so many along the way to meet challenges head on to help those in need. It came from the heart.”