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Your letters: Well done, Wadena

As I have always had dealings both personally and professionally with Wadena since my family moved to northern Minnesota in 1991 from England, it always struck me that Wadena is a town with great warmth and great character! Many of our towns in Minnesota are complete with genuine heart and spirit, and are reviving themselves with unusual and creative projects. In parts of northern Minnesota where you find economic opportunities are often few and far between, Wadena wears many hats and offers a kind of creative energy where the questions become "What if?" and "Why not?" With the ideas this type of thinking encourages, the possibilities for further rejuvenation of our grass-roots communities such as Wadena are endless.

Progressive with its growth and understanding the need to retain its identity, Wadena has been able to keep a very appealing community spirit and downtown, like so many smaller communities holding onto its hometown feel when even large corporations such as Walmart move into the community. Walking down main street one winter's day a week before Christmas day in 2002 listening to Christmas music and stopping to ask for donations for a silent auction, I realized how caring and generous the locals were. I was not from Wadena at that time, but was asking for donations for an ACS benefit taking place in a neighboring town. Shop owners and organizations supported in whatever way they felt was possible. Only to return to work in Wadena after being offered a position in 2010 by Gary Sellman at Mid-Central Federal Savings Bank, I knew this would be a great town to become part of the community. Arriving after the tornado but helping out wherever my colleagues and I were able really bought home to me the endurance, stamina that I had witnessed previously. Even during the first day of school I did not hear of any confusion, did not hear a complaint, and like a well-oiled wheel everything ran on schedule, all the children and all the classes started as the bell for another school year rang as planned. Now that takes great organization, dedication and sheer team work!

On Friday, Oct. 28, I had the privilege again to participate with my colleagues in one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies in the area: INSPIRED the 2011 Initiative Awards at Grand View Lodge Nisswa, courtesy of Central Lakes College where I am a board member. Here I witnessed the most heart-warming and exhilarating standing ovation I have ever seen. The Outstanding Community Award presented to Wadena by Kathy Gaalswyk, president of Initiative Foundation, sponsored by the Minnesota Power Foundation, Wadena city was selected because of its community development work and recovery and rebuilding efforts. There were very few dry eyes left in the room filled with community members (approximately 400) from near and far, members from communities and towns who wept watching the presentation, helped from a distance by sending funds, asking members like myself hoping and knowing that every little effort counted and mattered in some small way, hoping that this would be the only way they could share their sorrow but also join in the joy of giving back and giving thanks to a community who really have shown team spirit, and shown that they have a thriving economy, and are a thriving community.

Well done, Wadena, on an award well deserved! I am proud to be part of the community and give thanks for your sheer determination, dedication and team spirit!

Julia E. Palmer