Seniors being honored at Walworth County Fair
ELKHORN They come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but five senior citizens being honored at this year's Walworth County Fair all share one quality—volunteerism—that qualifies them as outstanding.
Seniors being recognized this year include Lind and Jim Vavra, Arnell Jorgensen, Elva Gallagher and Penny Rausch. Here is a closer look at each:
Much of Elva's volunteer work is connected to her church, Triune Lutheran in Sharon. She volunteers at the church's Main Street Organization and serves as an alter guild.
The Rev. Dale Blanchard says Gallagher has "a strong faith and desire to continue God's word to others. She is a friend to many other ladies in the church and has helped out in the community whenever it is needed."
Gallagher's connection to the fair is as an exhibitor displaying ceramics, gardening, sewing and quilting. Word throughout the county is that her cookies taste great.
Rausch's passion for reading was a natural fit for her getting involved as a volunteer at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn. She has been active not only at the library's circulation desk, but also with its fundraising arm, the Friends of Matheson Memorial Library, which she serves as vice president and membership coordinator.
Rausch also is a volunteer at Lakeland Health Care Center Nursing Home.
"Penny enjoys her time volunteering and would, without a doubt, drop whatever she was doing to help out with any project for the library," said Katie James, president of the library friends group. "She is already an outstanding senior citizen in our community."
Jorgensen's list of volunteer work covers nearly every activity in southern Walworth County including Walworth Village Board trustee, Meals on Wheels, Sunday school teacher, Meals for the homeless, Lake Geneva West Chamber of Commerce, Susan B. Komen Cancer Fund, Women's Quilting Project, treasurer at Faith Lutheran Church, and secretary/treasurer at Walworth Center Cemetery.
When not volunteering, Jorgensen finds time to read, go to garage sales, enjoy gardening and spending time with her three children, 16 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
"As her friend, I've seen her engage in other selfless activities that go unnoticed," said friend Roxy Baker. "She is very generous and willing to help others."
Linda and Jim Vavra
There's no doubt about the Vavras volunteer team. Since their wedding day in 1968, the two have been fixtures at the fair.
You can usually find Jim at the Barnyard Adventure.
"Yep, I been here since 5:30 this morning, and I haven't stopped yet," he said Wednesday.
Jim Vavra volunteers about 30 hours each week to the Barnyard Adventures Food Pantry. A former tool and die maker, he now enjoys an occasional round of golf when not working at the food pantry.
"He is very dedicated to Barnyard and one of the hardest workers I have," said Barnyard Adventure Superintendent George Mroch.
Linda Vavra was busy Wednesday in the ticket booth at the fair's main gate. She also volunteers at the Barnyard Adventures Food Pantry, Volunteer Connections and at Mercy Hospital's information desk. She enjoys reading in her free time.
"It is an honor to work side-by-side with Linda at Volunteer Connections," said friend Patti O'Brien. "She always has a great attitude and a quick smile."