Like many volunteers, Gerrie Daley of Preston wants to help others, as well as keep valued activities going. She first started volunteering as a 4-H club member in the Winona area where she grew up. She, along with other club members, encouraged and helped others come up with a topic and do a presentation. She happily reported each club member did one.
Today, Daley uses that same spirit to help her small town of Preston be the best community it can be. To that end, she volunteers in three main areas: as president of the Magdlin-Gilbertson VFW Auxiliary No. 6893, as a co-president of the Preston Area Arts Council along with Kay Spangler, and spending much time active with St. Columban’s Catholic Church.
The VFW Auxiliary is near and dear to her heart with family members having over 60 years combined in the Army. Daley’s late husband, Pete, served in Korea in the late 1950s. Sons Ted joined in 1984, and Larry in 1990. Ted is in the Reserves. He also has a job with Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce helping veterans find jobs. Larry is currently in Stuttgart, Germany, with Special Forces. Daley said he’s been deployed outside of the United States fulltime more than in the U.S.
With all those ties, Daley said of volunteering with the VFW, “If not me, who else? I just think I should.”
Her leadership also has helped to keep the group going. Daley said the Auxiliary almost folded three years ago, having trouble finding a president. She stepped up and is now starting her third year as president, a position she’d held before, as well as others.
She noted it’s tough to get officers, “But we need to keep it going.”
The group’s activities include sending care packages to deployed soldiers with the help of the Sons of the Legion; sending items to the Veterans Home at Hastings; being present at every funeral of a member; marching or riding in a special wagon in parades; maintaining a display case for local active duty military personnel at the Club; taking part in Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other such events; taking plates of cookies to shut-ins; saving labels and helping the local school and community in similar ways; and more.
Daley is quick to credit and thank other volunteers in the VFW Auxiliary for their efforts, too. Joanie Mandelko handles the Voice of Democracy. It and the Patriots’ Pen are essay contests for local school students. DeeDee Himli heads up the poppy selling awareness and fund-raising campaign in May. Daley also credited Diane Johnson as a “very active and outstanding member.”
To join the VFW Auxiliary, Daley said one needs to have a family member in the military. Contact her for details at (507) 765-2187.
Gerie and Pete Daley moved to Preston in 1962, when she got a job with the Extension Service in Fillmore County. She worked there for 10 years followed by 33 years in daycare. Pete delivered mail.
She remembered they enjoyed music every Friday night in the west parking lot of the courthouse in those days.
With that memory and hoping to see similar events being held again, Daley became involved in the Preston Area Arts Council. “I really believe in Preston and want it to be better,” she stated.
She thanked former Preston resident Kay Spangler, now of Chatfield, for much of what they’ve done as co-presidents, and what group members have accomplished.
A new brochure created for the Preston Area Arts Council gives an overview. There’s the popular gyotaku trout printing at the city’s Trout Days; music concerts; educational tours of area museums; sidewalk chalk art activities; “Pumpkin Fest” crafts; a “Movie Night Under the Stars” summer event; co-sponsoring events with the Preston Public Library; and numerous funding and sponsorship events with Fillmore Central School. This includes the Big Band Bash, which will feature alumni band members this year; art scholarships; state honor band participants, art projects and state one-act play and band competitions.
There is much excitement since the Preston Area Arts Council recently was awarded a 501(C)(3) nonprofit status. Daley said it allows the group to apply for grants and to accept tax-deductible donations.
The group is hoping to set up an artist-in-residence at Fillmore Central in the next school year as one of its future projects, with more ideas in the works.
Look for the new brochures and “like” the group on Facebook.
Membership fees start at $15 for an individual. For more information or to make a donation, write to: Preston Area Arts Council, Box 317, Preston, Minn. 55965.
Daley said she spends the largest part of her volunteer time with St. Columban’s Catholic Church. That includes serving as a sacristan and preparing the altar for masses; handling flowers with Hallie Snyder; serving as assistant to the main organist/accompanist Jane Kingsley; serving as lector, Eucharistic minister and member of the CCW (Catholic Council of Women); and more.
While she admits to having a lot more time to volunteer after family members were off on their own and she retired, Daley also feels it’s important to encourage younger people to get involved more.
As she noted, volunteers keep a community active and strong.