Finding joy in helping others; that is one reason that Lee Hoekstra of Spring Grove volunteers in the community.
“I believe we are called to serve and help others,” explained Hoekstra. “By volunteering and helping others is how I do it.”
Hoekstra volunteers in several ways; he is a volunteer for several groups — TaskTakers, Ye Olde Opera House and Trinity Lutheran Church. He also volunteers his time as a member of the City Planning Commission and the Tweeten Healthcare Center Board. He was also recently helped cook maple syrup for the Cross of Christ Church in Houston youth.
“I stay busy!” he said with a little chuckle.
When asked what he likes about volunteering, Hoekstra remarked that one reason is the relationships he has built. “I get to meet people that I might not otherwise get to know; it really expands your circle of friends,” he said. “There is so much to discover in life, it’s great to do with many people!”
He has especially enjoyed getting to know the people that he has helped through TaskTakers. TaskTakers is a non-profit organization that coordinates volunteers to help people in the Spring Grove area who need basic tasks done such as simple handyman jobs, light cleaning, shopping, yard work, transportation to appointments, to name a few.
“Doing tasks in these people’s homes gives me a chance to meet and talk to them,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed learning their life stories and really getting to know them.”
Hoekstra has always enjoyed dabbling in carpentry work, improving on something or being creative to come up with a solution. He uses these skills for helping build sets at Ye Olde Opera House and to do little fix-it jobs around that building. As part of the Commercial Club he also helped build the current Syttende Mai float for the royalty.
“I was blessed with certain gifts and talents and I can’t take them with me to my grave so I might as well use them while I can!” Hoekstra added with a smile.
Volunteering and being active in his community isn’t something that Hoekstra has done just since he retired from being an elementary teacher; he has done it his whole life.
Before moving to Spring Grove with his wife, Ruth, who has since passed away from cancer, they lived and raised their family in Kennedy, Minn. There, he was a girl’s volleyball coach, a track coach, assistant Scout Master, mayor and actively involved in his church and the community theater.
He made an impact on his children, too, through his volunteer actions. “My husband talks about his dad being mayor and when he was in scouting,” remarked Hoekstra’s daughter-in-law, Pam. “My husband also has the same attitude – you always help out and help others if you have the time and abilities, something that was demonstrated at home as he grew up.”
The value in volunteering is also touching the next generation; Hoekstra’s grandson, Sean, said, “It feels really nice to help others and make others’ lives better by helping them.”
His grandson, Adam, added, “The only payment needed for volunteering is other people’s happiness.”
Hoekstra continues to find happiness in volunteering.
“Volunteering is a great way to meet people. I get such joy from giving to others,” he reiterated. “Once a person does it, it’s hard to not do it! It really can be kind of addicting!”
He encourages everyone to find something they enjoy doing and use their skills and talents to volunteer and help others.
Lee and his late wife have two children – Mike and Sara. Mike and his wife, Pam, live in Greenfield, with their children Sean and Adam. Sara and Michael Smith live in Cottage Grove with their children, Justin, Jaci and Jackson.