Volunteers recognized with North St. Paul Community Service Awards

Aundrea Kinney/Review • For a lifetime of community service, Dave Zick was honored with the Legacy Award, which the North St. Paul City Council presented to him at the May 15 city council meeting. Over the years, Zick has served as the city’s fire chief, a city council member and the president of the North St. Paul Area Food Shelf, as well as various other positions.

submitted photo • Norma Worm, left, and Dawn Peterson, right, were recognized at the May 15 North St. Paul City Council meeting for filling a need in the community with the North St. Paul Toy Shelf, which they founded and operate.

Aundrea Kinney photos/Review • Sue Springborn, president of the North St. Paul Historical Society and member of various other volunteer groups, said after receiving a Community Service Award that her priority is working as part of a team to make North St. Paul a better place.

GAP YouthBuild, a group of community youth, has helped with various community volunteer projects over the past years, including building Jainie’s Playground and a dock at Casey Lake Park.

The North St. Paul City Council presented Arnie Mayers the Good Neighbor Award for his help at the North St. Paul Area Food Shelf and in his neighborhood.

For the third year in a row, the North St. Paul City Council presented Community Service Awards to several standout volunteers in the community. This year, at the May 15 city council meeting, four individuals and two groups were recognized for their hard work and achievements.

This year’s awards came with a twist and included two Legacy Awards and two Adult Community Service Awards in addition to the usual Youth Community Service Award and Good Neighbor Award.


Athletics and parks

 Mayor Mike Kuehn explained that Legacy Awards are given to people who have gone above and beyond to serve the community over a career-long length of time.

One of this year’s Legacy Awards was given posthumously to Jim Schaaf for his many years of volunteer work with the North St. Paul Athletic Association and eight years served on the Parks and Recreation Commission.

While serving with the athletic association, Schaaf ordered trophies, collected items for the food shelf, striped the athletic fields and gathered community members to perform maintenance at Casey Lake Park.

While serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission, he helped with events like Star Watch, concerts in the park and Halloween celebrations. He was also a driving force in bringing revenue to the city parks fund via the business sign advertisements at McKnight Field Complex.

Schaaf died in January 2014 at age 79.

“There couldn’t be a finer man that walked the streets of North St. Paul or anywhere than Jim Schaaf,” Kuehn said. “[He was a] true, true asset to our city and we will never forget Jim.”

Schaaf’s wife, Pat Schaaf, accepted the award on her husband’s behalf, with the couple’s children and grandchildren nearby.

“Jim loved North St. Paul. He was from a small town in the country and North St. Paul took its place, and he loved the kids and he loved Casey Park, so thank you very much,” Pat said.


Fire department, city council and food shelf

“Dave has done an unbelievable lifelong of service to the community,” Kuehn said of Dave Zick, who was also presented a Legacy Award May 15.

Zick was a volunteer firefighter for 33 years and served as fire chief for 13 of those years. While volunteering for the fire department, Zick served in the Air Force and National Guard. He also volunteered for several years as North St. Paul’s emergency management coordinator.

After retiring from the fire department, Zick served six years as a city council member, followed by a stint as the city’s volunteer community services manager, Kuehn said.

Kuehn added that Zick still serves on the Police Civil Service Commission and is an active member of the North St. Paul Neighborhood Improvement Task Force.

Zick and his wife Linda Zick, who won the Adult Community Service Award in 2016, have run the North St. Paul Area Food Shelf for almost 15 years. Zick has served for several years as president of its board of directors, and has spent many hours a week making repairs and picking up donations on behalf of the food shelf. The Zicks will be retiring in June. 

“To me it’s incredible what he’s done,” Kuehn said.

“If it isn’t for the volunteers, we wouldn’t have what we have,” Zick said. “It’s been my privilege to work with all the people in the city, and this is a great community.”


North St. Paul Toy Shelf

Norma Worm and Dawn Peterson, founders and operators of the North St. Paul Toy Shelf, received the Adult Group Community Service Award for stepping up and filling a community need.

The Toy Shelf, which operates out of Specialty Floral, provides birthday and holiday toys for children from families in need. It has given out toys 11,000 times in its almost 13 years of existence.

Kuehn explained that Worm and Peterson, who work closely with the North St. Paul Area Food Shelf, saw a need, and “they just put it together, and they just made it happen.”

“As you know, we don’t do this by ourselves,” Worm said. “We have the community that’s been fabulous as far as giving us toys, even out of the community, and all the volunteers.”

“They’ve done a fantastic job. We couldn’t be prouder to have them in North St. Paul,” said Kuehn.


Helping wherever help is needed

Sue Springborn, president of the North St. Paul Historical Society, was named the Adult Individual Community Service Award winner for her involvement in so many volunteer organizations.

“I don’t think there’s a person who’s more engaged in our community,” Kuehn said. “She steps in wherever there is a need.”

In addition to her involvement with the historical society, Springborn is a member of North St. Paul Green and the Wayfinding Committee. She also was a member of the second Citizen’s Academy, volunteered during downtown revitalization meetings and, until recently, co-chaired the Environmental Advisory Commission.

“None of us are in this alone,” Springborn said. “We’re not individuals. We are a group of people that are working together to make our community better, and to me that’s the priority, and that’s what we should do. If you see something that needs to be done, just do it.”

“It’s just been a wonderful blessing to have Sue part of the community,” Kuehn said.


Construction and buckthorn removal

A hardworking group of young people was presented the Youth Community Service Award for its volunteer labor provided to the city over the past few years. The group, called GAP YouthBuild, allows participants to learn career skills in the construction field, while earning their high school diplomas.

“They have done so many hardworking projects for many years already for the City of North St. Paul,” Kuehn said.

The group helped build Janie’s Playground and construct a dock at Casey Lake Park. It also helped remove buckthorn and plant wildflowers at Southwood Nature Preserve.

“It’s a pleasure to do the stuff we do here in the city,” said Tony Zahradka, who leads the group with his wife Sarah Zahradka.


Good neighbor

Kuehn explained that the Good Neighbor Award is exactly as it sounds. “This is an award that is just for Mr. Nice Guy who helps the neighbors.”

“I think it’s significant because our community is really based on the goal of trying [to get] neighbors to help each other, [and] to get to know your neighbors,” Kuehn added.

Arnie Mayers was presented the Good Neighbor Award for volunteering his time for a decade at the North St. Paul Area Food Shelf, as well as regularly helping out his neighbors, particularly a family who had an adult family member pass away last year. 

Kuehn said that for years he has been hearing good things about Mayers from the Zicks, but found out recently that “he comes home from the food shelf, and there he is helping neighbors and doing whatever he can.”


After the recognition ceremony, Kuehn reminded residents that the city seeks nominations of people who are helping out in the community.

Said Kuehn, “The Community Service Award presentations are something we as a council and as a city are very proud of, and all of us and the committee that was formed to help put this in place about three years ago, I think did a very good job to recognize people who have contributed significantly to the benefit of our community.”


– Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com

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