Mary Krueger (right)  and David E. Thompson were honored last week with awards from the Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Welcome Center.  Thompson received the Volunteer of the Year Award and Krueger was presented with  the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual meeting and awards luncheon.

By Tim Douglass

Long-time administrator and CEO of Glenwood Retirement Village, Mary Krueger, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Welcome Center annual meeting and community awards luncheon last Thursday.

The event was held at the Minnewaska House Brewing Co. + Grill, and attracted about 80 chamber members and area residents. 

Also honored a the luncheon was David E. Thompson, who was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award; and Someplace Safe was awarded the Non-profit of the Year.

The Outstanding Youth of the Year Award went to Minnewaska Area High School seniors Emma Kovarik, daughter of Holly and Kip Kovarik, and Alec Larson son of Megan and Cory Larson.  

Lifetime Achievement Award

Mary Krueger said she was “very honored” to receive the award and thanked the chamber and the community.  “I’ve been in this room many times and witnessed others get this award who were very deserving, and I never thought I’d be up here accepting it,” she said.

Kruger just retired on May 5, after 17 years as administrator and CEO of Glenwood Retirement Village.  She said she “was blessed” to work with a dedicated board, compassionate employees and a dedicated leadership team.

She said that Glenwood was a “wonderful community” stating that she and her family were solid southwestern Minnesota residents.  She also said that her husband has visited 49 of the 50 states and says Glenwood ranks among the best.  “It’s not just the beauty of this area, but also the people that make up this community and make it special,” she added.

“I like to start everyday with gratitude,” she said, adding that she and her family had a lot to be thankful for living and working in the Glenwood area.  “Thank you to all of you.  This is very, very special to me.” 

Volunteer of the Year Award

Long-time Glenwood Rotary member David E. Thompson was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award for his involvement in many community efforts and projects.  The award is given each year to recognize an individual for community support and involvement.  Thompson has been active in Rotary for many years and has served the Glenwood Rotary Club as president and held many positions on the club’s board of directors.  The award was presented by Jen Jabas, of United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties and a chamber board member.  Jabas said she first met Thompson at one of the Rotary Club’s meetings.  “I was there to present about the United Way Food Drop in Pope County.  Before the meeting concluded David offered his support and partnership in preventing food insecurity and was volunteering to pack food and load cars for registered families in no time!”

Jabas said Rotary provides opportunities for service, philanthropy, fellowship and networking while making our community a better place. “David models this mission in his life each and every day,” she said.  

Some of the other volunteer activities Thompson has been involved with include:

•He is a lead in the “Buckthorn Brigade” project at Glenwood’s Barsness Park.

•He’s a regular volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

•He’s involved with the Glacial Hills Elementary charter school in Starbuck.

•He has also served on United Way allocation panels to determine grant awards for local nonprofits in Pope and Douglas Counties.

“The Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber & Welcome Center thanks David Thompson for the countless ways that he is making a difference in the lives of others,” Jabas said.  The impact he has made on our community has been truly amazing, and we are blessed to have you.”

Someplace Safe was named the Non-Profit Organization of the Year.  From left from Someplace Safe are: Jenna Schiller, Jamie Aubart and Leigh Nelson; and Jordan McMahon, the 2022 President of the Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Welcome Center.

Outstanding Non-Profit of the Year Award

Someplace Safe received the award for the vital role the organization plays in the community and for “going above and beyond” not only this year but for more than 40 years.  

“The focus of Someplace Safe is on domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, exploitation, and other general crimes. Someplace Safe also has a Parenting Time Center that offers supervised parenting times and safe exchanges for parents and children who need a neutral and safe location to become reacquainted or exchange care from one parent to another.  These services are provided at no cost.  Additionally they manage thrift stores to support their clients along with other community members by providing low cost clothing and household items for individuals and families to meet their basic needs.

“Someplace safe goes beyond response and works towards prevention to provide education and awareness in our community to individuals of all ages.  There are no similar organizations to Someplace Safe in our community and thanks to the amazing work of their team, individuals who are faced with difficult situations have a safe place they can call and count on to ensure their personal safety!”

Jabas, who presented the award, said she has had the privilege of getting to know the Someplace Safe team personally and working in partnership with them regularly.  “Someplace Safe is a true community partner and they make it a priority to build relationships with other nonprofits to ensure that the individuals they serve are receiving the best care available and are surrounded by a support system to allow them to be successful. Their team is strong and courageous and when faced with hardship they see hope,” she stated during the award presentation.  “ They fight for every victim and survivor of domestic violence and crime and we cannot thank them all enough for ALL that they do for our community.”

Minnewaska Area High School seniors Alec Larson and Emma Kovarik were chosen as Outstanding Youth of the Year at the annual Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Welcome Center community awards luncheon. From left are MAS High School Principal Nate Meisner, award winners Alec Larson and Emma Kovarik, and MAS Superintendent Chip Rankin.

Outstanding Youth of the Year

This year’s Minnewaska Area High School seniors selected as Outstanding Youth of the Year were Emma Kovarik, daughter of Kip and Holly Kovarik, and Alec Larson, son of Cory and Megan Larson.   

The students are chosen based on their character, academic performance, activity participation, community support and involvement. 

“These two seniors are perfect recipients of this award, and exemplify what we strive for at Minnewaska Area High School,” said MAS High School Principal Nate Meisner.   

Emma Kovarik 

Throughout Emma’s high school career she holds well over a 4.0 GPA, while taking 14 semesters of college or AP level courses here at MAHS.  

She has participated in Cross Country, Basketball, and Track & Field receiving multiple awards in each sport highlighted by Academic All-Conference honors in all three sports, Academic All State in 2021 in Track & Field, State Participant in Cross Country in 2021, and a State Participant in Track & Field from 2017-2021.  She also was the AAA Award recipient for Minnewaska Area High School.  

Emma has also participated in Band, Choir, Jazz Band, Jazz Choir, Student Council, NHS, BPA, 4-H, and Senior Class officer where she received multiple awards in those categories and has held leadership positions in several of them as well.  

Emma plans to attend Northwestern University in St. Paul for Nursing.

Alec Larson

Just like his counterpart, Alec has achieved a GPA well over 4.0  while taking 11 semesters of college or AP level courses at MAHS.  

He has been involved in many activities throughout his high school career which include: Football, Basketball, Baseball , Soccer, Tennis, Jazz Choir and Men’s Jazz Choir.

He also served as Student Council-President and BPA-President earning multiple regional and state placements including 6th in the state for Entrepreneurship in 2021

He is also president of the National Honor Society. 

Alec has been a High Honor Student 9-12th grades, won the  Voice of Democracy essay Contest  and started and operated a business, which his brother called “Lawn Boys”   

He will be attending Northern State University in Aberdeen SD and majoring in Business Administration.