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Woodbury woman to be honored at county fair

Linda Simkins

A Woodbury woman will be honored for her efforts in volunteering in the east metro.

Linda Simkins is one of two people who will be recognized as “Outstanding Senior Citizens” by Washington County Fair organizers. Simkins and Stillwater resident Rob Rafferty, a fixture among volunteers in the Washington County mental health community, will be honored on Aug. 2 at the fair’s Senior Day.

Fellow Woodbury resident Peggy Oehlke nominated Simkins for the award.

“I think she finds that she’s got everything she needs, so she feels like she should give her time to those who are in some kind of need,” Oelke said. “You can see it’s a joy in her heart to do that.”

Washington County Fair Manager Dorie Ostertag said a committee considers nominees and looks for “someone who is very energetic and eager.”

Recognizing seniors as a segment of the local population is vital, she said, “to make them aware that they’re a very needed asset -- to give them some credit for what they do.”

Simkins, 72, volunteers much of her time through her church, St. Peter Lutheran, in Afton. There, she and others create quilts that are distributed to the less fortunate. Some are distributed worldwide; others go to battered women at the Harriet Tubman Center East in St. Paul.

Also through St. Peter, Simkins packages up sandwiches for the homeless. She serves as chairwoman for the church’s social ministry, which also means knitting prayer shawls for the seriously ill and work at a Stillwater food shelf.

Simkins also volunteers at the Second Harvest Heartland program and through Feed My Starving Children, where she packages up food that’s send around the world.

She said receiving the fair’s award was an honor that she didn’t see coming.

“I just felt that there’s got to be people who do far more than what I do,” Simkins said. “But I was pleasantly surprised.”

Simkins said she has a personal motivation for volunteering, which she said is a rewarding activity, especially when it means helping others.

“I just thoroughly enjoy it,” she said. “I enjoy meeting new people and just staying really busy at the church level and the community level.”

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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