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Roger Green: A volunteer for life

For some people, volunteering isn't just something to do. Instead, volunteering is just a way of life. What's more, it becomes a part of who they are, a part of their very core being.

Woodbury's Roger Green is one of those people. A volunteer since he was a child, Green was recognized for his many years of service to the community and service to others when he received the Lifetime Volunteer Award from Community Thread.

The award was given out during the April 12 Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting. Stillwater-based Community Thread is an organization that pairs potential volunteers with projects and needs around different parts of Washington County. The organization provides services for older adults, and advocates for and supports volunteers.

Earning something like the Lifetime Volunteer Award doesn't come easily, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said. To be eligible for the award, an individual must have exhibited dedication, enthusiasm and exceptional service to at least two organizations during a 10-year period, and the volunteerism he or she has done has had the "breadth and depth" to make an impact on a community.

"While to some of us, the requirements of this award seem vigorous, volunteering is just who Roger is," Stephens said. "Roger has done this, threefold. He's worked in housing, voting, economic development, the environment, health, poverty and many areas I probably don't even know about."

Community Thread has been presenting awards to volunteers for 41 of its 48 years. Last year, the organization coordinated the work of more than 1,100 volunteers, who collectively donated more than 11,000 hours, according to Community Thread Executive Director Sally Anderson.

Green was among the volunteers who contributed to those hours. Over the years, Green has served on the Housing Task Force, Community Land Trust, the Economic Development Committee, and the Chamber of Commerce, Anderson said. Green is also involved in the Woodbury Athletic Association, the American Cancer Society, and Transfiguration Catholic Church.

But that's not all—he also reads to kindergarteners, he's performed as a "dancing dad" at the Woodbury Dance Center, and he's even rappelled down the side of the U.S. Bank building in Minneapolis for the North Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

"Because of his lifetime of volunteer service, the community is in good hands and lives are enriched by the commitment Roger Green makes daily," Anderson said.

A way of life

Green is certainly honored to receive the award, but to him, volunteering is really just a way of life. And it has been, for most of that life.

"I was fortunate growing up in a family where my parents volunteered whenever they could," he said.

Back when he landed his first job in 1974, and was brand new to this area, he didn't know many people. But he had a boss who was very involved in the community, and encouraged him to do the same. He first volunteered with Face to Face, counseling youth who needed someone to talk to.

As so often happens, one thing led to another. Before long he was a board member on the Dayton's Bluff Multi-Services Center.

He volunteered with various organizations during his whole career, eventually retiring from his position as vice president of HealthEast Care Systems. HealthEast valued connections with the community, he said, so he had many opportunities to stay involved and represent the company at the same time.

But now he's retired. Sort of.

"Now that I'm retired, volunteering has become a pretty significant focus of my days," he said.

These days, Green is involved with 10 different programs or projects—he thinks—around the community. One of those is the new culture of health initiative, Woodbury THRIVES. And before too long, he'll be participating in the City of Woodbury's Comprehensive Plan Task Force, too.

It may seem like he gives a lot of himself, his time and his energy. And Green will acknowledge that to an extent, that's true. But the benefits he receives, personally, are completely worth the effort.

"It's a two-way street. I can't tell you how many wonderful people I've met over the years, reading to kindergartners, helping to build Habitat (for Humanity) homes, and so on. So many people give so freely of their time out there."

But there are more rewards, too, like being hugged by those kindergarteners the next time he comes to read for them, or watching that Habitat for Humanity family open the door to their new home.

"Those are the kinds of things that give you personal satisfaction and help you see what you did is making a difference," he said.

The recognition was nice, but Green is quick to shift the attention back to Community Thread. Programs such as Community Thread are, he said, "a catalyst for volunteerism" in Washington County.

He accepted his award not just for himself, but for the attention it brings to volunteers and the act of volunteering, no matter what form.

"It benefits the community, and I think we all have some responsibility to give back to the community we grow up in or work in," Green said. "Even if you're serving on a board, you're helping that nonprofit serve the community."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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