Good Neighbors

Ken and Mona Nastrom receive their second WCCO Good Neighbors almost a year to the day after their first

Although Ken and Mona Nastrom both retired within the past five years,
you’d never get that impression from looking at their schedule.

Luke Reiter
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Although Ken and Mona Nastrom both retired within the past five years, you’d never get that impression from looking at their schedule. They deliver Meals on Wheels, and Mona volunteers at Cambridge Medical Center sowing burp bibs for newborns and stuffed animals for sick children.

Ken, who has more than four decades of experience in construction, worked tirelessly to remodel the 4-H building at the Isanti County Fairgrounds, to which he donated the furnace and still performs all repairs and maintenance.

Pictured: Ken and Mona Nastrom display their 2010 Good Neighbor Certificate in their Cambridge Township home. (Photo by Luke Reiter)

So when Ken heard he and his wife were named WCCO Good Neighbors while painting his basement on Monday morning, Feb. 7, you might think  it would come as pleasant, if not overly surprising, news––except for the fact that the couple received the award already, almost one year ago to the day.

Mona still keeps the certificate in the basement declaring them official WCCO Good Neighbors and stamped February 10, 2010. Despite making a number of inquiries, the Nastroms haven’t been able to figure out who nominated them the first time, but they wonder if the same person was behind this award, based on the unusual selection of merits named in their favor.

“It was almost the same wording,” Mona said.

For instance, Mona was credited for her work as a Girl Scout Troop Leader, a role she hasn’t performed since her daughter was the program 35 years ago. But no mention is made in the nomination of the fact that she routinely volunteers to help at funerals at Christ the King Catholic Church in Cambridge

The Good Neighbors award is presented by WCCO Radio and Popp Communications and recognizes people and groups who volunteer in their community, and the winners are honored on air during the morning show, noon hour and evening.

Ken, a longtime fan of the station, jokes that being named a Good Neighbor was on his “bucket list,” but he never expected to accomplish the feat twice.

“I’ve been listening since the 60s—I always had WCCO on going to work—and never heard them repeat them,” Ken said.

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Mona laughed.

If ever there were a couple deserving of repeat awards, however, the Nastroms fit the bill.

In addition to the 4-H remodel and maintenance work, Meals on Wheels, CMC and funeral volunteering, Ken also serves on the Isanti County Fair Board and Mona has worked as treasurer for Cambridge Township for nearly 25 years.

When they’re not volunteering their time or restoring Ken’s 61 Chevy, the Nastroms travel. They recently returned from a trekking expedition in Nepal, which Mona rated as one of her favorite destinations. They’ve also been to Australia, Romania, Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt, Israel and Jordan, among other places.

“We’re retired, we have nothing to do,” Mona said.

When asked if they would aim for a third Good Neighbor award next year, the Nastroms simply smiled.

“I don’t think so,” Ken said.