2012 Outstanding Seniors: Helen Remmers instrumental with Isanti Senior Dining

A woman who was instrumental in bringing Senior Dining and Meals on Wheels to Isanti is now being honored as 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizen for Isanti County.

Helen Remmers, who also earned the distinction in 2000, has always felt called to volunteer and help where needed.

Helen Remmers is honored to be selected a 2012 Isanti County Outstanding Senior Citizen and will be recognized during a program at the Isanti County Fair July 19 at 2 p.m.
Helen Remmers is honored to be selected a 2012 Isanti County Outstanding Senior Citizen and will be recognized during a program at the Isanti County Fair July 19 at 2 p.m. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

“I remember my mom telling me from a young age that I was always there to help those who needed it,” Remmers said. “Even when I was in school, my mom said I would always search out that person who needed help and help them. I was always closest to those who were ignored by others.”

Edie Frison, Isanti Senior Dining Coordinator, nominated Remmers for the award.

“Helen is and was the consummate volunteer,” Frison wrote in her nomination letter. “Now into her late 80s, she still helps count receipts for senior dining.”

Remmers, together with Bill Carlson, who was also selected as an Outstanding Senior Citizen, will be honored during Senior Day at the Isanti County Fair on Thursday, July 19. A program runs from 1 to 4 p.m., with Carlson and Remmers receiving their official plaques during a presentation at 2 p.m. at the Bandshell.

Remmers moved into Isanti Estates in 1977 and served as manager together with her husband. She and her husband moved to Mora in 1988, but then moved back to Isanti in 1994 and has lived in an apartment building since that time.

Remmers began the Senior Dining program in Isanti in 1988 that is administered by the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud.

“We had our grand opening in 1998 for Isanti Senior Dining after two years of working to get it started,” Remmers said. “I received the first key to open the doors, and I still have it. I received a lot of help with this, particularly from Fran Strodtman with Cambridge Senior Dining and Glenda Reynolds, who was the first coordinator of the site.”

Remmers served as assistant to the dining coordinator at Isanti Senior Dining and spent approximately six hours at the site each week that is open on Mondays and Wednesdays. Recently Remmers resigned from the staff at Isanti Senior Dining, but still volunteers as much as she can.

Volunteers have made Isanti Senior Dining the place it is today.

“The volunteers we have there are wonderful,” Remmers said. “They are the ones who stand behind everyone else, but are just so appreciated. We don’t see them, and don’t want to see them. They are like the wind. Even though we don’t see it, we know it’s there.”

Remmers also has been an active volunteer with Elim Baptist Church since 1997. She has been responsible for the senior Bible study and has served at funerals. Since 1997, she has worked at the welcome center for 40 minutes each week.

The Heartland Express transit bus system was another project close to her heart. She served on the advisory committee from 1997 to 2000 and was instrumental in getting bus transportation to transport seniors and veterans to their appointments at Twin Cities hospitals.

“Helen remains active in her church and has a keen interest in the political economy of the city of Isanti, the state of Minnesota and the county,” Frison noted. “Helen does not let her physical restrictions put a stop to her philanthropy. Helen is endeared by her family and that love is reciprocated.”

Remmers spent five years volunteering in radiology at Cambridge Medical Center, and noted she had been a chiropractic assistant for 19 years. She spent time encouraging and directing patients. She also served as an active member of the Isanti County Commission on Aging, as well as secretary, for 14 years beginning in 1998.

“I really have been blessed by having so many wonderful people in my life,” Remmers said. “It really is an honor to be selected an Outstanding Senior for Isanti County, especially the second time around. I truly didn’t expect it, and felt there were very good nominees. Other volunteers do so much more than I do, but I do appreciate this honor.”