DES MOINES – Jeannine Liljedahl, of Essex has been named the 2014 winner of the AARP Iowa Andrus Award for Community Service, the Association’s most prestigious and visible award for volunteer service.
In announcing the award, AARP Iowa’s 2013 Andrus Award winners, Jan and Phyllis Wilson of Fort Dodge, said, “we pleased to be here to help award this great honor to Jeannine in recognition of her many volunteer contributions, especially for her work to establish and sustain a volunteer-led, community project for the past 16 years, the Little Red Wagon noon meal delivery service for the elderly in Essex.”
Liljedahl officially received the award at a special recognition ceremony for Andrus Award nominees and AARP member volunteers from across the state on Nov. 12 at the Holiday Inn Downtown Des Moines. Prior to the Des Moines celebration, AARP Iowa State President Tony Vola previewed the award for Liljedahl’s family, southwest Iowa community leaders and volunteers, and presented a check to the Shenandoah Community Food Pantry in her honor. This is the first year AARP Iowa has included a $1,000 monetary prize in the award for the Andrus recipient to give to the charity of their choice.
As AARP’s highest award for community service, the Andrus Award honors the work and legacy of AARP founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. From the beginning, her motto, “to serve, not to be served,” has shaped AARP’s community service efforts at the national, state and local levels. This award acknowledges the significant volunteer contributions AARP members and volunteers make in their communities.
An AARP volunteer review committee selected Liljedahl for the Andrus Award in recognition of her years of leading efforts and involving others in alleviating hunger in southwest Iowa.
Even when the original restaurant that prepared meals for the Red Wagon closed, Liljedahl figured out a way to keep the program going. Every day, Monday through Friday, she and a team of volunteers coordinates delivery of the meals with Liljedahl handling those outside Essex herself, plus she chips in desserts out of her own pocket.
Besides her work to keep the Red Wagon running, Liljedahl’s list of community volunteer service is exhaustive. It includes years of service at her church, the local hospital, school, library, food pantry, and numerous clubs and organizations.
She’s been a volunteer at the Shenandoah Community Food Pantry for about half of its 20-year existence and is currently the group’s president. She and her husband volunteer their time and donate to the Hispanic Center in Shenandoah and have sponsored a local Hispanic family. Liljedahl has also held positions on her church board as well as the Southwest Iowa Ministry Board and is involved in the Prayer Shawl Ministry in her church.
In her spare time, Liljedahl is an officer of the Shenandoah Healthcare Foundation, an event volunteer at the Shenandoah Medical Center, a member of the SMC Auxiliary and an SMC Gift Shop volunteer. She’s served on the board of the Shenandoah Historical Society, is a member of P.E.O., is a Book Club officer and a member of the Essex Study and Service Club. She’s also served on the Lied Library Board in Essex and writes grants for that library. She’s on the board of directors of Southview Village in Essex and volunteers at the Essex schools as a spelling bee judge.
AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern said AARP is proud to join to recognize the outstanding service and impact Liljedahl has had on the community.
“This award acts as a symbol to members and the public that volunteers can make a significant difference for positive social change,” said Sovern. “Jeannine embodies the spirit of volunteerism and the
important contributions volunteers make to our society. The Andrus Award is tangible recognition for her outstanding work.”
Andrus Awards are presented in every state to acknowledge the volunteer work members engage in that enhances the lives of AARP members and prospective members, improve the community in or for which the work was performed, and inspire others to volunteer.
In addition to Liljedahl, AARP Iowa recognized a group of 2014 Iowa nominees including: Helen Leinbaugh of Moville, Sharon South of Leon, Richard Jamison of Sidney, Harry Anderson of Birmingham, Clarence Pfundheller of Greenfield and Terry Schoenfeld of Battle Creek. Nominations for the 2015 Andrus Awards will open in the spring.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with more than 370,000 members in Iowa and more than 37 million members nationally.