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Simenson, Pederson of US Bank; Senior programs receive donation in honor of volunteers

Pictured from left to right: is Brian Arett, of Fargo Senior Services accepting the donation from US Bank employees Mona Pederson and Barb Simenson during a special ceremony at the West Fargo High Rise, also attended by Meals on Wheels coordinator Renee Lerfald. Jamie Grant/West Fargo Pioneer

Fargo Senior Services will have an additional $1,000 to expend for programs thanks to the generosity of Barb Simenson and Mona Pederson, employees of US Bank who were selected as this year's recipient of the organizations annual Five Star Volunteer Award, that honors employees for their exceptional volunteer service in the community.

Fargo Senior Services was the recipient of the donation from US Bank, with the two $500 amounts in honor of Simenson and Pederson's commitment to regularly donating their time at the West Fargo High Rise helping deliver Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors in the community. Officials say the donation will be utilized for the Meals on Wheels program and other programs promoting independence for senior citizens.

Recipients of the US Bank Five Star Volunteer Award are chosen based on criteria such as community impact and depth of volunteer service. Nominations for the five-star Volunteer Award were submitted by employees, coworkers, and the organizations where US Bank employees volunteer. Simenson and Pederson were individually nominated for the honor by a friend at US Bank, who was aware of their ongoing involvement and dedication to the Meals on Wheels program.

Renee Lerfald, who serves as West Fargo Outreach Worker and Meals on Wheels Coordinator, said she was thrilled with the donation on behalf of the senior citizens. "We are so excited. Receiving $1000 is a huge contribution and we are so pleased to be recognizing them out here," a reference to the check presentation ceremony last week at the West Fargo High Rise attended by both Simenson and Pederson.

Brian Arett, Executive Director of Fargo Senior Services, also on hand for the presentation, accepted the donation, also acknowledging the generous amount. "This is indeed a significant donation to our agency. There is never enough funding to go around to cover the full extent of all the needs. We are always looking for funds to keep up with the growing demands and needs of keeping the older people in their homes as long as possible. Donations like this are critical to helping us keep up in all these areas and we are most appreciative."

Simenson has been delivering Meals on Wheels for over eight years; and Pederson for about five years, after being recruited by Simenson. They typically do the deliveries together but on occasion cover for each other when one might not be available, a circumstance which happens rarely.

Both live in West Fargo and as longtime community members feel it important to give back, viewing their involvement in the Meals on Wheels program as "the right thing to do."

Simenson's husband has even helped out a time or two, driving them around when heavy snow or other adverse weather conditions make it a little more difficult.

Simenson said she enjoys the interaction delivering Meals on Wheels affords her with the senior citizens. "For some of these people, we are probably their only communication they have for the day because they are homebound. After eight years I've gotten to know some of these people very well. It just makes us feel good that we can help people that don't have the means to get out and get the meals themselves. We hope that we are one of the bright spots in their day."

Mona agrees with Barb's sentiments. "We see the same people every week and really look forward to our visits. It almost feels like they are part of our families and our visits are really a high point of the week because these people look forward to seeing us too."

Both say their plans will include continued involvement with Meals on Wheels, for as long as they are possibly able to.

Overall, in recognition of the 143 outstanding volunteers located in 27 states, US Bank contributed a total of $100,000 to nonprofit organizations in their honor.

In addition to the five star volunteer award, US Bank also encourages its employees to volunteer through its five star volunteer day program, which allows all eligible employees to take eight hours of paid time off each year to volunteer at local organizations of their choice, such as nonprofits, civic agencies and schools.