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Paynesville Press - June 26, 2002

Pearson wins Ruth Aulick Award

By Andrew Jones

Marlys Pearson holds her award Marlys Pearson was recognized last week for her volunteer work in the community by winning the Ruth Aulick Award. The annual award was presented by the Paynesville Human Rights Commission during the Miss Paynesville Pageant.

The award was created to honor Ruth Aulick, who established and was in charge of the Paynesville Community Service Center for decades.

Pearson was quite honored to receive the award. "I worked along side Ruth Aulick at the center for many years, and her compassion and caring does rub off on you," said Pearson.

The only requirements to win this award are to be nominated and to be a resident of the Paynesville area. Two people were nominated this year. The Human Rights Commission votes on the nominees and decides who shall receive the award. The only thing that matters is the amount of volunteer work the person does for the community.

Pearson, who has lived south of Lake Koronis for over 40 years, grew up on a farm near Maynard. She married Glenn Pearson and moved here to farm with him.

Pearson has volunteered her services around the world and locally for many years. She has taught Vacation Bible School for Nordland Lutheran Church, she's done mission work around the world, and she's involved with the hospice program. "I am an organizer, motivator, and a full-time volunteer," she said.

She has taken mission trips to Romania and Jamaica to work with children in orphanages. She took a trip to Alaska and northern Saskatchewan to teach Vacation Bible School to the Cree Indians.

Through all of her work she has come to see beyond race. "I don't see color; I only see the heart," said Pearson. "People should not have to lose dignity because of color, disability, age, physical beauty, economic status, language, sex, or any other observable characteristics."

Pearson is a firm believer in knowing one's own heritage. "If you don't know your own heritage, you can never understand someone else's (heritage)," she said.

She encourages everybody to search their history. She helped a group of fifth graders study their heritage when she taught Vacation Bible School last summer at Nordland Lutheran Church. She found out that all of her students had grandparents living in the area, so she decided to visit each of them. The class listened to stories from their grandparents. The kids learned things about their background they had never heard of. A few of them even realized they were related to each other.

Most of her work now is done in the local area. Pearson has volunteered her services at Nordland since she moved to Paynesville. She was recently re-elected to the women's board at her church. On this board, her area of expertise is mission work.

Pearson has always brought cheer to lonely, elderly, sick, and new neighbors. She remembers a time when neighbors actually made neighborly visits, but that sort of thing seldom happens anymore, she noted.

A lot of Pearson's time is spent being neighborly. She has helped many people in the area stay independent. One of Pearson's favorite places to stop is a woman who has no family, is legally blind, but with help can live on her own. Pearson has taught her how to use a microwave that was donated by a member of Nordland Lutheran Church. "She can warm the prepared food I leave in the freezer, for supper and weekend meals. This has kept her happy, independent, and out of the nursing home," said Pearson.

But Pearson also helps those who are in the nursing home, or in the hospital through the hospice program. Besides bringing soup and cookies to patients, she has also been trained to stay with people who are dying, when their family members can't be there.

Pearson enjoys talking with family members after a loved one has passed away. "We share wonderful memories," said Pearson. "Being at a bedside when someone is dying and the family isn't able to be there, brings reality to death in my own life, so I have learned to make the most of each day I have."

The Ruth Aulick award was started in 1998. Past winners include, Marie Lauer in 1999, Don Torbenson in 2000, and Katherine Halvorson in 2001.

Pearson thanks the Human Rights Commission for making this award possible, with appropriate honor to Ruth Aulick. She also thanks the people from Nordland who felt she was worthy of being nominated.

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