Ruth Aulick retires from community service center she founded

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 9/16/97.

Thirty-two years ago, Ruth Aulick founded the Paynesville Community Service Center. With two friends, she set out to help a family in need and events grew from there.

The center is still going strong under her guidance, but with the announcement of her retirement, the search is on for a replacement.

ďShe is going to be a hard person to replace, as she went above and beyond the call of duty to help people,Ē Don Anderson, Community Service board member, said. ďHer credibility made the place such a huge success.Ē

Anderson went on to praise Aulick as her kind heart made it almost impossible to say no to anybody. ďShe would get telephone calls from neighbors or friends of people in need at all hours of the night at home. Instead of telling them to wait until the center was open, she would take food to their homes or open the center for them. Ruth is one of the most compassionate, caring people I have ever met,Ē Anderson added.

Aulick said it all started when she heard about children going hungry to school. ďA friend and I decided to visit their home and found six children with a sitter without any food in the house. All we had brought along was a loaf of bread, but it was greatly appreciated. We went to our homes and came back with the back seat of my car full of food for them,Ē Aulick said in a 1991 interview.

By word of mouth, the Community Service Center was started in Paynesville. Health classes helped distribute information to low income families, teaching them the basics. About 1985, the Food Shelf was added to the center.

The program first started in the basement of the Aulick home on a small scale. Itlater moved to the former city hall in a loft above the fire department. When the center outgrew its space in the mid 1980s, it moved to its present location at 107 River Street in a house owned by Wally Thyen behind Wallyís G&T. About four years ago, the school sold the center a temporary classroom for $1. It was remodeled and turned into the ďfood room.Ē

All the work is done by volunteers from area churches and organizations. Volunteers working with the program feel it is a very rewarding program. Nobody receives pay for the time they put in at the center. All the Paynesville area churches contribute financially, volunteer time and food to the center throughout the year.

In 1991, an average of 35 families (125 individuals) visited the Community Service Center per month receiving about 2,000 pounds of food per month. Today that number has grown to between 45 and 50 families per month. The minimum amount of food going out is 2,000 pounds and the maximum about 4,000 pounds per month.

ďAfter every inspection done by the Food Shelf Association, the reports have been filled with glowing praise for the facility and for its operation. From time-to-time, FoodShelf groups from other towns are brought into observe the efficient facility,Ē Wally Thyen, board member, added.

At an April inspection, the Paynesville Food Shelf received excellent rating on all areas from the food being alphabetized to the metal food shelves. ďEach year the FoodShelf gets better and better! The organization is wonderful, the resources available are wonderful and the clients are allowed choices,Ē the inspectors from the Second Harvest St. Paul Food Bank, wrote.

Audrey Olmscheid, board member, describes Aulick as the Mother Teresa of Paynesville. ďShe is nonjudgmental, compassionate, easy going, and caring. She never gets angry and provides unconditional love and care to everybody she meets,Ē she said.

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