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Paynesville Press - November 2, 2005

New Community Service Center dedicated

By Michael Jacobson

Ruth Aulick cut the ribbon at the new Paynesville Area Community Service Center on Saturday morning, as the Ruth Aulick Building was dedicated and named in honor of its founder. The open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the end of three months of construction of the new building and the end of three years of work to complete the community project.

The new building, located at the corner of Lake Avenue and Railroad Street near downtown Paynesville, "is beyond my fondest expectations," said Aulick, who founded the Paynesville Area Community Service Center 40 years ago in the basement of her home.

A crowd of 100 people attended the half-hour long ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday morning.

The new building was actually used to serve clients for the first time on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Aulick, before cutting the ribbon to officially open the center, asked the audience to sing the doxology - "Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above yea heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen." - led by Father Richard Leisen.

Ruth "When Jesus lived on earth, he knew where the poor lived; he knew the hearts that were broken from lack of food and from disease and sickness; and he healed them all," said Aulick, in describing the mission of the Paynesville Area Community Service Center.

Ruth Aulick, who founded the Community Service Center in 1965, explained its history on Saturday.

"Every community, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, has needy people," said master of ceremony Dave Mutschelknaus, former Lions president, which organized the fundraising campaign, and now president of the board of directors for the Community Service Center. "People who have not shared in the prosperity of society."

The new building, said Mutschelknaus, "shows that this community cares" and gives those in need a place that serves their needs with dignity.

The building project took three years to complete and required some reorganization for the better by the Community Service Center, said Mutschelknaus. The open house, he added, occurred three months to the day after ground was broken for the project in July.

The $100,000 building includes 3,340 square feet, all on one floor and completely handicap accessible. The new building is safer (with off-street parking), more efficient (which will direct future donations towards those in need rather than overhead costs), and more confidential (which will hopefully insure that anyone in need will use it).

Director Pam Williquette explained how the center works, including the requirement that clients meet poverty-level income guidelines. It supplies food, clothing, and household items, at no cost, to clients. "All those things we take for granted," said Williquette.

The Paynesville Area Community Service Center is more than a foodshelf, agreed Mutschelknaus. "We don't want to be defined in such a narrow way," he said.

The center has a variety of clients - some frequent, some infrequent, all in need - said Williquette. "When you can't make ends meet, you can't make ends meet."

While many want to repay the center with food, etc., when their economic situation turns around, according to Williquette, she tells them: "You've been given kindness; pass it on."

Mayor Jeff Thompson praised the foresight of Aulick in starting the Community Service Center 40 years ago. A sign of a quality community, he explained, is the degree to which it provides opportunities for all. "A facility like this helps to add to the building blocks of a quality community, and (it) provide opportunities for everyone," he said.

The fundraising campaign for the new Community Service Center was organized by the Paynesville Lions Club. The idea was first raised by Lions member Joe Voss, who volunteered throughout the construction as well, and pursued vigorously once Mutschelknaus became president.

The Lions Club is proud to be the catalyst of project, said Lions member Paul Oman, who spoke on behalf of the Paynesville club. "The Community Service Center is another example of our Lions' motto, which we're all so proud of, 'We serve,' " he said.

ribbon cutting The Lake Henry Lions (represented by Dick Frieler), the Richmond Lions (represented by George Schlangen and Denis Torborg), and the St. Martin Lions (represented by Allen Stanlake, also the current district governor) also donated to the new building, as did local businesses, churches, and individuals.

Board member Margaret Spanier and director Pam Williquette (hidden) hold the ribbon for Ruth Aulick to cut at the open house for the new Paynesville Area Community Service Center on Saturday morning.

Participation in the project by four Lions clubs helped the center get a $40,000 grant from the Lions International Club Foundation, said Stanlake. This grant was key in being able to afford the project.

Having a nearly debt-free facility means future donations can go to service, rather than paying a mortgage, said Mutschelknaus.

Around $10,000 - for a stainless steel food table, for a stainless steel sink, for a floor scale, for additional shelving, and to pay for the blacktop parking lot and moving the garage to the new location - is still needed. These items have been purchased for the new building but have not been paid for yet. Donations can still be sent to: P.O. Box 194, Paynesville, MN 56362.

Members of the board of directors for the Paynesville Area Community Service Center, in addition to Mutschelknaus, are: Evelyn Moore, Pastor Dave Nelson, Margaret Spanier, Wally Thyen, Bill Virant, and Hannah Voss.

The new center was named the Ruth Aulick Building, explained Mutschelknaus, because "without her, we wouldn't be here today."

"She worked in very nook and cranny in town to make this happen," said Mutschelknaus.

Aulick recounted a brief version of the history of the Community Service Center, including her discovery in 1965 that abject poverty really existed in the Paynesville area. The Paynesville Area Community Service Center was first located in her basement, then in the attic of old city hall, and finally in a house on River Street.

"God has blessed us little by little, and it has culminated in this beautiful new building," said Aulick, who claimed no gifts, except for a caring heart and two hands willing to work.

The Paynesville Area Community Service Center will continue to rely on the generosity of the community to fulfill its mission of serving those in need, said Mutschelknaus. "The giving does not stop here," he told the crowd. "It is just starting."

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