Paynesville natives receive service awards

This article submitted on 11/29/00.

Two Paynesville natives were among 11 "unsung heroes" recognized last week with Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service.

Hazel Jacobson and Delroy Schoenleben were honored for years of volunteer ministry.

Jacobson, 87, grew up near Hawick and moved to Minneapolis in 1929. She started doing housework and ended up as an office worker.

She was recognized for her effort in making her St. Olaf Lutheran Church on the north side of Minneapolis more welcoming toward the growing ethnic diversity in the neighborhood.

She feels skin color is irrelevant. "The color of the neighborhood has changed, shall we say, but the neighborhood is still good," she said.

Jacobson joined her church in 1946 and served as a Sunday school teacher or superintendent for 40 years.

She started a Saturday crafts program for neighborhood children 25 years ago. She is still involved in that, and does office work for the church one day a week.

Of the award, Jacobson said, "It was really nice to get. I'll tell you what I've told everyone else. There must have been hundreds of people who were equally deserving as I so I don't know how they chose me."

Schoenleben and his wife, Caroline (Kelm), are both 1948 graduates of Paynesville High School. They married in 1949 and moved to the St. Cloud area to find jobs in 1950.

For the past 40 years, they have provided volunteer ministry at the Stearns County jail and for 35 years at various nursing homes.

His volunteer effort at the jail started when he was president of the men's group at their Assembly of God church. While he was working in a box factory, Schoenleben could not make every weekly session.

"Now I'm retired, so I have more time to do it," he said.

Delroy and Caroline provide one-on-one counseling at the jail on Wednesday mornings and a Bible study in the afternoon. They also lead a worship service at a nursing home on Wednesday afternoons and a three-hour service at the jail on Friday nights.

Along with their weekly visits to the jail and nursing home, the Schoenlebens volunteer once a month at the reformatory.

"It's been a big blessing to us," said Delroy of their volunteer service. "We enjoy it."

Each recipient will also receive a check for $7,500. Jacobson said hers will go towards various programs at her church. The Schoenlebens, who believe in tithing, have already given 10 percent to their church but have not decided what to do with the remainder.

Return to Archives