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Backus woman receives award for Meals on Wheels service

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Volunteer work is appreciated and doesn’t go unnoticed by Lutheran Social Service (LSS).

Arlene Crone, 76, of Backus, recently received the LSS Senior Nutrition Program Volunteer Hall of Fame award for her volunteer efforts to deliver nutritional meals to Pine River area residents.

“The Meals on Wheels program could not happen without dedicated volunteers like Arlene Crone,” said Dee LeMieux, site manager for the LSS Senior Nutrition Program for southern Cass County. “She unselfishly gives of her time to serve these people.”

Meals are prepared each weekday at Heartland Apartments in Pine River. Volunteer drivers then deliver the meals, including Crone, who does deliveries on Mondays and Fridays.

“They need it,” Crone said of the people she delivers meals to. “The people, they’re so grateful that you’re doing that.”

She’s been delivering meals for more than eight years, after hearing of the need for more drivers.

LeMieux nominated Crone for the award. The nomination letter reads, in part: “We are so pleased to have a volunteer with such dedication to the seniors in our community. Arlene delivers meals on Monday and Friday each week. She also delivers weekly frozen orders every other Friday.

“She is very conscientious when it comes to clients with special dietary needs to make sure they receive the specially prepared menu for the day. Arlene is always willing to go above and beyond if necessary. Meals on Wheels clients adore her, as do the staff at the Pine River site.”

One of Crone’s clients is Karen Filsmyer, who lives in the Norway Brook Apartments.

“We used to have a quite a few (people ordering meals) and now we’re just down to two of us,” Filsmyer said, giving Crone a hug.

“See you on Monday,” Filsmyer called out as Crone left.

LeMieux and others at the Pine River dining site would like to see those numbers rise again. (See accompanying story on Senior Nutrition Sites.)

Crone began volunteering with Meals on Wheels after her husband, Arthur, died, when she needed something to do. She and her husband moved to the area from the Twin Cities in 1992.

Raised in Minneapolis, Crone graduated from high school and worked for Honeywell as a receptionist at the switchboard. Arthur was a widower with four children when they married, and together they had four more children.

They raised their children in Brooklyn Center, and in the late 1960s bought a seasonal home in the lakes area.

“It was just a summer cabin while the kids were all young,” Crone said.

When her husband retired, they moved here, installing a basement and turning their cabin into a year-round home.

“This was his dream, to live up north,” Crone said of her husband.

Arthur passed away in 2004 after battling bladder cancer for several years.

“That’s when I started volunteering for something to do,” Crone said.

She and her husband had volunteered at the Pine River Food Shelf many years ago, until Crone was diagnosed with breast cancer. When her treatment ended, Arthur was diagnosed with cancer.

“Just when you think you’re coming out of it, then we went back into it again,” Crone said.

She does volunteer again at the food shelf on Tuesdays, and she volunteers at her church, Our Lady of Lourdes, for funerals.

“There’s a lot of people that do volunteering,” Crone said modestly. “As long as I can, I figure I’ll do it. It gets me going in the mornings.”

LeMieux appreciates all her volunteers at the senior dining site.

“We absolutely could not operate without these volunteers who take the time to serve their community,” LeMieux said.