Denise Kerkhoff grew up in a rural community, and during those years she saw the people in her hometown work together toward a common cause.

“In the 60s you saw it all of the time,” said Kerkhoff, adding whether it was a group of farmers coming to gather to help harvest a field for a down-and-out neighbor or some other good cause the people pulled together to accomplish the task.

That way of life is still being seen, said Kerkhoff, as she sees people working on behalf of others through fundraising events.

For Kerkhoff that same ideal is what being part of the Rotary Club is all about – service above self.

Others have seen that in Kerkhoff too, and during a recent Redwood Falls Rotary Club meeting, Kerkhoff was recognized with the Service Above Self Award “in recognition of her extraordinary efforts” on behalf of the local club during her time as a Rotary Club member.

Kerkhoff joined the Rotary Club in 2001 after being invited by fellow Rotary Club member Duane Frank. At that time Kerkhoff was working for a non-profit organization, and it gave her the opportunity not only to become part of the community but also to make connections.

Kerkhoff also took on a role within the local Rotary Club that helped to make a significant impact on the community. 

As its grant master, Kerkhoff was able to help secure funding for a variety of projects, whether it was providing picnic tables and benches at the municipal aquatic center or replacing trees at the cemetery and at the historic Gilfillan site.

With grant values in the $3,000-5,000 range per project, those who nominated Kerkhoff surmised that she, with the addition of matching funds form the local club, has helped to make an investment of $35,000 into the community.

For Kerkhoff each of those projects is meaningful, but the event she is most proud of being involved in as part of the Rotary Club is the annual senior day when members of the Rotary Club meet with the Redwood Valley High School senior class.

“It felt good to be able to do something for our youth,” said Kerkhoff, adding she worked with then president Jan Madson to make that project happen.

Kerkhoff was a 15-year member of the Rotary Club, but she needed to step down due to a job change.

“I love my job,” said Kerkhoff.

She also loved being part of the Rotary Club, and especially appreciated the fact that the Redwood Falls Rotary Club was made up of a great mix of community leaders including those from a younger generation and with a strong female make-up as well.

The award honors those who have gone above and beyond for their community and club, and those who recognized Kerkhoff observed that in her life on a consistent basis.

Kerkhoff said it is very humbling to be honored by the local Rotary Club with this award, adding she could find someone in the community on a weekly basis who could be presented this award.

Kerkhoff said it feels good to know she was able to help make a positive impact in her community, adding it was never about her nor was it about being recognized.

In the end, it is about that community minded way of life she learned and now has the chance to share with others.

Submitted photo