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Life Connections to honor outstanding senior volunteer in west central Minnesota

— The selection of an outstanding senior for the year is a favorite feature of Life Connections. This year will be the 14th year of the award. The award will be presented at 9:45 a.m. Friday, April 26.

The Outstanding Senior Award is given to an individual age 50 or older who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment that benefits the community and its citizens.

Leadership qualities include creativity, volunteerism, responsibility, problem-solving, respectfulness, cooperation and organizational skills.

Nominees must live in Kandiyohi, Swift, Chippewa, Renville, Meeker, Pope or Stearns counties.

The winner will receive a $100 award, plus $100 donated to the charity of his or her choice. In addition, the person providing the nomination will receive $50. Nominations must include a description of the projects, activities and/or volunteerism the person has been involved in; the end results and benefits of the individual’s efforts and contributions; and comments as to how this person’s efforts have helped to make their community a better place. For more information, call 320-214-4317 or email [email protected]. Sponsor of the award is West Central Sanitation of Willmar.

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Patrick Goebel of West Central Sanitation, at left, congratulates Paul Hedin after presenting him with the Outstanding Senior Award during Life Connections at the Willmar Civic Center on Friday, April 21, 2023.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

2023 recipient

Paul Hedin, of Willmar, received the Outstanding Senior Award in 2023. He was nominated by Deb Van Buren, volunteer services manager for CentraCare Hospice in Willmar.

“Paul is a such an amazing volunteer, and we are so blessed to have him as one of our CentraCare Hospice volunteers working in the Willmar service area for the past 11 years, donating more than 200 hours of loving, compassionate service to those in need of support in the final stages of their final journey on this side of glory,” Van Buren said in her nomination letter.

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Paul Hedin, right, a volunteer with the CentraCare Hospice service, poses for a photo with one of CentraCare’s veteran patients after honoring them with a certificate of appreciation and an American flag pin in recognition of their military service.

Contributed / Deb Van Buren

Hedin, who served in the United States Air Force from 1969 to 1972, is involved in CentraCare’s “We Honor Veterans” program, which is designed to recognize and thank veteran patients for their service.

“As a veteran volunteer, Paul has performed dozens of ceremonies for our veteran patients as we salute and recognize them for their service to our country — whether that be on the front lines or more behind the scenes,” Van Buren wrote. “Paul is able to provide critical support, compassion and companionship to the veteran patients, as he is able to reminisce with them and create a special bond sharing their experiences in military service.”

In addition to his duties as a veteran volunteer, Hedin also works as a patient volunteer, making weekly visits to hospice patients and helping to coordinate final wishes, whether it be one final airplane ride, one more opportunity to catch a big fish, or just a trip to the cemetery to visit a patient’s spouse.

By Kit Grode started working at the West Central Tribune as the features and sections editor in July 2021. In August 2023, she moved into the role of digital content editor for nine Forum Communications properties in Minnesota. You may reach Kit at, or by calling