BY HEIDI HOKS
WACONIA-WEST CARVER ROTARY
There are some people who live for service, who cannot imagine what their life would be if they did not look after the needs of others. Marty Cramer, the recipient of the Waconia-West Carver Rotary Club’s 2013 Service Above Self Award, is one such person.
Cramer’s work career started as a speech clinician. Next she earned her early childhood special education degree and then became the Coordinator of Early Childhood Special Education Services for the Carver Scott Educational Cooperative. Her career was a busy one and, after retirement, she found herself in a predicament. She needed something to do. More importantly, she needed something to do that she felt was meaningful and would service to the community.
She became involved in the Stephen Ministry program at her church prior to her retirement. As she notes, the training for that program is valuable for any program dealing with people in crisis. She also became involved as a volunteer crisis counselor for the Southern Valley Alliance for Battered Women.
Then, after she retired, her church asked her to be liaison from Faith Lutheran church to the Waconia United Food Shelf board. Shortly after she began doing that, she was asked to be a coordinator and then last year, the Board asked her to take over the directorship. However, Cramer said, “I call it lead coordinator, because I work collaboratively with the other coordinators. Everyone’s work is important.”
Becoming involved in this organization was a comfortable transition for Cramer because the emphasis was on service, something in which she deeply believes. “In my work life, communication was the key and the same is true here — with clients, donors and the community,” she said.
The Waconia United Food Shelf will celebrate its 10 year anniversary this year and Cramer is very proud to be a part of this service to the community.
“I find this service so rewarding,” she said. “You always feel you are helping someone through a hard time. All the people who come in have different needs and different stories and it’s not just about giving them food, it’s about listening to them, to show them that they are important as individuals and you care about them.”
She also noted that she finds working with the other volunteers to be inspiring.
“We all have one philosophy, an important one: Treat all the people who come in or volunteer with dignity, confidentiality and respect,” she added.
The volunteer force is one of the main reasons the food shelf is so successful, according to Cramer. She notes that the food shelf has more than 100 volunteers who do everything from stocking to dealing directly with clients. Of course, she added with a twinkle in her eye, “There’s always lots of possibilities to volunteer.”
However, she also says that the community of Waconia has been so generous with their time and donations already to the food shelf. “I love Waconia!” she exclaimed. “The community itself is filled with wonderful people. Just top notch! I think these warm, giving people are what make Waconia a great community, one you want to live in.”
She and her husband moved to Waconia in 1970 and they’ve felt welcomed from the beginning. Her husband is a retired teacher from the Chaska schools and they have two adult children — a daughter who, with her family, lives in Chanhassen and a son who lives in Ely with his family. She enjoys her time with her family and she has gotten them involved as well. In fact, her husband is very supportive of her work and often volunteers at the food shelf. Cramer is also instilling the love of service in her grandchildren.
“When my grandchildren come to visit, they will ask, ‘Grandma, please can we go to the food shelf and help?’” she noted.
The Waconia-West Carver Rotary proudly gave Cramer its Service Above Self Award on Saturday, Jan. 19 at its annual Gourmet Wine Dinner. President Ron Seib noted at the banquet, “We are honored to have such a generous person in our community, one who truly epitomizes the motto ‘Service Above Self.’”
However, Cramer notes that it is she who is honored.
“I respect the work of the Rotary, particularly with the Strive students and the International Exchange program,“ she said. “It is my honor to have been chosen for this award, but it is an even greater honor for me to be able to help provide such a needed service for the wonderful people of Waconia.”