Resident Spotlights

Boutwells Landing resident named Volunteer of the Year

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Judy Rubertus.

Beloved series

Real stories as told by cherished people who live, work and volunteer at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS).

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month! Now more than ever, we feel indebted to our volunteers and their many acts of kindness, love and support. We simply couldn’t have accomplished what we did this past year without nearly 3,000 volunteers!

So, in recognition of all who give of their time and talent, one very special volunteer has a story to tell.

Judy Rubertus lives at Boutwells Landing in Oak Park Heights, Minn. Since moving there eight years ago, Judy has volunteered to help people find purpose and happiness.

Boutwells Landing Campus Administrator Wendy Kingbay says, “We call Judy our Rockstar Volunteer because she’s always trying to make residents smile with her positive attitude and giving heart. She always has new ideas—making crafts, holding a painting class or a writing project. She leads a bell choir and sing-alongs. She organizes groups to arrange flowers for residents and make quilts to donate to local organizations. Boutwells Landing would not be the same without all Judy does here.”

With those words and more, Wendy nominated Judy for a very special recognition.

On Feb. 8, Judy was honored by LeadingAge Minnesota with the 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award, and as one of six “Stars Among Us” award recipients. This award was presented at the LeadingAge MN 2023 Institute & Expo held in the Twin Cities. It recognizes an individual who volunteers in older adult services for their dedication and positive impact on the lives of seniors and their communities.

Judy tells about receiving this honor

I will never forget the day I found out I had won the award. We were working on flowers in the craft room. Suddenly, staff members came in and sang (to the tune of “For she’s a jolly good fellow,”) “Judy you are amazing/you do so much here at Boutwells/you organize and get all involved/ because you’re one of a kind/We’re here to tell you in person/that we decided to nominate you/we’re happy to tell you that you have won … LeadingAge Volunteer of the Year!”

Accepting the award at the “Stars Among Us” event was absolutely fantastic. But it wasn’t just for me. I was on that stage representing every good volunteer at Boutwells. When I said that, the audience gave me a standing ovation! There I stood in front of thousands of people and I just thought, “Wow!” I felt so humbled and excited at the same time.

I learned at a young age that a talent not shared is a talent wasted. The residents and the staff motivate me. They respond with more than just “Thanks.” It’s with love that comes from their hearts. This makes me think, “What else can I do?” One thing leads to the next.

So, when a resident tells or shows me how I’ve made their day better, does that ever feel good! I feel beloved by them and I want them to know that they are beloved as well.

I believe that love is what faith is all about. Love one another, care for each other, be kind and helpful. Do what you can to bring others joy.

The best thing that’s happened to me as a volunteer, other than the award, was when I taught a woman who was living with a serious disability how to crochet. She took to it and just blossomed to the point that she sells her work for a living. She said to me, “If you hadn’t sat down with me with a crochet hook and thread, my life would be nothing.” Just that one little 15-minute session changed her entire life. I’m so happy she has this. It’s truly a gift returned to me.

In my acceptance speech, I said that Boutwells Landing has given me many opportunities to use my talents to bring neighbors together for social fun of all kinds. I thanked the staff and the residents of Boutwells who responded to my efforts to make joy together.

“And then, right on that stage, I sang a song to the audience!”

Watch the awards video introducing Judy

Judy’s advice

If I were to tell you why you should think about volunteering, I would say that you will give up your time and your heart but you get so much back. You’ll meet a lot of wonderful people; you stay active, form friendships and belong to groups that have fun together.

Volunteer with us!

There are many opportunities for individuals, families, or groups to get involved in our ministry. Read more about ways to volunteer or email [email protected]

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