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Jenny Caughey, left, and Echo Dockter, who spearhead the local "Quilts of Valor" project, will receive the Perham Leadership Award at the annual Hall of Fame banquet April 2, hosted at the Mulligan's banquet room.

Four who make a difference in the community

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Four who make a difference in the community
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

The annual Perham Hall of Fame and Leadership Award banquet, set for April 2, will be both a visual and audio spectacle.

The event honors four people who have made a difference in Perham--all with strong connections to visual and musical art.

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For the Leadership Award, avid quilters Echo Dockter and Jenny Caughey will be honored for the "Quilts of Valor" program--which provides visually stunning, handcrafted quilts to wounded servicemen and women.

Piano and organ player, choir director, community theater music leader and all-around music man Russ Bunker will earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.

The second Hall of Fame appointment went to Gina Cavanagh, who has been a leader of the Miss Perham pageant.

With Cavanagh and Bunker winning the honors, the evening's program will have a lively, musical theme.

Current and former Miss Perham royalty, as well as former piano students of Bunker, are expected to attend.

Among the performers will be Caroline (Hayden) Brost, a past Miss Perham who studied piano with Russ Bunker.

Reservations for the dinner should be phoned in by March 25, to the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce, 218-346-7710. Social time starts at 6 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and a program to follow.

A master of ceremonies has been selected for the evening: Katie (Hayden) Hennagir, who is a former Miss Perham.

For more information, call the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce at 218-346-7811.

Gina Cavanagh:

Volunteering in the horse barns; on the pageant stage

Gina Cavanagh is a very versatile woman who, on one day, will be dressed in jeans and cowboy boots, helping 4-H kids clean out stalls in the horse barn at the fair. On the other end of the spectrum, Gina is just as comfortable in a formal gown helping at the Miss Perham and Miss Heart of the Lakes Pageant.

For years, Gina has dedicated countless hours toward helping to organize the pageant and mentoring Miss Perham and Miss Heart of the Lakes royalty. She also attends Miss Minnesota pageants to support the contestants as they represent our area in that pageant. She has also offered her talents in judging local Miss Minnesota affiliated pageants.

Gina has been a member of the Focus Women's Group in Perham since she was married in 1985. These women put on the Christmas Art and Craft Bazaar held at the schools in November each year. Gina is the "senior" member of the Focus group, with the most years in the organization and she has held every office. Focus financially supports many local organizations. Groups that participate in helping at the Bazaar earn a handsome donation from the Focus Women.

She is a member of the Catholic Daughters and has chaired their annual style show in past few years. Within this organization, she also helps at the "Mass of Life," Valentine's party and other functions. Gina is a seamstress and has made quilts for door prizes for the style show.

Gina belongs to the Ladies Golf League and has held offices there as well.

This winter, she did the decorations for the high school choir Christmas concert, which her children are involved in.

This fall, Cavanagh volunteered to be one of the EOT Wranglers 4-H Horse Club key leaders. The last few years she has put in many days of being the announcer at invitational horse shows and county fair competitions that the club has put on. She is at most of the weekly practices and is always ready to assist where needed. She has also sewn and donated a quilt for a fundraiser for the horse judging team.

Gina is serving as chair of this year's post prom committee. Thanks to that group, and donations from many local businesses and individuals, the high school youth will be safely entertained on prom night.

"This modest woman has abundant energy and organizational skills which she willingly shares with her community," commented 4-H volunteer colleague Laurie Sazama. "She has been a role model in my life and definitely 'lets her light shine.'

Quilters create "Comfort for Courage"

Jenny Caughey and Echo Dockter are a team operating in tandem--coordinating the creation of comfortable quilts for veterans.

Their dual service began in September 2005. Moved by the increasing numbers of wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Echo and Jenny felt the need to do something on a personal and local level. When they learned that the mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation was not about politics, but rather about people, Echo and Jenny set about creating a local chapter.

"They relentlessly have kept this program going and growing into a very successful organization with excellent results," wrote Carol Olson in a letter nominating Echo and Jenny. "They possess a uniquely broad background in all facets of planning, coordination and execution of the monthly gatherings."

Locally-made Quilts of Valor have been shipped to hospitalized soldiers from Washington D.C. to California.

More than 400 quilts have been created by the local Quilts of Valor volunteers. The group even has their own label: "Comfort for Courage."

One recipient of a Perham-made quilt said, "The quilt I received isn't a medal, it's a comfort."

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