Community Action bids farewell to two 30-year employees
Kevin Cederstrom email@example.com Years of dedicated service turned in by two long-time employees at Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action was recognized at a retirement party held Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church in New York Mills. Danny Dunlap and ...
Years of dedicated service turned in by two long-time employees at Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action was recognized at a retirement party held Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church in New York Mills.
Danny Dunlap and Virgie Pikula drew praise from co-workers during the afternoon program held in their honor.
"This is a sad occasion for me because two of our staff are leaving," Davis Leino-Mills said. "We're here to celebrate Danny and Virgie.
Danny Dunlap, known for his smile, sense of humor, and dedication to helping people in Otter Tail and Wadena Counties, retired after 30 years as Director of Family Services.
Pikula, spent 34 years with Head Start.
"They both exemplify the heart of the agency is all about," said Diane Leaders. "They have been with the agency through thick and thin, and spent 30 years of making a difference in peoples' lives."
Dunlap was instrumental in starting 15 new programs run through OT-W Community Action.
Some of those programs include senior citizen centers and food shelfs in Otter Tail County. Dunlap also got the stress panel house and car loan programs up and running.
The first stress panel house was constructed in New York Mills.
Dunlap said the goal in starting many of the programs in existence today was to start the program and turn control over to other agencies.
"We found out the needs of the community and handed them over to someone else," Dunlap said.
Two important programs that remain under the control of OT-W CAC are the weatherization and fuel assistance programs.
Dunlap is perhaps known best for his involvement in the Tax Aide volunteer tax assistance program.
For the past six years he has been the state coordinator for the program, which now has over 1,000 volunteers statewide. Dunlap said he would remain as state coordinator one more year, but plans to remain with the program as a volunteer.
Among the many different programs Dunlap had direct involvement with, he helped manage money for individuals struggling financially.
Dunlap started with the agency in 1978 as a budget counselor. He paid bills for people, and often rationed them to a strict $5/week for spending money after the bills were paid.
He took over as Director of Family Services in 1978.
Friday's retirement program included a slide show of images showing Dunlap and Pikula over the 30-plus years with the agency.
An old photo of a Pinto car popped up on the screen and drew a laugh from those in attendance, recalling the goofy bubble-window car was used to transport students for Head Start.
Davis Leino-Mills commented on how much Pikula has done for the agency and Head Start over the years.
"Virgie is one of those people when you ask her to do something she says, 'sure let's go'", Leino-Mills said.
He also recalled how when the agency required teachers to hold a degree Pikula went back to school and earned her Associate's Degree.
"I'm very proud of her for doing that," he said.
Throughout the program honoring Dunlap and Pikula, there were inside jokes reflecting the relationships in the CAC office.
Dunlap told the guest and his fellow employees: "Davis asked me if I was going to wear a tie today. I told him I started work with no tie, and I'm going to leave with no tie."