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The United Way of the Bemidji Area recently presented the Inspire by Example Family of the Year award to Ruth and Mike Walters, their son Keegan and daughter Ellen. Submitted photo

Walters family honored as Inspire by example Volunteer Family of the Year

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Mike and Ruth Walters, along with their children, Keegan, 11, and Ellen, 8, have been named the 2010 Bemidji Inspire by Example Volunteer Family of the Year.

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The Walters are being recognized for the spirit of volunteerism they offer many organizations in the Bemidji community and for showing the importance of parents getting their children involved to better the community. The Walters family was nominated by Tracy Williams and Susan Hazard, Ruth Walters' co-workers at Pinnacle Publishing.

For the past 13 years, Ruth has played an instrumental role volunteering her time answering phones during the Radiothon to End Child Abuse. In addition, she has raised nearly $5,000 for the cause by leading fundraising events with her co-workers at Pinnacle Publishing.

Ruth has been a Girl Scout leader for two years and has helped her son's Cub Scout troop for the past six years. She is a strong supporter of Headwaters Science Center, assisting with program advertising and fundraising. An active volunteer with the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Wilton, she serves as the youth religious coordinator, creates weekly church bulletins and helps with church fundraisers. She is a leader for Take Off Pounds Sensibly, has organized a group of volunteers to answer phones for Lakeland Public TV's membership drives for the past five years, and has helped with the Special Olympics track and field event.

Keegan and Ellen accompany Ruth on numerous activities and enjoy helping out whenever asked. Last summer, Keegan and Ellen helped Ruth plant the Girl Scout planter at the waterfront and went every Friday to weed and maintain the box.

They painted fish for Headwaters Science Center to raise money for the new aquarium and posed for the Science Center's new brochure. Like their mother, they enjoy volunteering their time and talents at church. They help clean dishes and serve at the Sacred Heart Church Fall Dinner, they assisted with games at the Halloween party and they helped serve at the food booth at the Clearwater County Fair in Bagley. Ruth hopes to instill a lifelong love of volunteering in her children.

While Mike's work schedule makes it more difficult to volunteer with the family, he provides a lot of support at home. Mike has helped with the mulching at the Girl Scout planter, helps sort Girl Scout cookies, assists Keegan with his Cub Scout activities and helps Ruth prepare for projects at home.

The Bemidji Inspire by Example volunteer award program, in its 21st year, is sponsored by the United Way of Bemidji Area and Bemidji Volunteer Directors. In March, a selection committee, which included Sue Engel, De Pickett and Jenny Day, reviewed the nomination forms submitted and chose the Walterses as the family that best met and exceeded the award criteria.

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