“It’s a real privilege to help serve this community and I’m just really appreciative that someone nominated me. It makes me feel very special," says Linde Flanders.
A crowd of people filled the pews at Harmonie Church near Innsbrook on May 1 to celebrate one of the greatest volunteers in the history of both the church and in Warren County.
Linde Flanders, 76 of Innsbrook, is the latest Hidden Hero chosen by The Warren County Record. The program recognizes the importance of volunteers in the community and the work they do to make the Warren County area a better place for all.
“I’m stunned,” she says. “I’ve read about it in your paper when you’ve honored other people but I never thought it would be me.
“It’s a real privilege to help serve this community and I’m just really appreciative that someone nominated me. It makes me feel very special.”
Flanders was chosen from several nominations of incredible volunteers from around the county.
“That makes me feel even more special,” she said.
“As you should,” said Yolanda Mortimer, a friend and the woman who nominated Flanders for the Hidden Heroes honor.
“She’s pretty special. You made a great choice,” Mortimer said. “She’s always doing stuff for other people.”
Volunteering has been a key part of Flander’s life since she was young, when she learned the value of service through her time in Girl Scouts; the Masonic youth organization, Job’s Daughters; and her church.
“It just gives you a sense of doing God’s work. He wants you to reach out to the community,” she said. “And you get to meet the nicest people that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.”
Flanders says there’s never a day where she doesn’t feel like volunteering, but couldn’t pinpoint how much time she spends with the many groups she helps. “Just two to three hours here, two to three hours there. It’s hard to say. It goes pretty fast,” she says.
Many organizations in and around Wright City benefit from those two to three hours here and there.
Flanders volunteers with several organizations in the Wright City area, working with Good Shepherd Thrift Store and Wright City Community food pantry. She serves as the treasurer for the local Scenic Regional Library branch, is the archivist for the Innsbrook historical society, and talks up the dogs at the No Time To Spare Animal Shelter to help the animals find their forever home. She also volunteers with Kiwanis at the Sports Closet, helping to provide sporting equipment to children who want to play but can’t afford to buy the equipment they need.
“She’s a helpful, passionate woman,” says John Nadler, manager of Good Shepherd Thrift Store.
She also serves on the board of Harmonie Church, and as the custodian and wedding coordinator. “I do everything but dig graves!” Flanders said with a laugh. It was at Harmonie where Flanders and her late husband, John, got their start as Warren County volunteers when they began attending nine years ago.
“If there’s a need, she’ll organize the help,” says Janet Gerdeman, a Harmonie churchgoer who came to celebrate Flanders on Monday.
The Rev. Doug Kraus, pastor at Harmonie, said Linde helped start the worship team, prepares communion, and steps up every time she can.
“Linde’s an amazing woman that I’m in awe of,” says the Rev. Doug Kraus, pastor at Haromine Church. “She’s such a blessing in my life. I’m overwhelmed by her abilities to keep on keeping on.”
Flanders also finds it rewarding to work with the kindergartners at East Elementary where she helps students just beginning their educational journeys learn their letters, words, and numbers.
“They’re our future. I think a lot of children these days don’t get the attention and care that they need so it’s the little things that you do that can kind of help them get off on the right foot for the rest of their lives.
She said working with children has been a rewarding experience.
“You don’t really know when you’ve touched someone’s life. You don’t know what the end result might be. But with tutoring at the school you can see the progress from the beginning of the school year to the end of the school year. You can see the progress they’ve made with reading and math and just helping them feel like they’re loved and appreciated.”
Flanders had one piece of advice for anyone looking for a way to start volunteering in their community. She knows many organizations are shorthanded after COVID caused many volunteers to fade away.
“Just take the first step by meeting with whoever is in charge of whatever the organization and start going to the meeting. They will gladly pull you into volunteering!” she said.
The Warren County Record is routinely accepting nominations for Hidden Heroes. The next recipient will be chosen in July. Nominations can be made at warrencountyrecord.com/hiddenhero.
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