RED WING -- Lee Neste joined Faith in Action at its genesis over two decades ago.

“I was hired as the first director and it was on my shoulders to run the program, get it up and running,” Neste said.

Now he is retiring and former youth minister Keith Johnson will be stepping in to lead the organization.

Neste’s favorite part of the job was working with the numerous volunteers who make Faith in Action successful. The nonprofit offers services to Red Wing residents that include local transportation, in-home visiting, book deliveries and respite care for providers.

Faith in Action has kept records of services provided over the past 22 years. The numbers are impressive:

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  • 611 volunteers were trained to work with the organization

  • 1,326 unique individuals used one or more of the organization’s services

  • 125,784 volunteer hours were contributed

  • Over 68,000 one way trips were provided, resulting in 381, 301 miles of driving, which is more than 15 times around the Earth at the equator.

  • In collaboration with the Red Wing Public Library volunteers provided 3,931 hours delivering books.

Neste’s final day with Faith in Action is Friday, Sept. 25.

“I don’t have any big plans right now. We have a son on each coast and like to go out and visit them for a week or so each year. Other than that, maybe get my golf clubs out and hit a few rounds of golf somewhere along the line," he said.

During his final weeks, Neste has been working to help train in Johnson.

Johnson has lived in Red Wing since 2014 when he moved here from Colorado to serve as a youth minister. In Minnesota, he met his wife. They have two children who will be turning 3and 1 later this year.

When asked why he wanted to work with Faith in Action Johnson explained, “We love to be a part of the community and looking for a new job in this pandemic era when I was laid off back in May working at 3M I thought I’d look for something more ministry oriented since that’s my background and Faith in Action popped up.”

He added, “Working with volunteers and serving the community this way, to help seniors continue to live their life the best way possible … is one way that I can feel connected with the community.”

The Faith in Action board of directors is pleased to welcome Johnson as director as Neste steps down.

“The time has come for leadership transition and I am very pleased that we have selected Keith Johnson to lead the organization. Keith brings the capability to guide the organization through the changes that seem today to be coming more and more rapidly,” said Jim Maybach, a member of the board.

Celebration

A retirement party for Neste is scheduled for 3-5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 25 in the St. Paul Lutheran Church parking lot. The event was described by Johnson as a “drive-thru” experience.”

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Upon arrival, enter the parking lot through the Fourth Street entrance.