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Jen's World: Thanks to people who make others feel special

It's March! Which means it's the month I've been waiting for since, well … last March. Why all the excitement? It's time for the annual Chester Awards.

I started the Chesters in 2007 to recognize the everyday goodness of people who "exhibit a kindness, a generosity of spirit, or a plain old above-and-beyondness that may not make the evening news, but that has warmed my heart."

Through the years, Chester recipients have run the gamut from smiley parking ramp attendants to attentive bakery cashiers. All year long, I pay attention to people who make me feel special in seemingly small ways — and then choose several of those people to feature in this column.

And while earning a Chester doesn't garner the recipients fame, fortune or even a framed certificate, I hope that this little recognition makes them feel as good as they've made me feel.

And now, without further ado, the 2013 Chesters:


Diana Rabe. On occasion, my son — who goes to Friedell Middle School — walks over to Denny's for a soup, a soda and a bit of homework after school. The first time he did this, I was nervous. I didn't know if the staff at Denny's would appreciate a middle school kid coming in by himself. Which is why, when I came in to pick up Christian that first time, I did so with some trepidation.

When the woman at the counter asked if Christian was my son, I said "yes" and waited for the worst. Instead, she said, "You should know that you have a very nice, polite, young man." And that is music to any mother's ears. It wasn't only kind of her to tell me that — but it turns out she'd also been especially friendly to Christian while he was there.

Bonus points: When Christian came in again, a month later, she remembered his order. And that's some crazy skill.

Ann Anderson, veterinarian at Quarry Hill Animal Hospital. This award will likely come as a special surprise to Dr. Anderson, as we've never actually met. But she cared for my dog, Daisy, when my husband brought her in this year — and just like that, Dr. Anderson made an impression on my whole family.

She wasn't only attentive and efficient when she diagnosed Daisy with Lyme disease, but she took the time to talk Jay through Daisy's meds, offered advice for managing the disease, and called our house several times to see how Daisy was doing. And, in the process, earned loyal customers.

Dr. Wade Hanson. I didn't choose Dr. Hanson as my family doctor. I didn't research my options or take recommendations from friends. Wade Hanson was simply assigned to me when I started using Mayo as my primary clinic more than a decade ago. And I don't see him often — maybe once, twice a year. (Which is, frankly, how I want to keep it.)

But every time I go in, I marvel at my luck. Because here's what's so great about Dr. Hanson: He makes me feel like he has all the time in the world to sit and talk with me. I can ask 100 questions (or 10 questions 10 different ways), and he sits back in his chair, hands behind his head, and answers them all — often with an anatomy lesson thrown in for free. He is patient, reassuring — and, thank the Lord — he even has a sense of humor. Lucky me.

The Rochester Magazine team.They're going to see this and roll their eyes. And when I show up for work tomorrow, Vicky is going to say, "You must have run out of people to write about."


But here's the truth: When I first considered taking a job at Rochester Magazine, I wasn't convinced it was the right move. I had a good thing going as a full-time freelancer. But I got talked into it, and thank God for that. Because the team I work with — Steve, Vicky, Jamie, and Jaimi — make coming in to the office something to look forward to. They work hard, aim high, never (or rarely) say "good enough," and are some of the funniest people I've ever met. My cup overfloweth.

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