Jen's World: Readers share their Chesters nominees

This week’s Jen’s World is dedicated to YOUR Chester Award nominees. During the past week, you filled my in-box and my heart with stories about the people in your lives who deserve to be honored.

Last week, I announced the winners of the Chester Awards — my annual shout-out to 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.

And so, according to tradition, this week’s Jen’s World is dedicated to YOUR Chester Award nominees. During the past week, you filled my inbox and my heart with stories about the people in your lives who deserve to be honored.

Here they are:

Lori Weis."My Chester nomination goes to my wonderful wife, Lori, whom I have not thanked nearly enough for persevering through the last two years of medical turmoil in our lives. She and so many others (you all know who you are and how you have helped) have helped me through more than two years when I had four days without medical appointments scheduled. (I don’t have any now!) I hope in some small way this will express a small part of my appreciation for everything she and all my family, friends, medical personnel, fellow farmers and community have gone through for me. Thank you, Lori. Love, Stuart." — Stuart Weis

Yesenia from Bakers Square. "At Bakers Square South, there’s a waitress who is both charming and friendly. She was there when we took our first grandchild with us as a baby — and that baby is now 21, so we know Yesenia has been there at least two decades. She works Monday through Friday. As a witness to her exceptional service, regular customers ask to be in her section. Yesenia remembers not only her customers’ names, but often details about what they usually order or have preferences for. … We enjoy seeing updated pictures of her youngest, a boy who is 2 this spring. Yesenia is someone who works hard, is eternally pleasant, humble, efficient and kind — and deserves to be applauded for her work ethic and personal attributes." — Marilyn Theismann


Gina Mitchell."Gina and I have known each other for more than 12 years, and she has become one of my very good friends and one of my favorite people. Gina and I share many of the same wants and desires for the world — but from a political standpoint, we have little in common in regards to how to make these changes happen. Gina had posted an item on Facebook, and I saw that many posted and liked her item, in overall agreement with her post. I provided some counterpoint that wasn’t well received by many following the post, and, as all too often happens, a firestorm started on Gina’s ‘wall’ that didn’t exactly show the best of humanity.

"I saw Gina a few days after this, and apologized for instigating such a mess, and told her all she had to do was say the word and I would no longer provide my view on such ‘incendiary’ topics on her wall. Her response? One of the most meaningful hugs I’ve ever received, and a ‘no worries’ reply. This obviously isn’t a kindness that goes beyond me personally, but is perfectly indicative of her overall kindness and empathy to so many." — Mark B.

Holly Gronholz."Holly works at Merchants Bank (North), and deserves praise and an award for what she does. She’s right at the front of the bank when you walk in, and she’s not only very friendly and helpful — but she remembers her customers time and again. She’s asks about her customers’ families and how they are — and she shows genuine concern. She’s really perfect for her job, and is a big asset to the bank." — Bonnie Broton

Jeannie Byer.Jeannie is an amazing, humble, hospitable, and generous person. She and her husband, Dave (who died in 2014), have hosted many house guests over the past 45 years, most of whom they didn’t know when they arrived at their doorstep. They often hosted in the range of 80 people a year. These visitors usually had health issues that brought them to the Mayo Clinic. Some stayed a few days, others stayed for weeks, and some for months.

"Last March, a couple arrived from Africa. This couple thought they’d be at Jeannie’s for a couple of weeks, but it turned out to be much longer. They flew back home just last week, stretching their stay to a year! While the husband was in the hospital, the wife and other family members stayed at Jeannie’s home. Jeannie welcomed these strangers into her home — but they left as close friends and "family." This has happened with many of the people the Byers hosted over the years. And Jeannie continues to welcome people who need a place to stay." — Sheryl Peterson

Opinion by Jennifer Koski
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