by Dennis Dalman
For camera-shy Robyn Paul, who describes herself as a private person, the last week or two has been quite a squirmy ordeal.
It started when a colleague tricked her into thinking she had to come to Good Shepherd Community Home to help train a new volunteer. When she arrived, she walked into the room and was greeted with balloons, flowers, flash cameras going off like gangbusters and grinning people making a fuss over her.
She was mortified to learn she’d been selected as the Sauk Rapids Citizen of the Year for 2015.
“I was really, really embarrassed,” she recalled, during a speech she gave at a reception honoring her. “And I just wanted to crawl in a hole.”
But then one of her nephews, Kyle Johnson, saved the day. Aware of her awkward embarrassment of winning the award, he emailed her a simple three-word command: “Robyn, just embrace it!” And then she got to thinking, there’s no way they’re going to revoke the honor so she might as well go with the flow.
Well-wishers, colleagues, city officials and family gathered at the Sauk Rapids Government Center April 27 for a cake-and-coffee reception, followed by an awards ceremony for Paul and for the four other nominees for the annual honor. Sauk Rapids Mayor Brad Gunderson read a proclamation declaring April 27 as “Robyn Paul Day.”
Lisa Braun, herself a former Citizen of the Year (2002), introduced Paul to the audience and presented her with the award. Paul thanked many people and gave her husband, Steven, a special thanks for being so supportive.
“This award really is an honor,” she said. “Thank you!”
Since 2006, Paul has been a volunteer at the Good Shepherd Community Home in Sauk Rapids, working in its Northern Delights Coffee and Gift Store. She has given 1,000 hours of her time to residents, employees and any one else she happened to meet.
In her award citation, Paul was praised for being “dedicated, considerate, caring and funny,” with a flair for humor that can get people laughing at the drop of a hat.
She was also honored for volunteering during the last 20 years at the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District.
The citation also reads:
“Whether it is lending a smile, hug or a shoulder to cry on, Robyn has a reputation for always putting others before herself. She is always willing to step up and help wherever she is needed through her volunteer work . . . It is because of Robyn’s passion for helping others and her seemingly endless ability to give back to the Sauk Rapids community that Robyn Paul has been selected as the 2015 Sauk Rapids Citizen of the Year.”
She was described by her family as “having a huge heart to help others.”
Paul was nominated for the award by Jenny Zimmer, volunteer coordinator at Good Shepherd Community Home.
“We are so lucky to have her,” Zimmer told the Sauk Rapids Newsleader at the reception. “She’s so funny. She always makes us laugh.”
The Pauls have two sons, Joel (wife Martina) and Danny (wife Holly). Joel and Martina have two young children, Lyla and Landon. All were at the reception.
Also honored at the awards ceremony were the other four nominees for this year’s award. (See related story.)