Vickie Grube is Citizen of the Year
Fri, 03/29/2019 - 4:40pm admin
—She, along with others, will be honored at HCB&T Banquet on Tuesday, April 9
Sara Stromseth-Troy TPD Staff
Cresco - Vickie Grube calls volunteering ‘a condition of the heart.’
Her legacy of volunteer work in Cresco and surrounding areas is well known by many for whom her hard work, kindness and dedication has made a difference.
Grube says she is surprised by the designation, coming as it does immediately following another unexpected life event:
“I’m honored to be chosen as the Cresco Times’ Citizen of the Year, although really in my heart I believe many people deserve this more than I do,” Grube said. “I was shocked because I found out about it the day after I found out I had breast cancer.”
She is quick to add her type of cancer is treatable and curable.
“I got a call the day after the biopsy at 9 p.m. The doctor was very kind about it and said it was cancer, Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, which is treatable and curable. Both my husband (Arlyn) and I got out our phones to research (the diagnosis). I told the kids, and we went to bed. The next morning, Arlyn sent me a message telling me to check my e-mail. I thought, ‘Why do I want to check my e-mail on a Saturday morning?’ It was the e-mail telling me I had been chosen as the Cresco Times’ Citizen of the Year.”
In spite of her diagnosis, Grube is as engaged and invested in her work and in her community efforts as ever. Indeed, life’s hardships have challenged and focused her on both her career trajectory and regarding her volunteerism.
“We don’t succeed in spite of our hardships but precisely because of them,” Grube said. “We also need to fill our own cup too and take care of ourselves.”
A psychiatric nurse who is retired from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Grube presently works as a Supplemental RN at Pain Rehabilitation at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester and also at Howard County Community Hospice in Cresco. Previous to her hospice experience in Cresco, she worked for a year-and-a-half at St Croix Hospice of Southeast Minnesota.
“My mom was on St Croix Hospice. I could see how much she was assisted by hospice enriching her days. It just seemed perfect (work) fit for me and it was for a while, until her health started to further decline, and I wanted to be spending more time with just her.”
As a photographer, she is a familiar sight at many community and school events.
“I like to take pictures of events and share them on Facebook for people who aren’t able to attend,” she said.
Grube is a member of the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation, especially fitting because she is a cousin of Borlaug. She is also active at her parish, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cresco.
Spectators of Cresco’s Santa Day Parade will find Grube dressed as a clown at the event, a tradition she has enjoyed for over 30 years.
Grube also appreciates her Norwegian heritage and family history. She celebrates her heritage by teaching her grandchildren how to make lefse. She credits her great-uncle Iver “for teaching me how to drink coffee and walk cemeteries.”
Grube, born in New Hampton and raised in Jerico before moving to Cresco as a seventh grade student, is a 1973 graduate of Cresco High School. She is also an artist. Her charcoal drawing, ‘Rebirth 2,’ a follow-up to a drawing titled ‘Rebirth 1’ which she created in the seventh grade, was selected for Honorable Mention honors at the Cresco Fine Arts Show when she was a senior in high school, before the art show had a student art contest.
While her art teacher urged her to consider a career in art, Grube knew in her heart that another career path beckoned:
“I knew I wanted to go into nursing,” she said.
Her career decision, she feels, was directed in part by the death of her father during her senior year of high school.
“My father took his own life. Time stopped for me for a while, as my dad’s visitation was on my 18th birthday,” Grube said. “This was a part of my life that made an impact on what I would do later in my chosen career in nursing. I was particularly drawn to psychiatric nursing and always had wanted to work at Evans Memorial Home in Cresco.”
Grube began her nursing education at the University of Iowa but felt the school too big. She did, however, enjoy a volunteer experience working with children.
“I was volunteering at the University of Iowa Hospital in the evenings on the Pediatrics ward, doing one-on-one visits with kids in the hospital,” she said.
She transferred at the end of the first semester to NIACC in Mason City.
While at NIACC, Grube began having trouble with seizures and was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy.
“My instructors met with administration, and I was told I would have to remove myself from the nursing program,” she said.
While Grube wrote a letter protesting the decision and was eventually allowed back in the program, she had decided to change course.
“I had also looked elsewhere and decided to leave NIACC and go to the Rochester Vo-Tech School and take up the Human Services Technician Program. The best part of the whole experience (with NIACC) is to know that I helped make a difference for others who happened to have a seizure disorder and wanted to pursue nursing as a career.”
That Christmas, Vickie and Arlyn were engaged to be married.
“I graduated from the Human Services Technician Program and Arlyn and I got married the next summer,” Grube said. “I worked at Evans as a social worker designee and soon also as activity coordinator. I fell in love with my work and all of the residents there. The activity program got to the point where they needed to hire another person and that is where Debi Kloberdanz comes in. We were quite a team.”
Grube recalls starting the Easter egg hunt at Evans Home, at which time they used real eggs rather than plastic eggs.
“The residents had so much fun coloring the eggs,” Grube recalls. “We also thought it was important to get children to come to take part. Often, the elderly and children have a magical connection with each other,” she said.
“I worked at Evans for some 13 years and then went back to finish my degree in nursing at Calmar,” Grube said. “A couple I carpooled with talked me into filling out an application to the Mayo Clinic so I did and got hired.”
She was awarded the Commitment to Excellence Award from Mayo in Nursing and completed the Parish Nursing course through Concordia College.
“Another dream of mine was and still is to be a Parish Nurse,” Grube said. “Dick Wagoner was my supervisor and a wonderful mentor. I feel honored to learn from him when I was employed through first the Neighborhood Youth Corp and later it was referred to the Government Youth Opportunity Program, programs no longer in existence for families of lower income level,” she said.
Meanwhile, Grube feels she has come full circle in her nursing career via her work with Howard County Community Hospice.
“I am now honored to be returning to Evans (Memorial Home), seeing residents on hospice where so much of my career directions seeds were planted,” she said.
While keeping busy with work and family, Grube continues to work on her art. She learned the Norwegian folk art of rosemaling, which she had to give up when her children were small but has since resumed. Her paintings and drawings are featured throughout the family home, located outside of Cresco. The Grubes live in a former one-room schoolhouse, since renovated, where Arlyn’s mother used to teach.
The Grubes are the parents of three children: Jordon, KimSue and Derek and have two grandchildren, Kyle and Makayla.
Vickie has been involved with Cresco’s Fine Arts Council and also enjoys cake decorating.
A longstanding passion of hers is the CROP Hunger Walk, now known as the Borlaug 5K.
Grube attends the annual Iowa Hunger Summit in Des Moines, which gathers leaders from across Iowa that lead or participate in projects to confront hunger. Cresco’s own Dr. Norman Borlaug’s legacy is a major component of the event.
According to the Iowa Hunger Summit website: ‘The Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium: Held each October in conjunction with the presentation of the World Food Prize, the “Borlaug Dialogue,” is a three-day symposium that brings together international experts, policy leaders, business executives and farmers to address cutting-edge issues in global food security and nutrition. The event regularly attracts over 1,000 participants from more than 50 countries, has been referred to as “the premier conference in the world on global agriculture.”’
Grube credits Norman Borlaug’s sister for inspiring her to become involved:
“Charlotte Culbert (Norman Borlaug’s sister) used to encourage me to get involved and told me how much I would like to go the the World Food Prize ceremony,” she said.
“Someday I would like to attend the Thursday night of (the World Food Prize) ceremony, but I do watch it on Iowa Public Television. It is so heartwarming how Ambassador Quinn points out a chair that is empty for Dr. Borlaug, who started it all. Attending the Hunger Summit every year is a major highlight for me. I am not sure how many years now it has been but the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation exhibits at this event and carries the exhibit throughout the World Food Prize week,” Grube said.
As she considers her longstanding commitment to volunteering and her passion for her work, Vickie Grube feels volunteerism helps others as much as it helps herself:
“Every person, no matter who they are has a story to tell and it is up to us to make them feel important and special. This is a reward of volunteering. When one gives, what comes back in return is immeasurable and is always even more. Volunteering is being open and being of service. It is being genuine and kind to those with less.”