Submitted photo
International Director Nick Xinopoulos, Rushford Lion Larry Bartelson, Lions District Governor Mike Schultz of Zumbrota.
Submitted photo International Director Nick Xinopoulos, Rushford Lion Larry Bartelson, Lions District Governor Mike Schultz of Zumbrota.
Local and national Lions Clubs live by a two-word motto: “We Serve.” Larry Bartelson is a Rushford Lions Club member who lives out that motto. Last month Bartelson received two awards for his unselfish service: the prestigious “International Leadership Award” and the “Hometown Hero” award. Bartelson received both honors at the Midwinter Lions Convention.

Rushford area residents who know Larry Bartelson well won’t be surprised that the first thing Bartelson thought after hearing his name called was, “there are a lot of people more deserving of the award than I am.”

Mike Schultz, Lions District Governor from Zumbrota, described Bartelson as someone who “has always stepped up, especially when we needed someone to take charge of an important activity like Project New Hope. Larry was already busy as a Zone Chair but he stepped up and took that on.”

Bartelson is co-chair of Project New Hope, which is designed to reach out to combat veterans coming back from overseas tours. Some of those veterans are having a difficult time readjusting to civilian life with their families. Project New Hope helps the veterans by giving them a safe place to interact with their families, as well as share stories with other families in similar situations.

“I went on the September weekend retreat over at Ironwood Spring Christian Ranch,” Bartelson said. “It’s all paid for by Project New Hope. Roughly 14 families came in from all over Minnesota. They bring spouses and kids along, or just bring themselves if they’re single.

“It’s a pretty low-key event. There are no set counseling sessions. Instead, it’s just a time to come and enjoy being with your family in a wonderful environment. Even if someone is single, we’re still all brothers and sisters in military service.”

It isn’t difficult to find other Rushford Lions club members willing to point out Bartelson’s valuable contributions. “Larry has done just about everything there is to do in the club, especially when it comes to holding officer positions,” said Rushford Lions secretary Nancy Benson. “He’s spearheaded the birthday calendar sales, which is a big fundraiser for us. He’s really done just about everything and is a great P.R. man for the club.”

The part of being a Lions member Bartelson enjoys most are the service projects. Bartelson enjoys serving as a crossing guard at the school, being a part of the big Rushford Days pork chop dinner, and working on the birthday calendar.

Bartelson said putting the birthday calendar together is a unique opportunity because he gets to visit with a lot of people, including some he doesn’t see very often. He added that watering the Rushford flower baskets during the summer allows Bartelson and other club members to make the community look better, as well as visit with area residents.

While certainly appreciative of the honors he received, Bartelson believes individual awards are good for one thing: getting more attention for the organization the winner represents. “I know they gave me the award but there are a lot of other local Lions who are involved in the same projects,” Bartelson said. “We’ve got dozens of other members out serving the community.”

Benson said it’s invaluable for the Rushford Lions to have people like Larry Bartelson, who serves as an ambassador for the club as they’re looking for more folks who are interested in serving their community. A big key to the Lions Club success is having members like Bartelson, who’s interested in serving the Rushford community and is constantly thinking about and working toward the next big project. “Larry is such a personable man,” Benson said. “He’s so easy to talk to and easy to work with.”

Bartelson’s takeaway after winning the International Leadership Award is predictably unassuming. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m already doing for the Lions,” Bartelson said.