Brian Nickerson, Yvonne (Nickerson) Noorlun and Brian Nickerson have been named the 2018 Volunteers of the Year by the Truman Community Club.
BY KATE CROWLEY ROSENBERG
It’s hard to get everything done in a day that needs doing. That’s when the movers and the shakers set themselves apart. Ask the Nickersons. Brad, Brian and Yvonne grew up in Truman with parents who volunteered in everything from the Truman Fire Department to their church. Yvonne, now a Noolun, can’t remember a time when they didn’t just pitch in to get things done.
This year, the Truman Community Club has named these grown siblings Volunteers of the Year, not just for their work on the Truman Days over the years, but for all of their hard work. Everything from Boy Scouts, the now defunct Jaycees, Truman Active Living Coalition and many others have benefited from their free labor and guidance.
“Our parents were the real volunteers,” said Yvonne. “There was nothing they didn’t do. My dad and all my brothers have had careers in the volunteer Fire Department.” That’s a commitment spanning four generations—from grandfather Stanley to son Jason; about 150 years combined experience.
The Nickerson’s parents, Russell and Chloris, set the bar high for their children. Russell put more than 20 years into the fire department. Chloris gave 40 years to the Red Cross.
“If you have parents that are active like that,” offered office manager Belinda Miller, “it trickles down.”
Yvonne’s bed and breakfast, The Whittler’s Lady, demands her attention when guests check in, but at other times she can be found mending the flags flown at each end of Truman on major holidays—a project she and her brothers Brad and Brian, owners of Nick’s Body Shop, hold dear.
“It took a lot of work to get that project off the ground,” Brian said. From its inception, the Nickerson brothers nurtured that idea until it built up enough steam to get funding and support from the community. But the flags don’t always fly. “The fact is we look at the weather and if it’s too windy, we don’t put them up. It’s fifty flags and we don’t want them to get all torn up.” For which Yvonne is grateful.
Every project begins with an idea. “If you don’t say nothin’, nothin’ gets done,” Brian said. Every once in awhile, someone will come to him with an idea and ask, “How do we get this done.” His response, he says, is, “Let me work on it.” And work on it he does, sometimes when the shop should be taking his time.
Brian, Brad, and Yvonne are among countless others in the community who take the idea, chew on it a bit, kick it around the block a few times to get some input, and then set to work. They’ve been doing it since they were kids.
Sometimes the hardest part about putting together a project is listening to input. It’s not always favorable.
“You have to learn to listen,” said Yvonne. Those who criticize may get drafted into service, in a sweet sort of way.
“We don’t do it for a pat on the back. We don’t like to get recognized,” Brian said. “We just like to get things done.”
Brad said there are a number of ways to volunteer in Truman, but the first step is to know what’s going on and where help is needed.
“Go to a city council meeting to hear what’s going on. Or the church council. Or the utility council,” he said. Brad spent a number of years with Truman Utility Council as a volunteer board member.
Brian spent 40 years on the Fire Department, including assistant chief and fire chief, before he retired about a year ago. Brad nearly as many. They also helped spearhead the addition to the firehouse. “Then the taxpayers got involved to get the funding. Brad and I stayed after that addition to get it done.”
“It was a battle. It wasn’t any fun,” Brad said of the firehouse addition efforts. Not all projects are fun, but the results bring satisfaction.
“If you don’t stay after it, it won’t get done,” Brian said.
Recent rains have brought more problems to Minnesota communities.
“The infrastructure wasn’t designed for the rains we’ve been having,” Brian said, which creates an opportunity for volunteerism. Cleaning the leaves and other debris from the storm drain covers is a simple job every homeowner can do, freeing up labor and tax money for the city to address other problems. “It’s a constant battle. Everybody has to stay involved in it,” he said. “We can’t spend millions of dollars to redo the infrastructure because of mother nature. It’s a tough call, because what the city does costs us all money. We all know that.”
Truman Days is an opportunity to bring former residents home to socialize with old friends. It’s also an opportunity to get young kids involved. The beer tent will take anyone 18 or over to help serve, but there are plenty of opportunities for younger kids, as well.
Yvonne noted that blood donors who give when they are still in high school are more likely to give blood as they get older; whereas 30-year-olds who have never given blood aren’t likely to step up as they age. She encouraged all families to get their school kids busy volunteering - and giving blood - to establish the habit.
While they are active in many community organizations and councils, short-term projects get them motivated; like when the city needed some playground equipment set up and some shingling done.
“We just put in a couple days and got it done,” Brian said. Next on the horizon are some updates to the RV park. This project like many others, Brian said, will get done without “taxing the taxpayers.”
As the movers and shakers of Truman look toward retiring their positions, they look towards the younger set to step up. “Glen, Melody, Mark, Neil Breitbarth,” Brian said, “It’s serious. They want to retire from it.” So anyone with the ability to squeeze a few extra hours out of a week here and there is a prime candidate for many of the Truman boards and committees - resume building stuff. And they won’t have a steep learning curve.
“We never said we wouldn’t help them,” Brian said, volunteering his experience once again.
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