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Nicole Phillips, Published February 15 2013

Kindness is Contagious: Recognizing seniors’ helpful ways

I would like to start a new service in Fargo to rent grandparents. You can hire a babysitter or a person to clean your home, so why can’t you hire someone to come over and love your kids?

My kids adore their grandparents, but being in Fargo means we don’t get to see them very often, especially in the winter when it’s tough to travel. I get incredibly jealous when one of my girlfriends mentions that Grandma is taking a child to the movies or out for a special lunch. I turn absolutely green with envy when I find out Grandma insists on taking the kids for the night so they can bake cookies and play board games.

Grandparents have a special place in the world of children. In our family, they are like celebrities whom we can hug.

OK, in all honesty, I’m not going to open a new business. I just want all of you out there who are grandparents to know that even though you may be out of the rat race, there are still some rug rats who are glad you’re around.

I started thinking about grandparents, and seniors in general, after getting an email about a contest to honor them.

Salute to Senior Service is a national program sponsored by Home Instead Inc. that honors the contributions of adults 65 and older who give at least 15 hours a month of volunteer service to their favorite causes.

Last year’s winner was Mary Elaine Malheim, of Fargo. Mary is 69 years old, and up until a recent knee surgery, had worked at the Emergency Food Pantry for 11 years, Monday through Friday, for four hours a day. Mary also sews clothes for Bell State Bank’s doll project, helps sell bratwursts at a grocery store fundraiser, and lent a hand when her son needed help building his house.

Mary says she just likes helping people. She says it’s a “feel good” thing.

Nominations for outstanding senior volunteers are being accepted until March 31. You can nominate yourself or someone you know. State winners

will be selected by popular vote at www.SalutetoSenior

Service.com. From those state winners, a panel of senior care experts will pick the national Salute to Senior Service honoree.

Home Instead Inc. will donate $500 to each of the state winners’ favorite nonprofit organizations, and $5,000 will be donated to the national winner’s nonprofit charity of choice.

The time spent taking a grandchild to a movie or planning a special sleepover may not qualify as actual volunteer hours, but that doesn’t mean those hours aren’t making a difference in the lives of others. Even if you don’t take the time to nominate the seniors in your life, I hope you’ll take the time to thank them.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

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HOW TO NOMINATE

To complete and submit a nomination form online for a senior age 65 or older who volunteers at least 15 hours a month, and to view the contest’s official rules, visit www.Salute

toSeniorService.com. Completed nomination forms also can be mailed to Salute to Senior Service, P.O. Box 285, Bellevue, NE 68005.

For more information about Salute to Senior Service or the Home Instead Senior Care network’s services, call (701) 478-1010.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the executive director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.