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January 2021 Volunteer of the Month - Leonard Hejl

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

United Way of Greater Yankton’s Big Friend Little Friend youth mentoring program is dedicated to positively impacting youth through fostering a friendship with a caring adult mentors through both Community Based and School Based Mentoring Programs.

Big Friend Little Friend provides youth, ages 7-14, from Yankton County with a mentor who serves as a positive role model and a supportive friend. Volunteer Mentors are trusting and caring adults from the Yankton area who are dedicated to both the success of local youth and our community.

United Way of Greater Yankton was thrilled to recently honor Big Friend Little Friend Volunteer Mentor, Leonard Hejl, with January’s Volunteer of the Month award.

Betsy Thomas, Resource Development Director at United Way of Greater Yankton, nominated Hejl sharing, “Leonard has a great passion for mentoring, supporting, and helping others. He has remained devoted to his Little Friend thoughout the pandemic and is a great asset to not only his mentee, but to our community. We are very fortunate to have such an amazing mentor and volunteer!”

We asked Leonard to share more about his volunteer efforts.

I was born and raised in the Tabor area. I moved back in 2017 after my wife passed away as I have family in the area.

I began volunteering in the Yankton area 3 years ago, but I volunteered in other communities before Yankton.

I enjoy and continue to volunteer because my days are long, and volunteering shortens them. It also gives me the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. By volunteering I help the community grow.

I spend my time volunteering with Southeast SD Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Sister James Care Center as a visit coordinator, Big Friend Little Friend, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital TEAM, and at Heartland Humane Society as a dog handler. I volunteer approximately 300-400 hours yearly.

My best volunteer experience has been giving current events to some of the residents at Majestic Bluffs. They seemed to enjoy it.

The advice I would give to those thinking about getting out there and volunteering in their community is if you have the time and want to do something positive for the community. DO IT!

To learn more about local volunteer opportunities or to nominate a Volunteer of the Month, email or call United Way of Greater Yankton at (605) 665-6766.

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