By Heather Sawaski
MERRILL (WAOW) -- North Central Wisconsin is a great place to live and raise kids. Volunteers set many of the communities apart from others.
At Newsline 9 we're proud to join in an effort to recognize some of them. Over the next year you'll meet a dozen people, honored with a Jefferson Award. Established in 1972, it recognizes businesses, schools, and individuals who answer the call to action for volunteers.
This months winner is Denis McCarthy. He's a retired Merrill man who spends his days making a difference in the lives of those in need.
The St. Vincent De Paul Community Care Center in Merrill is a one stop shop of sorts for those in need. It houses a food pantry, free clinic, United Way offices and other agencies. And it's there thanks to Denis McCarthy.
"There's a lot of people that are hurting here in Merrill," Denis said. "A lot of people that really really need help."
Denis was instrumental in bringing Saint Vincent DePaul to Merrill 7 years ago. First, through the Thrift Store, and 5 years later, the new Care Center.
He's a retired police officer of more than 30 years and now considers himself a full time volunteer.
"Police officers are in the business of working with people and helping people and I kind of saw this as an extension for myself after I retired," he said. "I had been involved in St. Vincent De Paul as a young man when I lived in Chicago and I wanted to carry that on, something that my father had passed on to me."
Friend and fellow colleague Tom Burg says he didn't think twice about nominating Denis for the award.
"People maybe don't understand how much law enforcement tries to help people in their jobs and even often beyond their jobs," Burg said. "And Denis just saw that as a natural extension of his job as helping people that needed the help. There are all kinds of ways of getting involved in your community and he choose that one and has just done an outstanding job of it."
But this volunteer stays modest.
"Actually it may be kind of a selfish thing because, yeah I get a lot of reward from it. It does make me feel good."
Congratulations to Denis. He and all our winners will be eligible to move on to the national competition.
Newsline 9 Jefferson Awards are presented by Marshfield Clinic.