Here’s To You, Everyday Heroes

At The Forum, we know that working in the media is a privilege; each of us strives to gather information and tell stories that matter. Our publication’s spotlight shines on our compassionate community in this special “Everyday Heroes” section.

“An Everyday Hero is an individual who lends their time, talents and resources to others without expecting recognition or accolades,” says Forum General Manager Aaron Becher. “We believe these people are the key to what makes our community unique and we would like to recognize them.”

Through a special website, 31 nominations were received. In February, a committee of Forum employees gathered to read stories of community leaders, good samaritans and passionate nonprofit executives.

Seven people were chosen for their practical grit, like doing simple everyday things to lift up both old and young, as is the case with 15-year-old Haley Dellaneva who has fundraised for Fargo Public Schools Foundation’s “Got No Milk Program” for more than six years. Local Ronald McDonald House Charities Executive Director Jill Christopher champions a vision of expansion to serve more people who need to support family members with life-threatening diseases.

Other everyday heroes, like Tony and Michelle McRae, focus on senior living communities. The longtime married couple has been showing films at senior living communities for more than 10 years. Kelly Krenzel repurposes event floral arrangements to individual bouquets and delivers them to people in the Meals on Wheels program and hospice care.

Two other everyday heroes use their business to give back; Ray Bernard of Ray’s Certified Auto regularly gives vehicles away for free, while Hasta Basnet, a former Bhutanese refugee, now supports the New American community through managing the Namaste Market and as an employment specialist through Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota.

One everyday hero, Mary Jean Dehne, or “Mama Dehne” as she is known to several of her students at her after-school nonprofit, Legacy Children’s Foundation, has also received a national Jefferson Award nomination.

As the Jefferson Award nominee, Dehne, will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the 45th Annual Jefferson Award Ceremony June 21-23.

Since 1972, the Jefferson Awards have recognized community and public service leaders in America. Created by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Awards reflect America’s spirit of excellence; their mission is to power others to have maximum impact on the things they care about most.

Dehne has amplified his passion for empowering students by founding the Legacy Children’s Foundation to offer additional resources to assist diverse teens in their quest to achieve a high school diploma. Junior Surpris, a first-generation American immigrant from Haiti, struggled in elementary and middle school. The Legacy Children’s Foundation empowered her to find his strengths so she could develop into an excellent student and citizen.

“I go to the Legacy homework room three nights a week after sports or play practice. Ryan and the academic coaches surround me with encouragement and teach me important study skills, “ Surpris says. “I take responsibility for my words and actions. I take school and my life very seriously. I now have a 3.7 GPA, and I know my future is going to be fantastic. ”

As a Jefferson Award nominee, Dehne could be recognized nationally; each year a Jefferson Award is presented in seven different categories including Greatest Public Service by Private Citizen, Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting the Local Community. Past national Jefferson Awards recipients include Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Colin Powell, Peyton Manning, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elie Wiesel and Alan Greenspan.

The Forum is proud to showcase these everyday heroes and wishes the best of luck to Mary Jean Dehne, a national Jefferson Award Nominee.