Safratowich named Community Builder
By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.com Sherry Safratowich's titles range from mom to grandma, chairperson to president and entrepreneurial seamstress. She has now added Outstanding Community Builder to her r?sum?, bestowed by the Northw...
By Jean Ruzicka
Sherry Safratowich’s titles range from mom to grandma, chairperson to president and entrepreneurial seamstress.
She has now added Outstanding Community Builder to her rèsumè, bestowed by the Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund.
The awards are presented to “women who’ve demonstrated leadership in improving the quality of life for those around them, making northwest Minnesota a better place to live, work and raise families.”
“It’s wonderful, very unexpected – and difficult. I’m usually on the other side,” she said of presenting awards.
“Public service is my life,” said the Park Rapids Area School Board chair, president of the Wrestling Boosters Club and sponsorship chair of the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener.
“I so enjoy it,” she said of her roles. “To be recognized is very nice.”
Safratowich wears several hats on the home front. She and husband Joe are parenting three grandchildren who are 7, 8 and 9. Grandchildren will soon number 18. They provide care for Joe’s mother, Louise, who’s under hospice care. All this while keeping her custom sewing and tailoring business running “seamlessly.”
“Family is so huge,” she said of her priorities. “I’ve always been family oriented.” Her six children entering school drove her decision to run for school board.
Melodee Monicken, who nominated Safratowich for the award, states, “Her leadership on recent bond and referendum initiatives is one of the major reasons that the school district is solvent and steadily improving.
“In a school sphere, with so many different and politicized constituencies, Sherry has a reputation for being fair, firm and consistent – even as the lead negotiator for many years,” Monicken said of the 21-year school board member.
Former superintendent Glenn Chiodo added a wily mixed metaphor to her credentials – “the glue that keeps the school board on track.”
As president of Wrestling Booster Club, Safratowich has been instrumental in organizing fundraisers over the past 25 years.
When Park Rapids was named host of Governor’s Fishing Opener, Safratowich was able to garner donations ranging from food for hundreds to portable toilets.
“Sherry made it happen,” Monicken said.
“One of the many reasons I am nominating Sherry Safratowich is because she didn’t grow up solidly middle-class,” Monicken said of the Dixie Drive-in car hop. “Though she’s whip smart, she didn’t get a college education. She isn’t ‘connected.’ She isn’t a predictable recipient.
“Her husband worked in the woods; she worked as a seamstress. They raised their family with big gardens, a few cattle, and an ethic that emphasized frugality and hard work,” Monicken wrote in the nomination.
“Women like Sherry Safratowich don’t always get these awards, but I think she is a very worthy candidate and a model for many women in our region,” Monicken said. “Given the daunting odds of a truncated education and motherhood, Sherry still found ways to share her time, energy and the best of herself with her community.
“Sherry has been willing to risk getting outside her comfort zone. She encourages others to dream bigger. She’s a mentor to young women, urging them to finish their educations before marriage and babies. She’s a leader who conveys her high expectations without belittling others’ more modest efforts. She’s a role model for anyone who imagines that the hill is too high or the dark is too scary.
“Implicit in her willingness to grow with the challenges that life has dealt her is this message: ‘If I can do it, you can too.’
“I know Park Rapids is a better place because of her initiative and efforts,” Monicken said.
Safratowich joins Kathy Henry, LuAnn Hurd-Lof and Kathy Grell who have received the commendation in years past.