‘Dynamic duo’ wins historical society award

Volunteers call thrift store ‘labor of love’

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The Oakdale Historical Society presented its annual OWL (Oakdale’s Wondrous Leadership) award to friends and “dynamic duo” (according to president Maryann Almes), Connie Lennart and Sandy Race, who have, for years, devoted their time as volunteers to St. John’s thrift store.   

“Oakdale Historical Society exists because of the pride, love, and hard-work of the people of the Oakdale community. Those performing this job know that it is long hours with little recognition as they teach, inform, and preserve the memories and history of our beloved Oakdale,” said Almes.

Since January 2020, the historical society began recognizing one individual who “epitomized the characteristics of leadership, knowledge, and service to the Oakdale community and its history,” according to Almes.

Lennart and Race were chosen because “these two ladies have worked tirelessly for Oakdale Historical Society embodying the tenets of leadership, knowledge, and service. They are our own ‘dynamic duo,’ Connie Lennart and Sandy Race,” said Almes in her speech honoring the two.

Each Saturday, Lennart and Race greeted customers after sorting, tagging, and displaying merchandise.

Being tech savvy, Lennart and Race utilized apps on their smart phones to determine prices of high-end merchandise.

“One year we got this beautiful Lenox china set and it was going for $1,000 on eBay, so we slashed the price to $499 and it sold for even less than that,” said Lennart.

Brand-name pocketbooks from Michael Kors and Coach are also regular items for sale at the thrift store.

“We really have a generous community,” said Race, “Every week, we get so many donations and there are so many nice items that people really want.”

“When the idea of the Firecracker 5K Run/Walk was first conceived, we realized that community sponsorship was necessary for success. Without prompting, Connie and Sandy began making the rounds of local businesses to solicit help in the ‘Renovate the St. John’s Windows’ campaign. These ladies collected sponsorship funding and, if met with resistance, Chinese auction donations from far and wide,” said Almes.

“Soliciting money is never comfortable, but for Connie and Sandy, it was like second-nature. We applauded their hard work that made the first Firecracker 5K such a success. The following year they would more than double the amount secured, setting a fundraising record that will probably never be matched again,” said Almes.

Lennart, who was previously a bank manager, and Race, who worked for Pottery Barn, utilized their skills in customer and client management to help foster a circle of giving from community members to the less fortunate.

“When we have people come, it’s such a treat for them to be able to afford a brand, or an expensive piece for only a few dollars,” said Lennart. “It really is a labor of love to work here.”

“These two ladies are a prominent force in OHS. They are kind and thoughtful and always smiling, sporting a ‘what can we do to help’ attitude. Their dedication to Oakdale, the Historical Society, and St John’s Historic Church is evident through each and everything they do. They embody the spirit of volunteerism and we are proud to honor them with this year’s OWL Award. They are a true inspiration!” said Almes.