I have a friend named Donna who is remarkable. Part of the church family we’ve adopted, she has strong opinions about most things, and she is not shy about making them known. Donna is the ultimate volunteer; her dedication to taking on some of the routine office chores has made her a necessary part of my job. She has a long history with the church, and a keen memory for the evolution of most events there. I can’t count the number of times someone has said, “Ask Donna,” when something puzzles us.

Her volunteerism doesn’t only benefit the church. Since I’ve known her, she has volunteered weekly at the V.A. (the veterans’ hospital), at VEAP (our local food shelf), and as a driver for friends who no longer drive themselves. She coordinates food deliveries for families in crisis, has served in most capacities, and on most committees, keeping track of decisions made, minutes of meetings, newsletters that she has produced, and being the unofficial church historian.

A voracious reader, Donna has suggested many books to me that I’ve enjoyed and recommended to others. She is a painter, and her portrait of two of my granddaughters is a special reminder of them and of her each time I look at it. And she makes incredible ginger cookies, an essential quality in a friend.

For about five years Donna and I joined several like-minded peace lovers in a weekly vigil on a corner in “downtown” Bloomington. Many of those hours were cold and windy, or hot and humid – typical Minnesota days. We were taunted, harassed, appreciated, and proud of our quiet position against the wars our country was waging.

Our church choir, of which Donna’s husband, Lou, was a member, puts on an annual production. Donna has served as stage manager – keeping backstage foolishness under control – and as a painter of scenery. Her suggestions were wise and welcome.

When I consider cherished moments in the last fifteen years, Donna is more often than not at the heart of them. We have made many special friends in that time, and I am so grateful for my special relationship with Donna. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.