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Peter Petersilie of La Crescent Receives $1,000 In Seed Money

Community Roots | October 24, 2022

Joe Thesing and Brett Kemmer from our La Crescent branch recognized Peter Petersilie of La Crescent this fall with $1,000 in cash as part of our on-going Seed Money campaign. This campaign helps Home Federal and its employees recognize the unsung heroes in the communities we serve.

Who is Peter Petersilie?

Peter has been a resident of La Crescent for over 35 years, and he has dedicated much of his time to enriching the lives of others in the community. He is well-known for his continuous contributions and volunteerism while creating meaningful connections with every individual he meets.

Many people know Peter through the library’s Chapter Club, Junior Achievement classes at the elementary school, helping with Neighbors Day, and umpiring Apple Jacks Baseball. La Crescent Market President Joe Thesing also knows Peter through his various acts of volunteerism, “Peter is really active and well-liked in our community.”

What Makes Peter Petersilie So Deserving?

Where do we begin… with all the different ways Peter gives back, he stays busy. Jessica Witkins, La Crescent Library Director and nominator explains it well, “He is just the most unretired retired person I can think of.”

For starters, Peter has dedicated every Wednesday afternoon to reading to the children in Chapter Club at the La Crescent library for the past three decades. This started as an offer to sub for the local librarian when his daughter was in Chapter Club in the ‘90s and spurred into a thirty-year volunteer hobby. Through this program, he has been able to connect with multiple generations of children in La Crescent. “It’s rare to have a program of such longevity in a community. So many of the parents love it because they came to Chapter Club as kids and now their kids are going to Chapter Club so everybody knows Mr.Petersilie and he’s got his own fan club at the library,” Library Director Jessica Witkins expands. “He is the storyteller in the community, and he does all the voices, animal noises – whatever is in the book, he brings it to life.”

Chapter Club participant Isla Burrichter told us, “Peter is really funny and makes us laugh a lot and he teaches us words we don’t know.”

Beyond Chapter Club, when La Crescent received a grant years ago to improve the community, Peter joined two committees to help decide where to allocate the funds. The first committee decided to use funds to start a Junior Achievement program to teach children about financial literacy and he’s volunteered to teach classes ever since. “Last year I taught 26 classes – I taught every classroom in the elementary school,” Peter shared. “That’s four first grades, four second grades, three third grades, and four fourth grades. So I’m known by the kids,” he shared with a smile.

The second committee used their funding to help start Neighbors Day, where individuals come together to help those who need it by performing necessary yardwork and chores to keep the neighborhoods clean. Peter was instrumental in starting the Neighbors Day program. “The vision of this day is being a way to bring together generations, care for those with needs, and increase a sense of belonging and ownership in the neighborhoods and the community,” Betsy Knowles, Program Manager for Neighbors Day, emphasized in her nomination of Peter. This initiative has been able to help neighbors get to know each other while helping clean up neighborhoods throughout La Crescent. “We contact all the seniors in the community that need help,” Joe Thesing explains. “Peter then organizes all the volunteers to go out to rake the lawn, trim hedges, or whatever else may need to be done.”

And we can’t forget about his umpiring duties. One day Peter went to a La Crescent Apple Jacks baseball game with a friend, and he noticed that there was no umpire. He was then asked if he could fill in – and the rest is history. “He applies the rules but also teaches people about the history of baseball, entertains, and leaves people with a positive impression of La Crescent,” Mary K. McLaughlin, former Apple Jacks manager, conveys in her nomination of Peter. He has become a staple at Apple Jacks games as the umpire that keeps the peace and integrity of the game as it was played in the 1860s. This includes implementing the rules of no swearing, no gambling, spitting, or sliding, and if he catches you breaking the rules you will be fined $.25 which then goes into a coffee can that he can use at the games to egg participants on. “The more people that break the rules, the more he gets involved and enjoys the game – which brings a sense of fun to the atmosphere and his volunteering ‘job,’” Joe Thesing points out.

Where Did We Surprise Peter Petersilie?

Because Peter is a busy guy, we wanted to make sure we surprised him when we knew where he would be. Since Chapter Club happens every Wednesday afternoon from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the library, we knew that Chapter Club would be the perfect place to surprise him with $1,000 in cash. Joe Thesing and AVP Mortgage Lender Brett Kemmer met Library Director Jessica Witkins before heading into the library to interrupt Peter while he was reading The Spot by Egg Marks to a handful of kids.

Once it was explained that he was being recognized for his efforts in the community, the cash was handed over. He was then told that all the Chapter Club participants knew about the reward and he asked the four giggling Chapter Club members, “How come you knew, and you didn’t tell me?” Chapter Club member Isla Burrichter responded, “I was told to play it cool!”

An amazed Peter responded with “I’m speechless – that’s something hard to do is make me speechless – and thank you, Home Federal.”

Why is Giving Back to the Community So Important?

At Home Federal we know that when someone gives back to the community, it impacts more than just that individual. “It’s a way to touch a lot of lives,” Joe reflects. “Peter is doing just that with all of the ways he gives back.”

Peter has always felt he gains more than what he gives. “You can’t give away enough, if you give away some, something else is going to come back to you.”

Home Federal Believes in “Giving Today to Help Grow Tomorrow”

Seed Money was created to help recognize and reward the local “do-gooders” going above and beyond in their communities and Peter is a high-quality recipient of the Seed Money. To help highlight all Peter does in the La Crescent community, we recorded his Seed Money surprise and posted it to our Youtube channel. Feel free to view Peter’s video along with other recipients' footage, to see the full impact that Seed Money is providing to our communities.

“So much of the time you talk about giving back but you don’t get a chance to actually get out there and put your hands in the community,” Brett Kemmer shared. “Seeing the look on these kids' faces and how they admire Pete brings it full circle. I’m glad we started the Seed Money program.”

Seed Money is part of Home Federal’s Community Roots Initiative where the mission is to “Give Today to Help Grow Tomorrow” and we know Peter Petersilie has made a positive impact in the La Crescent community which makes him well-deserving of Seed Money. 

We thank individuals, like Peter, for all you do in the communities we serve. See our other Seed Money stories and how we’re giving back by visiting our Seed Money page.

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