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'Someone that cares': Keilan to receive Harmon's Heart of Baseball Award

Fergus Falls Daily Journal - 7/23/2019

Jul. 23--Working as a dietary associate for the Minnesota Veterans Home in Fergus Falls through Productive Alternatives, Josh Keilan enriches the lives of everyone around him. With an infectious smile and a jovial attitude, it's more fitting to ask what Keilan won't do to brighten a residents' day at the Veterans Home than the inverse.

Keilan is more than just a job title: Need an extra hand for an outing? Keilan has it covered. Feeling down and need a good laugh? Keilan's the man. Need someone to dress up in a bunny suit to celebrate a special occasion? Yes, Keilan's been known to do that too.

So it's only fitting, Keilan, one of the Veteran Home's hardest workers was named this year's winner of the Harmon's Heart of Baseball Award -- earned by an employee with a disability who is 18 years or older and works in community-based employment. Nominations for the award came from the entire state of Minnesota and the Twins baseball team helped pick the winner which recognizes "a person with disabilities who exemplifies the character attributes of Harmon Killebrew in their work environment. These might include 'always give it your all' attitude, be kind, be positive, be helpful, inspire others, always take time to smile."

As part of the award recognition on Saturday, Aug. 10 at Target Field, Josh will throw out the first pitch of the Twins game after a pregame onfield ceremony where a trophy will be presented to Keilan and the Fergus Falls Veterans Home by Harmon Killebrew's widow, Nita. A third trophy will be put on display in Harmon Killebrew's display case at Target Field.

"What I consider special about working at the Veterans Home is getting to care for the men and women that have served or country," Keilan told a camera crew during taping for a video to be shown on the jumbotron during the event. "Our staff has said it numerous times, it feels like Veterans Day and Memorial Day is every day you come to work."

Ray Molter, a co-worker and director of dining services has firsthand knowledge of Keilan's work at the Veterans Home and has seen Keilan's presence have a trickle-down effect on everyone around him.

"Josh is an asset to the Veterans Home in Fergus Falls, being new in position one of the things that I've learned to like about Josh is that I can rely on him for his knowledge and his enthusiasm in all the things that he does," Molter said. "The veterans respond to him willingly and with a smile on their face and he also does it to the staff, too. So, he enlightens the staff and that helps all of us do our job better to better serve the veterans."

Two of Keilan's biggest proponents and nominators for the award are Veterans Home resident Gary Wigdahl and Kathy Lehn, a volunteer services coordinator for the Veterans Home.

"Josh makes things interesting by livening up whatever atmosphere he's in, whatever situation and he's usually good for a laugh or two ... or more," Wigdahl said about why Keilan is deserving of the award. "It's a pleasure to be around him, he lifts us up, lightens our spirits and makes us grateful for living in such a fine Veterans Home."

Lehn said she nominated Keilan because of his outgoing personality.

"Josh is one of the most positive guys that I have ever worked with. Every time I run into him in the hallway or in the dining room or out at the volunteer services desk, he's always got a smile on his face. He does a great job of greeting anybody who he runs into, and no matter what is happening on any particular day he always tends to look on the positive side of what's happening here at the Veterans Home," Lehn said. "When I interviewed Josh for this nomination I asked him what he loved the most about working at the Veterans Home and in Josh's humble way he said 'I love getting to serve and care for our veterans who served to give us our freedom,' and that epitomizes who Josh is."

Kitty Rund, a social worker for the Veterans Home, has known Keilan since he was in high school and held nothing back when asked what type of person he is.

"He's a pretty amazing young man and it's an honor to be able to call him a co-worker. He loves our residents, he knows them all by name, he interacts in every way, he helps them with their meal needs but also as he's passing down the hall if there's something that comes up, he's right there to be with them. If staff needs anything and it gets mentioned he is johnny-on-the-spot to be of assistance," Rund said, fighting back emotion to add, "he is just someone that cares deeply about our residents and being a help to them, to honor them for what they've done for us and it's a pleasure to know him, it's a pleasure to work with him, and I am just so pleased that he will be recognized for the qualities that Harmon Killebrew thought were so important in his life because Josh is the best."

This event and award are a Productive Alternatives project and marks the organization's 60th anniversary.


(c)2019 the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.)

Visit the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.) at www.fergusfallsjournal.com

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