Everyday people: Call her ‘Phil’“Just call me Phil,” Lottie Aslakson says. She has adopted the moniker because it matches her practice of “Philling” in whenever a volunteer is sought to fill some special need. “That is my name,” she joked. “I fill in for this person, and that person.”
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
“Just call me Phil,” Lottie Aslakson says.
She has adopted the moniker because it matches her practice of “Philling” in whenever a volunteer is sought to fill some special need.
“That is my name,” she joked. “I fill in for this person, and that person.”
Need someone to take tickets at a Lions Club feed? Transport a carload of donations to Lutheran World Relief in the Twin Cities? Sing in the church choir? Recruit underprivileged kids for an Elks camp? Serve as a Stephen Minister?
“I have a problem,” she said. “Everybody who knows me well says ‘Put your hand down’” when people come looking for volunteers. “It’s like it’s got a spring in it.”
The Red Wing woman has no regrets about getting involved in a wide array of activities, both as a volunteer and as a worker. For her, a busy life is a happy life.
Born and reared in Red Wing, Aslakson broke her back when she was a senior at Red Wing Central High School (Class of 1966) — riding a toboggan while it was being pulled behind a car.
The accident changed her life plan. She moved around, living in Cannon Falls, Hastings and the Twin Cities while working a variety of jobs. Aslakson made Gumby and Pokey dolls at a factory in Hastings, and she occasionally bartended.
She found a career at a security/alarm company, where she worked for 33 years and became supervisor; she was the only woman installing alarms in St. Paul.
When her father died several years ago, Aslakson decided it was time to come home. She wanted to be near her mother, Pearl, for one thing. She also was ready to leave Woodbury, Minn., which had grown too big for her taste.
“I like that little town feeling,” she explained.
She bought a house around 2005 and immersed herself in community life.
A 30-year member of the American Legion Auxiliary, she joined the local group. She joined Red Wing Lions and became secretary because she likes “all the things they do for the community.”
She joined the Elks Club and became an officer, moving up the ranks until she was exalted ruler in 2010; plus she helps line up underprivileged kids to attend an Elks summer camp.
She joined the Red Men Club. Most recently, she joined the Silver Tones chorus at the Senior Center.
Beyond volunteer work, Aslakson became manager of the Elks Club for about 1 1/2 years, retiring just a few weeks ago.
Aslakson joined United Lutheran Church and said she felt like she had found another home. She began singing in the Senior Choir and ushering, plus she became a Church Council member, a Lutheran Church Women volunteer, an Altar Guild helper and a radio broadcast assistant.
United Lutheran also recruited Aslakson in 2009 to train as a Stephen Minister.
“I felt like I wanted to see if I could be of some help to people who need it,” she said. A self-confessed “good listener,” she learned that just being there for someone can be important.
“Sometimes that’s what we need in life — somebody to listen, somebody who cares,” Aslakson explained. Stephen Ministers are non-judgmental, she stressed.
People dealing with health issues, relationship crises, depression or other problems may be linked with a Stephen Minister for a short time or an extended period as they work things through.
“Stephen Ministers show that God loves them, and that they’re not alone out there,” Aslakson said.
Linking with individuals is only one of the benefits, she noted. She also enjoys the monthly meetings at which the Stephen Ministers share with each other and suggest ways to deal with situations.
Aslakson enjoys everything she’s doing. “I’m just happy to be involved,” she explained.
“That’s one thing about Red Wing,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to do good for other people. You can always find something to do in Red Wing.”
Although she retired Feb. 1 from the Elks, Aslakson is still working part time, at Christ Episcopal Church.
She cleans and does maintenance, including the boiler.
“I have a boiler license,” she said. “They had a need” so she studied then passed a test to become licensed.
“That’s like another family for me,” Aslakson said. “I have lots of families, including two church families.”
Since she has worked two jobs much of her life, she is still adjusting to semi-retirement. “I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time for any hobbies,” Aslakson said.
“I’m getting a bit used to this. I’m sure I’m going to find more things to do. I just might take up golf.”
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