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Faith in Action getting friendly

Kathy Saunders spends time with Mona King, a resident of Valentines' in Red Wing, every couple of weeks as part of Faith in Action's friendly visitor program.

If Faith in Action were a film, when the credits rolled there would be 239 stars. Those are the volunteers who deliver the nonprofit agency's services.

And many of those volunteers aren't the well-known drivers who take people to church, on errands or to medical appointments. An equal number of people provide caregiver support, provide respite services, deliver library books through Book-House-Call or offer simple friendship, Executive Director Lee Neste said.

The inaugural movie night fundraiser featured "Driving Miss Daisy," a natural fit, since drivers log 24,000 miles each year. The 2012 event, however, will feature "My Afternoons with Marguerite" at the Sheldon Theatre.

"We're trying to focus on our friendly visitors as the featured group," Lavonne Lommel said.

"This is a touching French film about an illiterate, middle-aged man and a woman in her 90s he meets feeding pigeons in the park," Neste said. "They become friends."

Lommel knows the power of such friendships. She became a Faith in Action volunteer in June 2006, she said, and the woman she so enjoys visiting will turn 94 soon. Both look forward to their visits.

"I really appreciate the history that I learn," Lommel said. "The lady I visit saw Charles Lindbergh fly over Red Wing."

The visitor program links volunteers with those who may have no family in town, can't get out the way they did, no longer attend church or can't fulfill social obligations.

Neste and Lommel hope friends of Faith in Action -- and friends of friends -- will pack the Sheldon Theatre's 400-plus seats May 17.

Meatheads will provide appetizers starting at 6 p.m., there will be a skit and music at 7:15 p.m. and the internationally acclaimed 2010 film with English subtitles will start at 7:30 p.m.

The cost is $20. The Jones Family Foundation has committed to $3,000 and Thrivent Financial $1,500 in matching funds. The evening will raise money for Faith in Action as well as raise awareness of its programs, Neste said.

Let the 2011 credits roll:

• volunteers gave 6,500 hours of their time;

• they provided 4,000 individual services;

• they logged 24,000 miles;

• they visited for 2,600 hours;

• and gave 145 hours of respite care; all on a $70,000 budget.

If you go...

What: The film "My Afternoons with Margueritte"

When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday May 17

Where: Sheldon Theatre

Tickets: $20, available at Red Wing Senior Center and Red Wing churches

Phone: 651-385-3290

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

(651) 301-7870