In front of a banquet crowd of 310, the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Volunteer award was given to Carolyn Dieckmann by one of her longtime friends.
Former city councilman Ham Struewing recalled that 50 years ago “Jean and I were looking for a baby sitter … the best one in town.” The teen had to be “reliable, honest, trustworthy, dependable… and really good with the kids.” The family has watched Dieckmann’s life of giving unfold ever since she was chosen to care for the Struewing clan. “I think it’s amazing to find these qualities in a teenager that are still with her today.”
He has been impressed by her constant volunteering track record. In the past, the friendly leader was the Batesville Area Historical Society fundraising chair for four years, organizing garden tours, holiday luncheons, annual ornaments and even Abraham Lincoln Day; St. Louis Catholic Church festival linen booth chairperson for 12 years; St. Louis School jump rope coach for eight years; Girl Scout leader for five years; Oldenburg Academy volleyball coach for four years; and Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Holiday Parade volunteer for two years.
Currently the rural Batesville resident assists BAHS by serving as 2014 treasurer and maintaining the museum garden with other members. The five-year Project T3 fundraising co-chair also has been tutoring Batesville Primary School students in reading for the Batesville Kiwanis Club’s Kids and Us program for three years.
The devout woman has administered communion during St. Louis Catholic Church Masses and also to shut-ins and patients at long-term care facilities for 30 years. An awed Struewing asked rhetorically, “How old are you, Carolyn?” With three other members, she has maintained outside church flowers for six years. The honoree has led communion and prayer services at The Waters of Batesville for a decade, continuing the family tradition her mother started. She has also used her fundraising skills to help the St. Louis Tri-Force mission team for two years.
The speaker concluded, “It’s hard to imagine the hours of time and lives she has touched.” Contemplating the nonpaid contributions of Dieckmann and others like her, Struewing wondered, “What would Batesville be without them?”
Dieckmann said afterwards her efforts have been inspired by the first BACC Distinguished Service Award winner in 1989, the late Millie Burkhardt, her great-aunt, and also her late parents, Paul and Agnes Hortemiller. “They did a lot of volunteering, too.”
At the podium, the winner said she felt very honored to receive the title. “I am blessed to be able to do all that I do. I look for opportunities to share my time and talent with others. Sometimes, a simple nudge is all it takes to get people involved and you meet so many wonderful people along the way.”
She encouraged attendees to find the time to pitch in. “Let’s turn me into we so we can serve with a humble and compassionate heart. We sure could make a difference!”
The Distinguished Volunteer thanked her family (husband Richard and daughter Ashlee) for their support of her charitable works. Dieckmann ended her acceptance speech with a favorite quote from Mother Teresa: “‘It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.’”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.