Wanda Olaf spends a lot of time volunteering in Williston — and every minute is very personal.
When she volunteers with the Humane Society, she thinks of her dogs. When she gives her time for Relay for Life, she thinks of her parents who died from cancer. At Lions Club every week, she spends time with friends. And no matter what organization she is volunteering with, she thinks of her hometown of Williston.
“It’s good for my community, it’s good for my business and I get to meet a lot of friends,” said Olaf, advertising manager at the Williston Herald.
On Friday, the community said thank you when Olaf was given the Community Spirit Award at the annual Williston Area of Commerce Chamber Banquet.
Chamber Board Chair Mitzi Moe handed out the award, saying her longtime friend has been giving back to the community for many years.
“If there is a community event, be assured they will be there pitching in,” Moe said. “Whether it is simply to supply an afternoon of entertainment or to raise funds for the betterment of a single person or the entire community, it is a personal goal for them to make sure our community is a great place to live and raise a family.”
Moe said those who have worked with Olaf through the years say her efforts have made a big difference in their charities.
“I could stand up her for hours going on about all the impacts this person has made on this community,” Moe said. “Instead I’d like to introduce you to someone who lives their life through community involvement. Someone who doesn’t just do it when she has a free moment — it is her way of life.
“Her life comes second to that of her family, friends and community. I am extremely proud to be a part of this extraordinary lady’s life. She is a co-worker of mine, but more importantly she is my friend.”
After receiving the award, Olaf said everything she does is because she loves Williston.
“This is very humbling,” she said. “There are a lot of people out there who do more than I do. But I do love this community. I’ve been here my entire life.”
Olaf said of all the groups she volunteers with, Relay for Life is the one closest to her heart.
“My mother and father died of cancer, my husband is a cancer survivor,” she said. “Friends have cancer, a co-worker has it. Every day you hear about it.”
Olaf said her weekly Lions Club meeting is one she looks forward to.
“Lions Club is very fun,” she said. “One of my friends got me involved in Lions. They do so many good projects.”
Olaf has also volunteered with the North Dakota Newspaper Association, the chamber, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and much more. She said despite the hard work often required, volunteering is something she enjoys.
“I guess I just like to meet people,” she said. “Everything’s a learning experience.”