WAPAKONETA — Donna Grimm has a knack for seeing people in need.
Whether it’s helping the working with Cooperative Ministries of Van Wert on food banks, helping the Salvation Army or working with senior citizens, she’s always had the ability to see a need and help fill it.
“First, I’m a nurse. I see things through a nurse’s eyes,” Grimm said. “Also, I grew up at the poverty level. I see some needs in the community other people might not notice.”
It served the people of Van Wert County well for the 39 years she lived there, and it’s also helped in Wapakoneta, where she moved seven years ago.
Grimm is one of the 12 local Jefferson Awards winners. For the win, each received money to donate to a favorite cause. The Lima News will profile each of them between now and the streaming awards show the night of Thursday, April 22.
In Van Wert County, she’s well known for her efforts with developing Community Health Professionals and helped build two inpatient hospice centers and three adult day care facilities. She spent 35 years there, including serving as the CEO there.
That didn’t mean she was too busy to volunteer, though. Since 1975, when an organization needed her help, she was willing to assist.
She’s a gifted fundraiser, including bringing in $350,000 for the Salvation Army in Van Wert.
“First of all, there is no volunteer effort that Donna is not willing to do,” Shelly Barrett wrote in her nomination packet for a Jefferson Award. “She always jumps in at any time. I truly have not seen a person more dedicated to service above self.”
Her efforts continued into her retirement. She remains busy, serving on the board for the Area Agency on Aging and as president of the Silver Birch Foundation in Lima. She’s also active at her church, First United Methodist Church in Wapakoneta, where she helped write a grant for a youth transportation van.
Grimm has never taken the generosity of others for granted. When she applied to nursing school, she realized she didn’t have the money to attend. A scholarship paid her way, and she never took it for granted, she said.
“If you just let God lead your life, He will teach you to be kind to others,” she said. “It would be better for everybody if everybody volunteered and helped others.”
The communities where Grimm lived are better for it, Barrett wrote.
“Without her in these communities, many needs would not have been identified or met,” Barrett wrote. “She has always been willing to donate time, her heart, her money and her influence to support those who are aged, infirm and vulnerable financially and/or spiritually.”