The DAV of MN NE Program has proudly selected Owen Wellbrock as the 2023 Volunteer of the year. Owen drives for the Iron Range area of Minnesota. A trip for this program starts in Hibbing at 0600 and treks north 27 miles to Virginia as a way for veterans in the northern most parts of the state an opportunity to utilize the van. From Virginia, the van departs at 0630 heading the 200 miles to the Minneapolis VA, arriving by 0930. Round trip, this route is 452 miles, is at least 4 hours of drive time and often totals a 12-hour volunteer obligation.
In the last year, Owen has dedicated 88 hours of his time to drive 34 veterans, 2,780 miles to their medical appointments! Owen takes 1-2 trips per month and has done additional local transportation. In July 2023 Owen helped a veteran locally with 4 trips to Duluth from Hibbing (164 miles round trip) for several procedures he had. Without these efforts, the veteran would not have been able to get there.
In addition to driving for the DAV Owen drives “in need” community members to and from appointments, church, and errands. He has been a volunteer driver for over 14 years and driven thousands of miles.
Thank you so much Owen and congratulations on being the NE MN DAV Volunteer driver of the year!
The DAV of MN Northwest Program has selected Richard Batcho as the 2023 Volunteer of the year.
Richard has been driving the Park Rapids DAV van for the last 2 years. Richard has driven over 4,392 miles in 2022 with 147 hours of volunteer time. This year alone he has volunteered and driven for over 2,873 miles with a total volunteer hour time of 104 hours.
Rich is an Air Force veteran and an active member of the Park Rapids MN DAV Chapter. He chairs the outdoor program in his Park Rapids chapter. This program consists of golf memberships, fishing trips, goose hunting, shooting events etc.
Richard not only drives but his interactions with the veterans are always looking to see if they may need any additional
help. In 2022 Richard identified a veteran in need with no electricity, no running water and trees that blew over in his
yard from a storm that had passed through over a week earlier. He coordinated with the local DAV Chapter Commander
who then coordinated other veteran groups into getting the help the veteran needed within a day whereas the city and
county had turned their resources elsewhere as a priority.
Another example of his commitment was to spend 16 hours with a veteran after he surgery because the veteran had no one else within his immediate family could be there. Richard has always stepped up to help whenever it was needed. His professionalism and courtesy to the Veterans is one his finest assets. In addition to driving, Rich is our current DAV of MN 4th Jr. Vice Commander. Richard has helped the Park Rapids Transportation program to grow into what it is today. A first-class operation!
Thank you so much Rich and congratulations on being the NW MN DAV Volunteer driver of the year!
The DAV of MN Central Minnesota Program is honored to select Charles Schoenberg as the 2023 Volunteer of the year.
Chuck as we know him as, started volunteering years before driving for the Central Minnesota Program. Chuck onboarded as a volunteer at the St. Cloud VA 01/23/2009 where he drove for Redwood County Veteran Service Office for a few years. When he and his wife Sharon moved to Richmond, he started driving out of the St. Cloud VA and he has driven every Monday since. Since onboarding with the St. Cloud VA Chuck has logged 3,431 volunteer hours! From April 2016 till August 2023 Chuck has driven 34,791 miles transporting 1,057 veterans to and from their medical appointments.
Aside from his volunteer work with the DAV, Chuck is also an active member of the Cold Spring Legion Post #455 and volunteers on the Color Guard, providing veterans and their families honors during life and death. He is an avid fisherman, calling off driving for fishing trips to Canada and has participated in outdoor events with DAV in the past. Chuck is one of the most modest people I have gotten the honor to know. He drives locally; however, he is always up for a long trip when needed. He has trained many new volunteer drivers through the years and is known throughout the facility for being kindhearted and constant.
Thank you very much Chuck and congratulations on being the Central MN DAV Volunteer driver of the year!
The DAV of MN Metro Program proudly selects Oscar Turner as our 2023 Volunteer of the Year.
Oscar has been a volunteer driver in the Minneapolis Metro for over 5 years. In that time, he has amassed more than 34,000 miles and provided more than 2000 rides. But more important than his gaudy numbers, is the way Oscar has never failed to be friendly, helpful and respectful of every veteran he has assisted. He has proven he is willing to go above and beyond the typical driver duties; even allowing the DAV to take advantage of his winning smile by appearing in several DAV commercials.
Oscar is the type of person who seems to ask for little, while looking to give a lot. He is someone I am very proud to have representing the DAV of Minnesota and the Metro DAV Transportation program, and someone I am very proud to name as the DAV of Minnesota Metro driver of the year.
Thank you very much Oscar and congratulations on being the Metro MN DAV Volunteer driver of the year!
The DAV of MN SE Transportation Program has proudly selected Greg Gabbert as our 2023 Volunteer of the Year.
Greg started as a driver for the Winona County DAV program May 2021. Many of the drivers had been lost due to the COVID pandemic and Greg was one of the very first drivers to step up. Since then, he has logged 786 volunteer hours, driven 16,448 miles and transported over 250 veterans to their medical appointments.
Greg is always willing to go the extra mile for the Winona program doing things like taking the vehicles for oil changes, printing off log book sheets if the ones in the vehicles are full and has been willing to take on any and all trips that his schedule allows with enthusiasm and poise.
Greg is part of a very strong two-man team in Winona County. In 2023, ride requests have skyrocketed. Greg and his counterpart have taken on the seemingly impossible load of requests asked of them in stride. Kati, SE HSC, has received nothing but positive feedback from veteran riders and their families about Greg.
We cannot thank you enough Greg for your continued hard work and dedication to this program and our veterans.