Two honored as Community Ambassadors

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

A ceremony was held at the Montevideo Community Center Wednesday to award two community members with the title of Community Ambassador. The award was previously called Senior Ambassador, but the Fiesta planning committee decided to make some changes to the program this year.

“Our Fiesta board this year wanted to make some changes and recognize some people in the community who do the background work and maybe aren’t always recognized,” says Fiesta Committee Member Carman Mills. “So we have changed it to Community ambassador. It is an international nomination and they are nominated by local community members and non-profit organizations.” Each medallion awarded to the Community Ambassadors was created by former mayor Joyce Heggestad who made them years ago to be used for various events. 

The first ambassador awarded was Nora Guerra. She was raised in Texas and migrated to Minnesota in 2001. “She loves that Montevideo is a great community to raise a family,” said Mills. Guerra works at Prairie Five Community Action Council as the Energy Assistance Program director where she provides grants to pay a portion of the consumer's energy bills. She also educates them on how to safely and efficiently heat their homes. Mills also spoke of Guerra’s time spent volunteering, saying, “As a community leader her mission is to provide overall leadership, guidance, coordination, and support to successfully contribute to the Montevideo community.”

Eric Headman of Prairie Five Nutrition Program gave a speech about Guerra, saying, “I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of Nora as a colleague, friend, and ambassador. Some of you may not know Nora like I do. You know when Nora arrives at work because oftentimes you hear her before you see her. To work in the energy assistance program a person has to be calm, they have to be supportive, they have to be caring and they also have to be very understanding. They have to be an advocate for the people who have to be lifted up. When I think about Nora, I think of all of this and more. She relates to people and is always looking for ways to make the community better. The agency is proud of Nora and her 13 years of dedication to the community.”

Community Center Manager Tracy Wellendorf also spoke, noting how grateful she was for the help and support of Guerra as she worked with her on the 2020 Census Complete Count Community. 

The second Community Ambassador awarded was Dixie Tilden. Tilden and her husband Jerry along with their two children moved from Sioux Falls to Montevideo in 1973. Jerry worked for Kuhlmann Real Estate and Dixie worked for a variety of administrative assisting positions in the community over the years. Mills spoke about Tilden, saying, “Both were heavily involved in volunteering in various community causes during their years in Montevideo. They served as Fiesta Ambassadors in the late 70s and as Fiesta Chairman twice in the late 70s and late 80s. Dixie served as both the Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader when her children were in school and as an officer in several local groups including the Hospital Auxiliary, the JC’s, and Santa Anonymous. She was heavily involved in the local playground project, which was co-chaired by husband Jerry and former City Manager Steve Jones. Dixie was Chairman for the county bloodmobile for many years.”

Peg Furshong, Operations & Program Director at CURE spoke about Tilden next, as Tilden recently retired from working with the organization. Furshong said, “Dixie was sometimes the circus leader, sometimes the wrangler of energy and certainly she would engineer to keep all the cogs moving and working well in our organization. As I listened today to the program and I hear about all the wonderful people here today I hear a common theme about all the wonderful people of the community. When you think about community you think about a place worth living in. When you think about a place you want to live you look at the community and you see what it’s like for the youth programs, the recreation programs, the education programs, the non-profits working in the community to make it a place you want to be. As you heard earlier, Dixie and Jerry moved here in 73 and it wasn’t very long before Dixie and Jerry were volunteering in their community. Some people have hobbies - they ski, they do art. I think Dixie and Jerry had volunteering as a hobby. Healthy and vibrant communities have lots of people behind the scenes. If you look at Dixie’s lifetime here, they’ve been here for several communities and it seems her volunteering hit every part of the community.”