2023 Person of the Year:
Nominated by Bobbi Snyder
Verna Toftum deserves to be recognized as the Person of Year because she simply brings joy and laughter to anything that she attends, creates, or touches. Verna’s smile and laughter are contagious. She spreads her joy through her many volunteering engagements, as well as through her teaching when she subs here at Amherst Elementary.
Verna values the history and future of the Amherst community. She and her husband have raised their children here, as well as worked within the community. Verna has inspired many families here in Amherst because she has had the opportunity to teach generations of families and always demands greatness and expresses kindness in her teaching and presence.
Our community is lucky to have Verna Toftum living among us as an example of goodwill and generosity.
Verna has been an outstanding community member for many, many years. She enjoys learning about the community’s past and present, as well as continues to be involved in the future development of the community.
One of the ways that Verna gets involved in the community is through the Jensen Center. She volunteers to serve at Senior Meals at the Center on a weekly basis and is always willing to help out with other Center events such as the Wine Walk, the children’s musicals, Smokey Express Christmas, the Tomorrow River Variety Show, etc.
This summer, Verna helped plan and guide a community tour to Baraboo. Here the participants explored the beautiful New Life Lavender Fields and the International Crane Foundation. All of the participants enjoyed the organized trip itinerary, her knowledge of the venues, and the trivia she created about each of the stops.
Verna’s other community involvement includes helping with the voting polls, decorating the beautiful baskets and barrels along the streets of Amherst, and spreading kindness and joy wherever she goes through her laughter and positivity.
The Tomorrow River School District is also very lucky to have Verna in our community for the past 50 years. Throughout those 50 years, Verna taught fifth grade and, after retirement, came back part-time to provide math and reading intervention for our young students in the elementary as a paraprofessional. Today, Verna continues to be an amazing substitute teacher in the elementary school, which has been a huge blessing during the past years and during the extreme substitute teacher shortages.
In addition to teaching at Amherst Elementary, Verna has volunteered to host fieldtrips at her home. Throughout her “retirement,” our third graders have walked over to her home so that they could enhance their learning of rocks and minerals. Our summer school students were invited to walk through her lovely gardens so that they could learn about the many native plants that grow here in Amherst.
Over the years, Verna has shown heart and love for her community through fostering golden retrievers as well. She is also an active member and volunteer at St. James Church here in Amherst.
When people see that Verna has signed up to volunteer or be involved, there is a sigh of relief knowing that the job will be done well, done with enthusiasm, and done with love for her community.
I, along with many other community members, believe that Verna Toftum deserves to be recognized as Amherst’s 2023 Person of the Year. She is simply one of the best.
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