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Dave Cook Unsung Hero Award - Nomination from Peggy Lovegren

26 Feb 2020 9:40 PM | Anonymous

I feel honored to nominate Dave Cook, Wallowa County resident for the award of “Unsung Hero 2019"! I met Dave Cook 8 years ago when he was retiring as Wallowa Lake United Methodist Camp Manager and my husband and I were taking over as Camp Directors. Funny thing is, Dave Cook is not “retired”, he is employed as a “volunteer” who works more than full time serving this community as well as the world, to enrich lives and make this world a better place.


Dave Cook lives our camp mission statement. He is a person dedicated to providing quality environments of hospitality and learning, to help persons grow in wisdom and healthy self-esteem. He helps people develop lifestyles of loving interdependence with each other and all creation. He helps affirm and expand people’s faith and their service in God’s world. Dave Cook volunteers thousands of hours at this camp and throughout the community. He is at camp working almost every day unless he is out of town or volunteering somewhere else. He is here rain or snow, heat or cold. He often rides his bike 14 miles round-trip from his Joseph home to camp. Dave builds and builds and builds….building after building has been built under his guidance and many have been totally renovated or remodeled by him. He often works alone, appearing without us even knowing he is here, until we see his bike, car, cinnamon twists from Valis or his smiling face. His energy is contagious so when he invites others to volunteer they almost always say “yes” and work side by side with him. He wants no attention or “fuss” made over his countless hours of labor. If asked, he will drop whatever he is doing and help with something else, including heavy labor moving metal bunk beds or climbing on roofs…jobs meant for much younger people. He has spent endless hours teaching young people how to do what he does. He has helped more than one Girl Scout earn her highest Gold award, teaching them how to build a mountain chapel, a river chapel, put in trails and tear down a hazardous building. There is no end to his patience!


This camp would not be what it is in this community without Dave Cook’s years of service! But in order to understand “why” that is so valuable to this community and to the world, you need to know “who” he has affected by what he does at this camp. Every year, this camp is a sacred place serving amazingly diverse groups and peoples. People with mental struggles, people needing healing, people with devastating emotional scars, people who are alone who need community, people who are lost, people in poverty, people who are unaccepted, people who come to learn and grow, people celebrating… celebrating families, marriages, births, deaths. This camp is a place for quilters to make quilts for veterans, for young people to gain confidence and self-esteem, a place for Nez Perce (Niimiipuu) brothers and sisters to gather on their homeland. This camp is where musicians learn to play. It is where people are fed food and love in community. It is where leaders come to refresh and where peace is plentiful. It is where people are outside, away from everyday stresses, learning from nature and quiet along with programs and people. It is where college students come to know each other, a place of diverse people living in community. Dave Cook not only volunteers quietly, he gives quietly. His wife, Ingrid, and he have donated two cabins to this sacred place along with giving a number of other generous financial gifts throughout the community and world. Dave Cook never complains or says an ill word towards anyone. He doesn’t question why someone needs help, he is there, ready to work. When an older woman neighbor needed a tree cut down, he was there. When pavers and building needed to be done at “The Place”, the new community building at Joseph United Methodist Church, he was there. When a person in the community needed a new metal roof, he was there. When an elderly struggling couple needed firewood cut so they could heat their home, he was there. When Mid Valley Theatre needed someone to build sets for their productions, he was there, building sets for over 10 years, each one taking countless hours of time, creativity, and determination.


As much as Dave Cook helps in the Wallowa County Community, he also helps his neighbors around the world. Every year, he organizes a group of people to travel to Salt Lake City for a week volunteering at the “Depot” to put together disaster relief kits, school kits, layette kits, sanitary cleaning kits etc….to be sent all over the world through UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee On Relief). On his own initiative, Dave Cook started a scholarship program for high school students from his high school, Fredonia High, in Kansas. He has made numerous trips through some of the worst weather, to get to Kansas to set up this scholarship program, put together brochures and mailings, set up and attend meetings, solicit funds and oversee the entire program to make sure it succeeds!


Every Sunday at Joseph United Methodist Church Dave does what is called the “Mission Moment” where he shares ways the congregation can help with needs throughout the community and world. Dave Cook is a bright light in what can often be a dark world. He gently spreads messages of hope and kindness. He lives to serve, and spends his life being an example of what it means to be a hero. He is my hero! Dave Cook inspires me to be a better person. He inspires me to give and keep giving, even when I’m tired. Dave Cook deserves this award and deserves to know what a hero and example he is to so many throughout this community and the world! Please select Dave Cook for the Wallowa County Unsung Hero Citizen of the Year! He deserves it every year in my book!


Blessings, Peggy Lovegren



Unsurprisingly, Peggy's nomination inspired the Wallowa County Chamber to award Dave with the "Unsung Hero" honor.  Dave was honored at the Citizens' Award Banquet this weekend. True to form, he was too busy to be present as he was in Salt Lake City volunteering with UMCOR. Dave Cook, you are an inspiration to us all!



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