Tim Urness of Alexandria earns the Sertoma's 'Service to Mankind' award

At 44, Tim Urness is the second youngest to receive the Alexandria Sertoma Club's Service to Mankind award.

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Applause surrounds Tim Urness as he hears his name announced as the recipient of the Alexandria Sertoma Club's Service to Mankind award.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA โ€” Tim Urness, 44, of Alexandria, was honored on Wednesday, June 22, at the Broadway Ballroom, with the Alexandria Sertoma Club's highest honor to non-members โ€” the Service to Mankind Award.

The award recognizes outstanding community service by a non-Sertoman. Recipients are nominated by the community and determined by a Sertoma committee. At 44, Urness is the second youngest recipient.

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Tim Urness poses with his family after receiving the 2022 Service to Mankind Award from the Alexandria Sertoma Club. From left, his son Christian, Urness, his daughters Nora and Gracie and his wife, Carrie.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Emcee Kevin Kopischke introduced Urness by listing his community involvement. He's been a host of Jingle Bells for several years, a weekly volunteer at Woodland Elementary, taught cribbage at the Senior Center, emceed the Matt Kjelland Memorial 5K Run, youth basketball coach and more.

"This person is not one-dimensional," said Kopischke before announcing the award winner. "You look at the role he has played in the community... and you really can tell he has a skill set all of us admire, and many of us envy at times. Very much the same personality as those who have been selected."

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Tim Urness embraces his sister, Kari Foltz, after hearing he is the recipient of the 2022 Service to Mankind Award.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Ted Haar, a club member, shared a short story about when he asked John Severson if he could list some of the things Urness does. Severson responded, "I don't have that much time."


"I am very proud that Timm is my associate along with the rest of our crew over at Thrivent," said Haar. "We picked a good guy this year."

Chamber Board President Matt Gilbertson of Viking Bank spoke next. He congratulated Urness and talked about how they met through the Leadership Alexandria class, and thanked him for his work with the Chamber and Jingle Bells.

"Tim is a well-deserved recipient of this award," Gilbertson concluded.

Joe Korkowski, executive director of Explore Alexandria Tourism, said what drives Urness is getting people together, not just to make them happy but to connect. He mentioned many things, big and small, Urness has done for the community and his friends, including helping clean up after the Forada tornado.

"Tim gets grief for his size, but I think God made him a little bit bigger so his heart would fit," said Korkowski.

After receiving his award, Urness opened his speech with a sermon his mother-in-law recently heard about being a "good for nothing."

"If you hear the phrase good for nothing, you think, you are good for nothing, you are pathetic, you have no purpose. But there is a deeper meaning to that, and I want to call that out," Urness began. "I want to be good for nothing. I want to help people."

Urness mentioned how he loves to help, which stems from how his parents raised him.


"Volunteering is not about a religion, it's not about politics, it's not about money, it's not about doing it for a hidden agenda, it's just doing it to make this community a better place," he said.

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Tim Urness addresses the crowd, mostly made up of Sertoma members, thanking them, his colleagues and family.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

His speech drew laughs and applause between stories of his growing community involvement after moving to Alexandria in 2001 and his love for talking and teaching.

He concluded by thanking his Thrivent office staff, his work "husband" and work "wife," John Severson and Julie Anderson. He also thanked his family, his daughters, Gracie and Nora, and son, Christian, and wife, Carrie, before finishing with a quote from his mother.

"Always growing up, I wanted to go across the seas. I wanted to go over and be in the peace corps. I wanted to help others. You feel like you have to go to some other country to help others, and my mom always said, 'Just look across the street; just look across the street.' People in Alexandria need help. People right across the street need help. And there are so many people here helping others. Sertoma is an awesome organization that gives back. Thank you, keep helping. You must have been really desperate with no nominations this year to pick Tim Urness. This means a lot. Just look across the street."

Past winners

1976 - Clyde and Anne Newstrom

1977 - Pearl Thorson

1978 - Dr. Robert Page

1979 - Dr. Lowell Gess

1980 - Connie Siemssen

1981 - Hop Namur

1982 - Wally Bloom

1983 - Dr. William Heegaard

1984 - Bob Hines

1985 - Edward Gernand

1986 - Millie Woessner

1987 - Darrel Flaig

1988 - George McKay

1989 - George Anderson

1990 - Don Butler

1991 - Bette Blanchard

1992 - Earl Strand

1993 - Bernice Sasek

1994 - Dave Lux

1995 - Chuck Pugh

1996 - Erc Aga

1997 - Harold Johnson

1998 - Norman and Dorothy Johnson

1999 - Cap Paciotti

2000 - Marion Sonstegard

2001 - Keith A. Anderson

2002 - Earl and Goldie Mittag

2003 - Keith Dougherty

2004 - Tom Schmitt

2005 - Richard Sammons

2006 - Carole Feldman

2007 - Dave and Jean Schonberg

2008 - Myrna Hunt

2009 - Arlene Bosek

2010 - Jennie Hevern

2011 - Jim Schoeberl

2012 - Chuck Nettestad

2013 - Sister Patrice Kiefer

2014 - Dave Anderson

2015 - Josie Steidl

2016 - Kathryn LeBrasseur

2017 - Katie Christensen

2018 - Craig McMillan

2019 - Jim Gripne

2020 - No award due to COVID-19

2021 - No award due to COVID-19

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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