For 40 years – since 1983 – the Neenah Rotary Club has made a special effort to identify and acknowledge the work of individuals who have demonstrated service to their community with the Jack W. Casper “Service Above Self” Community Service Award.  This award is presented annually to honor and recognize someone in our local community who:
  • Displays out-of-the-ordinary long-term service to the community
  • Demonstrates high level of personal and professional integrity
  • Conducts his/her life according to Rotary ideals
  • Lives or works within the greater Neenah community and
  • Is not a member of the Rotary Club of Neenah
This year we had many exceptional candidate and presented two awards one to Paul Reich and one to Michelle Dejno.  
Paul has many of the same characteristics that we saw in Jack Casper when he was a member of the Neenah Rotary Club. Paul is devoted to his community, his family, and his church. He has been a quiet “doer” all his life. He is a humble gentleman. Once you meet him, he will be your friend for life.
For the past 14 years, Paul has been a key contributor in the development and the success of Twin Oaks Gardens, a community garden in Neenah. For these 14 years, he has been a gardener, a board member, a team leader, an advocate, and a mentor leader within the organization. He is the Twin Oaks Gardens “go-to-guy” when something needs to get done.
Paul has worked thousands of hours of volunteer time to this organization. He is sincere, generous with his time and talents, and provides key leadership to committees, as well as oversight for their operations. He is always looking for better ways to build and foster communications between people. He is always willing to volunteer when needed, usually being the first to raise his hand. He is both a leader and a team member. He works with challenged individuals, teaching them life skills and helping them find a sense of self-worth. He always displays a positive attitude and does not complain.
When others have completed various tasks, he is the first one to recognize and acknowledge their efforts, sharing those successes with others. He researches the wants and needs of gardeners, presenting options and solutions to the Twin Oaks Gardens Board.
Paul is always seeking ways to build bridges by identifying shared interests and goals to build better understanding among people who come from different cultures. Over 50% of the Twin Oaks Gardeners are Hmong, Hispanic, or from the Far East. Paul strives to learn their gardening techniques and is quick to share his personal insights that will enable them to be better gardeners. He is very supportive of his family and children, and he is very this honor.
Michelle has committed herself to making a difference in the Fox Valley communities over the last 20+ years. She has given extensively of her time through volunteerism and board positions. With the Neenah Historical Society, she recently stepped from VP to President of the Board. With the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she is a current board member, and chair of Youth in Philanthropy. She is a member of the Fox Valley Technical College Communications Curriculum Advisory Committee. Michelle is a board member of the Neenah-Menasha YMCA, chair of the Marketing Committee on the board of the Women’s Fund of the Fox Valley Region, and a member of the Development Committee of the Fox Valley Memory Project. In past years, she served with organizations including St Mary Catholic Schools, Future Neenah, Best Friends of Neenah/Menasha, and our Neenah Rotary Club.
Her passion to help organizations communicate their unique story to the community is an integral part of her personal identity. In fact, Michelle immediately said “How can I help” when our own Rotary Board wanted to focus on how to better tell our story of ‘Service Above Self.” Michelle believes in nurturing close relationships with other, both personally and professionally, to make a difference in our community. She has served as an example of service to her now adult children, who carry on with volunteer work in their own lives.

Congratulations to Paul and Michelle!