Everyday hero: Ceil Strauss
Ceil Strauss didn't even want to do the math. She was afraid, she said, at what the figures may show.
No, she's not a volunteer for the HFC United soccer program in Hastings. She gets paid an annual stipend of $1,500 in her role as president. The math she didn't want to do was related to how much per hour that equaled. With four to 10 hours of work per week for HFC United, it's understandable that Strauss would be afraid of the figure. Taking the average of that (seven hours per week), she makes a whopping $4.12 per hour.
"I don't even want to stop and think about it," she said.
Strauss didn't set out to be the president for the organization, but she volunteered to help and one thing led to another.
"The need was there for someone to step in and work with it," she said. "I don't have a coaching background, but I figured I could help with the administrative side. I didn't know I was going to get in this deep when I opened the door and said that I'd help, but it came at a good time."
Shane Lanning, the Hastings boys varsity soccer coach and one of the people who helped HFC United get off its feet, nominated Strauss for the Everyday Hero award.
"I've always been impressed with her," Lanning said. "She has a lot of things on her plate. I know she's going to get things done for us. She's been a huge asset for HFC United."
Her work with HFC United isn't the only service work she has done. Strauss served on the natural resources and recreation commission for six years. She served as a planning commissioner for six years and was a recreation director for the Hastings Youth Athletic Association, too.
She likes her work with soccer, she said. Her children have played it and she likes the sport.
"It is a more affordable sport," she said. "Most kids can at least participate in it at some level along the way. I like that aspect. Some sports in town have a reputation for some politics being involved. I want to be sure that isn't happening here. People always have their own perceptions, but I think we've done a pretty good job here."
As the HFC United president, Strauss ends up being the person who fills in when positions become vacant.
"She's done a lot of work for us," Lanning said. "She's taken on a lot of responsibilities within the organization."
Strauss and her husband Steve moved to Hastings in 1988. She was working for the DNR in Frontenac and he works for 3M in St. Paul.
Eventually, she was transferred to the DNR Headquarters in St. Paul. She works in flood plain management.
The couple has three children, Ted, Nate (a senior at HHS) and Amelia (a sophomore at HHS).
Strauss has volunteered for many activities over the years, including several while her children were students at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton school.
In addition, the family has opened its doors to outsiders. They've had a number of foreign exchange students living with them. This year, Paolo Fossati from Italy is living with them. Last year, they had an exchange student from Brazil. Other years, there have been students from Germany, Thailand and Austria.
"We like to expose our kids to other cultures and things beyond the U.S.," Strauss said. "I think it's good for Americans to have a little wider exposure. Our kids have really enjoyed being the host siblings."