Generations 5/23

Page 1

Soaking up love

The Globe

WORTHINGTON — A faith-based project begun over a decade ago is still going strong, albeit with somewhat fewer dedicated souls regularly involved.

For more than 10 years, Sandy Ponto, JoAnn Polzine and Dee Ella have sewn cloth diapers that are ultimately shipped to Haiti for use at the Sisters of Charity Orphanage in Port-au-Prince — and they haven’t stopped yet.

“I usually sew for five to six hours a day,” said Ponto, 70. “I do it while watching TV, and it’s fun; it gets in your blood, and they (the diapers) are so cute.”

Due to extreme poverty in the country, Haiti has a high number of children who are not necessarily true “orphans” but whose parents have abandoned them due to a lack of ability to supply their most basic human needs, such as adequate food and clean water.

“The moms can’t get enough to eat, and their living conditions might not be sanitary, so the kids are taken to orphanages for care and to gain strength,” explained Ponto.

At the Sisters of Charity Orphanage, the hundreds of resident infants and toddlers use around 1,000 diapers daily, Ponto reported.

When the St. Mary’s Catholic Church based Catholic Christian Women group learned of that need about 12 years ago, it appealed to Ponto and others.

“There was a pattern we could use and a couple of us ladies decided we’d do it,” said Ponto, a 1970 Worthington High School graduate and longtime resident of rural Reading.

“For a while, we had a lot of help — about six to eight of us were sewing — and over the years, we sent thousands of diapers to Haiti. One year we sent 3,000 diapers.”

And in 2022, even with fewer hands at work, they finished and shipped around 2,700 diapers.

The washable, reusable cloth diapers may be used dozens of times by the orphanage’s sisters before they wear out.

Ponto explained the diaper pattern is an hour-glass shape, with the seamstresses inserting elastic for each leg opening. Using “retired” or stained T-shirts obtained from donations, Goodwill, Legacy Thrift (formerly Bibles for Missions Thrift Center) or other thrift shops in the area, the women cut 4-by-11-inch pads, using 10 in the center of each diaper for the “soaker” spot.

“We used to use Velcro tabs but we learned from the (orphanage) sisters that the lye soap they used broke down

the Velcro before the diapers were ready for the trash, so we switched to strips they can tie,” Ponto said. “The sisters are very happy with them.”

Because of Mayo Clinic’s involvement with a medical mission in Port-auPrince, the CCW diaper sewers were able to collaborate with Mayo for shipping purposes.

“A CCW woman from Rochester let us know we could send old suitcases full of diapers on the same barges Mayo was sending their outdated medical

equipment to Haiti for physicians’ use there,” said Ponto.

Without that shipping assistance, the cost of getting the diapers to their destination would be prohibitive. And it added another donor opportunity to the project, since the group welcomes the gift of used suitcases in which to stow the diapers.

“We can fit between 200 and 250 diapers in each suitcase,” Ponto said.

Worthington women ‘sew an hour for the Lord’
Photo courtesy Sandy Ponto JoAnn Polzine and Sandy Ponto are shown with suitcases filled with handmade diapers and ready to be shipped to Haiti. SEW:
Page 6

240 quilts emerge from church basement

Handmade with farm roots and experience

Find the good in your community. I found community goodness in the basement of a Lutheran church when I visited my mom’s quilting group.

our quilts. We have so many left, of course, for the need overseas.”

The quilting group all say they enjoy the socializing and their visits each week, but they keep their hands moving, creating 240 handmade quilts from last October through this April.


The Pinke Post

Each Wednesday from October through April, a handful of women and one man gather in the basement of Sundahl Lutheran Church in Aneta, located in east-central North Dakota. The town’s population is listed as 234 in the 2020 U.S. Census. The church’s attendance is 35, on a “good Sunday” says my mom, Jane.

The purpose of quilting meets needs from a local to global impact.

“There has been a need here locally and I love donating to them,” said Mary Lee Wall, chairperson of the Sundahl Lutheran Church quilting. “There is also a need for children size quilts and we got the job done. My mission is to fulfill the needs of others in our area, for them to feel the love, caring and warmth of

The purpose of each quilt varies as quilts are blessed in a church service and delivered to local homeless shelters, missions, area Bible camps, crisis centers and many are sent on to Lutheran World Relief for global distribution.

Additionally new residents of Aneta are often given a quilt as a welcome gift, quilts are donated to local benefits, and some are shared as gifts at church baby showers.

If you’re never experienced the gift of a quilt, which I equate to being wrapped in a warm hug, you can also buy quilts from Sundahl for $50.

The group has sold 29 quilts this year to offset the expense of the batting, the filler in quilts that give them warmth.

The volunteer group all live and know

QUILTS: Page 7

Two hundred and forty quilts fill the sanctuary of Sundahl Lutheran Church in Aneta, North Dakota. Each was handmade this winter, utilizing donated sheets and fabric. The core group who create the quilts is about eight people who meet weekly.


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Katie Pinke / Agweek


Local man retires from 44-year career days after 86th birthday

The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Most people can’t wait to retire.

They may dream of traveling, spending more time with family or with a favorite hobby. They probably relish the idea of never setting the alarm again to go to work.

Verle Prinzing is not like most people.

He wanted to work until he turned 100, and even then he may have decided to keep working.

And why not, especially when a person loves their job like Prinzing did.

In late March, the Worthington man was the guest of honor at a combination birthday and retirement party at the Prairie Justice Center. Prinzing turned 86 on March 19. His last day of work was three days later, on March 22.

Prinzing’s retirement marked the end of a 44-year career working for Nobles County. He was hired in the maintenance department back in 1979, shortly after the new government center opened in downtown Worthington. At the time, he worked the overnight shift, starting his workday at 10:30 p.m. and finishing up at 7:30 a.m., just as county staff arrived to work.

“I enjoyed it,” Prinzing said of working in the three-story government center as all of the offices were quiet.

Only one time does he recall getting spooked, and that’s when he spotted a couple of men trying to break into the building. When they saw him, they ran off and he never had another experience like it.

Prinzing, who grew up in Faribault, moved to Worthington in 1977. His mother had moved to the community and remarried, and her husband started Schaap Sanitation. Prinzing worked for him for more than a year before applying for the job with Nobles County.

“I worked on anything related to power in the building,” Prinzing said of his job in building maintenance. The overnight shift meant that he could spend time with his mom during the day, as his three children lived with their mother in another city.

Prinzing said the people he worked with in Nobles County were like his family — a feeling that remained through all of his years of work and the many faces that came and went from the buildings he maintained.

“I had no family (locally), so I kept on working,” he said. “When you don’t have a family, coming to work is like coming to a big family.”

During his career, he spent countless hours cleaning tile floors, washing the windows, emptying garbage and recycling bins, vacuuming and generally making the buildings look their best.

“I used the vacuum cleaner a lot,” Prinzing said. “It was a steady job.”

He worked in the library, the government center, human services, and, from 2002 until earlier this year, at the Prairie Justice Center. At the

time of his retirement, he was working the 2 to 11 p.m. shift.

“I enjoyed making everything neat,” he said. “Some people come in and they mess everything up. They don’t mean to, but they do.”

And the best part of his job?

“The breaks,” he said in all seriousness, and then began to laugh.


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Rising inflation is impacting mental health

(StatePoint) It’s no secret that the country is feeling the pinch from inflation and the rising costs of goods and services, with 48% of Americans struggling to make ends meet financially, according to the latest data from Dynata’s Global Consumer Trends survey. That’s up from 34% in August of last year.

These circumstances are having a significant impact on wellness, with 53% of respondents attributing financial difficulties as being an extremely or very important contributing factor to their worsening mental health since before the pandemic. Women are feeling the impacts most. Nearly six in 10 women — 57% — say financial difficulties are the largest contributor to a decline in their mental health vs. 44% of men who say the same.

Many Americans however are finding new ways to ease the burden on their mental health. Here are a few of the habits and attitudes that have helped those who report having better mental health now than they did pre-pandemic:

► Exercise. Getting more exercise has helped 78% of respondents achieve better mental health during this time of financial uncertainty.

► Spending more time with hobbies and interests. Seventy-four percent of respondents have seen an improvement in their mental health by spending more time and focus on their hobbies and industries. Whether it’s knitting, playing a sport or birdwatching, taking on a new hobby can be an effective way to better your mental health.

► Spending time with loved ones. The pandemic was a long period of separation for many, but with life back to normal, spending time with loved ones has been a proven way to boost mental health, with 74% of respondents seeing an improvement.

► Rest. Now is a great time to sit back and take some time to relax, as 73% reported an improvement in their mental health from just taking time to rest.

► Cooking and healthy eating. The pandemic gave many a chance to spend more time in the kitchen cooking their favorite meals. 72% of respondents attribute cooking and healthy eating to helping improve their mental health. During these difficult financial times, spending more time in the kitchen can be a great way to help ease stress, save money on meals and of course, reap the physical and mental benefits of a good, balanced meal.

► Work-life balance. This has been a stressful time for employees, with news of layoffs coming almost daily, on top of the already existing financial stressors. However, 72% of respondents attribute achieving a better work-life balance to lowering stress levels and improving their mental health.

For full survey results, visit

While many Americans are feeling the pinch right now, the good news is that proven coping strategies can help lighten the mental load.

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(StatePoint) It’s time to hit the garage, basement, attic and closets for that age-old task of spring cleaning! Before hauling unwanted possessions to the curb, you may be surprised to learn they might be valuable — especially if you have sports cards and memorabilia gathering dust.

With prices of sports cards rising in recent years, take time to determine if yours are valuable and how to best sell them.

“Older sports cards and memorabilia aren’t just highly collectible; they can be worth lots of money. Recent sales of scarce vintage cards have topped anywhere from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands. And really rare cards can go higher,” says Al Crisafulli, auction director at Love of the Game Auctions, an internet sports auction house that helps families identify and sell valuable items.

Crisafulli has assisted people in selling such keepsakes as a grandparent’s autograph collection and an uncle’s childhood baseball cards, for tens of thousands of dollars. In one life-changing event, he helped a family determine that a baseball bat that spent decades protecting their home was used by Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig — and Love of the Game Auctions sold it for almost half a million dollars. Today, that bat could bring more than a million dollars.

The key is understanding what makes old sports collectibles valuable. To help, Crisafulli is sharing some tips:

Older is Usually Pricier

Cards from the 1960s and earlier are collectible, and those from before the 1940s can be worth a lot of money, especially those depicting stars. Do you have cards of Hall of Famers, such as Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner or Ty Cobb? Even non-stars from the early days of a sport can be worth big bucks,

especially if the cards have no creases and retain sharp corners and original gloss.

If you have very old cards from the 1880s through the 1930s, look for tobacco, gum and candy brands, such as Old Judge, Piedmont, Sweet Caporal, Goudey or American Caramel.

If you want to sell sports items for the most money, consider a specialty auction, such as Love of the Game, which has the expertise to properly research sports ephemera and maintains bidder lists of collectors specializing in sports. More information is available at

Postcards and Photographs

We all have keepsakes of vacation destinations, but most aren’t valuable. However, photographs and postcards depicting sports stars and ballparks can be significant. Look for early “real photo” postcards from the 1900s through the 1940s, which are photographs printed on postcard backs.

As with sports cards, star power matters, so preserve those Babe Ruths as opposed to images of your great grandma’s baby cousin once-removed. And when it comes to photos, look for old markings on the back, such as photographer, publication and date stamps.


Set aside old advertising posters depicting sports stars and food, tobacco or sporting goods brands. Ads from magazines aren’t valuable, but those used as store displays and for other marketing purposes can be pricey. Tin signs from the 1960s and earlier can be highly prized, but reproductions aren’t.

Your family’s sporting goods, such as balls, gloves and bats, can be valuable. Pre-1950s uniforms and catcher’s masks, helmets and other equipment are highly collected, especially when endorsed by star players. Top condition brings the highest prices, but even used equipment can be valuable.

“The golden rule is the older the sports card or item, the more valuable it usually is. Pre-1975 pieces start to get interesting and are worth researching,” says Crisafulli.

Don’t just clean out your “junk” this spring, examine it closely to potentially maximize its value.

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Sewing for the Lord

The 76-year-old Polzine, like Ponto, has continued sewing the diapers whenever she has enough T-shirts on hand to make them. A 15-year resident of Worthington who previously lived on her family’s ancestral Hullerman farm in rural Heron Lake for 55 years, Polzine says she usually spends about two hours a day on the diapers when she has a solid stock of materials.

“I listen to audiobooks while I sew,” said Polzine, who prefers biographies. “If I’m listening to a good book, I’ll sew longer.”

Polzine got her sewing start as a 4-H member, and she benefited from the guidance of an aunt who was a commercial seamstress.

“She taught my sister and me how to sew,” said Polzine. “I swear, the first dress I made for 4-H, they tore out nearly every seam because they had to be perfect.”

Perfection is not a requirement for diaper-sewing, Polzine and Ponto both profess.

“You don’t need to be skilled to do this,” said Ponto. “You’re just sewing around, and if I make a mistake, I just cut it out or make a smaller-sized diaper for a smaller baby.”

These days, Ponto and her husband Greg, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in December, are retired. They split their time between their Reading acreage and a home in Chaska,

located near three of their five children. With nine grandchildren and four step-grandchildren, the Pontos relish being close to family to offer support.

“My little grandsons — we have seven, and the Lord has a funny sense of humor because we farmed and had four girls and only one son — love the colorful T-shirts,” said Ponto.

“Sometimes one will see a T-shirt and say, ‘Oh, Nana, you would love to make a diaper out of that,’” laughed Ponto.

Diaper-making has become something of a family adventure, as Ponto’s younger grandsons help her count out the “soaker pads” and aid her in digging around for supplies. Purchasing elastic for the leg holes and an economical oversized spool of thread is all that’s required for those making the diapers, Ponto shared.

A bonus for Ponto is that her grandchildren bear witness to the time and energy she devotes to a project that benefits others.

“I do think it fosters their sense of care,” said Ponto. “They want to take cans of food to school for those who need it, and it connects with them.

“You show your faith by doing, too.”

That’s a message Ponto and Polzine have employed in recruiting others to sew diapers, and in relating why they put in the time they do for the diaper project.

“I think it’s a good cause, and it also gives me something to do,” said Polzine, who praises fellow diaper-maker Dee Ella, 90, for her

continued sewing efforts.

Added Ponto, “I told people it’s a perfect project — very simple sewing, you don’t need a lot of skill — and they can sew an hour for the Lord.

“As retirees, we have time—all we have is time—and this is a way to do something for someone else.”

Polzine and Ponto maintain they’d be pleased to help anyone interested in diaper-sewing get started by sharing patterns and giving tips on locating the necessary supplies.

They also welcome donations of used t-shirts and suitcases to keep the project flowing.

“The sisters once sent a picture of the babies at the orphanage wearing the diapers, lying on their tummies with their bums in the air, grinning from ear to ear,” said Ponto.

“It’s a way to help someone else in the world — and the orphanage is happy to get them.”

Used suitcases or T-shirts to support the Haiti orphanage diaper project may be left at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, or contact JoAnn Polzine at (507) 360-4698 for information about how to help.

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SEW From Page 1
Photo courtesy Sandy Ponto Shown is a colorful array of diapers made from T-shirts by a group of local women and redied to be shipped to Haiti.


From Page 2

farm life, having been raised on farms, still actively farming or now retired from farming.

They know how to work with their hands, and one quilter told me the work is “easy to do.”

The group connects for socializing in the winter along with the work that gives them satisfaction that they’re “doing it for a purpose,” a member said to me.

LWR Mission Quilts provides specific guidelines and how to make a quilt in three steps. Each is sized at 60 inches by 80 inches and according to the LWR website provides bedding, a tent or floor covering to those in need. The guidelines keep quilts consistent. On average, 300,000 quilts are created and donated annually through LWR.

The mission of relief quilts and kits started during World War II for wartorn European countries and today remains the LWR longest-standing program.

Sundahl also creates LWR kits from layettes of baby clothes, blankets and diapers to school kits with things to fill a school desk to health kits with towels and supplies to take a shower.

Behind the quilters’ area in the Sundahl Lutheran basement stands an ironing board and iron. Every week, retired farmer and rancher Bob Retzlaff irons all donated sheets and fabric for the quilters to use. He doesn’t think he’ll be able to recruit other men to join him in the work, but he enjoys the routine and work of volunteering for the quilting mission of Sundahl that he and his wife, Linda, attend.

My mom says I would love quilting. I said that since I don’t quilt, sew or iron, I would not fit in. She answered back, “But you can tie! You would love it.” She gave me the reminder that each of us can find a place to serve no matter how big or small the role may seem or how rural we may live.

Learn from the quilters.

The quilters of the Sundahl Lutheran Church of Aneta, North Dakota, made 240 quilts this winter for newcomers to the community, baby shower gifts, benefits, local missions, homeless shelters and Lutheran World Relief.

If you feel a nudge to serve in your community, plug in and find a place. Service makes our spaces and places stronger. If you’re long established in a volunteering role, ask a new member to join you. Welcome new people and ideas to your community.

If you desire a more vibrant rural

America, you’re not too young, old or inexperienced to do good work. Let’s carve out time to do what we can, with what we have, where we are. It may start in a rural church basement for you. Thank you to the Sundahl quilters for your examples of mission and hearts of service.

Thank you to each of you reading and making an impact in seen and unseen ways, wherever you call home.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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Katie Pinke / Agweek Katie Pinke / Agweek Bob Retzlaff irons donated fabrics and sheets weekly at Sundahl Lutheran Church.


From Page 3

“No, I’m kidding. The people.” Before his move to Worthington,

Prinzing worked for railroads, both the Milwaukee and the Illinois Central. Taking care of the county’s buildings, though, was his favorite.

Now nearly a month and a half into his retirement, Prinzing is looking for things to keep him busy.

“I like to watch the Twins, but I’ll find something to do,” he said. “Sitting and watching TV all the time, that’s not good for a person. It’s OK for the first month.”

Prinzing said since he worked all of the time, he doesn’t have any hobbies.

In retirement, he’s already volunteered to deliver Meals on Wheels, and he really enjoyed that.

Then he paused.

“I should have kept on working,” he shared. “I could have worked ’til I was 100.”

8 | WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2023
City of Worthington Center for Active Living 211 11th Street | Worthington, MN | 507.376.6457
Photo courtesy of Barb Hussong Verle Prinzing, left, is shown with fellow maintenance workers Rich Linsmeier (second from left), Wilmot Knuckles and Mitch Mastbergen. Photo courtesy of Barb Hussong Verle Prinzing and Sheriff Ryan Kruger pose for a photo. Photo courtesy of Barb Hussong Verle Prinzing is shown with Worthington Police Captain Nate Grimmius.