Kracl to receive prestigious honor

November 8, 2018

Denise Kracl has never been about giving back for recognition, but it isn’t stopping a well-known service group from giving her some.

The Schuyler Sertoma Club during its noon Nov. 13 meeting will present Kracl its prestigious Service to Mankind award, an annual honor presented to a club member for going above and beyond in service to the organization and the community.

Sertoma, which saw its Schuyler chapter start in 1968, is one of the oldest service clubs in the United States. It aims to improve the lives of those who need help, particularly those at risk or impacted by hearing loss, through education and support. Each club around the country selected a recipient for the Service to Mankind award.

“She is so deserving of this award as she gives so much to our community!” said Schuyler Sertoma Club member Diane Arps, who noted the local chapter’s committee had to decide between ‘four wonderful nominations.’ “She’s always so willing to give back to Sertoma and the community in general. She’s just a wonderful person.”

Kracl, who serves as Colfax County’s attorney, coroner and public information officer, called the distinction special.

“I was speechless,” Kracl said of when she found out she was going to be the recipient. “Because I know some of the people who have received that award in the past and they have put in a lifetime’s worth of efforts and volunteering to make their state better. It’s an honor to be even considered for this award, much less win.”

Kracl, who besides helping raise her 12-year-old daughter, Kodie, has found numerous ways to give back to Schuyler and her native Columbus throughout the years.

In Schuyler, she serves on the Schuyler Economic Development Council. About eight years ago, she and Colfax County Diversion Officer Saul Soltero started the Schuyler Food and Toy Drive. Since its inception, it has become heavily backed by area volunteers, businesses and service groups, resulting in hundreds of less fortunate area families getting toys, food and more during the holidays.

“The toy drive is to just give people hope,” said Kracl, who was named Schuyler Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year in 2016 and previously won the Distinguished Alumni Award from CCC’s Columbus campus. “I just try to improve people’s lives for the better, even if it’s just one week out of the year.”

Over the years, Kracl has also led three mission trips to Alaska and served as a disaster committee member for the American Red Cross, while also donating her time to pitch in at the Colfax Theater and be part of the organizational committee for Thriven Comfort Closets. The latter is an initiative that brings much-needed school supplies to local children.

She also serves as the secretary of the Northeast Nebraska Human Trafficking Taskforce, which involves her committing time to travel around the state to speak about human trafficking – an issue near and dear to her heart.

“I like to be able to bring issues like that out of the shadows and into the light,” said Kracl, who since 2017 has been teaching political science in person and through a long-distance learning program offered through Central Community College-Columbus. “If we didn’t have demand, we’re not going to have supply.”

Kracl, a Schuyler Historical Society member and a judge for the annual Columbus Days Lip Sync Contest, said she likes volunteering because it allows people In the community to see her in a different way, as opposed to any stigma that comes with being a county attorney or coroner. But it’s all truly about making a difference in the lives of others, she noted.

“I want to be a role model not only for Kodie but also other people in the community,” she said. “Community service can be fun and rewarding.”

Those who would like to attend the luncheon at St. Augustine Hall, 604 Chicago St., receive her award can do so by calling Arps at 402-641-6402 by the end of the day Friday. Lunch is $12.

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.

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