SOS: Gail Dahl
Story of Service: Gail Dahl
Submitted by Janet Johnson
Growing up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, my parents were actively involved in many volunteer organizations and much of my time was spent volunteering with them both in church and in the community. After attending St Olaf College and graduating from the U of Minnesota I began working as physical therapist for Sister Kenny Institute. Soon it was marriage to Ron Dahl, and the arrival of our two children, Shannon and Ryan. We joined Westwood in 1978, and our children began attending Tuesday school, and then Saturday Choir School. My Westwood volunteering began in the office of Marilyn Stalheim during those “Ronnie” days.
Westwood provides an incredibly rich tapestry of opportunities in outreach ministries and in the more immediate “just ask” tasks. As a physical therapist, setting goals was a priority in coordinating optimum results from my patients. In reflecting on my volunteering experiences, my goals have been to enlist, enable, encourage, enrich, and enjoy. I am honored to be able to share in the goals and successes of many ministries . . . from the joy of planning marriages with couples beginning their new married life blessed by God; to the granting of Holiday Fair monies each year to over 30 ministries from St Louis Park to Senegal; to the many lives supported in tough times by the Good Samaritan Fund of the Westwood Memorial Foundation and the Foundations’ wide arms of support; to the Caring Response Team which shares the heart of Westwood to those in most need of prayers and support; and to working with the incredible leadership and teams of Families Moving Forward, the Community Meal, Health Ministries, We Care, the Prayer Shawl Ministry, and Small Bible Studies. As a Communion Preparer and Server, it is humbling to share, at the table, God’s gifts with God’s people. Each ministry team has enriched my life, my faith, and my love of Westwood.
With each new opportunity, new faces become mentors and new friends, and I am in awe of the faith, generosity, and commitment of these volunteers and the staff that supports them. There is a thread of gold woven into this tapestry of service and it shines with God’s love as it binds us together as children of God and in turn, shines into the hearts of all we serve.
Pastor Tania recently referred to Westwood as a place where hope lives, life is given, and all are truly welcome. Westwood truly is home and family, and it is my prayer that all can come to know this place and the hearts within it.