Ila Bogucki started volunteering at St. Joseph's Medical Center in 1993 while her husband, Chet, was receiving kidney dialysis.
Even though Chet passed away eight years ago, Bogucki continues to volunteer at the hospital, logging nearly 5,000 hours working in the gift shop, filing paperwork, delivering mail and flowers and even serving food to some patients recovering from surgery.
"I don't want a real job because I can say no to a volunteer job," Bogucki said.
But she rarely does. Bogucki, a self-proclaimed early bird, gets called into the hospital to help out even when she's not scheduled to work. The earlier the better, she doesn't mind.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"I don't sew, I don't knit, if I stayed home I'd have to clean," Bogucki said.
As long as her volunteer work doesn't involve cleaning or attending meetings, Bogucki is usually up for the task.
Along with volunteering about two days a week, Bogucki also works part-time at the hospital's front desk, a paid position.
"I love the job because I can tell people where to go," Bogucki said with a smirk. "I'm very good at telling people where to go."
Kidding aside, Bogucki enjoys working at the hospital because she likes helping people. She uses her experience of caring for her dying husband when talking to hospital patrons with an ill family member.
"Nobody thinks of the caregiver," Bogucki said. "It's hard on the women. I just let them talk."
Family: Three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Hobbies: Reading, playing cards, watching television.
Favorite movie: "Forest Gump."
What she misses most about living in Minneapolis: The bakeries.
Favorite baked good: Pumpernickel and caraway rye bread.
A good story: In 1981 Ila went to an auction sale to buy a freezer and came away with a year-round house and 150 feet of lakeshore on Roosevelt Lake near Outing. She paid $29,500 for the property. "I had never been to an auction before," she said. "I went for a freezer and bought a house." Her husband's reaction: Laughter.
Bogucki and her husband were married for 47 years. Originally from Minneapolis, the couple moved to Outing in 1971. They owned the bar Village Inn in Outing, a dream the couple shared for years while living in Minneapolis and vacationing with their family on Lawrence Lake.
"Those days everybody knew everybody in Emily and Outing," she said reminiscing about old friends and bar stories. "Yes, it was a bar, but the coffee pot was always on."
Bogucki served as a bartender, cook and waitress at Village Inn, a job that molded the quick-witted woman into who she is today.
"I have no fear, I bartended for years," she said.
In 1983 the Bogucki's sold the bar, but the Village Inn is still open today.
HEIDI LAKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5879.
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