This post is adapted form a story originally posted by AARP ND. Find the complete version by Clicking Here.
Evert Van Engelenhoven, founder of Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley (FMRRV), is the recipient of the 2023 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service – AARP’s most prestigious volunteer award.
The award recognizes outstanding community service and symbolizes that individuals age 50 and older have the power and ability to make a difference in the lives of others. The award is given to just one North Dakotan annually and includes a $1,000 donation to a charitable organization chosen by the recipient.
Van Engelenhoven accepted the award during the 2023 AARP ND Volunteer Recognition Event in Fargo on Oct. 25. AARP North Dakota will donate $1,000 to the FMRRV in his name.
Van Engelenhoven, who worked in the insurance industry for 52 years before retiring, established FMRRV in 2019 to provide gently used furniture to people in crisis. In its first year of operation, FMRRV provided 130 families with furniture. Since 2020, 1,500 local families and individuals in crisis have received more than 17,000 pieces of furniture.
“I’ve always been of the attitude if you’ve been blessed, you have the obligation to help people. I try to live that. If you have, you need to share,” Van Engelenhoven says.
Jordan McCormick, FMRRV’s executive director, nominated Van Engelenhoven for the award. He says the organization’s clients range from young families to older people, including veterans transitioning from homeless to homed. Items like lift chairs, supportive beds and other pieces that empower the active aging community are a focus. “Many of our volunteers are seniors themselves and are especially helpful in encouraging our clients to consider these types of things when selecting the furniture they choose,” says McCormick.
At age 81, Van Engelenhoven volunteers 30 to 40 hours each week with FMRRV and encourages people to spend their retirement years pursuing a purpose that adds value to their communities.
McCormick notes, “He is truly a humble servant.”
“[Van Engelenhoven] does it for all the right reasons. He leads with his heart and shows up with hands that are willing to serve everyday…. He never asks for recognition… He wants the people around him to receive the credit for the impact we’re all making,” McCormick says.
This is where you can find stories, shoutouts, and more from throughout the FMRRV community! These will be from staff, board members, volunteers, or community members who have a unique perspective on our work or how we serve.
We are a faith-based organization that accepts gently-used furniture donations and re-gifts the furniture to people coming out of crisis.
PO. Box 7337 Fargo, ND 58106
2600 3rd Avenue North, Fargo, ND 58102