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Drew Emmer, 60, Eden Prairie

Nominated by Nicole Loran, 42, St. Paul

The story: Drew lives his life in a way I think others should emulate. Early in his life, Drew was deep into addiction, but with family help he regained control. Now 35-plus years sober, Drew spends much of his time volunteering to help others who are on the same path he once was on. Many are trying their best to stay sober and they have Drew's phone number. They know they can call it when they are in a tight spot or afraid of what they might do next. Drew delivers positive words when they need it — or tough responses when that is called for. When we worked together, we started Tuesday dinners where we'd catch up and talk about life. Drew was known to step outside during our meals to help counsel someone feeling desperate. When he drives, he keeps money ready to give to people standing on corners. When he read on Facebook that an individual he knew was having financial challenges, he went to Costco and filled a laundry basket with grocery staples and drove 75 miles to deliver the items not once but twice. Drew's willingness to pick up a call or respond to a text from someone in need is something that inspires me. He genuinely wants people to succeed at life and will do what it takes to help them get there.

Jill Engeswick, 65, Chaska

Nominated by Russ St. John, Chaska

The story:

Jill's credo is "[being] committed to creating a community where all people have safe and secure housing and hope for a better future." And she means it. The proof is in her selflessness and commitment through action. One such effort is a nonprofit she founded called Beyond New Beginnings, which supports and nurtures young moms and their children as they gain independence in safe, stable homes while being actively involved in the New Beginnings High School Program, post-secondary education and/or employment. The program now houses four mothers and their children and is showing early success. One mom completed her associate's degree and moved to her own home; two moms recently graduated from high school. Jill not only runs the operation but also serves as the board secretary. Jill was an educator for the SouthWest Metro school district for 30 years, working with at-risk high school students. The community is in a much better place because of Jill's care for others and how she inspires through service.

Deb Reutter, 58, Minneapolis

Nominated by Curt Irmiger, 62, Minneapolis

The story: My wife (I know, I'm biased) was recently awarded Best in Show at the Uptown Art fair in the Best of Jewelry category ( What makes her story exceptional is that, last November, she had a ruptured brain aneurysm that nearly ended her life. She spent two weeks in critical care in the ICU; doctors discovered an additional five aneurysms that had not ruptured, which required months of additional surgery and recovery. Deb is a full-time Minneapolis teacher. However, she is unable to return to teaching because she is still in recovery and she might not be able to teach again. Jewelry was her hobby prior to teaching, but while in recovery she's been at it full-time. In a very short amount of time, she is now an award-winning jeweler.

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