HOWLAND - Carol Olson said she can't remember a time when she hasn't been busy.
''I don't feel like I have to have a whole day to myself,'' she said. And she hasn't had one in many years.
Olson, 68, divides her time every day among an almost countless list of activities and group affiliations.
She has been a member of the choir at Emmanuel Lutheran Church for 25 years. In 2000 she became the first person to chair the activities committee there, a position she held until 2004. She is also the first female congregation president.
She sits on the visitation committee, taking Eucharist and Scripture to hospitalized or home-bound parishioners. She's a liturgist, the chair of the endowments committee and serves as secretary for the memorial board.
And while Olson has been nominated for the Tribune Chronicle's Community Star Award by Emmanuel Pastor Dee Emmert, Olson's contributions are by no means limited to her faith community.
After leaving her career at Forum Health, Olson continues to work in health promotion as a member of the Trumbull County Medical Society Alliance. That group will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year and Olson is helping to organize a May event.
She is also a past board member at Someplace Safe.
She assists the Animal Welfare League year round and works on their fashion show and golf outing fundraisers.
Activities / memberships: Choir, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, ELC Visitation Committee, ELC Congregation President, ELC Chair of Endowments Committee, ELC secretary for memorial board, ELC liturgist, Animal Welfare League volunteer, Trumbull County Medical Society Alliance, driver for Mobile Meals, president of Harriet Taylor Upton Association, American History Vice Chairman for the State of Ohio, Mary Chesney Chapter of the National Society for the Daughters of the American Revolution, chairperson Local Chapter for DAR Schools, volunteer for Someplace Safe
She drives for Mobile Meals and also assists with their annual fundraiser in November.
Olson is president of the Upton Association, of which she has been a member for 10 years. There she maintains the Upton Gardens from cleanup and planting in May to maintenance all the way through October. She played a prominent role in returning Harriet Taylor Upton's remains to Warren and, through the society, works with students to teach them about the history of Women's Suffrage in the United States. For Make A Difference Day, the group cleaned up the Women's Park.
She is a master gardener and teaches gardening to 4th grade students at Jefferson, Willard and HC Mines Schools from January to May. She works with 8th grade students at other schools, teaching financial responsibility through a program that assigns them a career and salary and then walks them through various stations of financial obligation where they write "checks" for those costs and assess what their monthly finances are.
As the American History vice chairman for the State of Ohio, she helps run yearly essay contests for grades 5-8 with new topics each year, and helps with the regular Christopher Columbus essay contest for high school students. Olson is also a past regent for the Mary Chesney Chapter of the National Society for the Daughters of the American Revolution.
She is chairperson of the local chapter for DAR Schools. That organization, among other activities, donates flags to various other groups. One of Olson's fondest memories is presenting a special flag to an 8-year-old boy who collected flags. Olson called in a favor and presented him with a 50-star flag signed by late designer Bob Heft for the boy.
It all comes naturally for Olson.
"There are just so many organizations and such a need to help. If everybody donated just five hours a month, the community would be so much better off," she said. "A community is only as strong as the people in it. There are people who did it before me, and I thought it was time for me to do some things that will keep the community strong and viable.''
What comes even more naturally is her humility about it. Olson said the award caught her off guard.
''I was surprised, I wasn't expecting anything. The people that I know that have been stars ... I didn't feel I was in the same category," she said. "What they do and have done in the past has been really tremendous."
While she was nominated by Pastor Dee Emmert for this award, it is clear her involvement goes far beyond the church.
''We are blessed to have Carol as part of our community,'' Emmert said. ''She is most certainly a star in our eyes.''
The busy bee doesn't stop at civic duties, though. Her husband, Dr. Daniel Olson, is often very busy with his Warren practice and likes to exercise after work before coming home to a warm meal ... cooked by Carol.
"I still cook supper for him everyday," she said. She has taken gourmet cooking classes, and enjoys cooking, especially Italian food. Like a nice pasta primavera with fresh vegetables from her garden. Recreationally, she likes to read, exercise and care for her Siamese cats.
For Olson, there has never been a time when she has felt exhausted by the work she does and says the appreciation is more than enough reward.
"I think when I visit the people with Mobile meals, I think that makes a profound difference, and I feel very appreciated, and you get immediate gratification from that," she said.
If forced to choose, Olson said her devotion would remain with her church activities, but she is grateful she doesn't have to. And she has no plans to stop moving.
"I'll continue to do it as long as I am able to drive my car and get around and walk," she said. "It keeps me out of the house every day."
"A community is only as strong as the people in it. There are people who did it before me, and I thought it was time for me to do some things that will keep the community strong and viable.''