“One more,” her grandfather would say when Vetter’s young brow was soaked in summer sweat and her aching limbs were begging for quitting time. “Just one more row.”
Vetter can still hear his voice.
“I still think about that,” she said. “It does push me along a little bit. I’ll feel like it’s time to quit, but then I’ll say: ‘Do one more. Do one more thing.’”
Evidence of Vetter’s perseverance and dedication are not hard to find.
She served for 10 years on the YWCA’s board, eventually moving up to president. From there, she joined the Mankato chapter of Zonta International, a service club that works to advance the status of women. In addition, Vetter is serving as the president of the Mayo Clinic Health System of Mankato Auxiliary.
Every team needs a finisher. And those that play for the values of empowerment, dignity and freedom have Anne Willaert.
“She really has, for a long time, lived and worked the mission of the YWCA,” said Anne Ganey, who should know. Ganey is the former director of the YWCA and herself a Woman of Distinction in 2003. During the time she worked at the YWCA, Ganey wasn’t allowed to nominate. Willaert was her first choice after accepting a new position at South Central College last year.
More than a decade ago, Willaert was a driving force behind the growth of a small, refugee assimilation program in the basement of First Presbyterian Church into Community Assistance for Refugees — a non-profit organization that helped refugee families resettle in Mankato for nearly 20 years before it disbanded in 2009.
Before that, she helped organize the day care program for Mankato Area Catholic Schools.
“I like to develop,” Willaert said. “I like to stay busy.”
Three years ago, Willaert transitioned to SCC where she began implementation of a $4.5 million Department of Labor grant to create new career pathways for under-served and minority populations.