Agave Kitchen relief fund is Chamber's volunteer of the year
The annual Hudson Chamber of Commerce Community Volunteer of the Year award had a bit of a twist this year, thanks to the humility of the originally intended recipient.
Chamber President Blake Fry explained the Chamber had planned to honor Paul Rode of Agave Kitchen for the company's disaster relief efforts, specifically its recent donations to tornado victims, but Rode insisted the recognition belonged to the Hudson community.
Agave employee Kevin Proschwitz said though the staff was excited, recognition was never an incentive for Rode.
"I know for a fact that's not why Paul has done any of it," Proschwitz said.
The Agave Kitchen crew and customers have led several fundraising efforts over the years, using the large social media following the restaurant and Rode have to get as many people supporting efforts as possible.
"It was always just a really cool thing that Paul's got a large enough social media reach to get the community involved, get them excited about it," Proschwitz said.
From what Proschwitz remembers, the efforts started back in 2012 after the three Schaffhausen girls were killed in River Falls. Proschwitz said Rode called him, saying he wanted to help.
"It was pretty powerful to hear him talk about it," Proschwitz said. "He just kept saying we've got to do something we've got to do something."
The next day, Rode set up shop downtown, collecting donations.
"It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen," Proschwitz said. "There was a steady line of people walking up or driving up and donating money."
The work continued after that, and most recently the Agave relief fund worked to collect more than 10 tons — an entire truckful — of donations for those affected by tornadoes last year in Illinois.
Community support of the efforts has been awesome, Proschwitz said, with people donating in whatever ways they can, including money and time.
"The fundraising work has been a lot of fun," he said.
Though he knows Rode didn't want the recognition, Proschwitz said awards like the Chamber's highlight the good people can do.
"It's important for people of all ages to see that good deeds don't go unrecognized," he said. "And especially when it comes to Paul and social media, one person can make a difference."