Nast keeps on keepin’ on

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Violette Nast (right) hosts a bake sale during a recent Saturday morning at Mike’s Service & Convenience in Valmeyer.  Her niece Susan Kroesen DuBose (left) of Affton, Mo., helps with sales to Sharon Kethcherside of Valmeyer and Michael Olsson of Fults. 

With spring in full swing, sales are abounding in yards, neighborhoods and small communities.  

Many are just to get rid of stuff or recoup a little money.

But some have greater goals, and they aren’t just one-time efforts. 

One such effort is for – and largely by – Violette Nast of Valmeyer.

A native of the Netherlands, Nast emigrated to America in 1957 and subsequently gained citizenship.

Nast and her late husband provided foster care and eventually adopted and raised two children. A degreed social worker, Nast worked for Southern Illinois Hospice Volunteers for years, providing closing days care for more than 200 individuals.  

In 1992, she lost a leg due to illness and later went to work for Living Independent Now Center in Belleville, helping people with many difficulties continue to live good lives. 

When the organization established operations in Monroe and Randolph counties, she moved south to serve as the first executive director in Red Bud.  

Also, in an effort to establish transportation support for those needing it financially or medically, she helped to initiate the Monroe-Randolph Transit District system.

Nast has been there for countless people in need of help, advice and just friendship for decades. Now, she needs help herself.

To maintain her independence and give that to others, Nast operates a handicap modified van. She takes people to medical appointments, shopping or just to get things done that would otherwise be impossible.

When a neighbor lost his wife, Nast learned he was having difficulty taking care of a school-aged child because his wife had done virtually all the cooking. Nast reached out and volunteered to take them grocery shopping as needed, guiding them to buy healthy, tasty foods that will make nutritious meals.  Then, once a week, she conducts a cooking class to help them learn a new dish.

When Nast was working in salaried positions, the government paid for the handicap adapted parts of her vehicle. But now that she is retired, that is no longer available. Her current vehicle is a van, adapted to enable her to enter and depart in her motorized wheelchair.  But she has to then transfer from that chair to a modified driver’s set to drive.

Due to spinal deterioration, it is becoming almost impossible for Nast to make that transition and she needs to change to a van she can enter and drive from her wheelchair without shifting seats. She has identified a used replacement that will still cost about $54,000.

As would be expected of a hard-working lady like Nast, she has been striving to do this. Nast and her niece Susie Kroesen DuBose of Affton, Mo., are both energetic bakers who are conducting bake sales across the region. Two recent efforts netted nearly $700 and several others are in the early planning stages.

In addition, radio personality Jim Fishback, who is heard on Real Talk Radio 93.3 FM and who also owns two stations in Marion, has offered to conduct a Saturday evening show with his music and dancing attendees.

A GoFundMe has also been established, which has brought almost $1,000 to the effort. Interested persons can donate at gofund.me/53bc8f4d.

Finally, Nast’s church, St. Paul United Church of Christ in Columbia, has stepped up and asked for contributions from church members, with a promise to match each donation up to $10,000 for a total support of $20,000.

Those interested in future bake sales or the numerous crafts she creates – see Violette Nast on Facebook.  

 Nast has given of herself to neighbors, her community and multiple groups, and she wants to continue to do so.  

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