Jerry and Dee Herlyn’s daughters nominated their parents as Northwestern College’s Parents of the Year because of their lives of service. It’s an example their children have followed.
The Herlyns, who farm near Marion, S.D., spend several months each winter in Texas, where they build houses with Habitat for Humanity, make meals for people in the community, and interact with those who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina. They also regularly donate time to the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch in Lampe, Mo., for which they do electrical work, install Sheetrock, paint and perform other needed jobs.
“They’re just so giving,” says their daughter, Kelsey, a senior at Northwestern. “If they see somebody in need, they’re right there.”
Kelsey, who is majoring in nursing, spent spring break this year on one of the college’s Spring Service Projects (SSP). Her team went to Jackson, Miss., where they worked in a free community health clinic. Her sister Megan, a junior business major at NWC, was part of an SSP team that served with City Youth Ministries in inner-city Jonesboro, Ark. And Jennifer, the oldest of the Herlyn siblings and a 2006 Northwestern graduate, participated in three Spring Service Projects—to Oklahoma, Trinidad and New Orleans.
Northwestern will recognize the Herlyns at halftime of the Raiders’ football game against Dakota Wesleyan University on Saturday, Oct. 30, as part of the college’s Family Weekend. Married for 28 years, the couple grew up within eight miles of each other in Marion and Parker, S.D., but never met until they were introduced on a blind date by mutual friends. Jerry has an associate’s degree in electrical technology from North Dakota State College of Science; Dee held clerical jobs and worked for an auctioneer before she quit to help her husband farm.
The Herlyns are members of Calvary Reformed Church in Monroe, a congregation affiliated with the founding denomination of Northwestern College—the Reformed Church in America. Jerry has served Calvary as an elder and deacon, Dee helps with Junior Worship and Kids Club, and they both sing on the praise team.
Despite the connection between their church and Northwestern, the Herlyns’ two oldest daughters didn’t start their college careers at NWC. Both enrolled at different institutions before transferring. Having seen the impact of Northwestern’s Christ-centered education on Jennifer and Kelsey, the Herlyns were thrilled when their youngest daughter said God was leading her to Northwestern.
“We’ve tried to lead our girls by example,” says Jerry. Seeing their daughters follow that example as students at Northwestern is gratifying, as is their selection as the college’s Parents of the Year for 2010.
“The fact that we won is awesome,” Dee says, “but the most awesome thing of all is what our girls wrote when they nominated us. That they think that much of us is just amazing.”