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Mikolichek honored at Mpls. Aquatennial

Silver Lake is a small community driven by philanthropy and volunteering; community urbanism is the catalyst for projects and maintenance that extend beyond the financial scope of the city. Harvey Mikolichek was, and continues to be, at the forefront of Silver Lake community volunteerism. He’s simultaneously the synergist that partnered organizations and individuals in Silver Lake and the adhesive that keeps them together.
Mikolichek was recognized for outstanding community leadership among Minnesota communities by the Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassador Organization (AAO). He was the recipient of the Aquatennial’s Outstanding Honorary Commodore award which highlights an individual’s proclivity towards volunteerism for the benefit of the town and its citizens. Mikolichek won against 100 other volunteers up for the award but doesn’t believe the award should’ve gone to any one individual.
“It’s supposed to be individual, but I think it belongs to the town,” Mikolichek said. “I feel a little embarrassed even coming in (to do an interview).”
His feelings of embarrassment speak to his character — a person who’s willing to do anything for his community and then give credit to those who supported the endeavors. It’s true that he wasn’t the lone volunteer in Silver Lake running around building playgrounds and donating thousands of dollars to good causes, but without Mikolichek, it’s unclear if the community of 800 would have the vast network of organizations and individuals committed to benefitting the town together.
Mikolichek is involved in four different Silver Lake volunteer organizations himself: the Civic Association, the American Legion Post 141, the Sportsman’s Club and the Knights of Columbus. He was the chairman of the Silver Lake School Board during the conflicted merger between Glencoe and Silver Lake schools and helped keep the Lakeside Elementary building as part of the district. Again, Mikolichek displays modesty: “The honor should’ve went to both school boards.”
He was also an integral piece in erecting the community swimming pool in Silver Lake, though he again credits the community members and organizations that aided with private funds and donated labor. Silver Lake had a long history of volunteering before the swimming pool, but the project initiated and propelled seemingly countless Silver Lake organizations to come to the aid of the town. The swimming pool was the first time that non-governmental community leaders physically came together in this manner, which bolstered a future of benevolent co-volunteering.
Though Mikolichek carries a distinguished record of volunteerism, he believes the award is a testament to the town and its history of getting good work done. He said when a good idea is brought up, community members immediately jump at any opportunity they can get a hold of that would benefit the town.
Mikolichek revealed a bitter but undeniable nature of a small town when speaking about the Silver Lake Civic Association: “We pick up the slack.” These five words carry more importance than meets the eye. It’s only natural to ponder and go the next step further: pick up the slack for who? In this case, it’s the elected city leadership that can only do so much with the resources allocated to them. A town of 800 doesn’t have a significant tax base, but things like parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, etc. will still cost the same amount as a town that has a broad tax base. This is where the community steps in, as individuals, as organizations and as partners, to ensure prosperity for Silver Lake — even when traditional methods aren’t available.