left to right Kimber the vizla Doug Tietz Lance Schumacher Connie Priesz Molly the viszla and Mark Sullwold.jpg

From left: Kimber the vizla, Doug Tietz, Lance Schumacher, Connie Priesz, Molly the viszla and Mark Sullwold. (Submitted photo)

Countryside Heating and Cooling Solutions, a Maple Plain-based heating and cooling contractor, and Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems teamed up to honor a local “Community Hero” who does “whatever it takes” to make a positive impact in their community. This Hero demonstrates how a person with passion and determination can use their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of others.

The businesses announced that Connie Priesz from Shakopee has been named a 2020 Bryant Community Hero recipient from the community. To show appreciation, Connie received a new Bryant Evolution Air Purifier and ERV system for her home, which was installed by Countryside Heating and Cooling Solutions on Nov. 19.

Connie was nominated by Lindsey Storm from Mound. In her nomination, Lindsey said “Connie Priesz can be described as a mentor, a teacher, a role model, a Bryant Community Hero, a friend and a coach. She was my health/gym teacher and gymnastics coach at Orono schools, were she spent 37 years teaching and 25 years coaching. She is the most positive, caring and inspirational person I have ever met. She is one of kind and has taught me and many others about leadership, hard work, building character and just being a good human being.

“Connie is retired now and she spends most of her time training her two Vizsla dogs Molly and Kimber. Connie’s dog Molly, is a 10-year-old Vizsla that has been a registered therapy animal with Pet Partners for 10 years. Kimber is a therapy dog in training. They also belong to North Star Therapy Animals, a twin cities group of registered Pet Partner therapy animals and she is on the board of the organization. To date, the therapy team has participated in hundreds of events, logged more than 3,000 volunteer hours and lifted the spirits of over 16,000 people. She is also an evaluator of therapy animals for Pet Partners.

“Prior to the recent COVID-19 breakout, Connie and Molly could be found visiting veterans at the Minneapolis VA Health Care Center. It is a cause that is dear to Connie, as her husband is a Vietnam vet. In addition, Molly and Connie could be found visiting local hospitals, nursing homes and senior housing facilities. The pair also promotes literacy by having children read to her dog at local schools and libraries.

“Since the COVID-19 stay at home order, Connie and Molly have taken steps to stay connected virtually by recording videos of Connie reading with her dog. In addition, Connie and Molly have joined the AKC PupPals program, submitting countless videos to those in need and have sent cards and pictures to all the sites they typically visit. The pair also created a Facebook group called “The Therapy Animal Space” for people with animals to stay connected and share stories during this global crisis. She was awarded the AKC Paws of courage for her innovative thinking of how to keep the therapy animals visiting during COVID-19 and connecting to the community. Her and Molly, and her North Star Therapy Group, are visiting by doing parades and window visits.

“In my opinion, there is no one more deserving of the Community Hero award than Connie Priesz. She truly is an inspiration that cares deeply for her community and she is always the first to offer help for those in need.”

A statement from the businesses read, “We are pleased to honor Connie Priesz for all her hard work, passion and determination in making our community a better place.”

To learn more about the Bryant Community Heroes Program, visit www.bryantcommunityheroes.com.

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