Community Giving

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Click on the individual links below to read more about some of the amazing people making a difference in our communities.

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Doug and Elaine Arndt

The legacies of Doug and Elaine Arndt continues to live on in their charitable gifts to the Brainerd Lakes communities and organizations.

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Bernick Family

The legacy of giving and community involvement in the Bernick Family is truly inspirational. They continually foster a deep commitment to make our community a better place, both individually and through their business which champions the importance of youth and health programming across the region.

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Joe and Alice Cox

The Willmar Area Community Foundation remembers Alice for her generosity. She died Dec. 29, 2011 at the Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, just a couple months after being formally recognized for her impact in the Willmar area. The Foundation honored Alice and her late husband, Joe, in October with the 2011 Award in Philanthropy.

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Merle and Kathy Felling

Merle and Kathy Felling, residents of Sauk Centre and owners of Felling Trailers, have been driven by their faith to give back their community. They established the Felling Family Partnership Fund in December 2015, the first for the Sauk Centre Area Community Foundation.

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Ruth Gmeinder

Ruth Gmeinder is a busy entrepreneur and hostess, operating Gull Lake Resort. Yet, she still finds time to “make some waves”, positively influencing the Brainerd Lakes Area. Ruth is a generous, kind, and talented community member who invests time and resources into several organizations and groups.

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Chad and Angie Koosman

There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it – Edith Wharton. Not only do the Koosman’s reflect it, but they are the torch that brought the community together to shine millions of lights on the reason for the season.

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Tom and Helen Krebsbach

For Tom and Helen Krebsbach, discovering the legacy preserving tools and options at the Central Minnesota Community Foundation “was like a dream come true,” according to their nephew, Paul Pfannenstein.

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Marcus Construction

Marcus Construction has grown from modest beginnings in founder Carl Marcus’ Prinsburg basement in 1956 to a nation-wide presence headquartered in Willmar without losing sight of their core values. Building structures may be their specialty, but building community is thoroughly ingrained into the culture of Marcus Construction.​

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Ruth McDonald

A life-long learner and adventure lover, Ruth McDonald blazed trails at many points in her life.

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Dorothy Timm Meili

As a retired music teacher, Dorothy Timm Meili wanted to simply inspire others and help when she could. Dorothy led a philanthropic life, planning as she journeyed through each chapter in her story. Her financial advisor encouraged Dorothy to make two charitable gift annuity plans that allowed her to support her favorite charities, while also having dependable income during her retirement years.

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Michael Noonan

A founding partner of Rinke Noonan Law Firm, Michael Noonan serves both his clients and his community with their best interests at heart. A dedicated attorney and active community member, he leads by example and his commitment to helping others shines through in all that he does.

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Darlene A. Peterson

Darlene A. Peterson was known for her keen intellect, passion for learning and fierce determination. These traits steered the direction of her life and legacy.

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Thomas J. Reif

Tom Reif's family established the Thomas J. Reif Memorial Scholarship Fund after he passed away in 2015. Many friends and associates have contributed to the fund which awards scholarships to graduates of Alexandria Area High School who are student athletes and leaders.

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The Ruttger Family

The Ruttger Family was the recipient of the 2018 Award in Philanthropy from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation.

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Frank Starke

Frank Starke was the 2018 Ruth McDonald Award in Philanthropy Recipient from the Alexandria Area Community Foundation.

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Tarryl Clark

Tarryl Clark’s career of community involvement and servitude has been inspiring to many in our community. Her passion for education, healthcare, veterans and the community are what motivate her to continually work for a better tomorrow for all. The ATHENA Award is presented by the Women’s Fund and Granite Equity Partners.

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WACF Founding Board Members

In 1998, a seed was planted by 16 Willmar area community leaders to create an organization that would help to meet community needs and foster local philanthropy. Inspired by love of place and optimism, they believed the Willmar area needed a community foundation. Their dream and philanthropic passion for the growing opportunities in their community fueled their belief that a foundation could actively inspire investments locally. The founders then inspired Viola Ausherman’s dream to improve ‘her little nook in the world’ marked the beginning of the Willmar Area Community Foundation (WACF). Vi Auscherman’s initial $400,000 gift, together with the matching dollars from the Otto Bremer Foundation, began the momentum that would provide the solid foundation WACF stands on 20 years later.

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Willmar Women's Fund

The Willmar Women's Fund is the 2017 recipient of the Innovative Impact Award from the Willmar Area Community Foundation.

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John Wosepka

John Wosepka was the 2018 Ruth McDonald Award in Philanthropy Recipient from the Alexandria Area Community Foundation.

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