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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An ambassador for youth, a mentor to young women, and a woman who is described by her peers as being the heart and soul of the nonprofit to which she’s dedicated her life’s work, Geri Bechtold was selected as the 2022 ATHENA Award recipient.
Dorothy Brown illustrates that teaching is more than educating others, it’s a profession of the heart.
Charlie and Salli Brown were humble and simple individuals. They were modest and kind-hearted people, who worked hard and cared deeply about their neighbors and the community around them. Charlie operated the Sauk Centre Veterinary Clinic in partnership with a colleague, while Salli worked as a stay-at-home mom to their five children before she began teaching first grade at Holy Family School.
As owners and operators of Elden's Fresh Foods in Alexandria, Dennis and Elliot Christensen are very involved and supportive of several organizations in the community.
Dutch and Irma Cragun have a history. Craguns Resort was founded in the 1940’s and has been operating in the family for more than 75 years, employing thousands of people during that time. They have assisted with the growth and development of the Brainerd Lakes Area tourism industry. However, it is the Cragun’s passion for the arts and their commitment to veterans that makes them truly deserving of receiving the Award in Philanthropy.
When three Duininck brothers founded a road construction business, they demonstrated a strong work ethic and were grounded in their faith and a commitment to serve others. Today the company operates in 13 states, has over 1,000 employees and it's been nearly a century of living and giving in the Willmar Lakes area.
Bill served the Alexandria community with a warm and caring heart. His community involvement impacted many.
Melinda has a passion for supporting her community and philanthropic mission within Central Minnesota. She was the recipient of the 2021 CMCF Professional Award in Philanthropy.
Mildred ”Millie” Gjertson was an environmentalist and traveler, who in her lifetime visited all 50 states, all while keeping journals and keepsakes from her many trips. However, it is what Millie has given and left behind that will be her biggest legacy.
Dennis and Barb Gregory have a passion for giving-back both financially as well as with their time. They were the recipients of the 2021 CMCF Alex Didier Award in Philanthropy.
Leo and Lou Louis are founding members of the Paynesville Area Community Foundation Board of Directors. They also own Louis Industries, a modernized steel processing and manufacturing facility in Paynesville
A life-long learner and adventure lover, Ruth McDonald blazed trails at many points in her life.
The 2022 recipient of the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation’s (BLACF) Award in Philanthropy was the Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union (MMFCU).
“We’re put on this earth to make it better than when we came.” – Harlan Palm
While most of our DAF fund gifts remain local, donors Craig and Lori Schellberg, extend their impact to the international community through their involvement with the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF).
Paul Severson, M.D., Surgeon at CRMC, was selected to receive the inaugural BLACF Global Humanitarian Award in recognition of his kindness, generosity, and passion for helping others.
Carol and Clifford Stiles focus on education and scholarships helped drive the formation of the Foley Area Community Foundation in 2004.
Jim and Marilynn Tiede share a love of music, upbringings that modeled service and an eye on making their community a better place.
“I have always loved, ever since I started working at community foundations, what we do and the connection that we do to build community.” Caryl Turnow retired from her position as the Central Minnesota Community Foundation’s Executive Director in June 2021, after dedicating the majority of her career to community foundations.
Sharon, like many other students in our area, was burdened by the cost of going to college and needed the support of generous donors to achieve their dreams.