Click on the individual links below to read more about some of the amazing people making a difference in our communities.
Use the search toolbar for a complete listing of all of our CommunityGiving stories.
Long-time educator Elaine Adams' support help launched Willmar Women's Fund in 2009 and additional donations after her death in 2014 benefited 20 organizations.
Affiliated Community Medical Center was presented with the 2015 Community Builder Award from the Willmar Area Community Foundation for their significant philanthropic contributions in the region.
Jerome "Jerry" Anderson was the 2016 Marv Otto Award recipient from the Willmar Area Community Foundation for the lasting legacy his generous estate gifts have left in our community.
Created in June 1997 with an initial gift of $400,000, the Lewis T. and Viola Ness Ausherman Foundation fund is a permanent endowed fund which benefits designated charities, primarily located in Willmar area.
Viola Ausherman's initial $400,000 gift helped to launch the Willmar Area Community Foundation in 1998. The retired teacher described her donation to set up the first fund as “just a little help.”
Dave and Mary Baker were the 2017 recipients of the Award in Philanthropy from the Willmar Area Community Foundation.
Central Minnesota communities are made richer by generations of families like the Behms. Luella and Marvin Behm set a strong philanthropic example for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to follow.
Central Minnesota communities are made richer by generations of families like the Behms. Luella and Marvin Behm set a strong philanthropic example which is being followed by their son Ken and his wife, Alix who set up a donor advised fund in 2003.
Harold Bjur, an Atwater farmer, established a scholarship fund at the Willmar Area Community Foundation for students from First Baptist Church of Grove City and the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City High School.
The Otto Bremer Trust provided the initial grant in 1998 to help establish the Willmar Area Community Foundation.
Dorothy Brown illustrates that teaching is more than educating others, it’s a profession of the heart.
For their many contributions to the community, the Willmar Area Community Foundation recognized John and Conni with the 2009 Award in Philanthropy.
Conway, Deuth and Schmiesing, PLLP was the recipient of the 2017 Community Builder Award from the Willmar Area Community Foundation.
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.
Bob and Patti Dols of Willmar received the 2015 Award in Philanthropy for their charitable support and volunteer leadership toward a wide array of efforts within Kandiyohi County.
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.
Driven by humble beginnings, Roger and Ruth Gauquie were always taught to work hard and help others. “As my mother always said: be good to people on the way up, because you might meet them on the way back down,” comments Roger, sharing that being humble and kind is the Gauquies’ core belief.
The Willmar Area Community Foundation recognized Gary and Nancy Geiger's dedication to numerous local causes by awarding them the 2008 Award in Philanthropy.
Walt and Raeanna Gislason's childhood examples from their parents set the tone for their approach to philanthropy which now includes service and generosity as a part of their adult lives. For this, they received the 2007 Award in Philanthropy from the Willmar Area Community Foundation.
The Odette Hedlund Memorial Scholastic Fund was established by her family for graduates of Willmar High School to pursue a degree in science or mathematics.
Pat and Shelley Hedlund are sisters who share a faith and many values that were passed on to them by their parents, Ralph and Odette Hedlund. They are creating a family legacy of philanthropy through the Ralph and Odette Hedlund Family Fund.
Heritage Bank was the recipient of the 2016 Community Builder Award from the WACF because of their long legacy of giving back to the community through making charitable donations and volunteering a cornerstone of their organization.
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.
Reynold and Eleanor Larson made a generous gift to the Willmar Area Community Foundation's Unrestricted Fund and established the Reynold W. and Eleanor D. Larson Fund to support such charities as the Billy Graham Crusade and other endeavors as designated by estate administration.
Recognizing the Linder family's belief that personal and professional success is measured by how much is given to others, the Willmar Area Community Foundation honored them with the 2010 with the Award in Philanthropy.
John and Mary Lindstrom are the 2016 Award in Philanthropy recipients from the Willmar Area Community Foundation. John and Mary are active in their community through a number of organizations and believe that the key to building community is to eliminate barriers and connect people.
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.
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.
The Willmar Area Community Foundation recognized Jim and Colleen Thompson Michels with the 2014 Award in Philanthropy for their professional contributions and service-oriented perspective.
Marv Otto established two funds to honor his two wives: Hazel, who died in the 1960s and Gladys who died in 1999. Marv died in 2009 at the age of 92, but his legacy continues through bequests he made through the Willmar Area Community Foundation.
The memory of Josh Palke, a 14-year-old student who loved the outdoors, lives on through the Joshua Palke Scholarship Fund which opened in 2004 and supports student scholarships.
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.
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).
Dr. Lachlan and the Honorable Kathryn Smith received the 2013 Award in Philanthropy from the Willmar Area Community Foundation for giving extensive time, energy and resources to many local nonprofits.
The Willmar Area Community Foundation recognized Jennie-O with the 2014 Community Builder Award for significantly contributing to the field of philanthropy in the region. Organizations within the Kandiyohi County community and beyond greatly benefit from the company’s significant corporate giving and support of employee volunteerism.
The Willmar Area Community Foundation recognized the Roger and Kay Strand, long-time Willmar residents, with 2012 Award in Philanthropy.
Jim and Marilynn Tiede share a love of music, upbringings that modeled service and an eye on making their community a better place.
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.
Ken Warner has spent the better part of 40 years working for businesses and the people in his community. Ken is the 2022 WACF Innovative Impact Award recipient.
“What would a good neighbor do?” Whether considering internal managerial decisions, strategically reviewing external partnerships, to daily personal experiences, the company of West Central Sanitation (WCS) asks this principle question. They believe in not only standing by a slogan, this question upholds the value of who and what West Central Sanitation is and strives to be for the communities they serve.