SPIRIT OF PHILANTHROPY AWARD
This award recognizes an outstanding individual or family with a proven record of exceptional financial generosity and volunteer leadership to one or more Rock County nonprofit organizations who has: 1) demonstrated extraordinary civic and charitable responsibility, and 2) whose generosity inspires others to philanthropic action. This award is to honor the achievements of a living person(s).
2022 Recipient: Mike and Cheryl Cox
This award recognizes an outstanding individual or family with a proven record of exceptional financial generosity and volunteer leadership in Rock County. This award celebrates extraordinary civic and charitable leadership whose generosity inspires others to philanthropic action.
If we don’t have people like Mike and Cheryl Cox in a community, we are missing a critical piece. Having lived in Luverne for more than 45 years they are grateful to call this community their home. Both Mike and Cheryl are role models for what it takes to make a community thrive and lead by example for others to do their part in making this happen.
I asked what their inspiration for giving to the community is? - “We have taken special note how our previous generation has given with financial contributions as well as their time in worthy opportunities. We feel fortunate to be able to do some of this as well.
When you look at how Mike and Cheryl choose to give and lead there is a very common thread – they are “people based” organizations that improve life, community, relationships and transitions. They believe that when you chose to donate your resources, time or talents it not only benefits you but an entire community.
Thank you Mike and Cheryl, may we all follow the lead of your example!
2021 Recipient: George and Conrrine Bonnema
They have a strong belief that God entrusts every person with time, talents and ability. These things bring opportunity to gain wealth, not just for personal wants but also to bless others.
The Bonnemas feel they have a responsibility to make a contribution to their community, society and not just be consumers. They share “The self-centered culture we live in today where the focus is “what’s in it for me?” is a dead end without contentment. On the flip side, when you invest in your community for the benefit of others, every day is an opportunity and adventure.”
The opportunity to volunteer in all the venues we serve gives us a great sense of accomplishment and purpose. We appreciate our home, our property, our community, and the people who make our community what it is. We consider it a privilege to be able to give back.”
They hope they can inspire others by carrying on the legacy as community members as others did before them through leadership and generosity. “We see possibilities as invitations. We encourage retirees to find a place to become involved because the opportunities are there if you want to find them. If anyone wants to find purpose and joy in life, we encourage you to invest yourself for the benefit of others.”
2020 Recipient: Pat and Kim Von Tersch
• Prioritize support for charitable organizations and others, but when they started to see the effects of Covid-19 on our community their call to give was heightened.
• A concern for finite resources such as food, production agriculture and the Ag industry has been a passion. With these resources at risk it was an obvious area to stand in to help.
• The Von Terschs feel that giving back to the community is important to help those that find themselves in a situation out of their control, especially in a year like 2020.
• They share, “We live in a community that is so willing to help others and our hope is to build upon the momentum that others have started to continue sustainable giving and support in the community.”
• In the midst of the Covid pandemic they helped:
–The Luverne Baseball Association with hand sanitizers for safe play at all levels.
–Donated funds for oximeters to Sanford Luverne for use by Covid patients to monitor oxygen levels while home
–Provided meat bundles to the Rock County Food shelf and as appreciation gifts to First Responders in the area.
–Supported the 2020 senior class with graduation banners in downtown Luverne
–Supported many local benefits and generously supported the LACF Community Crisis Fund with the offer that if more help was needed to please let them know.
2019 Recipient: Warren Herreid and Jeannie Rivet
• There is a deep family connection and history in Rock County.
• While in their current life there is ability to live comfortably, they grew up from humble beginnings.
• Both had parents who strongly influenced and modeled hard work and integrity. Compassion for those in need, by giving what you could in time and treasure was always a priority.
• This couple states they have been blessed with great careers and were influenced by parents who had faith in their ability to succeed.
• In honor of their parents and the values handed down to them, they created a family foundation in 2005.
• This foundation formalized their giving opportunity and allowed for educating their children and grandchildren in a responsibility to give back.
• They feel that giving back to the community is important and they choose to give because they can and they should.
• Honoring Veterans is an area of importance.
• The contributions to the Rock County Veterans Memorial/Museum were given with the intent to bring peace, recognition and gratitude for the service of our Rock County Veterans and their families.
• The secured location of the new armory in our community for military training, community gathering space and recreational opportunities for residents was guaranteed through a generous gift by these friends.
• The K.A.H.R. family foundation is also working behind the scenes allowing local educators and students to attend training workshops they might not otherwise be able to attend through scholarships.
• Spirit awardee likes this quote by Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get; but we make a life by what we give.”
• They hope their example of giving will encourage others to share of their time and treasure as taught to them.
2018 Recipient: Anonymous Donor
The Spirit of Philanthropy award is given to a living person(s) who has shown a commitment to charitable responsibility and a generosity to inspire others to philanthropic action. This person(s) is a real person and the story I am going to share is a real story, but this donor is one who prefers anonymous for a name. This friend has lived and worked in this community all their life and shared that it’s important to give back to a community that allowed them to have a good life. As my relationship with this friend has developed over the years I have come to learn that their giving is out of wanting a better opportunity for future generations. “I want the money I made to stay in the community in which I made it to build a solid community for people to return to.” Generous annual unrestricted gifts have been trusted to the community foundation by this anonymous friend to be used where we see the greatest need. This trust and generosity is something the LACF board and I accept with great care and gratitude. This friend has also supported most generously the local Dollars for Scholars program, continuing a desire for helping future generations to get a good start. Have you picked up on what pulses the heart of this friend. Future. The future of our young people and the community in which we can help create through charitable gifts. You may be wondering, why anonymous? It could be for any number of personal reasons but for our friend, a lead by quiet example mixed with humble shyness and a desire to not draw attention is what makes this award choice so appropriate. Thank you anonymous friend, let us celebrate your spirit and congratulate you.
2017 Recipient: Betty Mann
Betty Mann is this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Philanthropy award. This award is given to a living person(s) who has shown a commitment to charitable responsibility and a generosity to inspire others to philanthropic action. Betty’s inspiration as a person of philanthropy comes in many forms. She gives generously of her heart, her time, her money and her passion. Some of Betty’s most public generosity comes in her passion for the Rock County History Center. For 23 years Betty has been the president of the Rock County Historical Society and visionary for keeping the history of Rock County alive through the museums which have grown from one building to six. The research room and volunteers guided by Betty at the History Center have created a system of history collection that is invaluable. Betty says, “It is so gratifying to help someone to find information on their family or subject matter.” In addition to her personal financial commitment to community, Betty has also donated her nutcracker collection, numbering 2,800 and counting in hopes that it would attract people to the History Center. Betty told me that she gives because of how it makes her feel. She states, “I really enjoy doing things to help others. God has given me a great life and I feel happy when I can do something for others.” It is her hope that her example of giving would inspire others to do the same.
2016 Recipient: Gene and Barb Ashby
Gene and Barb Ashby are this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Philanthropy award. This award is given to a living person(s) who has shown a commitment to charitable responsibility and a generosity to inspire others to philanthropic action. In 2006 Gene and Barb lost their son Chris to a car accident at the age of 16 just before starting his junior year of high school. In the face of heartache Gene and Barb made a commitment to share a part of Chris’ legacy with his graduating class of 2008. 70 of Chris’ peers received a $500 scholarship on top of their qualifying Dollars for Scholars gift; a gift of $35,000 to 70 young people who will be forever impacted from their act of generosity. 70 opportunities to someday pay it forward and be inspired to do something for someone else. Gene and Barb also share a love of bike riding. In hopes to provide opportunity for others to share in this love Gene and Barb have started a Bike Path Development Fund at the foundation for future hard surface bike paths outside the city limits of Luverne. The Ashby’s have lived in Rock County most of their lives and have enjoyed the lifestyle it has offered. It is their hope that this gift and vision will continue to improve the quality of life for future Rock County residents. Congratulations and thank you Gene and Barb.