Sue Kolling
Sue Kolling
About 200 people came out to help the Spring Valley Community Area Foundation celebrate its fifth anniversary during an annual banquet Saturday at Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery.

President Sue Kolling thanked the communities of Spring Valley, Wykoff and Ostrander for their support. She noted that the founders, who first supported the foundation, were an important component in getting this activity started.

“Five years ago we were selling a dream — a dream of what we could accomplish — and here we are five years later,” said Kolling.

The banquet is the single largest fundraiser for the community foundation, which has a mission to build a dynamic community by encouraging generosity, promoting civic engagement and providing the opportunity to enhance the quality of life by creating community partnerships.

“We’re here to help make a difference in our community,” Kolling told the crowd assembled for the dinner and speech by Judge Donovan Frank (see related article).

Kolling also noted that the work of the foundation can be described in its stories. A couple people spoke about the impact foundation support had on their projects as they told their stories to the people in attendance.

Rod Thompson detailed the progress of the Wykoff Veterans Memorial and how it transitioned from merely replacing a missing sign to become the major project being planned now. Since its inception about a year ago, the volunteers overseeing this project have raised more than $50,000 from 144 paver sales, contributions and grants. One donation came from the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation, which Thompson said was pleased to lend a hand to such a worthy project.

Thompson said he has seen few projects that have the ability to galvanize an entire community like this one did.

“It seems everyone wants to be a part of a great idea. This is a great idea,” said Thompson.

Ann Priebe talked about the Missoula Children’s Theatre, which the foundation also supported with a grant. The Missoula Children’s Theatre International Tour, which has been traveling to communities for 40 years, fosters developmental life skills in more than a million kids across the nation and even overseas.

Earlier that day, 45 children from Kingsland, St. Johns Lutheran School and home schools put on “Rumpelstiltskin,” a one-hour musical with costumes, sets, dancing and singing.

The foundation is supported by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, which is also having an anniversary this year — its 30th. Alissa Blaha of SMIF noted that one way SMIF helps make communities vital is to support community foundations. Spring Valley is one of 25 foundations SMIF now helps.

She said SMIF does the “not-so-fun stuff,” such as filing forms with the government and making investments. This leaves time for local leaders to make an impact in the community through the good work of the foundation.

In other business, Thompson gave a brief financial overview. He said the community foundation has been working hard to grow the endowment fund so it continues for years to come. This year, the endowment fund grew by nearly $40,000, bringing it to a total of $219,000. Other funds, for things such as for projects, total $53,000, bringing the entire foundation funds to $272,000.

Retiring board members Dave Foster, Jeff Vehrenkamp, Stu Gross and Eric Goddard were also recognized. The board now consists of Kolling, Thompson, Mitch Lentz, Ken Fetterly, Jeff Eickhoff, Kristi Mettler, Mitchell Plaehn, Mark Reps, Kristin Beck, Deb Zimmer, Jason Essig, Gina Jahn and Lynn Williams.

Kolling said the board members have a passion for making a difference, meeting every month on Tuesday at 7 a.m. in the public library. With staggered terms and term limits in effect, the entire board will have turned over by next year.