Social de Mayo kicks off RCF yearly fundraising efforts

By : 
Scott Bestul

Cinco de Mayo is the annual, widely celebrated, May 5 celebration of the Mexican Army’s defeat of the French Army at the Battle of La Puebla in 1862.
The Rushford Community Foundation’s (RCF) answer to this celebration is “Social de Mayo,” the annual, early-May fundraising kickoff (scheduled for May 9) for one of Rushford’s most important organizations. “This will be our third Social de Mayo,” said RCF board president Bonnie Prinsen. “It’s the only real fundraising event we have each year. Our bylaws state that we will hold an annual meeting for our members (anyone who has made a donation during that year) to report on our activities. We decided to combine this annual meeting with an opportunity to have some fun! We used to call it Cinco de Mayo because the first year it fell on the fifth of May. But last year it was not quite on the fifth, so we changed it to Social de Mayo.”
Though Prinsen describes the event as “basically a fun social hour,” she’s quick to point out that Social de Mayo is an important opportunity for Rushford Peterson Valley residents to contribute to vital projects and deserving people. “People can plan to eat dinner there, because we’ll have a substantial taco salad bar,” Prinsen said. “In addition, the board members whip up sweet and savory treats for guests. There’s a silent auction featuring some great items from board members and local businesses. People can place bids throughout the event, and then the highest bid on each item at 7 p.m. takes it. We have everything from wine, tickets to Commonweal Theater, and vegetables from Featherstone Farm. People are supporting the foundation by purchasing a ticket, bidding on auction items, and, of course, we accept just straight donations, too! “
Prinsen, who joined the RCF board six years ago and has served as the organization’s president for the past three, said, “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for residents of our area, and we especially favor grant requests that utilize cooperation between various groups and individuals. Some examples might be the new shelter at the swimming pool, benches and signage on Magelssen Bluff for hikers, and a new camera for the local access television station.
“It's easy to put in time working on something when you believe in it, and I really believe in the community foundation's ability to make a difference in peoples' lives, in many ways. One is that, two years, ago we were finally able to launch the Arthur J. Miller scholarship for Rushford-Peterson seniors. Through the generosity of Mr. Miller's family and friends, a fund was started when Art died. We were able to create an endowed fund for this scholarship, and now it will give at least a $1,000 scholarship each year to a graduating senior, far into the future.
“These funds were added to the other scholarship we manage. The Lois Roberton Nursing scholarship has helped many local students pursue careers in nursing for the past sixteen years. The 2018 winners for these two scholarships will be announced this Sunday, May 6, at Senior Awards night.”
Prinsen is especially proud of RCF’s commitment to Peterson and the City of Rushford Village. “We've awarded grants to Peterson for playground equipment, Christmas lights, and the funds to pay for another tent for Gammel Dag,” she said. “I have had numerous comments from people that they're happy we ‘Remember Peterson’ when we give grants. Also, we granted the money to Rushford Village to replace the flooring in their village hall after the flood.”
Finally, Prinsen points to RCF’s support of projects that merge the efforts of RP Valley citizens and area government/civic organizations. “Aaron Munson applied for a grant because he was working on the Veterans Memorial for his Eagle Scout project,” Prinsen said. “We granted him $8,000 for the first phase of the project. Then, a year later, we secured another $10,000 for phase two of the project through a grant opportunity from SMIF. That is a great example of a project where so many groups and individuals collaborated to get something wonderful done, and I'm glad Rushford Community Foundation could play a role.”
People who can’t attend Social de Mayo can contribute to the RCF’s efforts at any time, Prinsen said. “The easiest way might be to go to our website at But they can also mail a check to P.O. Box 671 in Rushford. Or speak with one of our board members. We send either a letter or brochure out at least every other year to everyone in the community, and a lot of people choose that as a time to donate.”
Prinsen notes that the RCF was formed in 1998 by a group of forward-thinking citizens who wanted to find a way for people to invest in their community, and know that their dollars were staying right here. “Because we've been around a almost 20 years, several other local organizations have formed under our umbrella,” Prinsen said. “We're kind of a ‘silent’ old guard, because so many people are not aware of us and what we do. We're not good at ‘tooting our own horn.’”
Board members are local people who represent a variety of interests in the community. “Board members are nominated and approved by current board when someone's term is up,” Prinsen said. “We serve three-year terms, and can serve two of those consecutively. Current board members are Bonnie Prinsen (President), Kari Johnson (Vice President) Judy Graham (Treasurer) Megan LaFleur (Secretary) and then board members Bob Hart, Heather Larson, Len Strapp, Deb Klungtvedt, Tesh Kopperud, and student member Olivia Hoff.