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Fargo By Fargo: It Takes A Village

It Takes A Village

Photography by Hillary Ehlen

It might sound obvious, but the largest champions for nonprofits are often those involved with nonprofits. That is why we teamed up with Dakota Medical Foundation to find 10 local nonprofit leaders to ask them what nonprofit is making a difference in our community. It’s a cliché, but these leaders prove that it does take a village.

I’m Haylee Thompson & I support Gigi’s Playhouse

It takes a village
Haylee Thompson is the Program Director at Red River Dance & Performing Company

Q&A with Haylee

Why she supports this organization…
We believe in providing dance education to all ages and abilities and support the mission of Gigi’s Playhouse.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
Gigi’s Playhouse has impacted the FM community in many ways, including planning events and programming for children and adults with Downs Syndrome. The best part about it all is that it is all 100 percent free to families.

How you can get involved…
People can always get involved with Gigi’s Playhouse by making a donation to their wish list. There’s always a need for financial support with the organization since everything they provide is free to the community. They are constantly looking to bring in new experiences for their members and love when other organizations reach out. Whatever people want, they will do.

Nonprofits are important to the community because…
Nonprofit organizations are essential to our quality of life from the programs they provide to the positive economic impact it brings to communities. It’s amazing how many great health benefits there are when we give back. Giving back has been proven to increase self-esteem, lower stress levels and more. Giving back also teaches us compassion within ourselves and it has the power to strengthen our community. Find a cause you truly care about and get involved. You will find it rewarding to see the direct impact you are making right here in our community.

I’m Patrick Kirby & I support Probstfield Farm

It takes a village
Patrick Kirby is the Founder of Do Good Better Consulting and a believer that “we’ve always done it this way” is the most dangerous phrase in the English language.

Q&A with Patrick

Why he supports this organization…
I love the idea of making the Probstfield Farm a need-to-get-there destination for foodies, families and history buffs. The fact we have this incredibly historically significant building in our backyard with an intimate connection to the beginning of the Fargo-Moorhead area is just amazing.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
Not only is Probstfield Farm a great place to learn about our history, but they actively pursue and educate about sustainable and organic farming. As someone who does not have a lick of experience in agriculture, it is fascinating to learn through this organization about the importance this family had on making the Red River Valley a farming destination to early settlers.

How you can get involved…
Come for a visit, rent a plot of land to farm, buy a ticket to a fundraiser or join the countless individuals who get their pumpkins for the fall at their Pumpkin Patch. The Probstfield Farm is one of the hidden gems of an organization here in the FM area.

Nonprofits are important to the community because…
The FM area is one of the most generous, giving and loving communities I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of. We rally around families who have tragedies strike them. We pool our resources for one of the largest giving days in the US. We leverage our connections to make sure organizations serving those that need a hand-up are funded. We’ve learned as a community that giving feels good, and staying on the sidelines when it comes to giving isn’t an option but a duty we enjoy participating in.

I’m Lisa Klabunde & I support BIO Girls

It takes a village
Lisa Klabunde is the Executive Director of Pledge to Protect Coalition to End Child Sexual Abuse

Q&A with Lisa

Why she supports this organization…
I believe that every child deserves to have a cheerleader in their life to encourage their passions, foster confidence and remind them that they are important. This is why my heart is connected to BIO Girls. BIO Girls fosters the ideals of self-worth, compassion and servant leadership. I think every young girl benefits from feeling like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
Have you ever been to the 5K race during the Fargo Marathon? If you haven’t, go and you will see how BIO Girls impacts this community. You will see a long trail of young girls and their mentors, dressed alike, cheering each other on, and smiling from ear to ear. They are given the chance to overcome physical and mental challenges to feel the power of accomplishment and personal strength. It will warm the heart of any race-goer along with every Bio Girl.

How you can get involved…
You don’t have to be a runner to be a mentor. Check out how you can volunteer or give at biogirlsrun.com.

What she’d like to say in regards to giving back…
Be well in your current ability to support nonprofits. All of our giving paths look different and your commitment to a nonprofit has to fit with your lifestyle. Some of us have a family schedule that is filled to the brim, and others may have ample time and resources to give. We can’t all give in the same ways, but we all can do something. Give back in a way that doesn’t take away from the amount of time you spend with family; rather, it enhances it.

I’m Pete Christopher & I support Ronald McDonald House

It takes a village
Pete Christopher is the Resource Development and Marketing Manager of Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity

Q&A with Pete

Why he supports this organization…
My family supports this mission because my nephew had a kidney transplant when he was 4 and his family was able to stay in a Ronald McDonald House. Because the Ronald McDonald House was so close to the hospital, my brother (the donor) was able to stay close and visit his son daily without having the stress of finding and paying for lodging, food and travel. Plus, my wife is the Executive Director of the Fargo house.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
There are thousands of kids who are dealing with some sort of medical issue. With the quality of our local care facilities, many of those kids do not live in the area. Because of the Ronald McDonald House, these kids can have their families close, which will help them heal faster. The Ronald McDonald House also lessens the financial stress on the families. If kids are dealing with things like cancer, they could be in the hospital for months, which would put a huge financial burden on a family, if they had to stay in a hotel.

How you can get involved…
Beyond financial support, they are always looking for volunteers to cook for guests. A home-cooked meal is always welcomed by the families staying at the house.

Nonprofits are important to the community because…
There are some amazing nonprofits in the area, most of which would not exist without the financial support of the everyday citizen. By finding and supporting nonprofits that have missions that are meaningful to you, you’ll find that supporting them will bring you great joy.

I’m Kellie Albrecht & I support Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Village

It takes a village
Kellie Albrecht is the Community Engagement Coordinator at The Village Family Service Center

Q&A with Kellie

Why she supports this organization…
I truly believe in the work that Big Brothers Big Sisters does. The simple idea of matching a youth who needs a little extra guidance and support with an adult who wants to give back makes such a difference in the lives of everyone involved. It is a time-tested program with amazing outcomes. To say it plainly, it just works.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
The outcomes that are measured through this program are amazing. The children who are matched with a Big (we call them Littles) have higher self-esteem, an improved sense of future, better academic performance and attitudes toward school and better relationships with family and friends.

How you can get involved…
Become a Big. It’s a pretty simple process and the experience is so rewarding. Just call 701-451-4877 or email jdiede@thevillagefamily.org for more information. You can also fill out a volunteer inquiry form at thevillagefamily.org/beabig.

Nonprofits are important to the community because…
We live in such a unique place. This community has so many resources for the various needs of our residents and, in return, they give back generously. Our area nonprofits are working hard to make life better and there are always opportunities to give of our time, talent and resources. I also love teaching the next generation about volunteerism and involvement in philanthropy. It is so awesome to see kids involved in giving back.

I’m Gerri Leach & I support Emergency Food Pantry

It takes a village
Gerri Leach is the Executive Director at Jail Chaplains

Q&A with Gerri

Why she supports this organization…
My husband, Gene and I have a long relationship with the Emergency Food Pantry. He volunteered there while attending NDSU back in the ‘80s. It was during that time he came to realize they were always short on eggs. Fast forward several years, we are living on a farmstead with a small flock of chickens. We started the tradition of delivering eggs to the Pantry each Friday. In addition to farm fresh eggs, we enjoy sharing from the bounty of fresh veggies from our garden.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
The Emergency Food Pantry is a major safety net for many individuals and families who find themselves in situations they never expected. I currently serve as the Executive Director for Jail Chaplains. We frequently are working with men and women who come out of the correctional system with nothing. Having the Emergency Food Pantry to help our friends out with food as they seek employment and get started on a path of healthier life choices is a great blessing. The Emergency Food Pantry distributed nearly 1.5 million pounds of food in 2016. What if the Pantry had not been there?

How you can get involved…
Consider calling the Emergency Food Pantry to arrange a time to volunteer and then invite three or four of your friends and go volunteer together.

Nonprofits are important to the community because…
Giving is good for you mentally, spiritually and physically, and it doesn’t matter if you are giving of your time, talent or treasure. Fargo-Moorhead is blessed with a wide variety of awesome nonprofits, which make our community a great place to live.

I’m Billi Jo Zielinski & I support The Arts Partnership

It takes a village
Billi Jo Zielinski is the President and CEO of Make-A-Wish North Dakota

Q&A with Billi

Why she supports this organization…
Respect for the arts is a priority of mine. I support The Arts Partnership because of the group’s drive to systemically enhance the way our community understands and engages with art. Art matters and The Arts Partnership works to ensure that artists are valued as professionals.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
One of the most fun programs The Arts Partnership operates and hosts is their Community Supported Art program. Modeled after the Community Supported Agriculture program, the CSA operates under the goals of being local, sustainable and community-driven. One final example is how Make-A-Wish partnered with TAP at their creative incubator space, APT. That space is meant to help the larger community collide with the arts, and we certainly found that to be true when Logan’s wish to have an art show for family and friends became a reality in August.

How you can get involved…
People can get involved with The Arts Partnership through their CSA. There are a few shares left for the 2018 season, join in TAP events like ChalkFest and support the arts.

Nonprofits are important to the community because…
Nonprofits like Make-A-Wish and The Arts Partnership depend on people being involved in their missions by volunteering time, talent or treasures. We realize that life is busy, but by giving back to organizations like ours, you not only provide joy, you receive joy.

I’m Brian Arett & I support Community of Care

It takes a village
Brian Arett is the Director of Fargo Park District/Valley Senior Services

Q&A with Brian Arett

Why he supports this organization…
I support Community of Care because they are an agency designed to assist the senior citizens of rural Cass County to remain in their homes as long as safely possible. This mission is very similar to the mission of Valley Senior Services and one that I think is critically important for us all as our society ages. We need to develop systems that assist our senior citizen population to maintain independence.

How this organization has made an impact in the community…
Community of Care serves as a one-stop service center for the seniors of rural Cass County – a place they can reach out to if they need information on services available to assist them to live independently. Services they provide include transportation, assistance with applying for Medicare Part D, Faith Community Nurse support, Bone Builder exercise classes, blood pressure screening and outreach services.

How you can get involved…
Volunteer to provide transportation for seniors in rural Cass County.

Nonprofits are important to the community because…
I believe that part of living in a community is giving back to that community through donations of time, talent and treasure. There are hundreds of nonprofit organizations in our community providing services to young and old. Find one, or more than one, that touches your heart and reach out to that organization as a way of helping our community.

Andrew Jason

Written by Andrew Jason

Andrew Jason is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media. He oversees the production and the wonderful team behind Fargo Monthly, Fargo INC!, Bison Illustrated and Design and Living magazines. In his free time, he enjoys running marathons and pretending he's a much better piano player than he actually is.

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