Kristi Huber President
United Way of Cass-Clay
I love this community. Working in both for-profit and nonprofit throughout my career, I have seen the power and impact of philanthropy in a community. The generous spirit of the Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo community is at the heart of what makes it an extraordinary place to grow up, do business, raise a family, build a life and even move back to.
In his book “Community: The Structure of Belonging,” Peter Block explains belonging to a community as twofold. We all belong as a component of our community, but also belong in our ownership and responsibility to develop, protect and grow it – to create our community. Generosity builds and creates a thriving and vibrant community for all of us.
The fingerprints of philanthropy in our community are all around us, but in the busyness of our personal and professional responsibilities, we may not appreciate how generosity impacts all of us. For one day I decided to be intentional in identifying the influence of philanthropy on our community. I am humbled and inspired by what I found in my observations.
8:30 a.m. – I started the day with a photoshoot with the Scheels leadership team with a heap of backpacks for an article promoting our school supply drive. Scheels is an extraordinary philanthropic partner in each of the communities in which it is located across the country. Locally, it volunteers and generously gives hundreds of backpacks for our annual United Way School Supply Drive, allowing our community to rally around children whose families may not be able to afford school supplies, starting their school year confident and on the right foot.
Volunteers across the community combine forces to give our kids a chance. Businesses run drives, the Fargodome hosts and all three school districts work in tandem with social services and nonprofits to reach families in need. Together with more than 500 volunteers including parents, teachers, CEOs and kids organizing and donating supplies, our efforts helped 5,854 local students arrive at school ready to succeed last year.
10:30 a.m. – I walked into the new, state-of-the-art Sanford Health Medical Center and was overcome by the beautiful, peaceful spaces generously donated by local families who have heart for art and an understanding of its healing qualities. I imagined the joy and comfort their giving will bring and how hundreds of families experiencing a medical crisis will have a restful space to gather. I thought of the namesake of Sanford Health and how proud he must be to see his vision come to fruition.
11:30 a.m. – At the American Red Cross Dakotas Region “Century of Service” event, we celebrated this milestone and lifted up heroes who generously give resources and time to help in the aftermath of devastating fires and community disasters. The spirit of giving placed a warm blanket around a person’s shoulders, supported military families during deployment and provided help and resources for a small town after a tornado left little in its wake.
2:30 p.m. – I greeted Anne Blackhurst, president of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and discussed her vision for higher education, our students, preparing young people to take on vital jobs and careers, and the generous alumni support that makes it all possible. Go Dragons!
3:30 p.m. – As I passed my alma mater Concordia College on the way back, I noticed the modern, new science building and imagined future nurses, doctors and physicists experiencing this innovative facility, being inspired to discover cures and interventions. Financial support from businesses and individuals made this vision a reality. Soli Deo Gloria!
4 p.m. – I greeted a group of United Way Emerging Leaders volunteers at the United Way office and watched the joy in their faces as they prepared to promote reading through our community-wide literacy event, Share a Story. It was inspiring to see millennials in action.
6 p.m. – Sitting at The State of the Arts event, I was inspired by Dayna Del Val, executive director of the Arts Partnership, highlighting successes and the vision for community-wide arts goals as a vital part of what makes our community beautiful and interesting. You could feel her gratitude as she promoted the community engagement event ChalkFest at the Red River Zoo, thanking its corporate sponsor for making it possible to enjoy the creative imagination of all ages.
This was just one day. Every day in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo could be filled with gratitude for the many more fingerprints of philanthropy in our community. We must choose to look for them. We must choose to recognize our own role and continue to pay it forward for future generations. Just one day showed how when the heart, time and resources of donors are connected, beauty, kindness and hope flourish and a greater community is created. Generosity is our community’s strength, because it has the greatest capacity to advance us all.