National Philanthropy Day – Lunching with Local Philanthropic Celebrities

AFP S MN chapterI was so pleased to have been able to attend our local AFP chapter’s National Philanthropy Day luncheon this week. In addition to connecting with some of my former colleagues in the local fundraising community, it was heartwarming to hear the stories of those who received special recognition for the special part they have played in the philanthropic sector.

The Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award went to an amazing woman named Val Koster, who has been a tireless volunteer for people with special needs in our community for nearly 50 years. Based on the information submitted by her nominator, she is credited for helping to raise over a million dollars for various local agencies during her long career as a volunteer and philanthropist.

The Outstanding Youth award was presented to the student council of Century High School, where a phenomenal group of young adults has created an environment where helping others is the new ‘normal.’ The list of activities, food and fund drives, fundraising events, and activities they have undertaken to benefit local charities was truly amazing – and so awesome!

One of our most popular local restaurants, Whistle Binkies, put their hands where their hearts are by holding a variety of fundraising events to promote issues they care about. A golf tournament in honor of an employee who took his own life has grown to donate thousands of dollars to NAMI Southeastern Minnesota. In addition, the event provided NAMI the opportunity to educate and promote suicide prevention resources available for anyone who needs them. In honor of their commitment to charitable causes, Whistle Binkies Pubs was named the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization for 2015.

The final award, the Outstanding Philanthropist award for 2015, was presented to Jim Talen, longtime chairman of Eastwood (now Bremer) Bank in southeastern Minnesota. For nearly 50 years, he headed an organization where charitable giving was just an integral part of the bank’s way of doing business. Giving to support basic human needs in the community was never officially a documented strategy, it was simply doing what was needed in the communities where the banks are located.

Celebrating these examples of philanthropy in our own neighborhoods is such a great way to spread the love. Congratulations to these fine people and their great work!