The past recipients of the Making a Difference recognition.
- May 2013 — After-School Sewing Club Volunteers
- March/April 2013 — Northfield Skateboard Coalition
- January/February 2013 — Ed Buchwald & Clark Webster
- November/December 2012 — Y Kids Tri Organizers
- October 2012 — Mary Carlson
- September 2012 — Dale Finger
- June 2012 — TJ Heinricy
- May 2012 — Mike Paulsen
- March/April 2012 — Fritz Bogott & Rachel Matney
- February 2012 — John Daniels
- December 2011/January 2012 — Benefit concert organizers
- November 2011 — Bob & Ann Gregory-Bjorklund
- September/October 2011 — Chuck Perkins, volunteer football coach
- July/August 2011 — Northfield AmeriCorps Promise Fellows
- June 2011 — Carleton volunteer Teaching Assistants with the TORCH program
- May 2011 — “Youth Energized to Serve,” Bethel Lutheran Church
- April 2011 — Vicki Dilley, Rotary Youth Exchange Officer
- February/March 2011 — Randy Malecha, volunteer
- January 2011 — Gabe Rysdahl, mentor
- December 2010 — Bill Steele, owner of EcoTrans
- November 2010 — The Key building volunteers
- October 2010 — Northfield High School Girls Soccer Team
- September 2010 — Kathy Lansing
- August 2010 — Leisa Irwin
- July 2010 — Cancer Jam 2010 Organizers
- June 2010 — Northfield High School Softball teams
- May 2010 — Ed Vivant
- April 2010 — Northfield Area Learning Center’s Business Class
- March 2010 — Dan Kust
- January/February 2010 — Kathy Ness
- December 2009 — Neuger Communications Group
- November 2009 — Alyssa Jilek
- October 2009 — Pam Vig
- August/September 2009 — Heather Suess
- July 2009 — John Schad, Jimi Brown, & Mike Plank
- June 2009 — Kathy Cooper
- May 2009 — Charlie Reznikoff, M.D.
- April 2009 — Mark Code
- March 2009 — Ruth Amerman
- February 2009 — Rice County Sheriff Richard Cook
- January 2009 — Northfield High School ESL students
- December 2008 — Main Street Moravian Church
- November 2008 — Pablo Orozco
- September/October 2008 — Campaign for Children Committee
- August 2008 — Softball Players
- June 2008 — Carey Tinkelenberg
- May 2008 — Lee Murray
- March/April 2008 — Aztec Dance Circle
- January/February 2008 — Jim Christensen
- November/December 2007 — NHS Focus 10 Students
- October 2007 — Jorge Zuccolotto
- September 2007 — Northfield Union of Youth
- August 2007 — Cannon Valley Sportsmen’s Club
- July 2007 — Pam Roberts
After-School Sewing Club Volunteers
Three local women who led an after-school sewing group at Northfield Middle School have received the May 2013 “Making a Difference” Award.
Joyce Schlossin started the group and recruited Beth Endert and Emily Schmitz to assist her. Over a 12-week period, they taught a group of about a dozen girls to make items such as scarves, mittens, headbands, placemats, potholders, pillows and cell phone holders.
“They were pleased – they couldn’t believe they could do it,” Endert said. “We’re already getting ideas for next time.”
Susan Sanderson, coordinator of the middle school TORCH program, said the women also taught the girls about the economics of sewing, how to save money and make the most out of every scrap of fabric.
“Joyce and her partners have great energy, and we are so fortunate to have them sharing their skills and love of sewing,” Sanderson said.
Northfield Skateboard Coalition
The Northfield Skateboard Coalition has received the March/April 2013 “Making a Difference” Award.
Rob Hardy, an adult adviser to the group, and filmmaker Cecilia Cornejo nominated the coalition members for the award, citing the dedication and resolve the youth demonstrated throughout the lengthy civic process of working to bring a permanent skate park to Northfield.
“There have been times when the adults have gotten frustrated, angry, or rude, and the kids have never done that. They’ve been models of good behavior and civility,” Hardy said.
Northfield High School senior Frank Meyer, who spearheaded the youth-led effort, is not a skateboarder himself. He said he joined the coalition about a year ago because he respected the skateboarders’ perseverance. Through attending and speaking at city council and park board meetings, and discussing the issue with a range of people, Meyer said he learned to be patient, to be a good listener, and to be willing to expect good ideas from anyone.
“We’re really appreciative of the support that’s come from the city and the town as a whole; it’s been a long time in the making, and it’s really worth it now that we’re here,” he said.
Ed Buchwald & Clark Webster
Two longtime volunteers with a Northfield Boy Scout Troop have received the January/February 2013 “Making a Difference” Award.
Ed Buchwald and Clark Webster have each served as adult leaders of the Carleton-based Troop 337 for more than four decades. Buchwald, a retired Carleton College geology professor, stepped down as Scoutmaster last October but still helps out with the troop, which he started in 1968. Webster joined the troop as its committee chair in about 1970, a position he still holds.
Both men greatly enjoy camping and backpacking, which is one reason they continue to volunteer with the troop, long past the days when their own sons went through scouting. They also have found it rewarding to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the outdoors with the boys.
“I enjoy watching the kids mature. It’s fun to see them learning not only Scout skills, but leadership skills,” Webster said. “The Scouts are a great organization for training young boys to become young adults.”
Since Troop 337 was formed, 44 boys have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and more than 220 have earned badges and participated in troop camping trips, service projects and other activities.
Northfield High School freshman Sebastian Lawler has been in the troop for four years and said he’s learned valuable life lessons from both men.
“Mr. B. is an admirable presence; everyone respects him. He’s a very honest guy, and he has taught me to always find the bright side of every situation,” Lawler said. “Mr. Webster helps organize everything, and he’s very good at his job. I’ve personally learned from him that it’s better to be more organized than less.”
Y Kids Tri Organizers
Nine Northfield area residents who organized the third annual Y Kids Tri have received the HCI’s “Making a Difference” Award for November/December 2012.
Andrea Hoff, Angie McCarthy, Amy McBroom, Anne Lehmkuhl, Kelly Foster, Sally Lindell, Kristy Mikula, Marilyn Nelson and Leah Sand were all members of the coordinating team that oversaw the most successful kids triathlon yet—the July 14 event attracted 222 participants, 100 more than the previous year.
Ranging in age from 6 to 14, the youth swam (50-100 meters, depending on their age group), biked (1.25 miles to 5 miles), and ran (a 1/4-mile to a mile). The event was sponsored by the Northfield Area Family YMCA, and about 75 adult volunteers assisted with the logistics.
Hoff, one of the lead organizers, said the goal is to get kids excited about getting fit. The event is noncompetitive and is designed to be inviting for a wide range of abilities.
“The biggest thrill is seeing the kids run across the finish line,” she said. “They all feel good at the end about what they’ve accomplished.”
A Northfield woman who has served as a longtime youth mentor has received HCI’s “Making a Difference” Award for October 2012.
Mary Carlson was matched with a middle school student seven years ago through the Connected Kids mentoring program. Carlson and the student, Melody Altamirano, began meeting regularly after school to do homework, with the long-term goal of supporting Altamirano’s ambition to finish high school.
Altamirano graduated last spring and is now planning to pursue further education.
“She was amazing,” Altamirano said of Carlson. “She helped me get a job, my first job, when I was 16. She helped me pass school, and get my homework done. She’s always cared about me and how I’m doing.”
Carlson said Altamirano was the one who did the work; she just kept showing up to offer support and encouragement.
“Getting to know Melody and see her overcome difficulties and make her way in the world – that was fun to watch,” Carlson said.
Linda Oto, coordinator of the Connected Kids program, said Carlson never wavered in her belief that Altamirano would succeed.
“Mentoring isn’t rocket science; it just takes understanding, persistence and belief, and we’re so thankful that Mary was there to provide that to her mentee,” Oto said.
For more information about Connected Kids contact Oto at 507-664-3655.
- Written by Joy Riggs, freelance writer and HCI Board member
A Northfield businessman who’s provided job experience for hundreds of local teenagers has received the September 2012 “Making a Difference” Award.
Dale Finger has hired and trained an estimated 300 youth in the 23 years he’s owned the Quarterback Club family restaurant. Many employees have continued working for him part-time through high school and college, and some former employees have even been known to come in to work at times like Homecoming and Prom, when the high school employees are unavailable.
“They’re good kids to begin with, and we’ve been pretty fortunate to retain them over the years,” Finger said. “We’re trying to teach them they’re not just here to punch in and make a paycheck; they’re here to produce a product and provide good service.”
Finger said he’s owned the restaurant long enough that he’s now hired the children of former employees who once worked for him as teenagers.
“It’s great because their laugh or their smile is identical to their parent’s 20 years earlier. It brings back those memories,” he said.
Liz Wickmann said Finger is successful at retaining employees like her daughter, Erica Perkins, because he’s willing to work around their busy schedules. Perkins, a Northfield High School senior, has had to take time off from work for activities like golf and summer camp, and Finger has been more than accommodating, Wickmann said.
“He basically says ‘tell me when you can work, and when you can’t, and I’ll see what I can do,’” Wickmann said. “[Erica] has a lot of respect for him. He’s instilled in her some really good customer service values, and he’s very complimentary of her work.”
Written by Joy Riggs, HCI Board member and freelance journalist
A Northfield city employee who spearheaded the acquisition and installation of skateboard park equipment at Riverside Lions Park has received the June 2012 “Making a Difference” Award.
TJ Heinricy, Northfield’s street and park supervisor, has been involved for several years with efforts to maintain an interim skateboard park until the city selects a permanent location. When Heinricy learned last winter that the city of Plymouth was building a new concrete skatepark and getting rid of its older, steel equipment, he contacted Plymouth officials and helped negotiate a sale between that city and the Key, which bought the equipment for $500. The Northfield Parks and Recreation Board agreed to allow the equipment to be installed at a temporary skateboard park in Riverside Lions Park through 2012.
“My point to the park board was that these youngsters have put enough effort into it, quit telling them ‘no,’ and let’s find a spot,” Heinricy said. “I’m glad it finally happened, and they get to enjoy it.”
Amy Merritt, executive director of the Northfield Union of Youth, said Heinricy not only motivated people to restart the conversation about the temporary skateboard park, he also worked with local youth on the design plan.
“This particular initiative is close to his heart, and he’s done everything he could to help. It’s wonderful to have that kind of advocate,” she said.
Heinricy said the equipment has been well used since it was installed, and he’s only heard one formal complaint from a nearby resident who objected to the noise. He said having a designated place for youth to skateboard means they aren’t damaging concrete walls, steps and other spots downtown.
“They’re the future, that’s how I look at them,” Heinricy said. “I may not agree with the sport, but in my eyes, if it keeps them from doing vandalism, doing drugs, and getting into trouble, it’s a good thing.”
- Written by Joy Riggs, a freelance writer and member of the HCI Board of Directors
A Northfield parent who’s been an integral volunteer with the Northfield Youth Choirs for more than a decade is the May 2012 recipient of the “Making a Difference” Award.
Mike Paulsen began assisting the organization when his daughter Olivia joined the choir in early elementary school, and he’s taken on additional responsibilities as Olivia and his other daughter, Claire, have grown up in the choirs. During the 2011-12 season, Paulsen served as choir parent to the Troubadours (the boys’ choir), he helped with the Concert Choir (for kids grades 5 and up), and he ran the after-school program, coordinating snacks and activities for participants in the younger choirs.
“If something needs to be done and done well, Mike Paulsen is the man to do it,” said Liz Shepley, NYC artistic director. “He has that rare ability to see what would be helpful in any situation and act on it. He is invaluable to the NYC.”
Shepley said Paulsen helps with tours and retreats and is known for his caramel apple dessert, as well as his sense of humor, his organizational skills and his rapport with young people.
“The kids feel that he’s very approachable. If they have an issue, they can talk to him,” she said. “He holds the kids to a very high standard. He knows they can do a good job of getting along, even if they don’t believe it. He’s well-loved and well-respected.”
Paulsen never belonged to a choir when he was growing up; he played the trumpet in high school, and his dad was the band director. He said he has enjoyed seeing kids grow up during their years in the choirs, and he’s not done volunteering yet – his kindergartner, Ben, just completed his first year in NYC’s youngest choir.
“It’s a very easy organization to volunteer with, it’s so well-run and well-established,” Paulsen said. “It’s a piece of cake; it doesn’t feel like volunteer work.”
- Article by Joy Riggs, HCI Board member and freelance writer
Fritz Bogott & Rachel Matney
Rachel Matney and Fritz Bogott are the March/April 2012 recipients of HCI’s “Making a Difference” award.
After reading reports about the achievement gap in Minnesota and Northfield, Matney started thinking of local solutions. She wondered: are there willing and interested volunteers in Northfield who could be asked to assist in closing this gap?
She approached her husband, Fritz Bogott, with the question, and they sprang into action. They contacted Northfield Public Schools, HCI, St. Olaf College and Carleton College. Bogott reported that from the first meeting, the enthusiasm from the partners was “irrepressible.” A new pilot initiative – Accelerate Northfield – was born, aiming to recruit volunteers to work in the Northfield schools primarily with youth who are struggling academically. Matney and Bogott have played key roles in designing the Accelerate Northfield model and recruiting community volunteers.
According to Superintendent Chris Richardson, “Accelerate Northfield is providing a valuable source of trained and caring adults that provide quality interactions and reinforcement of instruction for Northfield elementary students who need extra support to be successful.”
Bogott and Matney are reluctant to take credit for the success of the program beyond the initial instigation and training. However, the truth remains that they began a partnership that will make a difference to Northfield students for years to come.
A Northfield man who helped a group of teenagers from the Key build a canoe is the February 2012 recipient of the “Making a Difference” Award.
John Daniels spent nine months guiding the teenagers through the 200-hour process of building a cedar strip canoe, which will be used for a fundraiser. It was his fifth canoe project, but the first one involving youth.
“I was really impressed,” he said. “I didn’t know how that would go because it takes a great deal of patience. It’s a really slow process, for one thing – you have to be willing to work for a couple of hours at a time. The kids were fine with that; they learned really quickly. I would show them something once and turn them loose.”
The youth started the project in late March 2011, took most of the summer off, and completed the canoe in December. Those involved were Danny Dobrow, Arlo Cristofaro-Hark, Helen Forsythe and Antonia Cristofaro-Hark.
Daniels said he was initially reluctant to assist in the project because he knew it was a big time commitment. But he said it helped knowing the work could be drawn out over several months.
“I’m really glad I did it because it was well worth it for me. I got a lot out of it. It was fun and rewarding to get to know these kids,” he said. “Mentoring is a good thing; it has rewards, and they go both ways.”
Benefit Concert Organizers
Four teenagers who organized a benefit concert for a family who lost their home in a fire are the December 2011/January 2012 recipients of the “Making a Difference Award.”
Within hours of learning of the Thanksgiving Eve fire that destroyed the home of the Haslett-Marroquin family, ARTech students Gabby Frenstad and Olivia Upham and Northfield High School students Jasmine Barksdale and Jon Fried rallied support for the family through a Facebook page and organized a concert and bake sale. Their efforts have raised more than $6,500.
“I was incredibly surprised by how amazing the response was,” said Fried. “Right from when we started organizing, we knew there would be a lot of people involved, and we knew that the event would probably have a good turnout, but it wasn’t until we got a call from the Star Tribune the evening of concert that the impact of what we were doing really hit me.”
Barksdale said her favorite memory of the concert was seeing all the people streaming in through the doors, after worrying that no one would show up. “I definitely did not expect that many people to be willing to devote their time and money to people who they didn’t really know. I think it says a lot about the community we live in,” she said.
“What these young people did for our family and for this community’s spirit after our house fire is beyond what we had imagined,” said Reginaldo and Amy Haslett-Marroquin. “Together with the immense generosity and accompaniment from so many others, they have made our journey bearable and manageable. The English language does not have a word that would properly express the depth of our gratitude. What the youth gifted us with was so much more than funds – it was hope, and with hope anything is possible.”
Bob and Ann Gregory-Bjorklund
Bob Gregory-Bjorklund and Ann Gregory-Bjorklund are the November recipients of the Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) “Making a Difference” Award. The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
The Gregory-Bjorklunds were recognized for encouraging and supporting youth through the arts. Bob, who recently directed a cast of more than 50 teens in the Northfield High School production of West Side Story, is the arts coordinator and an adviser at the Northfield School of Arts and Technology (ARTech). His wife, Ann, has been involved at ARTech in several roles, including show costumer, Poetry Out Loud judge and substitute teacher. Both of them have been active for more than a dozen years with the Northfield Arts Guild’s Young People’s Theater Workshop.
“Bob does an excellent job of seeing the potential in each kid. He plays to that and knows how to tease that out of them in a really elegant fashion,” said Shari Setchell, who choreographed West Side and has worked with Bob on other productions. “He also really believes in building community and ensembles, so that every kid feels he belongs and is important – which is important in life in general and especially important during a big show.”
ARTech senior Gabby Frenstad said of Ann, “She is always the most fun person in the room. She is fantastic at communicating with students, and the way she and Bob are able to work together on so many projects is an amazing thing to see.”
Ann said she enjoys seeing students get excited about theater and become better performers.
“Being with kids – it makes you smile, it keeps you young. It’s a real two-way street. And when you’re bringing something that you love to the kids, you get back from the kids, too,” she said.
Bob agreed that seeing young people grow as actors and as people is rewarding, and he said he continues to find it as satisfying now as he did when he and Ann moved to Northfield in 1994 and began getting involved in the local arts community.
“One of the reasons that I continue to want to do my work in this community is because I feel valued here for that work, which may not be the case in some other places. To be recognized that, yes, what you’re doing is valuable – I really appreciate it. I appreciate getting that feedback,” he said.
Chuck Perkins, volunteer football coach
Chuck Perkins, a volunteer coach with the Northfield High School Raiders football team, is the September/October recipient of the Making a Difference Award.
“We’ve often referred to him as our positive energy coach,” head coach Bubba Sullian said of Perkins. “He’s always got a lot of energy, and he does a great job of pumping the kids up – it’s something he’s always brought to our coaching staff and our teams.”
Perkins isn’t able to attend practice every day because of travel commitments with his business, Perkins Marketing, but he makes an effort to participate when he can because he enjoys seeing the players grow as a team.
“I’m a team type of person. I believe that we do our best work as a group, and that’s why I like football so much,” he said.
Perkins began volunteering with the football team in the early 1990s. The Ohio native particularly enjoys working with the quarterbacks and the players who are struggling; he played quarterback himself, as well as defensive back, at the high school and college level.
He encouraged other adults to consider getting involved with youth organizations.
“In this time of budget cuts and stress in our community, we have to back our schools,” Perkins said. “The community can only be better if we’re united and stand behind our kids.”
Northfield’s AmeriCorps Promise Fellows
Four AmeriCorps Promise Fellows who devoted the past year to serving youth in Northfield are the July/August recipients of the Making a Difference Award.
Through a partnership with the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, the four Promise Fellows worked at the Northfield Middle School, Northfield High School, the Area Learning Center, The Key, and the Healthy Community Initiative.
- Clare Dudzinski, from Wilmette, Ill., met with students to offer tutoring, homework help and personal support. She helped facilitate the after-school enrichment program at the Middle School Youth Center and an evening homework help group.
- Mundo Garza, from Laredo, Texas, worked with the Northfield TORCH (Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes) program, and the high school’s Student Support Team, which identifies at-risk students and helps address their academic and personal issues.
- Jordan Taylor, from Hutchinson, Minn., worked for the Healthy Community Initiative on a variety of youth-focused initiatives, collaborating with groups including the Northfield Mayor’s Youth Council, the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol & Drug Use, and the Northfield Union of Youth.
- Rachel Woldum, from Tulsa, Ok., provided support to ALC students, helped support existing programs at the Key and start new ones, ran the Main Street Mentors program, and assisted with grants.
Dudzinski and Garza recently completed their first years as Promise Fellows, and Taylor and Woldum completed their second years.
“I can’t say enough about what an asset Rachel has been to the Key these past two years, or what an incredible impact the Promise Fellows have had on the Northfield community,” said Amy Merritt, executive director of the Union of Youth. “At the Key, Rachel has been integral in creating and sustaining programs, leading volunteer activities, and serving as a mentor and role model to literally hundreds of Northfield youth. She is a fantastic example of how an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow can strengthen an organization and a community. In addition, the Fellows have worked collaboratively to build on and strengthen the relationships between their organizations.”
Marnie Thompson, assistant principal at Northfield High School, echoed Merritt’s praise, saying the contributions by the four Promise Fellows have been extraordinary.
“They have made great connections with kids and adults in our community and understand the importance of relationships in helping students be successful,” Thompson said.
Carleton volunteer Teaching Assistants with the TORCH program
The college students volunteered throughout the school year assisting high school TORCH students who took online classes through Riverland Community College. The tutors were: Lynsey Bernfell, Annie Boucher, Samantha Ellerbeck, Becca Kilman, Carrie Paulette, Emily Schickli and Nick Welna.
The tutors planned weekly study sessions for the TORCH students and developed activities or led discussions relating to the coursework.
“What’s noticeable about the group of students who serve as TAs for us is they’re passionate, and they’re always looking for ways to reach out to students and to be helpful,” said Jason Hallen, the TORCH post secondary education opportunity (PSEO) liaison. “I think our TAs are really impressive. It’s very fitting that they receive this award. They do amazing things.”
Northfield TORCH (Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes) is a collaborative that seeks to improve the graduation and post-secondary participation rates of Northfield’s minority students, low-income students, and youth who would be first-generation college attendees. Since TORCH began in 2005, the graduation rate for Northfield’s Latino students has climbed from 36 percent to more than 90 percent.
“Youth Energized to Serve,” Bethel Lutheran Church
The Bethel Lutheran Church group Youth Energized to Serve (Y.E.S.) is the May 2011 “Making a Difference Award” recipient.
The youth group coordinated the church’s March food drive and raised $14,035 and 158 pounds of food for the Food Shelf at the Community Action Center of Northfield. Assisted by adult coordinator Cindy Kreis and youth ministries director Barb Farmer, the 30 middle school and high school students raised awareness about the food drive by making posters, setting up displays and presenting skits in front of the congregation each week with the theme, “Mission Impossible: Not with Your Help.”
“I think the adults really enjoyed the energy from the kids, and the creative way they presented it. It was a serious subject, but they made it fun. People looked forward to hearing what the kids had to say,” Farmer said.
The youth group received the “Most Creative Food Drive” award from Minnesota FoodShare, an organization that directs the March Campaign, the largest food drive in the state. The students were nominated by Judy Bickel, Community Action Center program director.
In her nomination, Bickel wrote, “The students are highly respected among congregation members for their excellent service, and they’re learning firsthand that they can make a significant contribution to their community.”
Vicki Dilley, Rotary Youth Exchange Officer
Rotary Youth Exchange Officer Vicki Dilley is the April 2011 “Making a Difference” Award recipient.
Dilley oversees the application process for Northfield students who want to go abroad through Rotary, and she supports students from other countries who spend the year in Northfield. This year, a record 15 students from Northfield are living abroad, and five students from other countries have been spending the year with Northfield families.
“It’s so exciting for me to see them go through what’s sometimes a painful growth experience, trying to make sense of the world, and figure out where they belong in it,” Dilley said.
Dilley and her husband, Lee, served as Peace Corps volunteers for 3 1/2 years on the Polynesian island of Tuvalu. They so appreciated the warm hospitality of the people there, they decided to reciprocate by hosting students when they moved to Northfield. That led to Dilley taking the Rotary position in 2006, and the program has continued to grow. Next year, there will be 16 outgoing students and four or five incoming students.
“Vicky has great personal warmth and kindness that exchange students – and everyone else – find comforting,” said Jan Stevens, who served as youth exchange officer before Dilley.
When asked why cultural exchange is such a popular option for Northfield students, Dilley said it’s due to support from Rotary club members, the school counselors, and the families who are willing to host students. She also credited her husband for supporting her passion to work with exchange students.
“My ultimate hope and dream is just to bring world peace and understanding. I really believe it begins on an individual basis, having a real global understanding as well as having an understanding of one’s self,” Dilley said.
Randy Malecha, volunteer
Malecha, who owns Willie’s Shoe Service, was selected for his commitment to volunteering at Bridgewater Elementary School. He walks or bikes to school once a week to eat breakfast with the students.
The father of grown children, Malecha said he saw an ad in the newspaper about the need for volunteers. He thought about it for the rest of the school year, and, encouraged by his wife, he called the school in the fall and showed up the next day. He’s now in his fourth year of volunteering.
Malecha spends 30 to 40 minutes with the students at each visit, discussing topics like the weather, upcoming holidays, and what is new in their lives.
“It’s enjoyable to hear the things they say,” he said. “They ask questions back, and a lot of times one will say to another, ‘Is that your dad?’”
Bridgewater Principal Nancy Antoine said students like spending time with Malecha because he’s easy-going and enjoys being with them.
“The success of a student depends a lot on the relationships that they are able to build with others. Randy has taken the time to build relationships with the students at Bridgewater by listening to them at breakfast and sharing their excitement for the day,” Antoine said. “His service to the Bridgewater children is greatly appreciated!”
Gabe Rysdahl, mentor
Gabriel Rysdahl, a senior at St. Olaf College, is the January 2011 “Making a Difference Award” recipient.
January is National Mentoring Month, and Rysdahl was selected for his commitment to mentoring youth for the past three years through Project Friendship. Project Friendship is a mentoring program that matches St. Olaf and Carleton students with Northfield youth in grades 2-7.
Rysdahl mentors two youth, meeting with each of them once a week to do activities they enjoy, like playing soccer, going to a movie, skateboarding or playing guitar.
“Mentoring allows me to break my St. Olaf bubble and experience the lives of my mentees,” he said. “I learn so much from ‘my guys’ and also am able to help them out with issues they may be going through. I was young once also and can relate so well to the struggles and joys of a young guy’s life.”
Rysdahl recommends mentoring to anyone who enjoys kids and wants to become involved in the community.
“There’s no agenda, other than to hang out and spend time with each other. It’s a great program,” he said.
Kathy Lansing, community director of Project Friendship, said Rysdahl has recruited many new mentors to the program by setting a positive example on campus.
“He has a sunshine smile and just looks like someone you can trust to be a good friend. He is that!” she said.
Bill Steele, president of EcoTrans
Bill Steele, president of EcoTrans, is the December 2010 “Making a Difference Award” recipient.
Steele was selected for his commitment to providing discounted transportation services to youth and families, making it possible for them to access a variety of community programs including after-school homework help, YMCA summer camps, and adolescent outpatient substance abuse treatment.
“I’ve dropped off families at some of the more humble residences in Northfield, and the smiles on their kids’ faces, the warm hellos and goodbyes of these kids I’ve gotten to know – there isn’t any amount of money that can replace the satisfaction of that,” he said.
Steele bought the business three years ago, formerly known as Care Tenders, with the goal of focusing on more environmentally friendly forms of transportation. Last summer, he purchased a 23-passenger bus that he uses to shuttle larger groups of youth and families.
Jen Winterfeldt, youth development coordinator for Northfield Public Schools’ Community Services Division, said Steele is passionate about providing access to opportunities by offering transportation to those who need it most.
“He truly believes in serving others and will do whatever he can to make people happy. Bill’s business model and personal convictions are traits that people should notice and model themselves after. We are so lucky to have Bill in our community, and it has been a sheer pleasure to work with him over the years,” Winterfeldt said.
Born in Beirut and raised abroad, Steele said he’s inspired by the philanthropic culture that exists in Minnesota and in Northfield.
“This town is engagement personified. There are so many incredible people in this town doing wonderful things, it’s humbling to be recognized,” he said.
The Key building volunteers
All the contractors, businesses and community members who donated labor or goods to help with the rehab and opening of the new Key building are the November 2010 recipients of HCI’s “Making a Difference” Award.
More than 20 businesses and individuals contributed their expertise, donated more than $6,000 in goods and provided approximately $25,500 in in-kind labor for the three-month project.
- Mark Madson of Madson Painting and crew members Daniel Stewart, Richard Kluver and Andrew Juris
- Schmidt Homes
- Ron’s Heating and Cooling
- Howie Electric
- Jerry Topp
- Welch Plumbing
- Bierman Flooring
- Nick Avila, Noemi Trevino and family
- Doug Shepard
- Jim Gutfleisch
- Benjamin Moore
- Vivus Architecture + Design
- Waste Management
- Ace Hardware
Jim Evans, a Key board member, said people came together on the project because they believe in the mission of creating a gathering place for youth that’s safe and chemical-free. He expressed a deep appreciation to everyone who helped, including any individuals who might have been overlooked.
Northfield High School Girls Soccer Team
The team was selected for its efforts to raise money for breast cancer research through the “Lace for a Cure” event. Team members sought donations to outfit all the school’s fall athletes with pink shoelaces to wear during their events throughout October. Donors could pay extra and get their own pink laces and pink wristbands. Fans were encouraged to wear pink to the Sept. 30 doubleheader boys and girls soccer games against Farmington.
The team not only achieved its goal of outfitting more than 550 Northfield athletes with the pink laces, they also engaged Farmington athletes in the effort. The team also sought donations at the Carleton College homecoming football game, bringing the total amount of money raised to more than $11,000.
“When you’re dealing with something like cancer, you figure people are going to contribute, but the amount of donations we received was unbelievable,” said team member Rachel Langehough. “It was a good experience, and we’re really proud of what we’ve done.”
The team is donating all the money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to support breast cancer research, education and treatment.
Kathy Lansing is the September 2010 recipient of HCI’s “Making a Difference” Award.
Lansing is beginning her eighth year as community director of Project Friendship, a mentoring program that matches college students at Carleton and St. Olaf with Northfield youth in grades 2-7. Established in 1965, the program aims to develop strong friendships between college students who have made positive choices in their lives and children who need such role models.
Lansing screens and trains the college volunteers and sets up the matches with the younger students. The youth often are referred to the program by school social workers or teachers; parents also can request applications. The pairs meet once a week, usually on campus, to spend time doing activities they choose together, like baking cookies or playing a sport. They also participate in larger group activities. Last year, the program had more than 80 matched pairs.
“What I enjoy most is when I hear from a parent that their child looks so forward to seeing their college buddy every week, and what a difference it makes in their life,” Lansing said. “The college students feel like they get a lot out of this as well.”
Many of the youth come from families that have never been on a college campus, Lansing said. The program helps the parents feel more comfortable with the college experience, and helps the youth understand why it’s important to make good choices and work hard in school.
Leisa Irwin is the August 2010 recipient of HCI’s “Making a Difference” Award.
Irwin organized the Northfield Ballroom Dance Club last fall out of a desire to teach her own sons an activity she enjoyed. Interest by other students and community members grew, and the club now offers lessons three times a week during the school year, and twice in the summer, from dance instructors who come to Northfield from the Twin Cities. The club is open to adults and youth.
The student who nominated Irwin noted that Irwin has not only organized the classes, she’s also paid transportation, instruction and competition entry fees for youth who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate.
Irwin said dance was her favorite extracurricular activity when she was a student, and she’s found it rewarding to help others benefit from the experience.
“These are kids who are looking for a way to get involved in something; the fact that it’s dance is wonderful,” Irwin said. “To see them step into these roles and flourish is really exciting.”
Cancer Jam 2010 organizers
Rachel Hanson, Leigh Langehough and Heidi Strike are the July 2010 recipients of the “Making a Difference” Award. The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Hanson, Langehough and Strike, who all graduated from Northfield High School in June, organized the successful Beat Cancer: Cancer Jam 2010 benefit concert this spring and raised$13,000. Eleven bands from Northfield, Faribault, Cannon Falls and Montgomery-Lonsdale participated in the Memorial Day concert at Northfield High School, which attracted an audience of several hundred people.
Beat Cancer started as the students’ year-end project for their service learning class at the high school. Hanson, Langehough and Strike made and sold T-shirts, got businesses to donate food, and advertised the event through a Beat Cancer Facebook page that attracted more than 1,800 fans.
“Our mission is simple: To bring people together to raise awareness and support through music and community activity,” the young women explained on the Facebook page.
The money raised benefited a local woman battling cancer, Darla Petersen, and the American Cancer Society’s patient fund. The event was covered by the local media and by KARE-11 TV.
Northfield High School Softball Teams
Members of the Northfield High School (NHS) Varsity and Junior Varsity girls’ softball teams are the June 2010 recipients of HCI’s “Making a Difference” Award.
The NHS Varsity and Junior Varsity Softball Team members are currently volunteer coaches for the grades K-8 girls’ spring softball league. The NHS softball team members mentor the young players following their own team practice at the Rock Fields.
While teaching the basics of the sport, they emphasize good sportsmanship and the importance of playing as a team. Their love of the game, along with their enthusiasm and energy, has made them wonderful role models to the younger girls.
Ed Vivant is the May 2010 recipient of the HCI “Making a Difference” Award.
Ed, a bus driver for Benjamin Bus, was nominated by students from the Northfield Middle School Youth Center. He is committed to supporting the students through discipline and respect.
The middle school students shared how he calls them “friend” and always greets them when they get on and off the bus. They look forward to his energy and enthusiasm at the end of the day.
The Northfield Alternative Learning Center (ALC) business class is the April 2010 recipient of the HCI “Making a Difference” Award.
The ALC students, taught by Cheryl Mathison, have donated $14,000 to the Northfield Community Action Center’s Food Shelf from proceeds from its Soy Scents Candles & Soaps business.
The program successfully teaches youth the basics of business, along with philanthropy, allowing them to experience the satisfaction of giving back to the community.
Dan Kust is the March 2010 recipient of the HCI “Making a Difference” Award.
Dan is a sixth grade teacher at Northfield Middle School and also coaches the Northfield High School Nordic Ski Team. He shares his enthusiasm of outdoor recreation with the students, as well as his expertise in Nordic skiing.
He empowers youth with leadership roles and helps youth realize a sense of accomplishment through team participation.
Kathy is a familiar face in the children’s section at the Northfield Public Library. She is involved in many youth projects at the library, including the First Steps Early Literacy Center, the Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and the popular Books & Stars summer programs.
She is an advocate for Northfield youth and has been instrumental in creating leadership opportunities for teens.
Neuger Communications Group
Neuger Communications Group is the December 2009 recipient of the HCI “Making a Difference Award”.
Neuger Communications Group has been instrumental in the 2009-2010 MOST positive norms campaign at Northfield Middle School, designing all of the marketing materials and assisting with the concept and implementation of the campaign.
The Neuger Communications Group continually shares their talent and time with community organizations working to support Northfield youth.
Alyssa has been a Promise Fellow at Northfield High School for the past two years and constantly goes above and beyond her responsibilities to help students in their academic, personal and social lives.
She dedicates personal time to youth and is committed to helping them succeed. Alyssa’s compassion helps her create meaningful relationships with students which gives them the challenge themselves and reach goals.
Pam is the Director of Youth Ministries at Bethel Lutheran Church. Along with her many contributions to youth, Pam writes and records positive parenting briefs that are broadcast daily on KYMN Radio.
She is a strong supporter of youth sports and also gives young women who are part of the Carleton basketball program a “home away from home” when they need it.
Heather has been an active Northfield Soccer Association member and coach along with devoting volunteer time to many community activities and youth organizations. She devotes time teaching young girls not only soccer skills, but also life skills that will help guide them in making positive decisions.
She was nominated by two young soccer players who said Heather “taught us to never give up.”
John Schad, Jimi Brown and Mike Plank
The trio of neighbors stepped forward and donated time, talent and tools to help bring the Northfield Skateborad Coalition’s vision of a temporaty skate park closer to a reality. Schad, Brown and Plank worked side-by-side with Coalition youth members to build ramps, jumps and other park obstacles.
The intergenerational effort created an opportunity for Skateboard Coation members to not only learn new skills but also to share their knowledge and passion of skate park design with adult volunteers.
Kathy Cooper is the June recipient of the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative “Making a Difference” award.
Kathy focuses time and energy on the safety of youth and creating a safe environment for them. She is a member of the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use and is coordinator of the Rice County Safe Communities Coalition. She is committed to projects that promote traffic safety. Most recently, she helped push forward the passage of the Minnesota Primary Seat Belt Law.
Kathy recognizes the value of youth-led initiatives and works with youth at the KEY and students from Rice County high schools on projects that provide leadership and team-building skills.
Charles Reznikoff, M.D.
Charles Reznikoff, M.D. is the May 2009 recipient of the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative “Making a Difference” Award.
Dr. Reznikoff is an Addiction Medicine Specialist at Northfield Hospital. He began seeing patients with opiate addiction in Northfield last fall. Since joining the staff at Northfield Hopsital, he has enthusiastically shared his knowledge and expertise involving opiate addiction and interventions to many groups in the Northfield community.
Most recently, he led a drug awareness presentation for seventh and eighth grade students at Northfield Middle School. He has also given staff in-service presentations to ArTech and the Northfield School District.
Mark is a retired educator at the NorthfieldSchool District. He works tirelessly to share his time and passions with the community. Some of his past efforts include mentoring youth, assisting with classroom research projects at the NorthfieldHistorical Society, reading with fourth grade students, and ongoing volunteer projects with the Northfield Community Action Center. He has been a long time volunteer with the Northfield Food Shelf and Christmas Sharing programs.
Mark, along with Bob Anderson, assisted in creating the life-sized wooden figures for the Minnesota Silent Witness project in Northfield. The memorial to the women and children whose lives have been touched by domestic violence was on display at various Northfield locations.
Ruth, a Northfield High School senior, has worked diligently to bring the voice of youth to governing bodies within Northfield and the state of Minnesota. She is responsible for representing and empowering youth at community and city meetings, and serving as a role model for future youth leaders.
She currently serves as the Northfield Union of Youth (KEY) Youth Board President and has also actively supported and held leadership proles with the Northfield Mayor’s Youth Council, the Northfield Skateboard Coalition, and the KEY. She also spearheaded the “Vote Youth” campaign in the 2008 Northfieldmayoral race which include a series of “meet and greet” events and a youth platform.
Rice County Sheriff Richard Cook
Rice County Sheriff Richard Cook is the February 2009 recipient of the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative “Making a Difference Award”.
Sheriff Cook was nominated for his dedication to stop the drug problems in Rice county His commitment and leadership has been instrumental in bringing together the law enforcement agencies throughout Rice County and forming a concentrated Drug Taskforce. He develop ed and implemented the Taskforce saving tax dollars and life’s by funding the effort with drug forfeiture proceeds.
Cook focuses on holding drug dealers accountable as well as partnering with other count agencies to develop and promote the Zero Alcohol Providers (ZAP) and other drug awareness and prevention efforts throughout Rice County.
Northfield High School ESL Students
A group of Northfield High School ESL students are the January 2009 recipient of the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative “Making a Difference Award”.
The students were nominated for their efforts to organize an informational Latino gang forum in November 2008. Along with the planning and promotion of the community event, the students encouraged fellow students as well as Latino families in the community to attend. It was held at the Northfield High School Auditorium.
The dedicated group met weekly to plan the event and were key speakers at the event which more than 175 adults and students attended.
The Northfield Main Street Moravian Church is the December 2008 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative “Making a Difference Award”.
The congregation was nominated for organizing and hosting a town hall forum to address heroin and opiate use in Northfield. Amy Gohdes-Luhman, pastor of the Main Street Moravian Church, was instrumental in collaborating with other community groups to plan and publicize the forum.
The Main Street Moravian Church and Pastor Amy were acknowledged by the Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Drug and Alcohol Use for providing an opportunity for the community to hear important information and help create a better understanding and open discussion of a difficult issue.
Pablo Orozco is the November 2008 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative “Making a Difference Award”. The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Pablo was nominated for the work he does with Northfield youth in the elementary schools. He is currently volunteers with the PLUS program at Greenvale Park Elementary School and works tirelessly to help youth find their potential. His mentors describe Pablo as “a great example of how support and encouragement make a positive impact on a young person’s life.”
Lisa Nelson, Bridgewater Elementary School teacher, agrees. “He made all the difference in our program,” she said. “Pablo is a great example for students.”
Campaign for Children Committee
The Campaign for Children Committee has been named the September/October 2008 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
For 13 years, a small group of women from the Northfield United Methodist Church — known as the Campaign for Children Committee — has provided backpacks and school supplies for children whose families participate in the social services programs of the Northfield Community Action Center (CAC). On August 20, 2008, the Campaign for Children women — along with the Northfield CAC — distributed new backpacks and school supplies to 411 children from 225 households. All of these children attend school in the Northfield School District. As one can imagine, it takes a lot of time and effort to shop for, package and distribute backpacks and school supplies for 411 children. This group of highly-organized women is truly committed to helping make sure that all children in the Northfield School District get the best possible start to the school year.
Members of the Campaign for Children Committee include Joyce Briggs, Gwen Daniels, Jean DeLong, Donna Kuhnau, Kathy Neil, Nancy Pietz, Marge Randolph, Donna Rock, Virginia Stickley, and Lou Witman. Congratulations and thank you to these incredible women for their outstanding community work!
Softball Players — Erin Eggum, Lauren Behr, Emily Green and Morgan Zabel
Erin Eggum, Lauren Behr, Emily Green, and Morgan Zabel were the July 2008 recipients of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
The young women were nominated for the award because of the work they did to promote and introduce summer recreation softball for girls ages 6-14. The young women — all softball players themselves — recognized the value that being involved in sports can have on youth.
“We decided to promote activities to the youth and encourage their involvement through our high school service-learning class,” said Green.
Promotion of the summer softball program was done through visits to the elementary and middle schools and by hosting a Fun Day that allowed girls to watch a high school girls’ softball game, meet the players, and enjoy refreshments together. “The promotion and recruitment efforts resulted in increased numbers in the summer youth softball program and positive connections between the high school students and younger girls,” said Erin Mayberry, Recreation Coordinator for Northfield Public Schools’ Community Services Division.
All four young women were able to share their interest in softball with younger girls and watch them become more confident and improved players.
“It felt so good to see what we taught all of these girls,” said Eggum. “It was awesome to see the support of the parents and watch them cheer on the teams.”
In her nomination of the young women, Julie Pritchard, Northfield parent, noted, “It is quite evident that each of them is a natural at coaching, teaching and mentoring, but they also have a genuine interest in each girl and the desire to see them succeed.”
Carey Tinkelenberg is the June 2008 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Tinkelenberg is the founder, executive director, and head coach of the Northfield Skating School. A Carleton College alumna, Tinkelenberg saw the need for a skating program in Northfield and opened the skating school in 2005. Participants range in age from 4 years old to adult.
Along with her commitment to the skating school, Tinkelenberg collaborates with the Girls Scouts, Northfield Dance Academy, and Shattuck St. Mary Skating Academy to offer additional youth programming. She is a board member of Northfield IceNow and a member of the NorthfieldYouth Sports Collaborative.
“Carey has the unique talent of building the children’s self-esteem and getting the most out of them,” said a parent who nominated Carey. “Her love of the sport truly shows through her patience and dedication to help each student learn. We are lucky to have people like Carey to work with our youth! ”
Lee Murray is the May2008 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Lee has been an employee with the Northfield School District for the past 19 years. She is currently is an educational assistant at Bridgewater Elementary. Lee impacts others with her enthusiastic philosophy that “learning is exciting.” In nominating Lee for this award, a co-worker describes her as “an incredible role model for all of us and without a doubt very deserving of this recognition.”
During her tenure with the Northfield School District, Lee has also worked at Greenvale Park Elementary. She provides a variety of support to the students and staff at Bridgewater including managing the playground, working in the classrooms, testing coordinator and monitoring the parking lot before and after school. “I am honored to work for the Northfield School District,” said Lee. “I love my job working with all the students and staff. I couldn’t think of anything better to do.”
“Lee is an incredible person who works tirelessly to do the best job for the students of Bridgewater,” said Nancy Antoine, Bridgewater Elementary Principal. “She is a true professional and a gem to have on staff!”
Aztec Dance Circle
The Ollin Ayacaxtly/Aztec Dance Circle is the March/April 2008 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Ollin Ayacaxtly is a Northfield based traditional Aztec dance circle that integrates more than 20 students from Northfield Middle and High Schools. The Aztec Dance Circle provides local youth the opportunity to learn their history and culture and also use their creativity to make traditional outfits, shields and rattles.
The group started over a year ago with Jesus Torres and the Centro Campesino’s Youth Committee. Torres is the leader of the circle with the local assistance of Clarita Kell and the guidance of Susana de Leon in Minneapolis, and Aztec Dance General Chief Pedro Espana in Morelos, Mexico. The group has performed in different communities across the state and also participates in local events, special days for the Latino community and other traditional ceremonies during the year.
“The Aztec Dance Circle provides a wonderful opportunity for our Latino students to develop leadership skills, and work together to create an amazing dance performance,” said Marnie Thompson, Northfield High School Assistant Principal. “We could not be more proud of them when they perform for audiences locally and around the state. They are role models for their peers and younger students.”
Northfield resident Jim Christensen is the January/February 2008 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Jim has been a mentor for the Connected Kids mentoring program since 2005. He embodies the true spirit of mentoring — the willingness to give of himself, expecting nothing in return.
He understands that when you first show respect to kids, it is very often returned. Even with an active schedule as a local business owner, college assistant athletic coach and involved community member, Jim has no problem finding time to spend with his young mentee. He will be the first to acknowledge that he gains as much from mentoring as he gives.
NHS Focus 10 Students
Students in the Northfield High School Focus 10/Social Studies and English class are the November/December 2007 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
The Focus 10 class is facilitated by Sarah Swan-McDonald and Bubba Sullivan. The goal of the program is to help students get “back on track” academically and gain confidence in their abilities. Another goal of the program is to introduce students to their role in the community as volunteers — now as a teen and eventually as an adult.
The class completed a unit on homelessness both globally and locally. “I was surprised at the number of homeless people in Northfield,” said one student. “I didn’t know there were homeless people here.” As a result, they put together fleece blankets for the Northfield Community Action Center annual Christmas Sharing Program and planned to assist with the set up of the program.
“Any opportunity we have to incorporate service into our program is an asset to our students, our program, and ultimately the community,” said Sarah Swan-McDonald, Focus 10 instructor. “Service gives our students a chance to share what they have to offer and to participate with their positive energy and enthusiasm. Once they really learn about any given need, they instantly want to do something to make a difference.”
Jorge Zuccolotto is the October 2007 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Jorge is an exceptional community leader and positive role model for many Northfield youth. He volunteers time and energy to the Northfield Soccer Association and the Mexican adult soccer league, as well as serving as the head boys’ varsity soccer coach for the past six years. He has the unique ability to connect with youth regardless of social or economic barriers. A true mentor, Jorge encourages youth to be confident and strive to do their best.
“Jorge is loved for his loyalty, generosity of spirit, sense of fun and inexhaustible willingness to work for others,” said Simon Tyler, Assistant Boys’ Varsity Coach and friend. “In his capacity as a key soccer figure in Northfield, Jorge has broken down cultural barriers and brought people together in the Northfield community.”
Northfield Union of Youth (NUY)
The Northfield Union of Youth (NUY) is the September 2007 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative’s “Making a Difference Award.” The award celebrates those groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Founded in 1996, the NUY is among the longest-running youth-run youth centers in the country. Its mission is to empower and create a safe space and programs for youth. The Key, the NUY’s facility, is owned and run by the youth board, consisting of 13 young people, and assisted by Josh Hinnenkamp, NUY Executive Director. Membership is free for youth 12-20 years old.
NUY youth members are involved in creating, planning, and implementing a variety of programs, projects and events. Some of the programs facilitated by the NUY are Main Street Mentors, Skateboard Coalition, reading and writing workshops, cooking classes and weekly art projects. In addition, the Key is open daily as a safe, supervised place for youth to gather.
“The NUY creates a very respectful environment where kids come to be heard, to feel ownership and membership and to participate in programs that they design,” commented Sarah Kaul, NUY adult board member. “Being at the Key is like being in a tiny healthy community where people listen to each other, and help each other, and have fun doing it.”
An involved staff supports NUY youth members in gaining valuable leadership and organizational skills through civic involvement. As an example, this past summer, NUY identified a need and coordinated public meetings that brought together adults and youth to discuss substance abuse issues in the community and plan collaborative action steps to address these issues.
“The kids at the Key were prompt, responsive, mature, diplomatic and constructive. Their wisdom exceeds their ages,” said Dr. Jim Evans, who nominated NUY for the award.
Cannon River Sportsmen’s Club
The Cannon River Sportsmen’s Club is the August 2007 recipient of the HCI “Making a Difference Award.” The club has been a youth asset builder in the Northfield community for many years. The Sportsmen’s Club places an emphasis on providing meaningful experiences for youth and making them feel valued.
“The Cannon River Sportsman’s Club is a great partner in providing outdoor recreational opportunities to the Northfield community. Their work has enabled many youth to participate in camps, and programs that they may otherwise not have had the opportunity to take part in,” said Erin Mayberry, Recreation Program Coordinator, Northfield Public Schools, and Community Services Division. “It is their caring and compassion for youth that truly makes this organization stands out in the Northfield community.”
One example of the Sportsmen’s Club members’ dedication to youth is the “Introduce a Kid to Fishing” class. For three hours on a Saturday, members of the Sportsmen’s Club teach students about water safety, fish habitat, fishing equipment, and actual fishing. At the end of the class each participant is provided lunch and a tackle box full of equipment to continue practicing what he or she had learned. The classes taught by the Sportsmen’s Club offer youth the opportunity to learn a new skill and enjoy the outdoors. Members donate their time, knowledge and money to these youth activities.
The Cannon River Sportsmen’s Club provides support to a number of youth activities throughout the year including scholarships for youth interested in attending one of several camps at Eagle Bluff, an environmental learning center in southeastern Minnesota, and scholarships for special need students to attend an adaptive summer program through Project ABLE.
Pam Roberts, Northfield Middle School Youth Center Site Leader
Pam Roberts is the July 2007 recipient of the Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) Making a Difference award. The award celebrates individuals and groups who have a positive influence on Northfield youth.
Pam has served as the Middle School Youth Center (MYSC) Site Leader since the fall of 2004. The MYSC, sponsored by the Northfield Public Schools Community Services Division, is a free, drop-in program open after school during the school year and throughout the summer months. Over 90 youth participated throughout the school year, with approximately 35 attending on any given day and over
50 participating this summer.
Pam has been an inspiration to the MYSC staff and youth. She leads with dedication and caring and engages college volunteers in daily activities as well as after-school tutoring.
Youth who attend the MYSC value the time she spends mentoring and treating each as an individual who has value. “Pam could be doing other things this summer, but instead she spends her time helping us stay out of trouble. She gives advice and puts a lot into the youth center so that we have a fun time,” said one Northfield Middle School student.
Pam works to foster responsibility and respect in the youth she interacts with. Working past her scheduled hours, she designs entertaining, meaningful and interesting programs and activities. She is respected by the Middle School staff and appreciated for her insights about middle school youth.
“Pam was concerned about a student in the after-school program this past school year and e-mailed all the student’s teachers to let them know her concerns and ask for help on behalf of the student,” said Barb Holm, Northfield’s Middles School Guidance Counselor. “Middle school staff responded and the student received the help needed.” According to Pam’s supervisor, Susan Sanderson, Northfield Public Schools Community Services Youth Development Coordinator, the MSYC has become far more than a drop-in Center due to Pam’s positive and creative spirit.
“Pam has created an environment that is welcoming and supports the youth. She takes the time to connect with the youth one-on-one and believes they are an asset to our community,” added Sanderson. “Pam is continually looking for ways for the youth to share their gifts and talents with each other and the larger community.”