Quarterly Newsletter: January 2019


A Message from the CEO

Welcome Home

“Why would anyone move from Orlando to Central Minnesota in October?” As you can imagine, I get asked this question a lot. My response is always the same- once you have been here, you never want to leave.

CEO Larry Olness
I hope you will allow me to elaborate a bit on my response now that I call Central Minnesota home. During the interview process for my position, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in St. Cloud and the surrounding communities. This area was not totally new to me, having grown up in Winona, but the majority of my travel was to Minneapolis for either a Twins or Vikings game; I am a huge fan of both teams!


While here I had the opportunity to meet with the United Way staff, of which I have the greatest respect. I feel honored to work with this team daily because of their passion and dedication to the mission. Many of you will share my belief that proficiency can be taught, but drive and determination come from within, and this team has both in abundance.


I also had the chance to meet with the United Way Board, which is a team of community leaders who give their time, talents, and treasures to guide the United Way as a community champion. Without exception, each member I spoke with asked, “What can I do to support you?” and, “How can we work together to address the issues in Central Minnesota?”


I met with area business leaders who shared their challenges as well as their commitments to this community, many of whom run United Way campaigns, and are very active in the organization.


This area has several non-profit agencies working daily to improve the lives of those in the community, responding to the immediate need. I spoke with many of these agencies and each shared similar staffing and money concerns. These issues did not dampen their desire to work closer with United Way and the community to provide more to those in need.


Finally, I spoke to the members of the community- hotel staff, sales clerks, even my waiter. I asked everyone I could about this community and their concerns. The typical response was that this is a community in transition, but the future looks promising, and they hoped to be a part of the solution.


So, for me the decision to move to Central Minnesota has always been an easy yes. The reason is simple, the area is full of passionate people who want to make a difference. Add to that the two best teams in major sports, records aside, and you have yourself a community; a home.


Please reach out and welcome Larry to our community, (320) 229-3504.


United Way Neighborhood Resource Centers

It’s been another whirlwind of a school year so far, and we’re excited to share more updates about our work in the United Way Neighborhood Resource Centers at Discovery and Lincoln schools.

New Face At Discovery Community School


Sadam Omar

Our new navigator at Discovery this year is Sadam Omar. Sadam is a St. John’s University graduate with a degree in economics who has worked locally for Catholic Charities and CentraCare Health. He was drawn to the position by the opportunity to help parents understand the need for engagement in their students’ academics. He’s worked in partnership with Community Ed to create special group trainings as well as work with parents individually. Our first navigator, Jama Mohamed, returned to Kenya this past summer for two years of service bringing basic needs and academic resources to students in refugee camps. As Jama only half-joked, his job is very similar in Africa as it was in St. Cloud, he’s just serving a few hundred thousand more students!

Family Engagement


KoriAnn Carter continues in her second year navigating at Lincoln. She’s particularly proud of her results bringing parents together for Friday Coffee with Kori, which has turned into a parent affinity group elevating the voices of the community in the school, and Hungry 4 Success, which brings professionals and community leaders to Thursday lunches with Lincoln students. Sadam also helped Discovery launch Hoya Hour (Mom hour) that grew to over 70 moms attending a weekly meeting at Discovery. Both schools also had sparkling Bingo nights this fall, full of relationship building between teachers, staff and parents in a fun setting. Over 430 people came to Discovery and over 300 to Lincoln.

Summer United


We’re very excited to report that the new set of partnerships between the schools, KidStop, Great Theatre, Waite Park Police Department, and other programs resulted in dramatic summer engagement success. Over 110 more students attended daily summer programming this year because of this program, and we expanded academic summer school to include social emotional learning, sports and recreation and art. Available hours were increased from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. last year to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. this past summer, and a four-week program became eight weeks! Early academic returns are positive and we look forward to sharing results as the data is revealed.


Looking forward, we have more family engagement on tap as well as the launch of our community garden at Lincoln and the promotion of Summer United, year 2.


Day of Caring Highlights

Day of Caring volunteers

United Way of Central Minnesota hosted Day of Caring on September 20, 2018. Day of Caring brought people together from across the community and made a positive impact through volunteerism.

Overall, more than 600 United Way volunteers completed 67 projects on Day of Caring – equaling 1,869 hours of service and an estimated dollar value to our community of nearly $51,547.

Beyond the numbers, some of the projects included: harvesting vegetables, construction projects, interacting with residents at long-term care facilities, packaging food and activities with children.

Day of Caring Volunteers

Thank you to all the United Way volunteers who helped make our community a better place to live and work. A huge thank you to UBS for being the Day of Caring event sponsor.

If you missed out on United Way Day of Caring and would like to coordinate a project for your company, community group, family, etc., please contact Mary Krippner at 320.223.7991.


2018 Campaign Highlights



Scheels has been an incredible partner over the years and is always the first to respond to a need. When we told them our Neighborhood Resource Centers were in need of some specific items they jumped at the chance to get their employees involved in a stuff the truck drive. Employees donated clothing, shoes, winter apparel, household items, toys, games and even office supplies. We are so fortunate to have such a supportive company champion in our area.




During their United Way campaign employees at Nahan could participate in a soup and sandwich lunch served by the management team. As an added fun activity, they could challenge other team members to a game of Pie in the Face. Each round was just $1.00, unless they wanted to challenge a member of management, then the cost went up to $2.00 but the manager couldn’t say no! There were some intense games played and tons of fun had by all!


Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities also wanted to have a little fun with their managers so they created a pie in the face challenge. Everyone could put money in the pie plate for the person they wanted to see get “pied”. The manager with the most money at the end was the “winner”. We have learned that there was some strategy going on to get more money in certain manager’s pie plates. They also gave the winner the option to buy their way out which meant they had to pay more into someone else’s plate to get them the highest amount at the end!