waf fall grants 2020

Waseca Area Foundation Board Chair David Oraskovich and WAF Executive Director Amy Potter led the fall grant program. The program took place in the Waseca Public School Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Nov. 17. (Bailey Grubish/Southernminn.com)

School and nonprofit officials gathered Tuesday afternoon in the Waseca Public School Performing Arts Center to receive the Waseca Area Foundation’s grants totaling $240,331.

WAF Board Chair David Oraskovich said it’s an “exciting time” and he appreciates people taking the time to hear about how the funding will be used in the community during the event.

“The grants that we provide and that are provided by the Waseca Area Foundation are for community development of projects and programs that are going to enhance our communities and these are maybe things that add to the quality educational programs that we have, things that are cultural things that add wellness, recreation, social services, environment and even civic opportunities,” he said.

Every fall and spring, the WAF awards 60% of its grants toward education programs and the remaining 40% go toward the arts and community services. Recipients spread out to social distance while wearing masks in the Waseca Public Schools Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.

The grant funds awarded at the program go to help different programs around the community. Without these grant funds some of the programs wouldn’t be possible.

“It’s very cool to see a foundation, like the Waseca Area Foundation, that’s willing to support teachers and students for professional development and growth, it’s really awesome to see,” said Connolly Turek, a physical education teacher at Hartley Elementary School.

Turek received a grant from the Rosenau Legacy of Angels fund for $950. The funds will pay for a new iPad Pro and Apple pen that he will be using for his physical education classes at Hartley. He hopes that with this technology he can usher in a new era for elementary physical education in Waseca as he has seen the benefits for distance learning and other uses.

“I’m just very grateful and thankful for the foundation to give me these funds,” Turek said. “I’m really excited to work with this new technology, that should be a blast.”

Farmamerica received $2,500 from the EF Johnson Foundation and $1,000 from the Rosenau Legacy of Angels for farm and home safety days. Farmamerica also received $5,000 from the EF Johnson Foundation and $10,000 from the Rosenau Legacy of Angels for the spring and fall school tours. Another grant for $1,000 came from the Better Days Ahead COVID-19 funds for operational support and virtual content.

Executive Director Jessica Rollins and Programs Director Samantha Meyer were present to accept the grants. Before exiting the stage WAF Executive Director Amy Potter surprised them with an additional grant from the Rosenau Funds for $25,000 to go toward the capital campaign. Rollins and Meyer were shocked as Potter made this announcement before they took their seats.

“We are so humbled to receive this funding,” Rollins said. “It is a lot of money to come from the foundation and we are very grateful for that.”

Hartley Elementary Principal Ben O’Brien received $1,500 for the school from the Better Days Ahead COVID-19 fund for outdoor seating and learning space. He started his speech out by saying the surprise Farmamerica received gave him goosebumps.

“Honestly, grants come from people, they come from a support and they come from our community,” O’Brien said. “These days, now more than ever, are just so meaningful to schools and I look at the list before I get up here and all the organizations and all the good you’re going to do for adults, kids, just anybody and how it’s going to help them. It’s hard not to be emotional with the impact that you’re going to do.”

The funds he accepted will be used to purchase outdoor seating to allow for more learning space at the school and for a safer environment for the students and staff.

“This goes a long way with keeping kids in school, giving it everything we’ve got to give them the best education in one of the most challenging times,” O’Brien said.

Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton high school received $3,000 from the EF Johnson Foundation for senior scholarships with Superintendent Kurt Stumpf accepting the grant.

New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Community Education received $1,500 from the EF Johnson Foundation for youth development grant scholarships. This money assists families and community members pay for the programs offered by community education.

The Waseca area Big Brothers Big Sisters program received $5,000 from the EF Johnson Foundation and $5,000 from the Rosenau Legacy of Angels fund for mentoring support in Waseca.

Michelle Redman

Michelle Redman, with Big Brothers Big Sisters, thanked the Waseca Area Foundation for the grant that will help with mentoring support in Waseca. All grant recipients had the chance to speak when accepting the grant to share what the money is going to. (Bailey Grubish/Southernminn.com)

“This pandemic has been horrible for all of us, it’s been truly trying, but you know who’s really hurt is the underprivileged, the underserved, the disadvantaged and that’s a lot of the youth we serve,” said Michelle Redman with Big Brothers Big Sisters. “We have done our best to continue to serve the children in our program and to extend our services to more children, because that’s what’s so truly important during this time. Our fundraisers have gone away, so I have become a professional grant writer...these funds will help us so much to serve more children and to continue to serve the children we have.”

Fall grant recipients and awards:

Waseca High School- $20,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for senior scholarships.

JWP High School- $3,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for senior scholarships.

NRHEG High School- $3,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for senior scholarships.

Riverland (Austin) and South Central College (Mankato and Faribault)- $10,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for non-traditional scholarships.

Farmamerica- $2,500 from EF Johnson Foundation and $1,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for farm and home safety days, $5,000 from EF Johnson Foundation and $10,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for spring/fall school tours, $1,000 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for operational support/virtual content and $25,000 from the Rosenau Funds for the capital campaign.

Hartley Elementary- $950 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for iPad Pro for the physical education department, $1,500 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for outdoor seating/learning space.

Waseca Community Education- $10,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for youth development grant scholarships.

NRHEG Community Education- $1,500 from EF Johnson Foundation for youth development grant scholarships.

NRHEG Schools- $1,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for special education literature.

JWP Community Education- $500 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for music/PE equipment for preschool.

JWP Schools- $941 from EF Johnson Foundation for Summer Transportation to Mental Health Services.

Waseca County- $20,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for Waseca County Internet Expansion.

Waseca Junior/Senior High PTO- $3,990 from EF Johnson Foundation for outdoor tables for learning space.

Waseca Band Boosters- $18,856 from Rosenau Waseca Band Board for Marching Band Trailer wraps (3) and $800 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for Marching Band operational support.

Waseca Area Food Shelf- $4,500 from EF Johnson Foundation for Healthy Food Purchases.

Waseca City Historical Society- $1,270 from EF Johnson Foundation for Hodgson Hall remodel project.

Waseca Public Library- $5,200 from EF Johnson Foundation for Adventure packs, $2,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for Get Lit Tween Subscription boxes, $6,753 from EF Johnson Foundation, $3,847 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels and $5,300 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for hotspots providing internet service.

Waseca Arts Council- $3,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for video series and window display and $1,262 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for gift shop digital sales/renovation.

Waseca Chorale- $1,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for artist expenses and piano tuning.

Jr. Achievement- $2,000 from EF Johnson Foundation and $3,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for Ag career exploration day with Farmamerica.

Waseca Sleigh and Cutter- $5,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for parade luncheon and activities.

Bethlehem Inn- $2,291 from EF Johnson Foundation for bathroom project.

Life Work Planning Center- $2,200 from EF Johnson Foundation for women in transition services.

Big Brothers Big Sisters- $5,000 from EF Johnson Foundation and $5,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for mentoring support in Waseca and $5,000 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for Waseca AVID program support.

IRIS- $2,000 from EF Johnson Foundation for advocate program materials and $498 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for PPE supplies.

The Christopher Center- $5,000 EF Johnson Foundation for Waseca City family support.

Boy Scout Troop 85- $640 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for heater for “Scout Shop.”

Simply Saved Thrift Store- $1,500 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 for clothing/housewares for families.

Waseca Hockey Association- $1,000 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 and $1,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for operational support.

Waseca Soccer Club- $1,000 from Better Days Ahead COVID-19 and $1,000 from Rosenau Legacy of Angels for varsity program support.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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