Volunteers sod four baseball fields in 30 hours

by Dennis Dalman
news@thenewsleaders.com

When Gordy Meyer told the Sartell City Council many times that volunteerism would be a huge part of developing Pinecone Central Park, he wasn’t kidding.
In just a few days of work (30 hours all told), 120 volunteers sodded the four new youth baseball fields in the park. Altogether, they rolled out 12,000 rolls of sod, enough to fill 12 semitrucks.
The work began Friday and lasted into Monday. The volunteers ranged in age from 8 to people in their 60s. Most of the people heard about the project through emails or from personal relationships of the many people belonging to the Pinecone Central Park Association, whose president, Gordy Meyer, was one of the volunteers.
Some worked a few hours, others worked full-time through the 30-hour project.
“The support was tremendous and exceeded our expectations,” Meyer said. “We want to give a big thank you to the community.”
The quality mineral sod (as opposed to peat sod) came from a sod company in Forest Lake. By next early summer, the sod will be tough enough for baseball games to begin. The other six fields at Pinecone Central Park were seeded this summer and will be ready for play in 2014. Those fields are multi-purpose fields that can be used for soccer, lacrosse, football and other games.
The sodding project is just the latest example of how Pinecone Central Park, which used to be the Sartell Golf Course, is being developed through a public-private partnership. The city bought the park land four years ago. So far, the Pinecone Park Association has raised $1.3 million for Phase I park development projects. In the last three years, Sartell has spent $200,000 on the park development, mainly for an east-west road through it and a parking lot. Recently, the city authorized more funds, $795,000, for more park developments. The city’s contributions are dependent upon the association’s promises to raise enough private money. Those contributions continue to come in. For instance, the Minnesota Twins gave $5,000 to install dugouts at the baseball diamonds. Meyer said the association is hoping to raise another $150,000 for the rest of Phase I completions by April 2013. Association members have been raising money, grants in in-kind donations for the past three years.

Scholarship for seniors set

Biodiesel: The Fuel That Pays For School
All Minnesota high school seniors eligible for essay contest scholarship

Less than 1,000 words can earn $1,000 for college-bound students in Minnesota, thanks to a scholarship announced at the annual Education Minnesota Professional Conference in St. Paul. The Clean Air Choice™ Biodiesel Scholarship is open to any Minnesota high school senior and offers a $1,000 first-place and $500 second-place award to the winners of an essay contest about biodiesel, a cleaner-burning alternative fuel produced and used in Minnesota. Rules and an online entry form can be found at www.cleanairchoice.org. The scholarship is administered by the American Lung Association in Minnesota, which recognizes biodiesel as a “clean-air choice” fuel that reduces emissions. The scholarship is sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

Boys, Girls Club needs help

The Boys and Girls Club can always use volunteers at any of their 16 sites. Whether you’re interested in playing basketball with teens, reading to a child or doing paperwork in the administrative office, they can use you! Just go online and fill out a Volunteer Application Form. Contact Boys and Girls Club at (320) 252-7616 or visit www.bgcmn.org.

Manor seeks sewing projects helper

Country Manor Care Center is looking for a volunteer to assist residents with special sewing projects (i.e. basic quilts, blankets, and more). Volunteers will meet with assigned residents on a regular basis to assist them in running the sewing machine. They have a sewing machine available for your use, along with donated material, thread, buttons and other accessories. Volunteer must have basic sewing and mending skills and experience, have knowledge of and be able to operate a standard sewing machine, be dependable and able to volunteer once a week for a 1- to 3-hour shift. Contact Jacquie Hartman, Country Manor Care Center, at (320) 253-1920.

Girl Scouts take action

Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines is proud to offer Girl Scouts in ACTION (Agents of Change To Improve Our Neighborhoods). This six-session after-school series brings girls on the Girl Scout journey “It’s Your Planet, Love It” that culminates with a related Take Action event/project. Volunteer group facilitators and assistant group facilitators are needed to infuse fun into the prepared curriculum, working directly with girls in grades 2-5. Contact Leah Voss, Girl Scouts volunteer specialist at lvoss@gslakesandpines.org.

United Way transitions to community-impact funding

Competitive grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations serving the United Way of Central Minnesota service area for funding in 2013-2015. Funding will be awarded within the five aspirations community volunteers, service providers, subject experts and business leaders have established. A complete listing of the aspirations, outcomes and expectations can be found at www.unitedwayhelps.org.
An application will be due Nov. 16. For more information, visit www.thenewsleaders.com and click on Town Crier.

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Competitive grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations serving the United Way of Central Minnesota service area for funding in 2013-2015. Funding will be awarded within the five aspirations community volunteers, service providers, subject experts and business leaders have established, which are as follows:
• Every school-age youth is engaged in ongoing experiences that build positive life skills and support from caring mentors.
• Ensure all people have food to nourish themselves so no one in our communities goes hungry.
• Every young child, birth through third grade, reaches their early learning and literacy potential.
• Increase financial stability and independence among lower-income or struggling households.
• Reduce the impact of homelessness with a special focus on youth and families with children.
There are links between each of these areas, and each area impacts different demographics. For example, according to Wilder research, 55 percent of people experiencing homelessness have a serious mental illness. And Second Harvest Heartland reported since 2008, visits by seniors to Minnesota’s emergency food programs have increased more than 70 percent.
For more than 45 years, United Way of Central Minnesota has empowered local people in need through the caring power of our community. As our community grows, however, the issues facing our community have continued to increase.
The United Way Board of Directors is committed to focusing on solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing the community. The board agreed to place its greatest emphasis on two categories: basic needs and education. Within these categories, five aspirations exist: homelessness, hunger, financial stability, early learning/literacy and quality out-of-school experiences.
“Our vision for the future is bold,” said Ed Laubach, United Way board chair. “For example, we want to make sure our children start kindergarten ready to learn – we know if a child starts behind, they stay behind. We want to ensure everyone in our community has the resources to sustain a quality life.”
While the traditional way of fundraising and donating to nonprofits worked effectively for many years, it’s necessary for United Way to adapt to meet the changing needs in Central Minnesota. Therefore, the organization is shifting to a community-impact model. At its core, this transformation is about a fundamental shift from being a very successful umbrella fundraising organization to an initiative-based organization focusing on long-term, measurable impact by strategically aligning donor dollars to address critical community issues.
In the past, UWCM looked at community impact through the lens of outcomes achieved by funded agency programs. UWCM’s new vision focuses on strategic alignment and will look at agencies through the filter of both direct impact and community impact.
The new model will focus on mobilizing diverse resources and partnerships that go beyond the dollars pledged through the annual campaign. Strategies include roles for advocacy and volunteerism as well as roles for other partners and systems to connect.
“Under the old model, United Way funded more than 45 programs,” said Patrick Powell, United Way president and CEO. “With the new strategic direction, there are new strategies developed which include all target populations and which address important community needs. Existing partners as well as new programs and collaborations are encouraged to apply for funding.”
An application will be due Nov. 16 and can be found at www.unitedwayhelps.org. Invitations to submit a full application will be made on Nov. 30. There will be a required training session for all invited applicants in December. Once invited agencies have completed the training, they will have until Feb. 1 to complete the application.
For more information on the application process, contact Betty Schnettler or Christine Midthun at United Way of Central Minnesota at 252-0227.
About United Way of Central Minnesota
United Way of Central Minnesota is improving lives by mobilizing the caring power in Central Minnesota, focusing on education, income, health and basic needs. A local board of directors governs UWCM and all funding decisions are made by trained, community volunteers. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. For more information on how you can join United Way and its partners to build a stronger Central Minnesota, please visit www.unitedwayhelps.org or call 252-0227.