Nashwauk Area Community Fund enriches life for seniors, families, and children

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Eight recipients received $19,000 in funding from the Nashwauk Area Community Fund during the Annual Grant Cycle.

“Our Community Fund was established over a decade ago and continues to grow and give back to our community,” says Brian Gangl, Chair of the Nashwauk Area Community Fund Advisory Committee. “It is the generous donors in our community that allow us to invest in projects that improve the quality of life for many in the Nashwauk area.”

Bone Builders helps maintain the independence of older adults

Bone Builders, a program of ElderCircle, helps to maintain the independence of older adults by linking them and their caregivers to services, which enable them to stay in their homes longer.

Bone Builders is a no-impact, non-aerobic exercise program designed for older adults to build muscle and improve bone density, which can help prevent/reverse osteoporosis. Surveys indicate other health benefits including improved balance and flexibility, increased physical strength and energy, and improved overall health. Bone Builders also offers socialization for older adults who may otherwise be isolated and lonely.

Bone Builders is designed for both the active older adult to maintain fitness and activity levels and prevent/delay the physical effects of aging, and for less active adults to increase and/or regain physical strength, balance, and flexibility so they can remain independent in their own homes.

Program Activities include twice a week, 90-minute sessions with light exercises, stretching, balancing exercises and social events. There is no cost for participants or volunteers with all materials, weights, training, and supplies provided by ElderCircle. Sessions are led by volunteers age 55 and older. Volunteer training and refresher courses are held twice a year. Bone Builders currently serves about 180 Itasca County participants at ten area locations. The average participant age is 73. Funding is generously provided by the Nashwauk Area Community Fund, Gibbons Family Fund, and the Edgar and Hannah Hetteen Fund. [PHOTO: ElderCircle Bone Builders: (left) Warren Stolp, Nashwauk Area Community Fund Advisory Committee Member presents a grant to Lisa Randall, ElderCircle; along with many happy Nashwauk Bone Builders and (far right, back row) Larry Majewski and Beth Voigt, both Advisory Committee Members of the Nashwauk Area Community Fund]

N-K Band Program provides instruments for students in need

The NK bands are the largest student group in the Nashwauk-Keewatin School District. They serve a diverse population of students at Nashwauk-Keewatin and have around 40% of the high school student body participating in the band program, and it’s growing. The program may not be large in numbers compared to other schools but has a significantly higher percentage of students involved in band compared to other area schools.

The N-K Band allows students to continue making music on newer, up-to-date instruments. Due to the expense, many students rely on the school to provide them with an instrument. With the proper musical tools, students can flourish and thrive in the musical arts. With funds from the Nashwauk Area Community Fund, it is possible to put instruments in the hands of students who need them.

The band program performs in over 25 community performances per year. Whether parades, pep-bands, football games, homecoming coronations, Memorial Day services, the list is expansive, but community performances are only one aspect of the band. For many students at NK, the band is their favorite reason to come to school every day, and band is their second family.

“The band at Nashwauk-Keewatin isn't just a group of kids getting together to play music, it is a group of individuals from all walks of life who contribute to something greater than themselves,” says Chad Snider, NK Band Instructor. “In the band we don't judge on appearances or family stature. Every student who walks through the door or puts on the uniform is an NK band member for life, young or old. As an NK Band member, we work together to beat the odds and produce music and emotions that don't usually come from a ‘small-town’ band program.” [PHOTO: NK Band: Chad Snider, NK Band Instructor, with many musical members of the NK Band]

Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Shelf Program provides food for many

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Shelf (NHN) is a well-known local food shelf in the Nashwauk community. The Food Shelf distributes over 5,000 pounds of food and essentials monthly to approximately 190 households.

Neighbors helping Neighbors Food Shelf serves households in the area from Keewatin in the East, Goodland in the South, Calumet in the West, and up to Buck Lake in the North. The Food Shelf is open for distribution three times per month and on an emergency basis.

“We assist area residents by soliciting and distributing food and non-food products to those in need and provide materials to the public about the nature and solutions of the problems of hunger," says Karen Peterson. NHN considers special diets such as gluten free, low sugar and low salt options with fresh produce from the local community garden and other farmer donations as the season permits. Collaboration with other food shelves and food industry businesses provides information and resources to assure the best service to all clients.

Volunteers assist the client in food selection and often even help carry out items. The NHN is a distribution center for the NAPS boxes for seniors. Some transportation is provided for clients who need it, and NAPS box monthly delivery to local low-income housing units is available. NHN has an inviting waiting area with a greeter, coffee, and treats for those who want to socialize or are waiting to visit the food shelf. Often there are tables set up with household goods and clothing that clients can take home with them. The NHN received a grant from the Nashwauk Area Community Fund during the Annual Grant Cycle. [PHOTO: Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Shelf: (left) Missy DePaulis and Beth Voigt, Nashwauk Area Community Fund Advisory Committee Member]

ISD #319 Spartan After School Fun Club extends educational day for students

The Spartan After School Fun Club provides enrichment and quality supervision for children from kindergarten through sixth grade after school. Daily events include academics, enrichment, fun activities, and a daily snack.

The program provides all children a safe, supervised location after school and is open, four days per week until 5:30pm. The Fun Club provides participants with support and enrichment opportunities to improve academic outcomes, social-emotional learning, healthy behaviors, and provide economically distressed students with a safe place.

All children have access to educational support, homework help and tutoring, social-emotional learning opportunities, enrichment activities, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART and Math) activities, a healthy snack, healthy lifestyle learning, and an opportunity to build a relationship with a caring adult. The After School Fun Club received support from the Nashwauk Area Community Fund through the Annual Grant Cycle. [PHOTO: Spartan After School Program: (far left) Brian Gangl, Nashwauk Area Community Fund Advisory Committee Chair and (far right) Robin Gangl, Nashwauk Area Community Fund Advisory Committee Secretary present a grant to children in the Spartan After School Program.]

Keewatin 4th of July Committee to improve O’Brien children’s recreation area

The Keewatin 4th of July Committee wrote a comprehensive plan in 2014 that included a commitment to improve the children’s play area at the O’Brien Recreational Area. The area is part of the Mesabi Trail, which is heavily used during the summer and into fall.

Funds will be used to install a new and safe playground for area children and families that use the beach at O’Brien. The area also hosts family and class reunions, weddings, graduations, birthday parties and is a rest area for many people who bike the trail. Safety is the number one reason that a new and safe playground needs to be built. The old playground was removed because it was run down and unsafe for children. The Nashwauk Area Community Fund is providing funding for the O’Brien Recreational Area improvement project.

Home Visitor Program reaches out to Itasca County seniors

The mission of the Home Visitor Program is to check on Itasca County seniors; assess any mental health difficulties, living conditions and social service needs, and connect them to community resources.

The program is free to any senior, age 60 and older. Two licensed Social Workers conduct in-home visits to assess mental health and social service needs, and help seniors understand the resources that are available to them.

The Home Visitor Program seeks to prevent deterioration and crises among seniors by meeting with them in their home and helping them solve problems that negatively impact their quality of life. Advanced age frequently brings physical and social losses and emotional pain. Because elderly often resist asking for help, Home Visitor social workers go to them.

Referrals come from many sources, often from seniors themselves. The first thing on a home visit is to establish trust and rapport with the senior. The social worker does an informal assessment and teaches them about choices and options, and how to access the services they would like to use. The goal is to visit 250 seniors per year and in 2016, 277 seniors were served with 711 visits. Another goal of the Home Visitor Program is to provide education to 800 individuals about issues affecting the elderly. Funding is provided by the Nashwauk Area Community Fund, Peter Burich and Gloria Sella Burich Fund and Edgar and Hannah Hetteen Fund. [PHOTO: Home Visitor Program: (left) Cathy Dodge, Community Foundation Board Member; Cindy Brummer and Cindy Stapleton, the “Two Cindys” of the Home Visitor Program; and Julie Wilcox, Community Foundation Board Member]

Nashwauk Junior Olympic Volleyball provides young women opportunities to compete

The Nashwauk Junior Olympic Volleyball Club provides young women age 12-14 the opportunity to increase their athletic experience and skills at a high level of play that often is not offered in small rural areas. They also have the opportunity to be seen by college recruiters for the future potential of receiving an athletic scholarship.

“This is an amazing opportunity to take a very talented group of young women to compete throughout the tristate area at the highest level,” says Coach Rossi Gangl. “These young women are willing to work hard to improve their skills and represent their small school of Nashwauk throughout the region.” The Nashwauk Area Community Fund is providing funding for this opportunity to show that small schools can still compete at a high level.

Providing Nashwauk High School with supplies gives students practical work experience

With funding from the Nashwauk Area Community Fund, Nashwauk high school students will be able to gain skills through accomplishing wood working projects. Students enrolled in the carpentry, wood working, and engineering courses will be using hand and power tools to build and take home wood working projects. The funds will be used to purchase wood to serve 88 students in grades 7-12 with hands-on practical work experiences.

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