Celebrating Community Philanthropy

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation recognizes community members for philanthropic generosity and community impact

For the past four years, the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has recognized individuals and families for their philanthropic generosity and impact on local communities. This recognition happens at the Community Foundation’s Annual Event, which was held at Sugar Lake Lodge on Thursday, August 31, 2018. Two awards are presented each year, the Charles K. Blandin Community Giving Award and the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Generational Giving Award.

Named in appreciation of the massive impact that one person (or couple) can have on an entire community, the Charles K. Blandin Community Giving Award is presented in recognition of a proven record of outstanding philanthropy benefiting the citizens and communities of the Greater Itasca Area.

PHOTO: Accepting the award for Jerry and Cathie (Saxhaug) Anderson are Tom, Ann, and Nancy Saxhaug

This year’s recipients of the Charles K. Blandin Community Giving Award are Jerry and Cathie (Saxhaug) Anderson. Jerry and Cathie (Saxhaug) Anderson have created significant and lasting impact on families and individuals in the Greater Itasca Area. By providing naming rights to the Noble Hall & Webb Labeau Sports Complex in Grand Rapids, Jerry and Cathie acknowledge the impact of coaches, teachers and mentors on students, who in turn, have the ability to positively affect the future of our community.

In addition to the Sports Complex, starting in 2007, Jerry and Cathie (Saxhaug) Anderson established academic scholarships for students graduating from Grand Rapids High School. These academic awards provide scholarships that range from single-year awards, to eventually evolving into recurring progressive scholarships that provide $1,000 the first year, $2,000 the second year, $3,000 in the recipient’s junior year, and $4,000 in their senior year of college , when a student usually has higher need and fewer scholarship opportunities,.

In 2014, Jerry and Cathie initiated educational awards for our local workforce. These awards provide educational support to local people who want to live , work and stay here. Over the past several years, a handful local businesses have contributed a significant amount of money and time to this vision of training and supporting our local workforce. MDI, Industrial Lubricant, Grand Itasca Foundation, UPM Blandin, Northern Minnesota Builders and NIE have all worked together with the Community Foundation and Jerry and Cathie to develop and support our local workforce.

Since 2007, Jerry and Cathie have provided over 200 scholarships, totaling over $350,000 which provide education, training and skills that will last local students a life time. “We are extremely appreciative of the incredible commitment of Jerry and Cathie (Saxhaug) Anderson to the Greater Itasca Area,” says Sarah Copeland, Director of Grants and Programs at the Community Foundation.

The inaugural recipient (2015) of the Charles K. Blandin Community Giving Award was Charles (Todd) Driscoll. In 2016, Mike and Mary Ives were presented with the award, and in 2017, Jerry and Shirley Miner were recognized for their contributions to our community. The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Generational Giving Award is presented to a family demonstrating a spirit of philanthropy across generations.

PHOTO: Four generations of the Mullins Family were present to accept the Community Foundation’s Generational Giving Award. (George and Judith seated center, front)

The recipient of the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Generational Giving Award for 2018 is the Mullins Family. “It was wonderful hearing Judith Mullins Gorham and George Mullins speak,” notes Copeland. “George told us about his parents – how his father attended eight grade three times – not because he needed to repeat the grade, but because that was the highest level of education available in the rural area where he lived at the time,” continues Copeland. George’s father, Edgar R. Mullins was the principle of Greenway and Dean of Itasca Junior College, both at the same time, back in the 1920’s when Itasca Junior College (now ICC) was located on the top floor of Greenway High School. “George spoke very highly of both his father, Edgar, and his mother, Bess, and how important education and instilling “doing the right thing” was in their lives,” says Copeland. “The impact on the entire Greater Itasca Area by Mullins Family is significant and can be found throughout the area. Improving yourself through education and living a life of honesty and integrity is enduring and pays off. Those qualities are demonstrated and passed on in each generation of the Mullins Family.”

“We believe it is important to make a special effort to recognize community members who go above and beyond to make our communities better places to live,” states Chris Fulton, Executive Director of the Community Foundation. “Our recipients for 2018 certainly do that, and the impact they have on our local communities is significant. We congratulate and thank Jerry and Cathie (Saxhaug) Anderson and the entire Mullins Family for the good they bring to the Greater Itasca Area.”

The very first Community Foundation Generational Giving Award was presented to the Wilcox Family in 2015. In 2016, the Mary Jo Gibbons Family graciously accepted the award for both the community and education grants they provide, and the extensive time and work the entire family spends together researching and evaluating opportunities to give back. In 2017, we celebrated the Frick Family, who along with JoAnn, incorporates three generations in supporting work and study in vocational and technical fields.

Whether your charitable passions can be served through one of the many established funds, or you have charitable passions of your own to explore, the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation can assist you with your philanthropic giving. To find out more, plan a visit to the Community Foundation office in downtown Grand Rapids, or call (218) 999-9100.

15 views0 comments


350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

  • Facebook Social Icon