Pacf 2019 board (swif photo)

Pipestone Area Community Foundation: 
A Passion for Projects in Pipestone

September 4, 2019
Source: Southwest Initiative Foundation

Kevin Paulsen remembers sitting down at one of the first meetings to organize what would become the Pipestone Area Community Foundation: “It was just a group of local citizens who were looking for a way to help those who wanted to give back to the community.” 

It was 1999, and these citizens were focused on the new Pipestone Area Schools building. It had taken three attempts to pass the local school bonding bill, and amenities for the building were scaled back to lower the cost. Kevin and the rest of the founding board of Pipestone Area Educational Enrichment Foundation – its original name – raised money to make sure local students would still get a top-notch learning environment. 

“As a result of timing and bidding, they were able to put a lot of those amenities into the building, so a lot of funds we raised ended up going to purchasing supplies for the new school such as choir robes, whiteboards, band instruments and art supplies,” said Kevin, who was on the Pipestone Area Community Foundation (PACF) advisory board for 15 years, is a lifelong community member and serves as Community Bank President at First Bank and Trust in Pipestone. 

Diana Anderson was Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Director of Fund Development in 1999 and guided PACF’s founding volunteers in strategic planning as part of SWIF’s pilot community foundation program. Diana is now the President and CEO at SWIF. 

“Diana played a major role in helping us decide what we wanted to do and what we wanted to accomplish,” Kevin said. “She helped us go through the transition from an education foundation to a community foundation. Later, we worked with Liz Cheney at the foundation, and she helped us refocus when we were seeming to stall out.” 

Listening has been as important as offering guidance over the years in supporting new and longstanding community foundations in the region. 
 
“A best practice is for our work to be community led. That requires deep listening. It’s reciprocal, our relationship with the local community foundations. We get the best sense of what’s happening in communities. They get the best ideas they can customize and make unique to their communities,” Diana said. 

After the new school was built and outfitted, PACF kept its focus on education and started fundraising for scholarships, planning to raise enough money to offer a scholarship to every Pipestone senior pursuing higher education. But there wasn’t as much student participation as they’d hoped. When the local Dollars For Scholars chapter received two substantial estate gifts, the foundation granted its remaining scholarship funds to the chapter and focused on major projects to benefit the community. 
 
Pipestone Area Community Foundation has focused on projects in the community, including revitalizing Harmon Park.
One of those projects was revitalizing Harmon Parkthe crown jewel of Pipestone’s city parks. Located at the intersection of three highways, it’s the largest park in town and home to the Family Aquatic Center; courts for tennis, basketball and volleyballpicnic shelters; and a softball diamond. It was in disrepair when PACF started fundraising and granted more than $226,000 to bring it back to life as a gathering place for recreation to be enjoyed by residents and visitors. Harmon Park was rededicated by the City of Pipestone at the 2012 Water Tower Festival. 

PACF also raised $415,000 to build a modern event center called Hiawatha Lodge that opened in 2016. And in 2019the foundation helped Pipestone Area Softball and Baseball Association raise funds for a new concession stand and accessible restrooms in Westview Park, near the home of the local baseball team, the Pipestone A’s. The project benefits athletes of all ages, their families and the entire community. 

Current advisory board members are carrying on the 20-year tradition of helping community.  

“I think a lot of the things we do are really economic development,” said current board member Ian Cunningham. “If you come to Pipestone for a ball game and the bathrooms are terrible, you’re probably not going to want to come back.” 

PACF board member Jody Wacker moved to Pipestone 15 years ago with her family and is the director at Meinders Community Library in town. She’s interested in ways the community foundation can expand the options for kids in Pipestone, especially middle schoolers, and opportunities to offer “something for everybody” in town.  
“Your community is what you make it,” Jody said. 

And PACF is making Pipestone an even better place to live. Over 20 years, the local community foundation has awarded $667,002 in grants. 

Linda Erickson — whose reason for joining the PACF board was “just a passion for Pipestone” — knows how important grants are, even the ones that seem small.  
“When we’d volunteer to help with lunch at senior dining, the ladies would show us where to put a pan to catch the drips from the dishwasher,” said Linda, who encouraged them to apply for a grant to improve their services. Now the group has a new dishwasher and refrigerator to better serve seniors.

Recent PACF grantinclude pool passes and swimming lessons for low-income families, Code Club computer programming at the library, new computers for the local historical society and holiday lights downtown.  

Looking to the future, board member Marci Mahik would like to see something like a gym and activity center that’s free for local teenagers.

Board chair Blake 
Klinsing envisions investing in maintenance over time, so the community won’t have as much need for major overhauls. 

“The community has a history of supporting projects and organizations not only monetarily but also with volunteers. It’s a truly engaged community,” said Kevin. “People were always saying, ‘What’s next?’” 

Whatever comes next, the local community foundation can help pursue those dreams.

Pipestone is one of four pilot communities of Southwest Initiative Foundation’s local community foundation program, celebrating 20 years in 2019.
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Hiawatha lodge   erica volkir

The Ceremonial Dedication for the Hiawatha Lodge

The ceremonial dedication for the Hiawatha Lodge took place on Sunday, June 26, 2016.

The property was officially transferred to the city of Pipestone effective May 25 by the Pipestone Area Community Foundation (PACF), the nonprofit entity that raised the $415,000 needed to construct and fully equip the lodge. The Sunday ceremony provided an opportunity for PACF to thank the donors for making the lodge possible; to thank the Hiawatha Club for donating the 43-acre property to the city; to thank the city and Public Works department for its caretaking; and to dedicate the building to Pipestone’s past, present and future.

“This is a Pipestone project, a project dedicated to the citizens of Pipestone today, dedicated to the people of the Hiawatha Club and the Hiawatha Pageant performers who for years showcased this place, dedicated to the people who still come back to Pipestone and call it home, and dedicated to all the Pipestone people yet to come,” said Tim Haubrich, PACF board president.

Haubrich said it was the PACF’s hope that the lodge and grounds would forever mean a special place for all who visited and used its amenities.

“And also a place to reflect upon the precious memories of the past,” Haubrich said. “Memories of pageants and picnics, of swimming and ice skating and memories of family and friends.”

Four speakers followed Haubrich, including Greg Carrow, who spoke on behalf of the city’s Hiawatha Pageant Park Commission, the city’s subcommittee that oversees and advises the City Council on Hiawatha Pageant Park operations and improvements. The city formed the committee in 2014 following the Club’s donation of the grounds. Carrow thanked the PACF, the donors and the Hiawatha Club, which also donated $96,000 with the property to improve the park.

“That’s been very helpful for some of the things we’ve done out here,” Carrow said.

Some of those things included the harvesting of old trees and the planting of 30 new mature trees. The lake was stocked with fish earlier this summer by the Department of Natural Resources and the old costume house was transformed and remodeled into a picnic shelter with another heated space that could be used as a warming shelter for future skating.

Carrow said they’re currently working on a walking trail that surrounds the property and can be accessed at any point.
Mick Myers, speaking on behalf of the Hiawatha Club, reminisced about the work the 40 Hiawatha Club families put into performing the Song of Hiawatha Pageant more than 500 times over 60 years from 1949 - 2008.

“There was a lot of blood and sweat and tears that went into this place; a lot of arguments. A lot of joy. A lot of arguments,” Myer said, to laughter. “Graduations, weddings, and here we are. We’re a family. We did stay together. We’re proud of what we did.”

Myers was followed by George Hicks, a past pageant performer who played the role of Hiawatha from 1972-1987. Hicks and family members were the largest donors for the lodge in the $100,000 and above category and for Sunday’s event, he shared some of the behind-the-scenes stories of performances past. The speakers concluded with Mayor
Laurie Ness, who said it would “tough to even begin to show the appreciation the city has.

“As a representative of the city of Pipestone, I graciously accept your gift, and accept the responsibility of caretaking,” Ness said.
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Promoting a Greater Life for Present and Future Generations

The Pipestone Area Community Foundation is dedicated to promoting a greater quality of life for the Pipestone Area. We achieve this by helping to fund specific community projects or area organizations. These projects and organizations all enhance the community we consider home; making a better life for present and future generations.

The Foundation serves as a central source working to meet the various needs of the area. With your support of the Foundation, we will assure that contributions are put towards projects that meet our goals and mission.
Dedicated to promoting a greater life for present and future generations by meeting needs and creating opportunities in the Pipestone area.
— Mission Statement