United Way of Hill County supporters gathered for the fourth annual luncheon Wednesday to hand out awards to deserving people and praise local nonprofit organizations.
But in the midst of the celebration, Executive Director Lorraine Verploegen warned some groups may face difficult times in coming months.
Pending budget cuts will have an impact on organizations that provide health, education and monetary assistance to people on the Hi-Line, she told the gathering at the Eagles Club.
“The power to give time on special needs of the community, advocating the needs of the community and donating monetarily to keep programs will be the greatest challenge we will see, hear and feel in this next year,” she said.
Because of changes in funding, Verploegen predicted many agencies will not be able to help as many or provide as many services.
Staffing will have to be cut at some agencies and others may have to close their doors, she said.
“This is the year where we not only communicate by seeing and hearing what others are doing or to coordinate an event together, but to collaborate, which means to work and share resources — money, space, people — in order to make a significant impact on health, education and income, United Way’s three main priorities.
Along those lines, she said, the United Way’s board has “taken the bull by the horns,” and is working on a three-year strategic plan aimed at making the most impact on the community the funded partners.
The board will continue working on three initiatives and will determine what it can do and what it can expect to accomplish over the next three years.
Three outgoing board members, Andy Carlson of Havre Public Schools, Dee Helten, a retired teacher, and Trygve “Spike” Magelssen, were honored by outing board president Karen Sloan, who in turn was given a plaque for her service.
New directors were introduced. They are:
• Tracy Crawford of Walmart
• Karla Geda of Havre Public Schools
• Katie Litzinger of NorthWestern Energy
• Maureen Odegard of Havre Public Schools
• Kristi Shettel of Northern Montana Health Care
• Phil Stokes of Torgerson’s.
Norm Gorder Community Spirit Award
Tom Rygg has worked on just about every kind of community project.
He’s supported religious programs, fire prevention projects, historical preservation efforts and business development programs.
This kind of community service is what made him the perfect candidate for the Norm Gorder Community volunteer Award, according to Darcy Reum, who presented the award Wednesday.
Rygg’s work at Galusha, Higgins & Galusha has enabled him to help nonprofit organizations with much of the business expertise they may be lacking, she said.
He has donated his time and his knowledge in preparing tax services, training staff and board members to govern their organizations and has been a champion for local government in adopting new accounting standards.
He has been a member of and a leader in the Lions Club and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, where he was a board member.
But according to Debbie Vandeberg, Chamber executive director, after he left the board, he continued working on projects as a committee member. He was always on hand working with the Chamber to help when the opening of a new business was celebrated.
Among the groups he has worked with:
• The H. Earl Clack Museum Foundation, which also funds the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump
• The rural fire districts
• Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd board
• The Father/Son, Father/Daughter banquets for Messiah Lutheran Church, which he managed, and
• Odyssey of the Mind, for which he was regional co-director.
Norm Gorder Community Spirit Business Award
It almost seemed as if Robert Floren would be running out of breath as he rattled off all of the community organizations Valley Furniture has helped over the last nearly 60 years.
Floren spoke to the annual luncheon meeting of the United Way of Hill County as he announced that Valley Furniture had won the annual Norm Gorder Community Spirit Business Award.
The company has donations to many community events and fundraisers, it has sponsored school and teams, it has donated to United way and it has urged employees to do the same.
But when Cathy Brown and Mike Evans came forward to accept the award, they said it was the company’s employees who made it all possible.
“We’ve got to thank them,” Evans said. “They are the best.”
Floren said the store has made donations to all kinds of good causes.
“Let me share with you the many and various ways this business has had a role in building our community,” he said.
• It purchases tickets and donates a door prize to the annual Ag Appreciation Banquet.
• It supports the athletic program at Montana State University-Northern and student scholarships.
• It is a corporate sponsor for Havre High School.
• Donations are given to golf tournaments, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Walleye’s Unlimited, the Elk Foundation, the homeless shelter, Men Who Cook for Women Who Wine, the Clack foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, Montana Actors’ Theatre, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the Lions swim team, Relay for Life and many more.
“Just like many other local businesses, they give money or goods to benefits for people who have no insurance and need assistance,” Floren added.
Norm Gorder Community Spirit Award
Tyler Palmer was talking to a friend who attends Pastor Tim Zerger’s Community Alliance Church about the needs of Free My Sheep Soup Kitchen.
Years of wear had taken its toll on the outside of the building and some work was needed.
So, Tyler talked to Zerger, and he had some minor fix-ups in mond.
But Tyler, a Havre High School senior, got involved in the project and worked with Zerger.
The repairs became more substantial and the effort became Tyler’s Eagle Scout project. It took most of last summer to complete. But massive improvements were made to the outside of the building that serves 15,500 meals a year.
Tyler was awarded the second Norm Gorder award for young people.
“This young person saw a need in the community and hoped local businesses would be able to donate toward the project,” said Joe Von Stein, who introduced Tyler.
Von Stein said Tyler convinced many people to volunteer as helpers.
“Although he is a quiet young man, he is the type of individual whom adults look at and want to help because he exudes the character and confidence of someone who will make a difference in the community,” Von Stein said.
“This young person truly showed how, working together, a big job became workable, friendships were made and the Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen glows with new siding and trim, a new cement entry and old trees removed,” Von Stein said.
The Tocqueville Society Award
United Way gives out the Tocqueville Society Award to an individual or foundation that donates $10,000 or more to a United Way.
For the third year in a row, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Foundation made a $10,000 gift to Hill County’s United Way.
A.J. Arjanen, BNSF terminal manager, accepted the award.