United Way unveils funding allocations totaling $129,957

Prostrollo’s, FFG receive awards

By Zac Zwaschka, Staff Reporter, Madison Daily Leader; Reprinted with permission

The Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) has provided support to countless agencies and programs throughout Lake, Miner and Moody counties for decades. Throughout their work, they’ve helped fund projects in the fields of education, health care, basic needs and more.

“Our mission is to change lives and improve the communities we serve,” IAUW Vice President Danielle Kearin said during the group’s annual meeting on Monday.

Each year, IAUW members announce their accomplishments and present awards for Volunteer and Donor of the Year. They also took this time to unveil the 2023 allocations.

Guests visit prior to the start of the meeting.

The meeting was led by Kearin and IAUW President Lori Gustaf. In addition, the group welcomed Melissa Dougan as the new executive director.

Gustaf and Kearin reported that 2022 was another successful year for the IAUW, with $129,957 in funding announced for 2023. This money will assist 31 programs and agencies as well as the IAUW caring fund, which holds finances in reserve for any project that may need a little extra.

Kearin said the money was raised through their “Dine Out pledge, Downtown in Madtown and other fund-raising efforts.” The Dine Out pledge refers to their Dine Out to Donate event, which saw 22 local businesses agree to donate a portion of their profits to the IAUW. The event took place on Oct. 5 and raised a record-setting $4,174. Kearin added that the fund-raiser has accrued around $17,000 since 2017.

Other major events for the IAUW include the Win Big Raffle and 15×15 Challenge. Not only are they both top earners for the group, but they also feature a community prize winner.

The Win Big Raffle kicked off in June, and the winner was drawn Aug. 25. Lake County International was the event’s main sponsor and donated a Farmall garden tractor as the prize. Six hundred tickets were sold, totaling $60,000 raised. Madison’s Eric Nelson was the raffle’s winner.

“I think people are just accustomed to buying a ticket every year now,” Kearin added. “Whether they want the prize or not, they know this is a way they can help support United Way.”

The 15×15 Challenge works by asking participants to pledge $15 per month to the IAUW for 2023. Their names are then placed in a drawing for a $500 Visa gift card, with the winner being selected on Nov. 29. The event is sponsored by East River Federal Credit Union and has helped raise $92,000 in the last five years. Kearin noted that 112 participants joined the event, and the winner was Madison’s Helen Melcher.

Along with this, the IAUW announced the outstanding supporters from the previous year. These were divided into the categories of top donors and top volunteers.

Prostrollo Auto Mall received the honor of Outstanding Donor for its continued dedication to the group and its mission.

“Prostrollo’s has been a heartfelt member for as many years as I’ve been on this board and most likely many more,” Kearin said.

IAUW President Lori Gustaf, far right, presents the Outstanding Supporter award to Nick and Renae Prostrollo.

The Outstanding Volunteers award went to the past, present and future staff of Firstline Funding Group.

“They sell raffle tickets for us, they stuff envelopes, they label things, they organize, they prepare campaign packets; we’d be lost without them, honestly,” Kearin added.

Following these awards, the group distributed allocation certificates for each of the partnered agencies and programs for the coming year. These include the Madison Area Boy Scouts, East Dakota Transit, Interlakes Senior Citizen Center, Valiant Living and a host of others.

The meeting included a brief presentation from Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Dan McColley and former board member Scott Parsley. The pair discussed three Madison properties the organization owns and their plans to turn them into new homes.

McColley said they hope to complete one each summer for the next three years and that they are currently in search of qualified buyers. Potential homeowners must have an annual income between $25,000 and $62,000 to be eligible for the organization’s zero-interest mortgage program.

They closed the presentation by encouraging anyone interested in joining Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to seek further information on the website, Brookingshabitat.org.

Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Dan McColley spoke about the organization’s aim to build three homes in Madison in the next three years. Also pictured is volunteer Scott Parsley.

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