Helen Melcher wins 15×15 Challenge

One hundred twelve people took the 15×15 Challenge issued by Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) and East River Federal Credit Union (ERFCU). The contest asked people to pledge at least $15 a month in 2023 to United Way and return their pledge form by November 15.

Helen Melcher of Madison was drawn as the winner and received a $500 Visa gift card donated by ERFCU.

“Interlakes Area United Way does so many good things for so many organizations within the community. By giving through payroll deduction, it is so easy to help,” she said.

IAUW President Lori Gustaf, Executive Director Melissa Dougan and ERFCU Marketing Specialist Erica Clements present a $500 gift card to Helen Melcher of Madison.

IAUW President Lori Gustaf said Melcher is deserving of the award as she has been giving for nearly two decades and finds other ways to show support.

“Helen has dedicated countless hours over the past many years freely giving of her own valuable time, volunteering in support of young families and senior citizens in our community,” Gustaf said. “Her compassion for others and dedication to make others’ lives better is immeasurable.”

The 15×15 Challenge was held in conjunction with IAUW’s current campaign drive. This is the fifth year IAUW and ERFCU have teamed up to offer this incentive. It is linked to over $92,000 in pledges since 2017.

Dine Out to Donate raises $4,700

With 22 participating businesses, this year’s Dine Out to Donate was the most successful on record for Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW). Held October 5, the event raised $4,714 for IAUW’s 2023 campaign, currently underway.

This is the sixth year IAUW has partnered with local eateries for the fundraiser. Since 2017, the event has raised more than $17,000.

“Each year seems to build on the success of the last, and we love this upward trend,” said IAUW Executive Director Melissa Dougan. “We must give credit to the public for showing up as well as the business owners, managers and staff for their hard work and support. They are the reason Dine Out continues to be successful.”

For the event, 22 restaurants and eateries in Lake and Moody Counties pledged to donate a portion of the day’s sales to IAUW. Participating businesses included:

  • Bluejays Bar & Grill, in Egan
  • Classic Corner, in Madison
  • Country Café, in Madison
  • Dairy Queen, in Madison
  • Hillside Steakhouse, on Lake Madison
  • Hot Shots, in Madison
  • JJ’s Coffee Spot, in Flandreau
  • Mad Mary’s Steakhouse, in Flandreau
  • Madison Golf & Country Club, in Madison
  • Nicky’s Restaurant, in Madison
  • Nunda Bar & Grill, in Nunda
  • OneStop, in Madison
  • Pizza Ranch, in Madison
  • PrimeTime Tavern, in Madison
  • Sporty’s Bar & Grill, in Madison
  • Stadium Sports Grill, in Madison
  • Strive 605, in Madison
  • Subway, in Madison
  • Sundog Coffee, in Madison
  • Taste & See, in Madison
  • The Lakes Bar & Grill, on Lake Madison
  • The Office, in Madison

Hef’s Bar & Grill in Chester held a separate but related event on October 14 and also contributed to the event’s success.

On behalf of all participating businesses, business owners Cam Shafer and Rob Honomichl presented the earnings to IAUW. Shafer owns Sporty’s Bar & Grill and Honomichl owns Sundog Coffee. Both businesses have participated in the annual event since its inception in 2017.

“Our small business relies on local support, so we strongly believe in giving back,” said Honomichl. “We are happy to partner with United Way for Dine Out to Donate and help build stronger, more enriched communities.”

IAUW provides financial support to non-profit, community service agencies and programs in Lake, Miner and Moody counties. It aims to create long-lasting changes by focusing on the building blocks for a good life: education, financial stability and health.

IAUW will announce 2023 funding after the new year. The organization awarded over $127,000 in grant funding to 33 non-profit partners in 2022.

Pictured, from left to right: Sporty’s Bar & Grill owner Cam Shafer, Sundog Coffee owner Rob Honomichl, IAUW Executive Director and Vice President Danielle Kearin.

United Way donors could win $500 gift card

Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) and East River Federal Credit Union (ERFCU) have issued a challenge.

“We’re asking people to pledge at least $15 a month in 2023 to United Way,” said IAUW Executive Director Melissa Dougan. “If you meet that minimum and also submit your pledge to us by November 15, you could win a $500 VISA gift card.”

Dubbed the 15×15 Challenge, the contest is part of IAUW’s annual campaign drive. The gift card is donated by ERFCU, which has a rich history of partnering with community non-profits to build success stories.

“As a credit union, our core philosophy is ‘People Helping People’,” said Erica Clements, marketing specialist for ERFCU. “We recognize that same philosophy in how Interlakes Area United Way supports other non-profit agencies and programs in our area. To partner with an organization that has such a positive impact on so many people in our community is a natural fit.”

This is the fifth year ERFCU has sponsored the 15×15 Challenge. The contest helped raise more than $20,000 in 2021 with 111 eligible donors.

“This incentive is linked to over $72,000 in donations since 2017, and more people qualify each year. It’s incredible what a difference the contest has made. We have an amazing partner in East River Federal Credit Union,” said Dougan.

Fifteen dollars a month equals $180 a year. According to IAUW, that’s enough to buy free books for a year for six children through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library or can pay for a day of food and shelter for three people affected by disaster through the American Red Cross.

IAUW’s campaign drive kicked off October 5 and wraps up at the end of the year. To donate towards the 15×15 Challenge, visit interlakesunitedway.org/donate. You may also email director@interlakesunitedway.org to request a pledge form via mail or to set up payroll deduction through your employer.

Pictured: IAUW Executive Director Melissa Dougan, ERFCU Marketing Specialist Erica Clements, Universal Member Service Representative Jason Howell, Member Service Representative Maisie Smith, and IAUW President Lori Gustaf.

22 businesses to host Dine Out

Annual fundraiser slated for October 5

The most delicious single-day fundraiser is happening soon. Twenty-two eateries in Lake and Moody Counties will host Dine Out to Donate to benefit Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) on October 5.

For the event, participating businesses agree to donate a portion of the designated day’s sales to IAUW. Money raised is passed along to IAUW partner agencies and programs.

“Since 2017, Dine Out to Donate has raised nearly $13,000,” said Executive Director Melissa Dougan. “It’s such an easy way to give back to your community and the people in our region. It also helps support your favorite local restaurants.”

The public is encouraged to visit or buy from one or more of the following businesses on October 5:

  • Bluejays Bar & Grill, in Egan
  • Classic Corner, in Madison
  • Country Café, in Madison
  • Dairy Queen, in Madison
  • Hillside Steakhouse, on Lake Madison
  • Hot Shots, in Madison
  • JJ’s Coffee Spot, in Flandreau
  • Mad Mary’s Steakhouse, in Flandreau
  • Madison Golf & Country Club, in Madison
  • Nicky’s Restaurant, in Madison
  • Nunda Bar & Grill, in Nunda
  • OneStop, in Madison
  • Pizza Ranch, in Madison
  • PrimeTime Tavern, in Madison
  • Sporty’s Bar & Grill, in Madison
  • Stadium Sports Grill, in Madison
  • Strive 605, in Madison
  • Subway, in Madison
  • Sundog Coffee, in Madison
  • Taste & See, in Madison
  • The Lakes Bar & Grill, on Lake Madison
  • The Office, in Madison

Two additional businesses, 2nd Street Diner in Madison and Hef’s Bar & Grill in Chester, will host similar fundraising events for IAUW on a later date.

Dine Out to Donate kicks off IAUW’s annual campaign drive, which raises funds for non-profit, community service agencies and programs in Miner, Lake and Moody Counties.

IAUW awarded over $127,000 in grant funding to 33 non-profit partners in 2022. Pledge forms for the 2023 campaign will be delivered to postal customers in the area in the coming weeks.

Eric Nelson wins tractor raffle

Lake County resident Eric Nelson (pictured seated in the tractor) was drawn as the winner of the 2022 WIN BIG Raffle conducted by Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW). His prize was a 2022 Case IH Farmall 35A Tractor, valued at just over $35,000 as equipped.

The WIN BIG Raffle raises funds for non-profit agencies and programs in Lake, Miner and Moody Counties. The raffle sold out of 600 tickets, garnering $60,000 in proceeds.

This year’s raffle prize at the DSU Ag Bowl, a 2022 Case IH Farmall 35A Tractor. Photo credit Cody Welu.

Nelson said this was the first time he has purchased a ticket in the annual contest. He plans to sell the tractor but will donate a portion of his profit back to IAUW.

“It is incredible that Eric would consider giving us an additional donation of that magnitude,” said IAUW President Lori Gustaf. “We can’t say thank you enough to him and to all the people who purchased a ticket, as well as to our sponsors. This raffle has sold out four years in a row—the support is outstanding.”

The tractor was donated by Lake County International of Madison, who served as the contest’s premier sponsor. Additional sponsors included BankWest, Dakota State University, Dakotaland Federal Credit Union, East River Electric, Farm Credit Services of America, First Bank & Trust, First Interstate Bank, First PREMIER Bank, FirstLine Funding Group, Heartland Energy and KJAM Radio.

Nelson’s name was drawn during halftime of the DSU Ag Bowl on Thursday, August 25. Visiting DSU recruit and Chester resident Jovi Wolf made the selection.

DSU recruit Jovi Wolf drew the winning name. Photo credit Cody Welu.
IAUW board members and volunteers during halftime of the DSU Ag Bowl. Photo credit Cody Welu.

Featured image: From left to right, Lake County International Co-Owner Tom Bloom, IAUW board members Katie Hahn and Mandi Stegenga, IAUW President Lori Gustaf, winner Eric Nelson (seated), and Lake County International Co-Owner Jeff Bloom.

IAUW announces new Executive Director

Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) is pleased to announce the hiring of Melissa Dougan as Executive Director. She replaces Katie Hahn, who stepped down to join the IAUW Board of Directors.

Melissa Dougan

“Melissa has extensive experience in community outreach, networking and event planning,” said IAUW President Lori Gustaf. “She has a great attitude and kind heart, and we think she’s a terrific addition to our team.”

Dougan took over her new role July 1. She’ll primarily spend the summer assisting with IAUW’s WIN BIG Raffle, making introductions and learning more about parent organization United Way Worldwide.

“We are confident her skill-set will help enhance our organization and strengthen our relationships with community partners across our service territory of Lake, Miner and Moody counties,” Gustaf said.

Dougan resides in Chester, SD where she owns and operates the Shipwreck Bar & Grill along with her husband, John. She has over 20 years-experience in management in the restaurant and insurance industries.

She likes to stay busy and volunteers her time with various organizations and events, including Parrot Heads of the Prairie in the Sioux Falls area, local golf tournaments and hosting a variety of fundraisers and events at the Shipwreck. In addition to running her business, she also works as a substitute teacher at Chester Area School. 

“I love to meet new people and help out others whenever possible,” she said. “I am excited to be working in this new role with United Way and look forward to making many new connections throughout the area.”

Dougan was born in Bismarck, ND. She moved with her family to Sioux Falls her freshman year and graduated from Washington High School. She attended college at the University of South Dakota and graduated with degrees in Criminal Justice and Psychology with a minor in Drug & Alcohol Abuse.

Dougan and her husband have two sons, Carson (17) and Ben (14). The family also has a yellow lab, a 5-month-old black lab and a cat.

Individuals seeking more information about Melissa or the work of IAUW can email director@interlakesunitedway.org.

Delta Dental truck returning soon

Appointments still available for area youth

The Delta Dental Mobile Program is returning to the area with planned visits in Madison and Flandreau. The program provides care to children who cannot afford or access a dentist because of cost, lack of insurance, transportation or other reasons.

The truck will be in Madison July 11-14 and in Flandreau August 16-19. Appointments are still available for both visits.

A full range of dental care is available, including exams, cleanings, preventive treatments and cavity fillings. Oral health education is also provided to patients so they can continue to care for their teeth after the visit.

Children from their first truth through age 21 are eligible. Services are provided at no cost to the child or family, and insurance is not necessary.

Registration in advance is needed, and a patient consent and information form must be completed. Appointments can be made with Mendy Herke at ICAP at (605) 256-6518 Ext. 121.

This will be the truck’s tenth visit to Madison and fourth trip to Flandreau.

In 2021, the Delta Dental team provided preventative and restorative dental care valued at $43,916 to 56 Madison area children. In Flandreau, 41 youth received care valued at $24,847.

The program is once again a partnership between regional non-profits Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership (ICAP), Interlakes Area United Way and Delta Dental of South Dakota.

WIN BIG Raffle kicks off June 24

Prize is 2022 Case IH tractor

The WIN BIG Raffle benefitting Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) kicks off soon. One lucky ticketholder could win a 2022 Case IH Farmall 35A Tractor.

Premier sponsor and longtime partner Lake County International donated the prize. Additional raffle sponsors include BankWest, Dakota State University, Dakotaland Federal Credit Union, East River Electric Power Cooperative, Farm Credit Services of America, First Bank & Trust, First Interstate Bank, First PREMIER Bank, FirstLine Funding Group, Heartland Consumers Power District, and KJAM Radio.

The WIN BIG Raffle prize is a 2022 Case IH Farmall 35A Tractor, equipped as pictured and valued at $35,469.

The tractor features a 35-horsepower diesel engine, 3-speed hydrostatic transmission, MFD front axle, 540 rpm PTO, 3-point hitch, rear remote valve, foldable ROPS, and Case IH L340A loader and bucket. As equipped, it retails at $35,469.

“We are very excited to raffle this brand-new tractor and loader,” said IAUW President Lori Gustaf. “Its size, versatility and features are appealing and make it useful for many different applications. With help from Lake County International and all our community partners, we’re anticipating another successful raffle!”

IAUW will sell 600 tickets for $100 each towards a fundraising goal of $60,000. Money raised is passed along to community service programs and non-profit agencies in Lake, Miner and Moody counties.

Gustaf said it’s never been easier to buy a raffle ticket and urges people to act fast.

“We’ve created a QR code that will be on display throughout our service territory. It takes you directly to our website for a quick and easy purchase,” she said. “We’ve sold out the last three years, so people should buy sooner rather than later!”

Tickets are also available at Lake County International, One Stop, F&M Co-Op Oil and other sponsor headquarters. IAUW will also sell tickets at each DownTown in MadTown event this summer.

The winner will be drawn at the Dakota State University Ag Bowl, slated for Thursday, August 25.

Pictured: WIN BIG Raffle sponsors join Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) board members to promote the annual contest. From left to right: Matt Bruns of Farm Credit Services of America, IAUW President Lori Gustaf, Lake County International Co-Owner Tom Bloom, IAUW Board Members Mandi Stegenga, Savannah Olinger and Katie Hahn, Lake County International Co-Owner Jeff Bloom, IAUW Executive Director Melissa Dougan, and IAUW Vice President Danielle Kearin.

Outstanding supporters recognized

Individuals, businesses honored for contributions and service in 2021

Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) does more than raise funds, and its partners contribute more than money. Ideas, volunteer power, in-kind support and more help enrich lives and build stronger communities across the region.

Each year IAUW calls attention to people and organizations who have helped make a difference. Four local collaborators have earned recognition for their contributions and service in 2021.

IAUW Executive Director Katie Hahn, left, and President Lori Gustaf, right, present an Outstanding Supporter – Volunteer award to Jessi Giles.

Outstanding Supporter – Volunteer

Madison native and Dakota State University student Jessi Giles was recognized for her contributions as a volunteer.

“Jessi is known by many for her athletic accomplishments, but she also deserves recognition for her generosity and selflessness,” IAUW President Lori Gustaf said. “She has been a tremendous help this past year and displayed a true desire to help others.”

Giles completed an unpaid internship with IAUW in 2021, during which she helped with the WIN BIG Raffle and other United Way promotions. She also spearheaded a fundraiser with the DSU Women’s Basketball Team to raise money for Madison preschools.

“Growing up in Madison I was able to benefit firsthand from all that United Way does for the community. As an intern, I was excited to give back to United Way and in turn support the community that helped raise me,” said Giles. 

Currently pursuing a master’s degree, Giles graduated from DSU in December with an undergraduate degree in English for New Media.

From left to right, Tammy & Mike Miller are recognized by IAUW President Lori Gustaf as Outstanding Supporters in the Donor category.

Outstanding Supporter – Donor

Tammy and Mike Miller of Madison were recognized for their dedicated support of IAUW. The couple are longtime donors, including multiple years as Heart Club members, which requires annual donations of $500 or greater.

“We are appreciative of the Millers’ continued support,” Gustaf said. “Their unwavering contributions have helped United Way enrich lives and make strides towards equity for people in this region.”

Mike is retired from B&G Trucking in Madison and Tammy is the CEO Of Madison Regional Health.

From left to right, Montgomery’s Store Assistant/Designer in Training Elle Gehrels, Interior Designer Lauren Peterson and Owner Connie Sinclair accept an Outstanding Supporter award from IAUW President Lori Gustaf.

Outstanding Supporter – Business

Montgomery’s was named the outstanding corporate partner of 2021. The local business is a long-time advocate of United Way, having partnered with IAUW for various promotions.

In 2021, Montgomery’s celebrated the grand opening of its fourth South Dakota showroom with a Parking Lot Party at its Madison location. The event featured a live performance by Dustin Evans & the Good Times Band as well as food and beverages.

It also served as a fundraiser, as Montgomery’s promised to collect free-will donations for IAUW during the concert. The event garnered $700 as well as brought awareness to IAUW’s WIN BIG Raffle, which was underway at the time.

“The concert was a wonderful celebration that brought people together in food and fellowship as well as helped promote community service. We give much thanks to the Sinclair family and the entire Montgomery’s crew for their faithful support,” Gustaf said.

IAUW President Lori Gustaf, left, honored former board member Rob Buchholtz for his dedicated service and advocacy.

Recognition of service

Gustaf recognized the Outstanding Supporters at IAUW’s recent Annual Meeting, held February 15. Madison resident Rob Buchholtz was also honored for his years of service.

Buchholtz served on the IAUW volunteer board from 2010 to 2021, including five years as President. He also served a leadership role on the board’s Allocations Committee, which helps determine program funding.

“Rob has been a pleasure to work with and a true asset to our board. He has dedicated countless hours towards our mission, and we will miss him greatly,” said Gustaf.

Buchholtz is the CFO for Dakota Ethanol in Wentworth.

IAUW announces 2022 program funding

Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW) will award $127,025 in grant funding in 2022. The money will bolster 33 non-profit programs and organizations in Lake, Miner and Moody Counties.

President Lori Gustaf made the announcement at IAUW’s Annual Meeting February 15. Representatives from several of the organizations receiving funding were in attendance.

IAUW welcomed a great turnout for its Annual Meeting February 15.
IAUW President Lori Gustaf announced 2022 allocations at the meeting as well as reviewed 2021 program success stories.
Madison Middle School Principal Cotton Koch spoke about the school’s MakerSpace/Art Club, which will receive funding in 2022.

IAUW coordinates financial and volunteer resources for non-profit agencies which address and support mental and physical health, education and financial stability.

To receive funding, organizations must apply and meet allocation guidelines. The IAUW board reviews applications and considers them based on community impact, program effectiveness and other factors.

Regional Disaster Officer Dan Wall, left, accepted funding from IAUW President Lori Gustaf on behalf of American Red Cross – Disaster Cycle Services.
Michelle Madsen accepted funding on behalf of Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota’s Mentoring Services program at Flandreau Middle School.
The Interlakes Senior Citizen Center is a 2022 funding recipient.
Kali Ahlers, psychologist for the Flandreau Public School District, spoke on behalf of Moody County Child Protection Team, a 2022 funding recipient.

“Nearly all of the agencies who requested funding for 2022 will receive 80% or more of their request,” said Gustaf. “We are proud of that number and are so grateful for our generous donors and advocates. With their help, we can continue to enrich lives and strengthen the communities we serve.”

Gustaf said IAUW focuses on programs related to health and wellness, youth enrichment, education and development, senior outreach and basic needs and support. 2022 recipients include:

  • American Red Cross – Disaster Cycle Services
  • Boy Scouts of America – Madison Area Scouts
  • Boy Scouts of America – Sioux Council Boy Scouts
  • Boys & Girls Club of Moody County
  • Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity – Build Madison
  • Children’s Care Corner
  • Delta Dental Mobile Program
  • Dolly Parton Imagination Library
  • Domestic Violence Network
  • East Dakota Transit
  • Flandreau Elementary Weekend Fuel
  • Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons Leadership Experience
  • High Plains Alternative High School
  • Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership – Administration building
  • ICAP 60’s Plus Dining
  • ICAP Head Start Pre-Birth to Five
  • ICAP Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
  • ICAP Miner County School Supplies
  • ICAP Moody County School Supplies
  • ICAP Delta Dental Mobile Program – Flandreau visit
  • Interlakes Senior Citizen Center
  • Lutheran Social Services Mentoring Services at FMS
  • Madison Middle School MakerSpace/Art Club
  • Moody County Child Protection Team
  • Moody County 4-H Robotics
  • Madison VFW Baseball
  • Rutland Elementary Out of School Time
  • The Salvation Army – Temporary Emergency Welfare Assistance
  • Studio 52
  • Trinity Lutheran Preschool
  • Valiant Living
  • The Wholeness Center

Grant funding was made possible in part by the generosity of individuals and businesses who donated to IAUW’s most recent campaign drive, which concluded in December. Other fundraising efforts included IAUW’s annual WIN BIG Raffle and Dine Out to Donate promotion.

The East Dakota Transit is a 2022 funding recipient.
Pictured with Gustaf from Moody County Child Protection Team are, from left to right, Taylor Carpenter, Cody Johnson, Kali Ahlers, Kari Lena-Helling and Chelsea Molden.