BOLDLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE
With the goal of making a meaningful, lasting impact on the Park Rapids and Nevis area, Mark and Peggy Hewitt worked with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation to hold an open grand round for nonprofits that are working to remove barriers for youth and families to achieve success.
impact: the force of impression of one thing on another; a significant or major effect
For Mark and Peggy Hewitt, they want their gifts to have a meaningful, lasting impact on their community.
“There are lots of great people and organizations out there doing great things and we hope our funding allows them to continue to do their great work,” Mark said. “Knowing that our efforts are truly making a difference inspires us to continue to expand our charitable giving.”
The Hewitt Family Charitable Fund, a component fund of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, has granted $240,000 through more than 55 grants since its inception in 2000, but last year Mark and Peggy took a different approach with the goal to provide a stronger, more lasting impact.
Last fall, the couple worked with Ashley Johnson, Senior Philanthropy Officer at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, to facilitate an intentional, highly impactful grant round. The goal was to support agencies working to remove barriers for youth and families in the Park Rapids and Nevis areas to achieve success.
This grant round resulted in the disbursement of $83,000 in grants to seven organizations:
- Akeley Regional Community Center, $25,000 to support the construction and operation of a safe emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their children.
- Family Safety Network, $15,000 for a trained shelter and housing specialist to provide the best, most trauma-informed care to domestic violence victims.
- CHI St. Joseph’s Health Foundation – Community Health, $15,000 for Handle with Care, a program that aims to ensure that children who are exposed to crime, violence, or abuse receive appropriate interventions so they can succeed in school to the best of their ability.
- MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership, Inc., $10,000 for a car program aimed at providing training and financial resources to help young families experiencing poverty to invest in preventative vehicle maintenance with the tools and insight needed to protect their car.
- Park Rapids ISD 309, $2,000 to allow students at the Alternative Learning Center to accomplish hands-on tasks away from a school setting. By using outdoor camping gear, students will work together to explore nature and learn survival skills.
- Kinship of the Park Rapids Area, $10,000 for Creating Opportunities for Kinship Kids to provide opportunities for children to pursue their passions, funding activities such as dance or theater classes.
- Kinship of the Park Rapids Area, $6,000 for Camp Experiences to fund full-ride scholarships to Kinship children to attend summer camps.
“I think it went really well,” Ashley said. “To send out $83,000 into the community, to invest in these kids, these families, it’s not necessarily impact for today but impact for tomorrow.”
Defining goals and passions
The Hewitt Family Charitable Fund was established in 2000, but the longstanding partnership between NMF and the Hewitts goes beyond their donor-advised fund. Mark, the retired CEO of Northwoods Bank, is a former NMF Board Member and also helped establish the Park Rapids Area Community Fund.
“As a banker I would run into people who wanted to leave something to the community and there wasn’t a mechanism then to be able to do that,” Mark said.
Meanwhile, the couple themselves were thinking about how they could positively impact their community through their own personal philanthropic efforts.
Through NMF, the Hewitts were guided through estate planning by a consultant who helped them to clearly identify their intentions.
“Our family was able to discuss and better define our goals and passions and what areas we wanted to concentrate our charitable efforts on,” Mark said. “The decision was made to concentrate our gifting in the area of children and families in need. This was a major building block that was extremely helpful in moving forward.”
The Hewitts are intentional in working toward making deeply impactful gifts. The grant round, as facilitated through NMF, made that possible.
“NMF has been a great partner and helped relieve the burden of the details of how to meet our charitable goals by actually getting the funding out to where it’s needed,” Mark said. “Part of the joy of giving is the reward of knowing your gifts have actually made a difference in someone’s life.”