The opportunity to work with communities through a local foundation model was one of the things that drew me to working at Southwest Initiative Foundation 18+ years ago. My early days were spent crisscrossing the region to facilitate meetings, provide trainings and attend local events to build relationships.
I feel so inspired to see many of the original volunteers remain engaged and committed today. And, I’m equally inspired by the new partners joining the work. We’re excited to welcome Cottonwood and Glencoe as our two new affiliates, bringing our total to 28 local community foundations!
For us, it’s about retaining local wealth from one generation to the next. It’s also about creating a network of people across the region who are connected in their communities as well as to the larger work of Southwest Initiative Foundation.
For me personally, this work is more critical than ever as I feel our generations shift. In July, I lost my dad. It’s been harder than I could’ve imagined. Wilbur Hintz was an incredibly patient man remembered for his work ethic, integrity, compassion, humor and servant heart. He loved my mom’s spunk and spark and he pinned his hopes on me — his only daughter. He made me believe that I could accomplish anything I set out to do. I was always grateful, but only in the past few years have I come to realize the full impact of his vision for my future at a time when society wasn’t as encouraging of young girls to pursue their dreams.
I feel that same spirit in Southwest Initiative Foundation’s vision for a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. We’re beginning our next phase of what we call Grow Our Own, a plan to ensure our next generation has the chance to succeed. Moving forward, you won’t see a major change in our work. We’ll continue promoting, supporting and leading efforts connected to five areas kids need to succeed: stable families and parenting, high quality early childhood care and education, engagement in the K-12 years in and out of school, career on-ramps and welcoming and vibrant communities. The main belief driving Southwest Initiative Foundation’s work over the past three years is that all kids in a community are our kids, and that every single person in the community has a role to play in giving them the best start to life. Our future depends on them.
My dad was one of those people who in his own, often quiet way, supported our kids. He employed high school kids on the farm during the summer and treated them like family. In a note of sympathy, one of them wrote, “Wilbur’s passing marks a watershed moment in my own life as he was one of the very few people for whom I had the utmost respect and love. To say he had a positive influence on my life’s journey would be an understatement. I will always remember his sense of humor, his patience (and I demanded a LOT of patience when it came to farming), and his love of life.”
I often told family and friends that dad was an everyday hero, the kind whose admiration and respect aren’t earned through courageous acts on the battlefield, but through quiet acts of kindness and service to others.
I challenge each of you — whether you’re a parent, grandparent, employer, educator, elected official, community member — to find ways to be everyday heroes, especially to the kids who need them most.
This is the greatest legacy we can leave for our families, friends and communities, but it takes our action today!