Marsha Frauendienst is retiring at the end of August following a 12-year career at Southwest Initiative Foundation. Marsha earned an associate degree from Golden Valley Lutheran College with the goal of becoming a parole or probation officer, but life took her in a different direction. As our Community Resource Assistant, she has done behind-the-scenes work to distribute grant dollars to communities. During her tenure, Marsha has processed more than 5,000 grants helping the foundation and its partners invest $17.3 million in southwest Minnesota communities. Below is a reflection she shared when asked what she’d remember most about her time at the foundation.
I would say that many things fill the big picture of my last 12 years. I like processing grants, and what I will remember most are the various grants I’ve processed for our fund partners. I think about the flowering baskets that beautify main streets in our southwest communities, the splash pads that bring hours of fun to kids, the playgrounds that were funded, signage that provides valuable information to a community, sporting equipment and baseball fields that were funded, the numerous school projects that help kids learn and provided field trips, funding for golf and football programs, theatre and the arts, scholarships, park improvements, fire department equipment, back pack programs, music and band programs, funding for color blindness glasses, child care provider funding, food shelf funding.
The list of grants that help make each community a better place to live is a long list, and it demonstrates the value of our affiliate partners and the good that comes from people working together for a common goal.
Since the pandemic, many recent grants approved by our affiliate partners and by Southwest Initiative Foundation have been related to COVID-19 response. Through our three crisis funds – Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc. Crisis Assistance Relief Effort (CARE) Fund; CareContributeSolve: Prinsco, Inc. Employee Hardship Fund; and TPI Hospitality Passionate Emergency Assistance and Crisis Effort (PEACE) Fund – I think of the many people who were given financial help at a time of great need. In a nutshell, what I’ve liked most about my job at SWIF was the small part that I played in helping people and communities in southwest Minnesota by connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities.
In retirement, Marsha will have more time for seeing southwest Minnesota’s beautiful countryside from a motorcycle seat and taking beach vacations in the winter, two things she enjoys doing with her husband, Steve.