The Spring Valley Area Community Foundation is "official" with board members now selected and training conducted.

Its official meeting time is set for the first Tuesday of each month at 7 a.m. in the Spring Valley Public Library meeting room.

The board is comprised of volunteer members within the three community areas represented by the foundation - Spring Valley, Ostrander and Wykoff. The foundation was formed by members of Vision 21, a local group of residents, along with help from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), which aids in structuring, formation and financial aspects of these types of foundations.

Susan Kolling, who had the inspiration to start an area foundation, said that the board members were selected with the help of SMIF.

"We worked with SMIF as they have set up foundations in, I believe, seven communities, including Preston, Plainview and Rushford. We had an asset mapping session with the local Vision 21 group and identified assets in our communities including people," she said.

A newspaper article highlighted what Vision 21 was doing and the group started seeking volunteers to see if they had an interest in serving on the board. "The recommendation from SMIF was to have an eight- to 12-person board; we had a good response so ended up with 15 volunteers, trying to get a cross section of all three communities," said Kolling.

She added that SMIF suggested having a larger board to begin with, so that the number may be reduced over time.

Named as officers are Kolling as president, Rod Thompson as vice president, David Phillips as secretary and Eric Goddard as treasurer.

The other board members are Jeff Vehrenkamp, Dave Foster, Steve Hadoff, Mitch Lentz, Deb Zimmer, Stu Gross, Mark Reps, DJ Start, Steve Harder, Kathy Nagel and Sharanne Calabrese.

The board has discussed at a number of meetings needs of the local area and communities.

Kolling said, "We are the mechanism for local groups with projects to come to us. As our mission statement reflects, we want to improve the quality of life in our area by creating community partnerships.

"We need to communicate to the communities what a foundation is capable of doing, talk about the fact that we have matching funds available from SMIF and talk to individuals, families, businesses, clubs and organizations about contributing to the foundation."

The mission statement of the foundation is: "The Spring Valley Area Community Foundation strives to build a dynamic community by encouraging generosity, promoting civic engagement and providing the opportunity to enhance the quality of life by creating community partnerships."

The foundation's vision statement is: "The Spring Valley Area Community Foundation builds on the area's rich tradition of giving by providing opportunities for philanthropy to strengthen and enrich our community."

Kolling noted that the foundation is currently creating a brochure and is designing its website: www.svareafoundation.org and e-mail address info@svareafoundation.org to help get the word out.

She noted, for those wishing to donate to the foundation, there are 15 board members that are willing to sit down and meet with those interested to discuss donors' wishes.

"It could be a designated project of special interest to a family in honor of or in memory of, it could be funds given to the endowment fund to create a lasting legacy, it could be a club doing a special project," said Kolling.

The foundation has identified its areas of interest: Health and recreation, education, art and community funds, history and culture.

Kolling said that contributions to the foundation can come in all sizes. "You don't have to be wealthy to make a contribution."

"Once the word is out I think the three communities will start to identify a number of projects that make sense for them. Some might be very small projects and some larger long-term projects."

Kolling said, "The foundation idea is simple, anyone may use it to give something back to the community. We can accept cash, securities, memorial gifts, estate bequests, trust or life insurance policies. Gifts to the foundation are tax-deductible."

It was noted that the foundation's assets are handled by SMIF and it administers the foundation donor funds. It safeguards the designated fund assets through management and responsible investment.

She said, "Once funds are raised we will have a grant application, then as a board we will decide if the request fits within the vision and mission of the foundation and then award a grant based on funds available to distribute."

Kolling added that she assumes the foundation will award grants once or twice a year.

About the board members

Susan Kolling is from the Spring Valley area and she is employed at Home Federal Savings Bank in Spring Valley as senior vice president.

Rod Thompson is from Wykoff and is employed at and is the president of Thompson Motors.

David Phillips lives in Spring Valley and is the publisher of the papers in the Bluff Country Newspaper Group. The papers include the Chatfield News, Spring Valley Tribune, News-Record, Republican-Leader, Spring Grove Herald and Bluff Country Reader.

Eric Goddard lives in Spring Valley also and is employed with Johnson and Goddard LLC. He is an owner and partner.

Jeff Vehrenkamp lives in Spring Valley and is employed at Home Federal Savings Bank in Spring Valley as president.

David Foster also lives in Spring Valley and is the owner/operator and the president of Foster Construction, Inc.

Steven Hadoff lives in Preston and is the executive president and branch manager at First State Bank Minnesota in Spring Valley.

Mitch Lentz lives in the Spring Valley area and he works at IBM in Rochester and as a self-employed farmer.

Deb Zimmer lives in the Wykoff area and is the city administrator /clerk and treasurer for the City of Spring Valley.

Stuart Gross is a retired high school math and physics teacher of 33 years who lives in Spring Valley.

Mark Reps is from Spring Valley and lives in Lakelano, Minn. He is the owner of Reps Chiropractic/Acupuncture Clinic in Lakelano.

DJ Start lives in Ostrander and is employed with SEMA Equipment in Spring Valley as an AMS consultant.

Dr. Steven Harder lives in Spring Valley and is employed with Olmsted Medical Center in Spring Valley as a physician.

Kathy Nagel lives in the Spring Valley area and is employed with Security State Bank of Ostrander as the vice president.

Sharanne Calabrese lives in Spring Valley also and works at First State Bank of Fountain as a lending and compliance assistant.