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NUAF brings donors, beneficiaries together for thanks and recognition

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt NUAF Executive Director John Illikman thanked all the donors to the foundation for making New Ulm a great community.

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Area Foundation (NUAF) held a donor recognition event Tuesday at the Inspire Wedding + Events Center.

The event was a chance for NUAF to say thank you to all donors from the last two years, but also a chance for donors to meet individuals and organizations benefiting from their donations. Approximately 150 donors were recognized by NUAF for donations over the past few years.

In that time NUAF has seen increased donations, resulting in more grant opportunities. NUAF focuses its grant funding on four areas: the arts, education, economic development and historic preservation. Grants are made in the spring and the fall each year. NUAF also manages three scholarship funds; the Charlotte Raymond Anderson Teaching Scholarship, NUAF Scholarship and Carol & Roger Ryberg Scholarship.

During the event, the grant awardee and scholarship awardee gave speeches on the positive impact of donations.

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program director Betty Uehling spoke on the Kindergarten Kickstart program made possible through a NUAF grant. Kindergarten Kickstart is a summer program designed to familiarize pre-kindergarten children with school. Due to the recent pandemic, there were many families unable to send children to traditional pre-school programs. The Kickstart program helped introduce kids to school before officially entering kindergarten. The response from families was positive. Uehling said it helps students get ready to start school and relieve family anxiety about sending a child to school.

Martin Luther College (MLC)student Kincaid Diersen spoke about receiving the Charlotte Raymond Anderson Scholarship. Diersen was the first recipient of the scholarship. He graduated from Minnesota Valley Lutheran in 2020 and is now studying to be a teacher at MLC. Diersen said with the scholarship he has one less thing to worry about while studying to become a teacher. He thanked everyone for donating, but also for their continued support.

NUAF Executive Director John Illikman provided an update on NUAF activities, but also thanked the donors and New Ulm community for their support. Illikman explained this is one of the reasons his family remained in New Ulm, because of the community’s welcoming attitude. He pointed out that New Ulm has numerous non-profit organizations that were started by people who saw a need.

Illikman said since NUAF was founded in 1987 it has awarded over $1 million in grants.

“Think of the multiplying effect that has on the economy,” Illikman said. For this reason, all donations to NUAF are appreciated. Illikman believed everyone had a share in making New Ulm a greater community.

The donor recognition event was also an opportunity for guests to view the new Inspire Wedding + Events Center. This new event center is located downtown Minnesota Street in the former Ben Franklin building. The NUAF donor recognition was one of the first events held in the new venue as reconstruction is ongoing.

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