Backus Community Center named UWNEMN Agency of the Year

UWNEMN presented Backus Community Center with its Agency of the Year award at the organization’s Annual Celebration March 21st.

Backus became a UWNEMN Partner Agency in 2022; donations to UWNEMN support the community center’s Community Café and Summer Lunch for Kids programs.

“Backus is one of our newest Partner Agencies, and in just two years our organizations have accomplished so much together,” said UWNEMN Executive Director Erin Shay. "They are a true partner, have connected many International Falls-area programs and individuals to UWNEMN programs and services, and we could not have brought Community Steps to International Falls without them.”

In addition to food programs, Backus houses art programming, community activities and organizations, and exercise and recreation opportunities for all ages.

Backus Community Center Executive Director Lois Lundin called UWNEMN’s celebration event a special night for the Backus team.

“I was so honored that Backus Community Center was recognized in the company of so many strong individuals and business leaders from across Northeastern Minnesota,” she said. “I think we often get so busy in our day-to-day operations that we lose sight of the impact that we have for the communities we serve. Receiving this award delivered a message to our entire team that the work that we do is making a difference.”

Awards were also presented to top volunteers and donors, including Mike Silvers, a Boise Paper (now Packaging Corporation of America) retiree, who was named a Lifetime Lifesaver by the organization for his dedication to UWNEMN’s Buddy Backpacks program, workplace giving campaign, and Koochiching County Advisory Board.

“Buddy Backpacks could not exist in Koochiching County without Mike,” Shay said. “He was the first volunteer to deliver the weekend meal kits there 10 years ago and has since recruited an entire team of volunteers.”