Give Where You Live…or Lived
United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) is celebrating 50 years of impact work on the Iron Range. As a part of their 50th anniversary at their Annual Campaign Celebration on March 30th, a very special announcement was made. In partnership with Minnesota Power and financial donor Richard (Dick) Enrico, UWNEMN is getting a new home! UWNEMN’s Executive Director for the past 23 years, Shelley Valentini, explained that through the in-kind support of Minnesota Power (a $400,000 price reduction on the building) and a $300,000 cash contribution from Chisholm native and former 2nd Wind Exercise CEO, Enrico, UWNEMN’s purchase of the Minnesota Power building in Chisholm’s Industrial Park will be fully funded.
The new building will allow UWNEMN to have all of their programs under one roof, will provide capacity to expand services and will ensure long-term sustainability to benefit the region. Not only will the UWNEMN have office space to expand and add staff, the Buddy Backpack and Good360 programs will be on site, allowing the organization to serve the area even more efficiently. “The building will be incredible for the work that we do and the work that we want to do for the people of our region. Our impact will expand and deepen in our communities,” said Valentini.
Minnesota Power closed the building that was once a service center in 2015 as part of an overall consolidation with a goal of improving efficiencies while cutting costs. Valentini introduced Brad Oachs, President of Regulated Utility Operations for Minnesota Power. “There’s an old saying. When one door closes, another door opens. What once served our customers well will now meet the needs of our community in another way through United Way,” said Oachs. A picture of the building was unveiled at the event to show guests the space.
With the combination of the gifts, UWNEMN will purchase the building. The purchase agreement has been signed and UWNEMN will start the renovation process in late summer/early fall. “Some updates and changes need to be made to the building based on how we will be using it,” said Valentini. “We will also be holding a renovation campaign so that we can make the building fit our programs effectively and efficiently. We have a few commitments so far toward renovation costs, but will be seeking additional support.”
The evening closed with a keynote address from Dick Enrico. Enrico talked about his Iron Range upbringing and his desire to give back in his hometown and native community. “The key ingredients for success are heart, passion
and work ethic. Iron Rangers almost always have those qualities.” The UWNEMN campaign year is “Give Where You Live”. In the case of Dick Enrico, it means “Give Where You Lived”. His gift will create a lasting legacy for the region. “Dick grew up here. He wanted to give back to his roots and make a difference in his hometown – this will benefit the entire Iron Range,” said Valentini. “We are so incredibly grateful to Minnesota Power and Dick Enrico. Through their support, UWNEMN will be set up long-term success.”