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United Way of 1000 Lakes announced that thanks to hundreds of loyal and generous donors, they have exceeded their prior year results.

In front of a crowd at the Timberlake Lodge, United Way incoming board president Amanda Kluge revealed that the community had collectively contributed $313,366 to United Way’s 2017 campaign, exceeding its $300,000 goal set back in September. She went on to explain that this is the first time in over a decade that it has surpassed the $310K mark.

“I’m immensely proud of our community for supporting such a great cause, and I’m excited to see what we accomplish together,” said Kluge. “These new fundraising dollars will mean a bigger investment in our programs and initiatives and will help meet the increasing needs of our community.”

In addition to overseeing their own programs, engaging in community-wide initiatives, mobilizing volunteer efforts, and working collaboratively to solve community issues, United Way invests in a network of local agencies. These resources will allow United Way to continue their investments in 30 programs across 24 agencies that support United Way’s goals in education, health, financial stability, and safety.

“Last year, because of generous donors like you, 53,488 families and individuals used United Way programs one or more times,” reported outgoing board president, Luke Francisco. “These programs offer early childhood education, after-school programs, health and wellness services, financial education, and basic human needs like food, shelter, and safety.”

Among agencies supported in the last allocation review, included $24,675 to the Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, $19,106 to ElderCircle, $23,653 to Boys and Girls Clubs, $21,952 to Itasca County Family YMCA, and $13,659 to Advocates for Family Peace.

United Way also honored the generous businesses, partners, and volunteers that made these strategic investments possible, including:

Best of Award Recipients:

  • Best Year Round Partnership – Essentia Health
  • Best Campaign Climber – UPS
  • Best Community Engagement – The Pickled Loon Saloon
  • Best Campaign Innovation – Blandin Foundation
  • Best Leadership Involvement – Mark White, First National Bank of Coleraine
  • Best Ambassador – Bill Sackett, ASV Holdings, Inc.

Volunteer Award Recipients:

  • Day of Action  – The Deer River Community
  • Grace House – Kay Klingman
  • Habitat for Humanity – Jerry Tinquist
  • KOOTASCA Crisis Nursery – Vicki Andrews
  • ElderCircle – Anne Anderson
  • Project Care – Liz Thompson, Timothy George, Simon Gretton, Mike Funk, Carol Kenschaft

Special Recognition Recipients:

  • Blandin Foundation: In 2017, employees donated more than $8,300 through the United Way and completed hundreds of volunteer hours with United Way and our network of partners. As a whole, the foundation contributes $63,000 annually through grant awards, employee pledges, and matching gifts program.
  • Minnesota Power: For many years, Minnesota Power employees and retirees have helped transform lives across the region through United Way. In 2017, company-wide contributions to United Way of 1000 Lakes topped $104,000 through payroll deductions, special fundraisers, sponsorship's, and a $57,500 grant from the Minnesota Power Foundation.

The evening also featured music by Corey Medina & Brothers out of the Bemidji area and keynote by Corey Medina. “Our keynote speaker is no stranger to the perils of drugs, depression, and suicidal thoughts and attempts,” said Christina Monson, editor of Lake Time Magazine and board secretary. “However, unlike so many in our very own backyards, his story has a happy future. But more importantly, it has a powerful message.”

Corey Medina's keynote speech resonated with the crowd as he spoke of scars. "Everyone has scars," Medina stated and elaborated that maybe not everyone shows their scars but we all have them. He spoke of his youth, growing up with little supervision and getting into trouble and making poor decisions at a very young age. However, his message was one of hope and encouragement and collaboration. We all have scars but we have the ability to help others who are battling the same issues we've been through or are seeking help. “We can help shed light on their darkness,” stated Corey referring to his music. His mission is to use the lessons he's learned and use the music and lyrics he creates to help others through dark times. 

Other business included the installment of new Board of Directors leadership, including Luke Francisco – ex officio, Amanda Kluge – president, John Stemper – vice president, Patrick Goggin – treasurer, and Christina Monson – secretary. New board members include Bill Martinetto (Consultant), Marsha Green (Essentia Health), Ali McInerney (Blandin Foundation), and Leanna McBride (Grand Dental Clinic).

“Our region is a powerful example of what we can accomplish when we work together to improve the lives of those in need,” said United Way executive director Kimberly Brink Smith. “Reaching the campaign goal was possible through the generosity of volunteers, individual and corporate givers, sponsors, in-kind donors, partner agencies, and many other community supporters. These funds will help ensure the well-being, stability, and self-sufficiency of individuals of all ages in our region.” 

To learn more about how your strengths can better the community, visit or by calling 218-999-7570.



Since 1963, the United Way of 1000 Lakes has collaborated with local nonprofits to identify critical issues, create partnerships, and raise funds to help people in the Itasca area. Mobilizing the caring power of the communities it serves, the organization’s mission drives work to create a happier, healthier community.

They accomplish this by inspiring collaboration, fundraising, and volunteerism.


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