Janet Martin will be the guest speaker at the annual Preston Area Community Foundation dinner on March 27.
Janet Martin will be the guest speaker at the annual Preston Area Community Foundation dinner on March 27.
The Preston Area Community Foundation continues to play a vital part in the quality of life in and around the Preston and Fountain communities. According to its mission, the foundation serves the area by supporting programs and projects that improve the quality of life for the citizens and build a stronger community.

With that mission in mind, Preston Area Community Foundation (PACF) board members organize an annual event to not only raise funds to support its goals, but also to celebrate what it has accomplished in the past, raising awareness of the role this foundation plays within the community.

Mary Zimmerman, PACF board vice president, explained that this year’s annual banquet and auction will be held on Monday, March 27, at the Branding Iron Restaurant. Social hour begins at 5:30 with dinner being served at 6:30 p.m. The evening also includes a silent and live auction of donated items. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased at the F&M Community Bank in Preston.

“We are only selling 175 tickets,” she noted. “We have sold out last the two years, so please act quickly.”

Dan Christianson and F&M Community Bank will be providing a 50-cent match to each dollar raised through auction proceeds and monetary donations made that evening.

“We have a local bank that’s the envy of every foundation,” Zimmerman said. “We are very lucky and they are very involved.”

Following dinner, a short program will be held with PACF President Charles Aug providing a look back at the foundation’s 2016 accomplishments. Richard Keith, superintendent of Fillmore Central, and Kay Stangler from the Preston Area Arts Council, will speak about the projects the PACF supported this past year.

Kallie Rollenhagen from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will also say a few words before participants are given the opportunity to place their final bids on the silent auction items and socialize with others in attendance.

Some of the auction items to be offered this year, with more still coming in, include a live hog with processing; two hours of excavation services by Ron Scheevel and Sons; a Minnesota Hot Dish meal each month for six months; a Minnesota Gophers basket; Preston bucks; a bucket of spices; and several quilted items.

Janet Letnes Martin will be the featured guest spaker. She is an author and humorist, sharing stories from her newest book, “Growing Up Rural! You Smell Barn.” She has a local tie to the Preston community as she is Zimmerman’s friend and former college roommate.

The evening will conclude with a live auction and the silent auction winners will be announced.

About the speaker

Martin grew up in Hillsboro, N.D., where the words “Norwegian” and “Lutheran” were synonymous. It was no surprise she graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and married a 100-percent Scandinavian man from Newfolden, Minn.

She started writing books in 1983 and has published three books on her own, co-authored three books with Allen Todnem and co-authored one with her sister, Ilene Lorenz, before she teamed up to write and perform with a college friend, Suzann Nelson.

Together, Martin and Nelson have written nine books relating to their Norwegian, Lutheran and rural backgrounds. Their book, “Growing Up Lutheran, What Does This Mean?” won the Minnesota Book Award for humor and the Minnesota Independent Publisher’s Award. The book is also the inspiration for the “Church Basement Ladies” musical comedies.

In 2007, Martin teamed up with author and artist David W. Cook, II, to write a humorous book, “Lemonade for the Lawnboy: The Executives’ Wives’ Cookbook Committee.” In 2015, the musical, “Lemonade for the Lawnboy” opened up at Arts on 7 in Minneapolis and received wonderful reviews.

Martin has been speaking to churches and organizations for 30 years and promises to bring smiles and laughter to the foundation dinner.

Foundation support

In the past, the PACF board has approved grants to the Fillmore Central schools, the city of Preston, Preston Historical Society, Preston Arts Council, the National Trout Center, city of Fountain and various other local and regional organizations.

According Zimmerman, the board recently supported the creation of the “Hooked on Preston” mural, which is being done in collaboration with the Preston Area Arts Council, Preston Public Library, city of Preston, artist Alison Love Unzelman, Southeastern Libraries Cooperating, the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Christ Lutheran and Fillmore Central schools.

“We like collaborative grants,” Zimmerman said. “It’s all about working together.”

Another project supported this past year was the Fillmore Central crows nest and bleacher project. In addition to the funds given by the foundation, collaborative partners in that project included the Fillmore Central Booster Club, the school district and a Chevrolet Drive for Education grant.

The foundation also gave funds to the Fillmore County DAC, where the kitchen is being updated so clients can learn how to do things on their own and learn basic skills.

Finally, the foundation has given a bit of seed money for a veterans memorial in Fountain and has supported ball park updates there as well.

“We are working madly with Fountain,” said Zimmerman. “They have always been under our umbrella because they are part of the school district, but we are trying to get them more involved.”

Zimmerman also noted that there are funds available for other community projects. A grant application can be found on the foundation website, www. http://www.prestonmnchamber.com/community-foundation.

According to the grant application, PACF provides grants to support programs and projects that improve the quality of life and build a stronger community in the greater Preston area. The foundation is primarily interested in funding new and innovative projects or programs that build on existing strengths of an organization or the community.

Proposals must be submitted by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or a unit of government, such as municipalities, townships and school districts.

Reserve a ticket now

Zimmerman promised that the annual dinner and auction is always a fun evening and provides a great opportunity for community members to join together with a common purpose.

“I love the whole evening,” she added. “It’s just a feel good night.”

Another benefit of the program is showing foundation donors and supporters what is being done with their money. “They get to see where their money is being spent,” she reiterated. “It all stays right here and supports local projects.”

With the donations that come in during the event, in addition to the generous matching funds from Christianson and F&M Community Bank, the endowment fund is growing. “Those funds are going to be there for generations,” Zimmerman said. “We will be supporting projects well into the future.”