West Central Blogger

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Here's a great family reunion idea

Sunscreen? Check.
Four dozen hot dog buns? Check.
Photo album to show relatives how much the kids have grown? Check.
Contribution to help start a family foundation? Check-book.

If that last item isn't on your checklist for the annual family reunion, maybe it should be. Through a family charitable fund, you and your relatives can honor a loved one, teach your kids about giving and leave a legacy to your community.

Setting up a family fund isn’t as complicated as you think. West Central Initiative can help you every step of the way, and administer the fund so your hardest decision is who will benefit from your family’s generosity each year.

You can learn more at WCI's Web site: http://www.wcif.org/. Just click on the "Start a Family Fund" button. Or, you can contact Kim Embretson, WCI’s vice president of development, at 800-735-2239, or kim@wcif.org.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Randy says goodbye....

The West Central Initiative staff is sad to say goodbye to colleague Randy Wanek, WCI's healthcare worker project coordinator for the past two years. Randy will begin his duties as administrator of the Pelican Valley Health Center in Pelican Rapids in July.

Randy oversaw the research and development of three major components outlined by the Building the Healthcare Workforce Steering Committee that was convened by WCI and the Labor Force Development Council to address the regional healthcare worker shortage:

  1. The Nursing Profession Selection Assessment Tool, which was piloted this spring with high school students and other individuals interested in pursuing a nursing profession, as well as individuals that work in the field and are interested in transitioning up the nursing career ladder from CNA to LPN to RN to MSN.

  2. Clinical Nursing Preceptor Program, to provide on-site supervision for nursing students at their facilities.
  3. Clinical Preceptorship Training Curriculum, an eight-hour course designed to empower preceptors in nursing to provide a quality, positive clinical experience.

WCI will miss Randy's healthcare expertise and leadership, and the easy camaraderie he creates wherever he goes.

Around here, Randy is know for his amazing joke repertoire--at least one joke, if not more, for every occasion. His latest contribution: A funeral procession was going up a big hill when the doors of the hearse opened and out rolled the casket. It rolled down the street, through many intersections of Main Street, went through the front entrance of a drug store and crashed into the pharmacy desk. The lid of the casket opened slowly and the person popped up and asked the astonished pharmacist, "Have you got anything to stop this coffin?"

...and Nate says hello

If you're looking for the percentage of job growth in Becker County in the last two years or average wages in Grant County then Nathan Dorr is your man.
As the new regional labor market analyst for the 26 counties of Minnesota's Northwest Planning Region, Nate tracks information on job growth, wages, unemployment, job projections and other information that would help a person decide on a career path or help a business start up or relocate to a certain area.

He does regional and county level assessments and is available throughout the Northwest Planning Region for meetings and presentations for any group interested in workforce or economic information.

You can contact Nate at (218) 333-8220 or Nathan.Dorr@state.mn.us

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Take me out to the ballgame

The West Central Initiative staff, friends and families enjoyed an evening outing to see the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks inch out the Joliet Jackhammers 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth.

The great thing about baseball is that it's alive and well in just about every town, no matter the size. Be it a semi-professional team, Legion ball or Little League, the boys and girls of summer are no doubt playing at a park near you. Mosey on down some evening and take in a game. If you're lucky, there'll even be a hotdog with your name on it!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thank you, Jenny!

Like any non-profit organization, West Central Initiative is thankful for the work and support of its board. So, it's always sad to bid an outgoing board member farewell.

At its June meeting, the WCI board took time to thank Jenny Nellis, professor of studio art at the University of Minnesota-Morris, for her three-year tenure. Board Chair Ralph Lang presented Jenny with a miniature replica of the sculpture located in front of WCI' s offices--a fitting gift, since Jenny is a sculptor herself!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Minnesota Competes" with the world

How does Minnesota's economy and labor force growth continue to flourish when its competition spans the entire globe? The Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development is hosting a series of statewide forums to address Minnesota’s critical workforce and economic development issues.

In west central Minnesota, DEED will host a forum in Fergus Falls at the MSCTC campus on Thursday, July 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Here is the link with a letter from DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy and an easy sign-up form:

High-flying Leadership Barnesville

The Barnesville Community Fund took its Leadership Barnesville leader-building program to new heights this year--literally.

The 16 participants of the class of 2007, both long-time and new residents of Barnesville, found themselves on a high ropes course as part of the opening retreat of the progam. The course, which is located at the Kathryn Center south of Valley City, ND, challenged the group to work together in order to help each person succeed in a truly daunting task.

Leadership Barnesville helps community members become better leaders by strengthening their skills and broadening their community awareness. Along with the retreat and monthly sessions held Oct. 2006 to March 2007, the participants worked on projects for the community, such as the development of an artisan and history center, and research to create a nature trail connecting downtown Barnesville to nearby Blue Eagle Lake.
This is the fifth year the Barnesville Community Fund has held the program, which was funded in part by West Central Initiative, Barnesville Lions, Wells Fargo, Midwest Bank and Thursday Nite Lions.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Come to a "Kids Count" Coffee

Kids Count Minnesota invites you to have coffee and learn the latest statistics on children in our state and specific counties. This community forum will include legislative updates and discussion on how to improve the lives of children in our area and beyond.
Attendees will receive a free copy of Seven Basic Needs: Minnesota Kids Count Data Book 2007.

Kids Count Coffees are scheduled:

June 19, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Permanent Family Resource Center
1220 North Tower Road
Fergus Falls
For more info call 218-998-3400

June 19, 2:30-4 p.m.
Moorhead City Council Chambers (1st Floor)
500 Center Ave.
For more info contact the Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership, 218-299-7000, or the Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, 651-227-6121)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

They did something great

The students, staff and volunteers at the Red River Area Learning Center in Moorhead wanted to showcase their talents to the larger Moorhead community. The school worked with the Moorhead Healthy Community Initiative to secure a $500 award from West Central Initiative's "Do Something" grant to produce the first ever literary and arts magazine for the Red River Area Learning Center (cover pictured, along with a "thank you" photo card received by WCI).

The process was just as important as the outcome--perhaps more so. The 16 students were invited to spend a day on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus creating poetry, stories and artwork and experiencing campus life. A month later, they were the guests of honor at a luncheon attended by 30 of Moorhead's community leaders. They read from the magazine and shared their thoughts about the experience. The event even made it on the local 6 p.m. news.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Counting their blessings

Small Blessings Childcare and Preschool in Detroit Lakes celebrated its first anniversary with a picnic and open house Tuesday, June 5.

It was a beautiful evening to be outside. The sun was warm, the breeze soft, the kids happy and the parents relaxed and thankful that their young children had such a great nurturing place to be while they were at work.

Small Blessings started as an idea by Detroit Lakes United Methodist Church to reach out to the community. They researched the possibility and found that there was indeed a pressing need in the area. The church provided space in the building and the leadership to begin the venture. West Central Initiative helped out by awarding the center a Childcare Capacity Grant.

One mom described how she called 28 different childcare providers to find a place for her young son. "How are people with small children supposed to work if there is no childcare?" she said. Small Blessings truly became a blessing for her and her husband.

After one year, the board and staff of Small Blessings are counting their own blessings. And they're already pondering the possibility of expanding the center as its waiting list continues to grow.