While it often takes a new organization some time to “get their feet wet” to begin making progress, the new Lanesboro Area Community Foundation (LACF) has hit the road running.

In less than a year, the group that was created just 11 months ago is already making a dramatic impact on the community of Lanesboro.

According to board member Amanda Larsen, the foundation has raised enough money to bring a state-of-the-art electronic information sign to the community. The cost of the sign is approximately $16,000 and, as of Monday, Larsen said the foundation has raised the necessary funds to purchase and install the new sign.

“The sign will be much like the one that Chatfield recently installed,” Larsen said. “We plan to locate it near the school. The city planning and zoning board has already approved our plans. We will be moving forward with this very soon.”

Larsen explained that after months of interviews, conversations and planning meetings, the LACF was established on May 9, 2016, “to preserve and enhance cooperative efforts for a good life for residents and neighbors of Lanesboro.”

With the creation of the new organization, Lanesboro joined area communities including Spring Valley, Rushford, Harmony and Preston in partnering with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) to receive funds and award grants to projects in the Lanesboro (55949) area.

Larsen noted that SMIF provides the LACF with important nonprofit benefits including recordkeeping, fund management and incentive grants. Gifts to the LACF are tax deductible and the projects are all done in the local community. As of March, the LACF had raised $1,000 for its general fund and over $6,000 to its endowment.

The LACF most recently received a community partnership grant from SMIF for $10,000 for the purchase and installation of the new sign. A major criterion for the partnership grant includes collaborating with other organizations within a community. Larsen stated that LACF partnered with the school, the Lions Club, the firefighters of Lanesboro and Fountain, the Legion and the Legion Auxiliary as well as the EDA.

“In February we had a strategic planning retreat facilitated by Tez Gabrielson,” Larsen stated. “After the retreat we narrowed our key issues to youth, times of crisis, seniors and community good. Our next task is to create shared meaning about these issues that affect community health without naming specific solutions.

“In the interview process, one need in the community that came up again and again was communication,” Larsen continued. “This sign is one way the LACF is meeting a community need.”

The sign will announce things like library programs, school activities, church dinners and the myriad activities that take place every day in Lanesboro.

A number of area businesses have stepped up to help with the sign project as well. Kelly Printing and Signs will be providing the sign at cost. Other local tradesmen are providing the labor. There will also be an opportunity for community members to help on installation day. 

The foundation has five founding board members, each with a three-year term. Walter Bradley, Louise Wolfgramm, James Haugen, Barbara Schramm and Amanda Larsen are the original members. Since then Linda Johnson and Brett Clark have joined the board.

“A few others will join after the April meeting,” Larsen said. “We are looking for people to serve as board members and help our task teams working on our key issues.” Interested persons should contact Jim Haugen.

Larsen also noted if persons would like to make donations to the sign project, they should also contact Haugen. Additional money raised will be used to create a crisis fund. The crisis fund will be set aside to help area residents in need, be it a fire, a flood, or a medical emergency. The LACF is also planning to raise funds to make improvements on the fishing pier at the bass pond.

An upcoming project for the LACF is to create an informational brochure later this year.

“We need to make a few more grants by the end of 2017, (totaling about $3,000). So if there is a community-wide need or project that someone feels is appropriate, please contact a board member for more information about the grant making process,” Larsen concluded.