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Foundation honors Chapins for philanthropy

WILLMAR -- John and Conni Chapin have received the Award in Philanthropy from the Willmar Area Community Foundation.

According to a news release from the foundation, the award recognizes local individuals who have significantly contributed to the fields of philanthropy -- either through their personal giving, volunteerism, or advocacy for philanthropy as a professional.

The Chapins demonstrated their philanthropic efforts through their family business, Willmar Electric Service. The company was established in 1920 by Chapin's grandfather, and today Willmar Electric operates in 40 states and 15 countries, the release states. Much of the company's success and growth is attributed to John, who serves as president of the multigenerational company.

The success of the company has served as a catalyst for the Chapins' philanthropic efforts throughout the community. Over the years, the couple has donated their own property, including the Youth for Christ building and space for the Barn Theater, for the betterment of the community. Hope Pregnancy Center, where Conni served as director for seven years, used Chapin property for apartments, and Bethany Christian Services uses donated space from the Chapins as an office.

Their efforts extend beyond Willmar. In Lino Lakes, the couple established a prison fellowship program.

The couple is also active in the Evangelical Free Church, where their activities include support of a women's group, serving as Sunday School teachers and serving as church board members.

Both Chapins attribute their efforts to their parents, who taught them to give time, money or both back to the community.

The Willmar Area Community Foundation started the award program four years ago to honor those working to build a better community and inspire the next generation of philanthropic leaders.