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Tribune Opinion: Three honors for helping build our communities

Willmar is really an amazing city where people and businesses strive to turn dreams into reality by building and impacting our community.

The Willmar Area Community Foundation's honorees this week are prime examples of individuals and businesses who continually work to help move Willmar forward.

They are:

Dave and Mary Baker honored with the Award in Philanthropy

Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing, PLLP honored with the Community Builder Award

Willmar Area Women's Fund honored with the Innovative Impact Award

All three honors are well-deserved.

Award in Philanthropy

Dave and Mary Baker have been involved in the Willmar and Spicer communities for more than 23 years now. Since moving to Willmar in 1994, they have fallen in love with the greater Willmar community and have committed to making active and collaborative efforts to create significant contributions.

When owning Melvin's on the Lake in Spicer, they were instrumental in reviving the Spicer WinterFest and the Green Lake Triathlon events.

The couple was instrumental in spearheading the creation and funding of the I-Cardinal Technology Project, which provides 1,600 iPads for Willmar Senior High School students to facilitate inclusive learning opportunities.

In 2017, Dave helped organize community leaders and organizations in his dream of Willmar's Destination Playground, which is the first step toward improving and expanding the Robbins Island facilities.

The Baker couple has turned their family's loss of their son into the Dan Baker Foundation, which has raised $250,000 to help local organizations fight the battle against opioid addiction.

The couple has proven again that good people can help engage people, connect resources and help our community in positive directions.

Congratulations to Dave and Mary Baker.

Community Builder Award

Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing has been committed to helping clients achieve their goals and providing opportunities for their associates to contribute to their communities since its founding in 1985 by Richard Conway, Roger Deuth and Milan Schmiesing.

The company has grown into one of the top 25 CPA firms in Minnesota with 12 partners and 63 associates with locations in Willmar, Benson, Morris, Litchfield and St. Cloud-Sartell. In 2017, Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing was named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Minnesota Business magazine.

Through the company's growth, it has maintained a spirit of service and giving back to the community as part of CDS' workplace culture. In 2016, the company's associates provided more than 3,400 hours of service time within the various communities.

Congratulations to Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing and all your associates.

Innovative Impact Award

The Willmar Area Women's Fund's mission is to develop new ideas and initiatives to improve the lives of women and girls in our communities. The 2008 founding of the Women's Fund was a strategic mission to help women make the philanthropic decisions and to provide an effective way to connect women directly to the needs of local communities.

The Women's Fund worked to expand existing efforts to provide access to lives of economic and social strength for women and girls in the community. The fund contributed more than $80,000 of grant money over nine years to these efforts.

In 2015, the Women's Fund committed to a new Caring for Women Circula Campaign focused on raising awareness about increasing numbers of homeless youth in the region and an alarming connection between homelessness and sex trafficking.

The Women's Fund has exceeded its campaign goals for the previous two years by raising more than $135,000 to combat youth homelessness and sex trafficking in the region.

In the future, the fund's plan is to fund a Regional Navigator position to assist with the growing issues of homelessness and sex trafficking. This effort is a pilot program and may become a model for similar efforts across the nation.

Congratulations to the Willmar Area Women's Fund.