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Thank You Event

2019 Thank You Event

Congratulations to this year's award recipients!

David Birkeland Memorial Award - This award is given to the business or professional leader who most exemplifies David Birkeland’s involvement in United Way and our community.  A tribute to David reads: His smile invited conversation, his manner put strangers at ease, his style engendered trust and his humor broke down barriers.  Dave was a servant leader whose example was an expression of his spirit.

Brenda Kibbe: Over the past 25 years, Brenda has spent countless hours working to ensure the needs of our community are being met and that donor dollars are allocated appropriately. Her United Way resume includes: Counseling Team Member 1994-1998, Counseling Team Chair 1999-2001, Basic Needs Team Member 2006-2010, After School Team Member 2014, After School Team Chair 2015-2016, Community Impact Division Vice Chair 2016, and Community Impact Chair and Board Member 2016-2018. Along with her very consistent presence within the Community Impact Division, Brenda also serves on our Fundraising Policy Committee, our Community Impact Division Strategic Planning Team, and assists with Citi’s employee giving campaign as needed, including a turn as the Employee Campaign Manager. With her in-depth understanding of Sioux Empire United Way and the needs in our community, Brenda not only shares her time, but she and her husband Andy are also loyal Heart Club members, most recently at the Alexis de Tocqueville Society level. Brenda’s community involvement is not limited to United Way. She also volunteers or is involved in: Lutheran Social Services’ Everyday Heroes as a mentor, EmBe’s Women’s Leadership Program Mentor, Junior Achievement, Volunteers of America, Dakota’s Past Board Chair, St. Michael’s Parish, Lunch is Served, Feeding South Dakota, Habitat for Humanity, Teach Children to Serve, and is a leader of Citi Women’s profession network.

Larry Oppold Memorial Award - This award is given to a human services professional for outstanding dedication to his or her work and for demonstrating the qualities that Larry believed in during his life.  Larry was a thoughtful, caring, and compassionate person who acted as an advocate for those in need.

Stephanie Monroe: Throughout her 16 years overseeing Children, Youth & Family, and Homelessness Services at Volunteers of America, Dakotas, Stephanie has made a positive impact on the most vulnerable youth in our community. Stephanie leads a staff of 50 in nine different programs that are dedicated to helping individuals reach their full potential. This past year alone, she oversaw the relocation of the Youth Center, reorganized VOA’s runaway and homeless youth continuum, and has been a pivotal force updating housing for homeless youth. Because of the work of Stephanie and her staff, nearly 600 people have received life-changing services in the past year alone. In addition to her work, Stephanie also participates in or serves on: McKinney-Vento Advisory Board for the Sioux Falls School District, Sioux Falls Thrive Steering Committee, South Dakota Housing for the Homeless Consortium Policy and Advisory Committee, the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Commission, and she serves on a workgroup for the Department of Corrections’ Criminal Justice Initiative. 

Helen E. (Oppold) Blair Memorial Award - This award is to be presented to an individual whose work in human services, law enforcement, education, or church based fields towards child abuse prevention and early intervention is exemplary.

Dr. Nancy Free: Dr. Nancy Free serves in many roles in our community and state: Medical Director of Child’s Voice at Sanford Hospital, Medical Director for Central South Dakota Child Assessment Center for St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, and Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. Dr. Free has worked on the Jolene’s Law Task Force to develop a ten-year plan to end child abuse in SD. She is involved in the Multidisciplinary Team in Minnehaha County that includes medical providers, mental health providers, forensic interviewers, law enforcement, prosecutors, child protection professionals, and child advocates. Dr. Nancy Free has been evaluating children at Child’s Voice since 2004. Child’s Voice is a Child Advocacy Center that provides medical evaluations for children who may be victims of abuse and neglect. Dr. Free provides the medical examination and treatment in a point in a child’s life where they are their most vulnerable. Her compassionate care, treatment, and counseling have a lifelong impact on the child.

Heart Club Philanthropist Award - This award is given to a Heart Club member or company who has demonstrated active involvement and has also encouraged or influenced others to contribute.

Jay Huizenga: Jay Huizenga served as the Chair of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society campaign effort. Sioux Empire United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society was started in 1997 by T. Denny Sanford. ADT givers pledge a gift of $10,000 or more. Alexis de Tocqueville Society’s campaign relies on personal relationships, creating connections between givers and United Way and the impact of their gift. Jay Huizenga served as chair of this year’s ADT effort and under his leadership our society has now grown 100 members for the first time. A part of Jay’s success is his long-time ties to United Way. His first role was an Employee Campaign Manager at KELO TV, and over the years he has served as a campaigner volunteer, corporate gifts campaigner and division chair, cabinet member, campaign chair, and Board member. In addition to his volunteerism, Jay and his wife Jane have been United Way Heart Club members for 24 years.

Brent Weiler Bulldog Award - Awarded to a Team 2 Sioux Empire United Way volunteer who has shown determination and persistence in working with small businesses to achieve campaign success.

Ryan Heinemann: Since his start as a campaigner, Ryan has taken the initiative to contact new businesses about United Way and is always willing to assist current givers with their campaign, or conduct a rally. His enthusiasm has added new United Way supporters within the General Business campaign and has increased employee giving among loyal supporters. Among his accounts, over the past three years, employee giving has increased by 89% and corporate giving has increased by 68%. Ryan’s commitment and dedication to campaign is what helps him embody what the bull dog award represents. 

Rich Garry Rookie of the Year Award - This award is given to a first-time Sioux Empire United Way volunteer who has stepped up and made a tremendous impact in their role, helping to fulfill the mission of Sioux Empire United Way.

Pamela Brinkman: Pamela’s role as Employee Campaign Manager at Smithfield happened as many of our first time volunteers do, she was “voluntold.” Pamela worked with veteran volunteers to learn as much as possible about the employee campaign. She asked detailed questions, assembled a campaign dream team of fellow employees Rebecca, Mayya, Dawn, and Andrew, and brought the entire committee to campaign training. The team continued Smithfield’s campaign tradition of ensuring every employee personally heard the message of United Way. They worked tirelessly to collect paper pledge cards from more than 3,000 givers. It’s not always easy for a first year Employee Campaign Manager to maintain a campaign as large as Smithfield’s. Pamela didn’t just maintain, she managed a campaign that saw a $38,000 increase in giving.

Volunteer of the Year Award - This award is given to the volunteer who selflessly and generously gives of his or her time and talents to help fulfill the mission of the Sioux Empire United Way.

Chris Kray: Soon after Chris arrived back in Sioux Falls as Manager of Scheels, he picked back up his volunteerism with Sioux Empire United Way. Since 2009, his roles have included: Corporate Gifts Campaigner in Divisions C and E starting in 2010, Corporate Gifts Division Chair in E from 2012-2017, Team Chair for Corporate Gifts in 2017, Campaign Cabinet Member from 2012-present, and this past year Chris served as Campaign Chair. He was hands on in his role, assisting Cabinet members, speaking at volunteer trainings and rallies, and working to ensure a successful campaign. In addition to his roles within the Campaign Division, Chris has also served: within the Community Impact Division since 2010, Chairing the Disabilities team since 2015, he has been a member of our Board of Directors since 2015, serving on the Finance Committee, and this past year, he served as the Board’s Treasurer. That means in 2018, Chris chaired the campaign, chaired a community impact team, and was a member of the Board’s executive committee. That’s a lot of United Way meetings to attend. And he did so with a smile on his face and his sleeves rolled up ready to work. Chris and his wife Stacie are also loyal Heart Club members who joined the ADT Society in 2018.

Business of the Year Award - This award is given to the company or organization that has greatly benefited Sioux Empire United Way through its generosity and/or its employee’s involvement.  Businesses are broken down into three categories that correlate with their employee #s: 1-100 employees, 101-500 employees, and 500+ employees.

1-100 Employees, First Savings Bank: First Savings Bank has been a long-time United Way supporter, who has gradually been growing their campaign for the past five years. That gradual growth hit a hard fast forward this year, with a 151% increase in employee giving. That is on top of a previous increase of 73%. First Savings Bank now has 100% participation, and grew from 2 Heart Club members to 8. Their average gift now stands at more than $170. First Savings Bank proves the phrase small, but mighty is true when a company invests in their community through United Way.

101-500 Employees, Journey Group: Journey Group is another long time United Way supporter who experienced an incredible campaign this year. Their campaign focused on the basics, sharing the United Way message with all employees and teams personally. Each team member had the opportunity to hear about the work of Sioux Empire United Way and our agencies, so they would know what their gift was going to. Going back to the basics worked, participation grew from 27% to 54%. And employee giving increased by over $19,000.

500+ Employees, Midco: Immediately after training, Midco campaign committee members set their goal of increasing participation. They focused on educating employees that United Way is a part of a bigger cause and that it’s a part of "who we are at Midco." Employees provided testimonials about why they choose to give, which agencies they are passionate about, and why they would encourage others to give. The testimonials were posted throughout Midco buildings to highlight the giving spirit. Their next step was to thank all employees for their support by placing a balloon at cubicles/desks/doorways of employees who supported the campaign at any level. This thank you became a visual way to be recognized and feel valued. These efforts, along with fun activities and prizes led to an employee giving campaign that increased by 32%. Heart Club members grew from 145 to 205. And participation increased by 20%.