Thank You Event


Thank you Sioux Empire for creating good through Sioux Empire United Way. Learn more about this year's successful campaign effort. Keep an eye on this page, as well as our Facebook and Instagram throughout the week as we announce this year's award winners.


Creative Rally/People's Choice Award - A company or organization that was creative in their campaign activities this year. Voting took place online through our Facebook and Instagram stories.

Creative Rally People's Choice

Voter selected: The First National Bank in Sioux Falls







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. 

Brent Weiler BulldogPresented to: John Coulter, Five Star Call Centers

John has served as a campaign volunteer within Team 2 since 2009, for the past 5 years as a campaigner and section chair in Medium Firms A. John has used his experience to strengthen solid relationships and build new ones with businesses in support of SEUW. This year alone, John's tenacity and leadership saw his team grow by 15%!





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.

Heart Club PhilanthropistPresented to: Smithfield

Smithfield has become synonymous with pushing the SEUW campaign to the finish line. Heart Club giving drives the Smithfield campaign, making up more than 74% of their campaign total. This year was no different, with Heart Club giving increasing by 6%, totaling more than 820 members!





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. 

Rich Garry RookiePresented to: Diamond Mowers

It's not often that a business has a chance to reach out to us before one of our campaigners make a call on them. A call to United Way in August quickly set a first time campaign in motion. The campaign committee organized 4 safely distanced in-person rallies and 1 virtual rally. Campaign participants received a co-branded t-shirt or hoodie. The efforts of the first time campaign resulted in a $20,000 employee giving total.




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. 

Volunteer of the Year

Presented to: Joel Sylvester

As our 2021 Campaign Chair, Joel had the challenge of leading hundreds of volunteers in a campaign that needed to adapt. Joel worked with staff to overhaul training sessions, develop new strategies, and made himself available for multiple meetings and rallies. Joel's passion for United Way never wavered, always ready with a story of the impact of United Way programs. Joel has served as a volunteer for SEUW since 2003 as a Loaned Executive, Team 2 Campaigner, Campaign Division Chair, and Board member.




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. 

Larry Oppold Memorial

Presented to: Cindy Dannenbring

Cindy has been with Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership for nearly 50 years and has led the organization as Chief Executive Officer since 1993. Throughout her career, Cindy has dedicated her work to helping individuals and families with low incomes to become less reliant on public assistance in their quest for self-sufficiency. Cindy assists ICAP staff in addressing needs in Child Development, Transportation, Senior Services, Housing, and Emergency Services. In Sioux Falls, she's been a driving force behind Heartland House and Bright Futures and has been instrumental in expanding affordable housing units.




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. 

Helen E Oppold Blair Memorial

Presented to: Blake Bennett

Blake serves as a Team Coordinator for Children's Home Society of South Dakota. In Blake's role, he coordinates a team of residential counselors in providing care to children. Blake goes above and beyond for his staff and the children on his unit. He makes work a fun and inviting place, despite the stressors that come along with the job. He is always there to lend a helping hand and is a great role model to the boys on his unit.




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. 

David Birkeland Memorial

Presented to: Marie Fredrickson

Marie served as Chair of Sioux Empire United Way's Board of Directors this past year, leading the organization in adapting to fulfilling our mission in a year of a pandemic. She was also instrumental in focusing SEUW on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Marie has volunteered for SEUW for more than 20 years in various roles. She has also donated her time to many other organizations, including: St. Therese Parish Building Campaign Committee, Kirby Science and Discovery Center Board, South Dakota Achieve Foundation Board, and Ronald McDonald House Foundation.




Business of the Year Award - This award is given to the company or organization that has greatly benefited United Way through its generosity and/or its employees’ involvement. Three awards may be presented each year.  

Business of the YearPresented to: Sioux Falls Ford

Sioux Falls Ford has a long history of support Sioux Empire United Way, but this year they threw away the playbook and decided to ramp up their efforts. The campaign stretched across the final quarter of 2020, with a jeans day twist. Employees who pledged $100 or more received a United Way branded t-shirt and the ability to wear jeans on Friday throughout the 4th quarter. The result? Employee giving increased by 250%, which was matched by corporate giving!




Business of the YearPresented to: Lloyd Companies

Lloyd Companies kicked off their annual support of United Way during their virtual all-staff meeting. The campaign included some fun, such as a giant Plinko board and the opportunities to win various prizes. The campaign efforts paid off. Participation increased by 35% and giving increased by 25%!




Business of the YearPresented to: Plains Commerce Bank

Since entering the Sioux Falls business community in 2006, Plains Commerce Bank has been a proud supporter of Sioux Empire United Way. As the company has grown, the campaign support has grown too - often achieving 100% participation in giving. This year was no different, the campaign team utilized an online rally and pledge form among other tools to increase employee giving by 33.8%!



Please view our previous award winners