Okoboji Foundation reaches milestone

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Twenty-five years ago, Berkley Bedell, Sue Richter and Chuck Maxwell held a press conference to announce the formation of the University of Okoboji Foundation. The articles of incorporation were signed by that trio on Aug. 4, 1988.

The organization, now known as the Okoboji Foundation, reached its diamond jubilee year at the annual meeting held Friday, May 31. Bedell and Richter were present along with many of the Foundation's current members and supporters. During the 25-year span, $2.4 million has been awarded in grants to a wide variety of non-profit entities in the Iowa Great Lakes Region thanks to the Foundation's 800 donors.

Board Chair Eric Hoien announced they had reached their goal of $10 million and had experienced 100 percent growth in the past four years. Treasurer Steve Goodenow told the members "the market is working in our favor finally!"

For 2013, the Foundation is awarded $100,000: $50,000 to the Lakes Area Hockey Association to fund the ice rink refrigeration system; $30,000 to Historic Arnolds Park Inc. (HAPI) to assist with funding a multi-purpose pied to replace the old State Pier; and $20,000 to the Pearson Lakes Art Center for a new electronic sign at its entrance along Highway 71.

In addition to those funds, the Dickinson County Youth in Philanthropy Ambassadors were present to announce the disbursement of the $17,000 in grant funding they had raised in the past year. The Iowa Lakeside Lab Resource Center will receive $13,705 to fun the walking trail along the West Okoboji shoreline. Another $3,295 will be given to the Dickinson County Conservation Board to assist with the new 18-hole disc golf course in Kenue Park.

Ambassador Rick Maris told the crowd he gained much from being involved in the Youth in Philanthropy.

"I learned about giving back to our awesome community," he stated. "We also learned how a foundation works and how to impact our community."

Speaking on behalf of the HAPI Board of Directors, Dr. Walter Mendenhall thanked the Okoboji Foundation for the ecological partnership between the two organizations to improve the water quality of West Lake Okoboji with rain gardens and eco-friendly parking lots.

Awards of recognition were presented to Smith "Smitty" Schuneman and Goodenow who are retiring from the board. Hoien applauded their service.

"They have spent and amazing amount of time on Foundation business. They have spent 14 years and they do good work," he said.

Elected to the board were Larry Den Herder, Barb Everist and Wayne Northey. In other Foundation business the by-laws revisions, laboriously re-written by Schuneman, were adopted.

Foundation President Mary Feiborg told attendees about the 25th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, June 29 in the Boji Bay Pavilion.

"There will be a Board's Best Culinary Challenge where board members will cook and you will judge the winner of the Ripple of Good Award," she told them.

The 25th Anniversary Endowment campaign will go into full swing at that event. Announcing the details of the campaign was Dwight Conover who co-chairs the project with Goodenow.

"Imagine a perfect world. We want to raise $3 million," he noted. "So far we have quietly raised $1.5 million and are halfway to the goal. At the end of June we will hit it hard to reach that goal."

Conover stated the goal of the next 25 years is to give $6 million.

"We can give out $250,000 a year instead of $100,00. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

Pledges and donations can be sent to Okoboji Foundation P. O. Box 593, Okoboji IA 51355.

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