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Austin Area Foundation helps with food donation

Austin Area Foundation made a donation of $1000 this week to help stock the food shelf of the Salvation Army from the community foundation’s new Basic Needs Endowment fund.  The fund was established so the foundation could help area organizations when emergencies or unexpected needs arise.

Austin Area Foundation helps with food donation

“This donation is awesome! It comes at a time when we have six areas on our food shelf that are empty and it will enable us to fill those spaces,” said Lori Espe, Social Services Director for the Salvation Army.  “Donations are fewer this time of year and we badly needed this help.”

The “Basic Needs” endowment fund was created for just this purpose, developed in response to the economic downturn of recent years as a means to provide support to the community through local nonprofits.  When providing food, shelter and other basic needs exceeds their own budget and capabilities, Austin Area Foundation plans to – through the Basic Needs Endowment Fund – provide that added financial support to help organizations where needed.

“The Salvation Army needed help in filling the many missing food items on their shelves and we at the Austin Area Foundation felt compelled to initiate financial help,” said Jeff Baldus, Executive Director of Austin Area Foundation.  “These funds come from our newly established “Basic Needs Fund” to help local nonprofits meet the growing needs of the community.”

The Basic Needs Endowment fund was established in 2014.  Donations to the Austin Area Foundation are tax deductible and may be mailed to AAF, 110 1st Ave SE, Suite 6, Austin MN 55912.

Also, Austin Area Foundation would like to encourage and remind community non-profit organizations, schools and groups to submit applications for its upcoming grant distribution process.  Non-profit agencies and organizations have until September 1st to submit applications. Each year, AAF awards grants to support a variety of local improvements and projects.

Applications can be found at Austin Public Library, Austin Area Chamber of Commerce or Austin Area Foundation website

 “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” – Pericle

Community Foundation hires first Executive Director

Baldus to lead AAF’s continuing growth, giving to Austin area

AUSTIN, MN – March 25, 2014 – Austin Area Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Jeff Baldus as the organization’s first executive director. Baldus currently serves on the community foundation’s executive board, and is an active member in area business and volunteer activities.

“We have many people to thank for the progress the Austin Area Foundation has experienced over the last ten years,” said Mike Ruzek, board chair and founder of Austin Area Foundation.

“With the hiring of Jeff Baldus, we are confident that our growth will be at a faster pace. We look forward to working with Jeff to further fulfill the foundation’s mission in serving our community.”

Baldus is a longtime Austin resident and has been most recently employed by the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, supporting Ambassador activities, membership and the 4th of July Freedom Fest. Currently active on many local boards and in volunteer positions, his career includes 34 years of restaurant management and was the successful owner/operator of Austin Culver’s Restaurant until he sold it in June of 1999.

“Serving in the position of executive director will allow me to champion the nonprofit organizations that give so much to our community. I am thrilled to be part of an organization that does so much good for the community,” said Baldus.

“My first plans for the community foundation are to educate the public on who we are and what we do and how you can have a positive lasting influence on this community.”

Austin Area Foundation is a community foundation whose’s mission is to make a lasting impact through support of the important organizations of the Austin community, creating positive results now and planning a positive influence through charitable giving for generations to come.

Interview Ideas/Contacts:

Jeff Baldus – Executive Director – 507.279.0875

Darrell Ingvaldson – Chair, AAF – 507.433.1508



Austin Area Foundation Holds 11th Annual Meeting

$17,000 distributed to local organizations


January 28, 2014 – Austin, MN – The Austin Area Foundation held its 11th annual meeting January 23, 2014 and announced a growth in the amount of grant funding available for community needs. In 2013, the AAF Legacy Fund distributed $17,000 to organizations from throughout Austin. Grant applications for 2014 must be submitted by September 1, 2014 or a postmark of the same date.

Austin Area Foundation

Austin Legacy Fund

2013 Grants

Austin Arts Festival  Children’s Activities 1,500
Austin Comm. Band Maintaining concert series 500
AHS Band Tenor Saxophone 1,500
Austin Symphony Concert Support  2,500
Matchbox Theatre Production Costs  800
Children’s Dental Heath Happy Smiles Kits  1,500
Cornerstone Church Car Repair Clinic 660
The Hormel Institute Promo for Paint the Town Pink 1,500
MC Historical Society WW II Exhibit 1,500
Northwestern Singers Instrumentalists & carpenter 1,500
Parenting Resource Center 3 video resources  540
St. Olaf  Backpack Program Food resources for hungry 1,500
S. MN. Women’s Center Diapers 500
Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Celebration 1,000
TOTAL   $17,000

The annual meeting included board elections.  The board approved incumbent and/or new board members Mike Ruzek, Belita Schindler, Janet Anderson, Steve Binder, Sarah Nelsen, Paul Worlein, Carla Conradt and Gary Nordland.  Officers nominated and voted in are Chair Mike Ruzek, Vice Chair Jeff Baldus, Secretary Paul Wahlstrom and Treasurer Ron Walth.   Outgoing board members were recognized and thanked for their years of service and important contributions to Austin Area Foundation:Gayle Bergstrom, Steve Hovey, Maryanne Law, John Morrison and Jeanne Sheehan.

A search for Austin Area Foundation’s first Executive Director is also underway. The new Executive Director will be responsible for effective and economical donor development, operation of the agency and supporting strategic governance for the foundation.  Professionals interested in applying may send cover letter and resume by March 1st to PO Box 6, Austin, MN  55912.

For more information visit Contact:Mike Ruzek – Executive Director, AAF – 507.433.8845

Executive Director Recruitment

The Board of Directors of the Austin Area Foundation is pleased to announce the recruitment of its first Executive Director. In 2013, the Foundation celebrated 10 years serving the Austin Area and with consistent growth of assets and programming. The Executive Director will be responsible for the effective and economical donor development, operation of the agency and supporting strategic governance. Candidates must possess the professional skills and drive that are required to be the first Executive Director of a growing Community Foundation. Position will work 30 hours per week, with some flexibility as necessary to be meet the needs of the Foundation, its donors and partner agencies. The application process will be open until March 1. Professionals interested in making a difference are encouraged to submit resume with cover letter to Austin Area Foundation, P.O. Box 6, Austin, MN 55912.

How to Apply

AAF gift funds refrigerator for nonprofit childcare center

Catherwood Home Child Care  Says Thank You

Funding provided by the Austin Area Foundation has allowed the nonprofit Catherwood Home Child Care to purchase a new, energy-efficient refrigerator with a large freezer compartment.

The purchase by Catherwood Home, which is owned and operated by the Parenting Resource Center in Austin, allowed for the replacement of an inefficient, upright freezer from the 1970s for frozen foods.

Catherwood Home Child Care  Says Thank You

Annually, the Catherwood Home serves 30 to 50 children at its facility located at 707 Fourth St. N.W.

Austin Area Foundation is a community foundation governed by a volunteer board of directors committed to enhancing the community through charitable giving.


Classes help educate caregivers

The Advocacy Program is planning to offer the Powerful Tools for Caregivers classes in March.


This class has been well attended and we have received a lot of positive feedback from past participants.


Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational program designed to help caregivers take care of themselves while caring for an older relative or friend. You will benefit from this class whether you are helping a parent, spouse, friend, someone who lives at home, in a nursing home or across the country.


We want to thank the Austin Area Foundation for the grant we received from them for $1,500. This money will assist us in providing classes for caregivers and also assist us to continue to increase our caregiver program. Their support is very much appreciated.


Please contact Nancy at 433-8376 or Marianne at 433-3462 or stop by the Advocacy office if you are interested in the classes or if you have any caregiving questions or concerns.


Don’t forget all members are invited to the Senior Center annual meeting held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. If you are planning on attending and would like to sign up for the meal it is $8. The cut off to sign up is Tuesday. To sign up please stop by or call the front desk at 433-2370 ext. 0. See you there. You are always welcome at the Senior Center.

Thanks for the support

The Mower County Humane Society would like to thank a local community foundation for their fantastic support.


The Austin Area Foundation recently awarded MCHS $1,000 to be used to buy new kitten kennels for our shelter. The current kennels in use are rabbit cages that are more than 20 years old and they have deteriorated to the point where the doors will not stay closed and they cannot be cleaned properly.


Thank you, Austin Area Foundation members for your support!


Kelly Rush,


Austin Area Foundation donates to KSMQ

The Austin Area Foundation’s board members Janet Anderson and Ron Walth gave $1,000 to KSMQ for repairs to its broadcast tower that was damaged in a storm in September.


President and CEO of KSMQ Television Eric Olson said the tower came down on Sept. 5 during a high wind and rain storm. Now repairs and support for those repairs are underway. Olson said while the tower was insured, not all costs are covered.


“It means so much to us to receive support from the Austin Area Foundation,” Olson said. “Not only to receive the much-needed funds, but to know that we are part of the community and that people care about what happens to us.”


KSMQ has operated the 440-foot tower for 30 years. Engineers devised an alternate broadcast signal path using a shorter tower owned by KSMQ.

Public helps arts in Austin grow

Over the past year, Austin and the surrounding communities have watched the Austin Area Commission for the Arts change and grow.


Although sometimes this change isn’t easy, change is necessary to move forward. Fortunately the organization has wonderful supporters who have continued to stand by through our growing pains.


Thank you to all our board members, volunteers, patrons, performers, donors, members, sponsors, staff members, and everyone who has helped make the Austin Area Commission from the Arts the organization it is today and the organization it will become in the future.


Progress could not be possible without your support. In fact, we received some recent examples of this support.


More than a week ago we were awarded a $4,000 operating support grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council that will help us defer some of our operating expenses.


This past week we replaced the carpeting in the basement of the Historic Paramount Theatre through funding from The Hormel Foundation and Austin Area Foundation. Jason Culbert laid the tile and Missy Cline created a beautiful design to reflect the decor of the Paramount.


There will continue to be wonderful changes in the Austin Area Commission for the Arts’ future, including developing a plan for the long-anticipated expansion of the Paramount Theatre and changing some of our programming.


We hope to continue receiving the fantastic support we have in the past and maybe even gain some new supporters in our future.


Regardless of our organizational changes, we will continue offering great events for the community to enjoy.

Austin Area Foundation seeks applications

The Austin Area Foundation is reminding interested organizations and groups of the upcoming application deadline — Sept. 1 — for its annual awarding of grants.


Each year the Austin Area Foundation awards grants to local organizations, and past recipients include the Austin Dog Park, Matchbox Children’s Theatre, the ARC of Mower County, the Mower County Humane Society, and special interest groups within the school system. Applications are available at, or hard copies are available at the Austin Public Library or the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce.


Applications may be mailed to Austin Area Foundation, PO Box 6, Austin, MN, 55912.


Austin Area Foundation’s mission is to enhance the community through charitable giving and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Founded by Executive Director Mike Ruzek in 2003, AAF has established a growing “legacy fund” as a way for area residents to give to the community ad infinitum.



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