Rochester – United Way of Olmsted County hosted its Annual Meeting on October 3, 2023, at The Kahler Grand Hotel. The event convened over 150 local advocates, leaders, and elected officials passionate about creating a community where everyone can thrive. It featured keynote speaker Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, alongside Destination Medical Center’s Equitable Development Coordinator, Wafa Elkhalifa, and Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel.
As a former school board member and nonprofit leader, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan is a tireless advocate for Minnesota’s children and families. She articulated this passion at the event by sharing her own childhood experiences while drawing parallels to the impact of United Way of Olmsted County and Rochester’s Full-Service Community Schools has on children in our community. “Our evidence-based school improvement strategy shows that this model builds a strong web of support and enables students to engage in high-quality learning opportunities every single day,” the Lieutenant Governor stated. “We know that our children do not come in pieces, so we should not treat them that way. Full-Service Community Schools meet that challenge.”
Wafa Elkhalifa, Equitable Development Coordinator at Destination Medical Center, shared a similar sentiment. “An ideal, healthy, united community ... is a community where resources are shared … where social connections are intentional ... where a healthy local economy thrives, and there is equitable access to social services that benefit all of us,” she said. “I am inspired by United Way’s commitment to mobilize the caring power of our community."
Superintendent Pekel reiterated the importance of supporting all the youth in Rochester. “Our challenge is: can any young person, born in any zip code in Rochester, access [that] opportunity? Not just to be a physician or a scientist, but to have one of the incredible diversity of jobs that are going to be a part of that ecosystem." He concluded, “The kind of leadership here at the United Way is exactly that kind of leadership ... that proactively brings us together, across the many diverse constituencies that exist in this wonderful community.”
“It really matters that we talk about who we are, and where we come from, and how we come together, united, to take care of one another,” Lt. Gov. Flanagan said. “I relied on a local food bank as well, and so I think about the work that you do and funding nonprofits and making sure that organizations can help families put food on the table ... We all benefit when our families are strong, when our kids are thriving in school.”
United Way of Olmsted County concluded the event with an appeal to attendees to “Give. Advocate. Volunteer.” Anyone interested in joining United Way’s mission to create a thriving community for all can get involved by donating at www.uwolmsted.org/ambassador and spreading the word about why you #LiveUnited on social media.
About United Way of Olmsted County
United Way of Olmsted County (UWOC) is a community change organization with the mission to unite people and resources to improve lives in our community. We fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community in a variety of ways: we collaborate with local organizations, businesses, and community leaders to mobilize their expertise and resources; we accelerate impact by strengthening systems and cultivating leaders to build a community where all people can thrive, regardless of race or place; and we participate in a collective effort that empowers local residents to create lasting transformations in their own communities through our focus on community-driven change.
United Way of Olmsted County