Veterans, R.D. Offutt company employees and nonprofit organizers share a strong connection: Commitment to service and expressing gratitude for sacrifice.
Because of the immense need created by the COVID-19 pandemic, veterans are suffering economic, housing, and mental health crises according to the Bob Woodruff Foundation. In fact, during April of this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced its initiative to rehouse at least 38,000 Veterans after 2020’s significant rise in veterans experiencing homelessness.
The Offutt Family Foundation responded to this need by challenging RDO Equipment Co. and R.D. Offutt Farms team members to nominate nonprofits serving veterans and their families for a Community Builder Grant. Altogether, 18 grants were awarded across the RDO footprint for a total of $195,000. These nonprofit organizations will be able to meet veterans’ basic needs, build community and empower veterans to live a purposeful life.
Check out why these employees nominated these nonprofits, and how these grants will help veterans throughout the U.S.
Fix It Forward received a $5,000 grant to help fund their work in removing transportation barriers. The organization uses volunteer labor, discounted parts, and donations to cover costs. Jeremy Jensen, Fix It Forward co-founder and vice president, says these funds will be used for more repair projects.
“Often Veterans fall through the cracks in the system,” he said. “I’m not sure the solution but helping them plug in to support organizations may help them not fall through the cracks.”
Howard Fulks, Director of Analytics at R.D. Offutt Company, nominated the nonprofit because transportation is foundational to living a productive life.
Howard Fulks, R.D. Offutt Company Director of Analytics presents Jeremy Jensen, Fix It Forward Co-founder and Vice President, with a Community Grant from the Offutt Family Foundation.
Central Valley Veterans, an all-volunteer, nonprofit that works to improve veterans' lives, was awarded $10,000 from the Offutt Family Foundation. RDO Equipment Co. Store Manager, Nhia Vue, in Fowler California submitted this organization after becoming aware of their need to fund their warehouse lease and essential services like providing food and clothing.
“We’re so grateful and amazed by this generosity," said Deborah Riordan, Central Valley Veterans board president. “Nhia was an amazing advocate for us and did all the hard work towards obtaining the grant."
Nhia Vue, Store Manager, RDO Equipment Co. — Fowler, CA, presents Deborah Riordan, Central Valley Veterans Board President, with a Community Builder Grant from the Offutt Family Foundation.
Flathead Marines, Inc., an organization supporting both active and non-active Marines based in Kalispell, Montana, received $10,000 from the Offutt Family Foundation after RDO Equipment Co. Parts Manager Mason Davis nominated them for a Community Builder Grant.
Timothy Norton, Flathead Marines, Inc. treasurer and founding board member, says this grant helps to fund the organization’s operations costs, and create additional support.
“We recently had a brother Marine attempt to end his own life and we had very limited funds to support his mother in her transportation and lodging,” Norton said. “This grant will allow us to provide for families in similar situations.”
Mason Davis, Parts Manager, RDO Equipment Co.— Kalispell, MT, and other RDO team members, presents Timothy Norton, Treasurer and Flathead Marines, Inc. founding board member, with a Community Grant from the Offutt Family Foundation.
Sergeant Colton Levi Derr Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on mental health, was awarded $10,000 after Colin Zilverberg, a veteran and RDO Equipment Co. account manager, highlighted the urgent need to promote and support veterans’ services in the Black Hills area of South Dakota.
“As a veteran myself, I know the struggles veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder face,” Zilverberg said. “The Sergeant Colton Levi Derr Foundation and the Derr family provide support and increase PSTD, TBI, and suicide awareness.”
Colin Zilverberg, Account Manager, RDO Equipment Co. — Rapid City, SD, presents Haley Derr, brother to Colton and Sergeant Colton Levi Derr Foundation President, with a Community Builder Grant.
Grants Build Community
Aberdeen Area Veterans Inc., an organization focusing on serving veterans, received a grant for $15,000. Treasurer and AVVI member Thomas Croymans says this grant will help them to expand their reach through community events like community movie screenings about PTSD, blood drive, and “Out of the Darkness” suicide awareness walk.
Jason Peterson, Store Manager, RDO Equipment Co. — Aberdeen, ND, and Aberdeen Area Veterans Inc. representatives meet with their Community Builder Grant from the Offutt Family Foundation. Listed from left to right, Thomas Croymans, Treasurer AAVI, Dustin Stieha, Sean Johnson, AAVI member, Jason Peterson, Mark Dorn, Mark Jensen, and Colin Artz.
Staples All Veterans and Community Park Association received $5,000 after being nominated by Scott Salthe, a R.D. Offutt Farms Support professional in Staples, Minnesota. The Association will use the funds to buy engraved pavers for the park to highlight area veterans with their years of service.
Several Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts across R.D. Offutt Company’s footprint received Community Builder Grants.
American Legion Post 366 received $15,000 after R.D. Offutt Farms team member Jonathan Robbins nominated them. This American Legion Post in Wadena, Minn. will use the grant to expand its community outreach and education programs including their "Sponsor a Solider" initiative where school-aged children send care packages to a solider with a letter.
Johnathan Robbins, veteran and Offutt Farms team lead, nominated this American Legion Post so younger people in his community can better understand the military's service and sacrifice.
Ranten-Sundflot Post 288, in Brooten, Minnesota received a $15,000 grant after Rick Knutson, a longtime Offutt Farms team member who also served in the Vietnam War, noticed the local park fell into disarray due to lack of funds. The American Legion Post will use this money to replace the community's Vietnam Memorial.
Fargo AMVET Post #7 will use their $5,000 grant to become handicap accessible after a Hollie Ibach, an accounts payable representative, highlighted their need to make their space inclusive environment for veterans who may have disabilities.
“The Fargo AMVETs are always striving to help veterans in any way possible,” Hollie said. “The organization provides a supportive environment, entertainment, usually a meal for veterans that otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.”
Hollie Ibach, RDO Equipment Co. Accounts Payable team member presents AMVETS VFW Post #7 members with a Community Builder Grant.
Mongeau Tholen VFW Post 742 received $5,000 to build a portable flag burning pit to perform yearly ceremonies after RDO Equipment Co. Service technician Justin Korman nominated the organization for their service to Marshall, Minnesota and its surrounding community.
RDO technician Justin Korman, and RDO team members presents Mongeau Tholen VFW Post 742 with Community Builder Grant.
Sunnyside VFW Post 3482 was awarded $15,000 after Jason Kreps, RDO Equipment Co. store manager in Sunnyside, Washington, nominated their organization. Bill Ingram, Sunnyside VFW service officer, says the grant is unexpected but appreciated, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were unable to be open for almost two years,” Ingram said. “This will help us make some much needed building improvements and better support area veterans."
Jason Kreps, Store Manager, RDO Equipment Co. — Sunnyside, WA, presents Sunnyside Veterans of Foreign Wars Post members with the Community Builder Grant.
Victor B Wallin Post 12 received $10,000, nominated by Patrick Frohlich, RDO Equipment Co. store manager in Washburn, North Dakota, because of their work in his community. This post will use the funds to further develop the Veterans Memorial Park.
Patrick Frohlich, Store Manager, RDO Equipment Co. — Washburn, ND , presents Victor Wallin VFW Post members with their Community Builder Grant. Listed from left to right Newell Zeller, Darrell Hight, Dean Bergstedt, Victor B. Wallin Post Commander, and Patrick Frohlich.
American Heroes Outdoors – a nonprofit focused on hosting veterans and their families on hunting and fishing adventures – received $15,000 to build a “Patriot House” ice castle. Adam Gilbertson, a veteran and RDO Equipment Co. Vice President of Midwest Construction and Integrated Controls, nominated the organization because of his connection to its founder.
“When I was deployed to Iraq, my youngest soldier was a Concordia College graduate named David Morse. He turned 18 before we deployed,” Adam said. “When David returned to Park Rapids, he founded American Heroes Outdoors.”
This wasn’t the only organization that Adam nominated, though, as he splits his time between Minnesota and Montana.
Adam Gilbertson, RDO Equipment Co. Vice President of Midwest Construction and Integrated Controls, presents David Morse, American Heroes Outdoors Chief Executive and Host, with a Community Builder Grant.
Early Stage Montana, an organization focusing on creating technology jobs, was awarded $15,000 to fund four placements for veterans in its Hyper Accelerator program. This one-week intensive training program teaches exit strategies, sales and marketing, proformas, financing ventures and term sheets.
Brian Jensen, RDO Equipment Co. Store Manager in Bozeman, Montana presents Early Stage Montana's Executive Director Jenni Graff with their Community Builder Grant.
Mandatory Fun Outdoors received $5,000 to build a “Garden of Honor,” for veterans and their families to grow vegetables in Park Rapids, Minnesota. This organization was nominated by Offutt Farms team member Patrick Focken and encourages veterans to go outdoors.
Veteran Overland will use its $10,000 grant to buy an overland vehicle for veterans to use for “overlanding” outings— a self-reliant adventure that allows them to travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal. RDO Equipment Co. Store Manager and veteran Ollie Windle nominated the organization because of the group’s camaraderie.
In fact, Ollie joined Veteran Overland’s board last month and will help to organize training opportunities including first aid and off-road skills.
Veterans Navigation Network received $15,000 to fund the organization’s operations, as well as host a career fair. Nominated by John Hurd, RDO Equipment Co. store manager in Billings, Montana, the organization focuses on helping veterans transition into civilian life after deployment.
Through the Community Builder program, the Offutt Family Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants since 2015. The program builds on the spirit of community involvement embedded in RDO culture and embodied by team members.
RDO Equipment Co. embodies a stakeholder philosophy, serving all those who make our business what it is. See the ways our team members impact the communities in which they work and live.
About the Offutt Family Foundation
Established in 2008, the Offutt Family Foundation supports the values of Ron Offutt with a mission to engage partners in sustaining or improving the quality of life in communities throughout North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.