Touchstone cooperatives honor two nonprofits

Due to the impact COVID-19 had on local communities this past year, Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives chose to recognize two organizations that are doing outstanding work in their areas by presenting them with a statewide community award.

This year’s winners are Tusen Tack, based in Braham, Minnesota, and Hope House, located in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Accepting the statewide award for Hope House were Sharon Collins, registered nurse; Stephanie Chupp, rehabilitation worker; Dave Johnson, board member; Robin Wold, director; Angela Lyseng, marketing and communications specialist for Beltrami Electric Cooperative; Jody Yerbich, office/activities coordinator; Louis Erdrich, volunteer; and Ashley Smith, intern.

“This annual award was established to help recognize organizations with a strong commitment to the local community, similar values to those of Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives,” said Joe Miller, Dakota Electric Association public relations director and Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives representative. “There were many good applications, and due to COVID-19, our judges wanted to recognize more than one organization.”

Each organization received an award along with $1,000 — an especially fitting amount for Tusen Tack, a nonprofit whose name translates to “thousand thanks” in Swedish.

Tusen Tack, chosen by East Central Energy as its local award recipient, has five core programs that include a thrift store, a community center, a library, a food shelf, and a commercial kitchen. These programs are run by approximately 200 volunteers and reach countless people in the area, providing food, necessary thrift bargains, reading material and computer access, meeting space, and meals.

“Helping improve the quality of life for residents in East Central Minnesota is one of our goals,” said Patty Lind, who nominated Tusen Tack for the local award. “Dollars stay local when residents can find necessities, enjoy social events, and turn to the safety net of a food shelf when needed.”

Those who attended the award presentation for Tusen Tack were, from left: Marie Meyer, Terry Lind, Edie Kaunonen, Arnie Althoff, Sharon Savsten, Louise Nelson, Patty Lind, Sally Olson, Collette Franck, Becky Turnquist, Kelly Nelson, and Judy Hegstrom.

Hope House, chosen by Beltrami Electric Cooperative as its local winner, provides comprehensive support for people with long-term mental illness and their families. Through one-to-one assistance, hospitalizations are reduced, stable housing is maintained, and recipients regain meaningful daily lives. Hope House offers skills training, a drop-in center, nurse visits, outreach, diagnostic assessments, and employment and medical assistance.

Last fall, Touchstone cooperatives throughout Minnesota presented local awards to organizations for outstanding contributions to their communities. Local award recipients were automatically entered for the statewide recognition.

“Minnesota is blessed with many individual, group and corporate citizens willing to donate time and effort to better our communities,” Angela Lyseng, marketing and communications specialist at Beltrami Electric Cooperative said. “As Touchstone Energy cooperatives, we are pleased to pay special tribute to those who impact our communities in so many positive ways.”

Touchstone Energy is a nationwide alliance of 700 local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in 46 states dedicated to the values of integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. Nearly all of Minnesota’s 44 distribution cooperatives are part of the national brand.