Groups win $81K in grants

AWARD DAY — Jane Reiman, treasurer of the Fairmont Opera House, talks with Char Kahler on Thursday­ afternoon at the Opera House during a reception for Schmeeckle Foundation grant recipients.

FAIRMONT — A Schmeeckle Foundation reception was held Wednesday at the Fairmont Opera House, honoring fourth-round grant recipients Pheasants Forever, Fairmont Opera House and Habitat for Humanity.

The grants, totaling $81,275, will be used by the organizations for a variety of projects.

The private family foundation serves Martin County and carries on the legacy of long-time county resident Juanita Ellen (Teubner) Schmeeckle. Grants are designed to support projects that are innovative; involve collaboration; and achieve sustainable, measurable results. Grants are awarded based on their likelihood to create measurable change.

The fourth round grants include $8,475 to Pheasants Forever, $27,800 to the Opera House and $45,000 to Habitat for Humanity.

“The Schmeeckle Foundation is focused on Martin County,” said Foundation trustee Fred C. Krahmer. “We are looking to make life in this county a better place, a place to live in, and create loyalty to the community.”

He said that while the population of Martin County is declining, he believes the secret to moving forward is to focus on people via citizens working for the good of the community, and that success is defined by how people feel about their community.

Tim Langer of the Martin County chapter of Pheasants Forever said his organization is grateful for the foundation’s support.

“I would like to thank the foundation for their generous support of our No Child Left Indoors program, and for supporting our habitat conservation and youth education goals,” he said. “Our mission as an organization is to conserve and enhance pheasant and other wildlife populations through habitat restoration improvements.”

Jane Reiman, treasurer for the Fairmont Opera House, said funds will be used to provide artistic experiences to the community.

“This grant will provide age-appropriate cultural arts and experiences to local youth and under-served adults at no cost to our community members, school districts, or community organizations,” she said. “By providing this programing, the Fairmont Opera House will assist in the cultural development of the community through free, high-quality, artistic experiences. By providing these experiences and eliminating the associated costs, school groups will be able to be afford to attend these art experiences and expand their artistic horizons.”

Staci Thompson, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Martin and Faribault Counties, is also grateful. Thompson said funds will be used for an upcoming project in Fairmont.

“I am so appreciative to the Schmeeckle Foundation for this awesome gift, and I’m so excited about this project that we’re going to be doing,” she said. “We’ve already got so much support from the community and brought different organizations together. Being able to work with low-income families who wouldn’t be able to afford housing or home ownership is a daily joy to me.”

The Schmeeckle Foundation will continue to give out grants in the future. Krahmer said the group is looking for key components in doing so, including collaboration, new ideas and community support.

“It’s important to remember that the ideas of what to do need to come from the community,” he said. “They need to come from super-involved citizens and those who are going to become super involved. We are here to help.”