Stronger when we work together

There’s a 1999 biographical film called “The Straight Story,” based on farmer Alvin Straight’s actual 1994 journey across Iowa and Wisconsin on a lawn tractor. Along the way he meets a female hitchhiker and, to dramatize the importance of family, Alvin offers this analogy: Hold one stick and you can break it easily; hold a bundle of sticks – a “family,” if you will – and while grouped together those sticks are too strong to break.

That’s how the Foundation feels about Eden Prairie’s many organizations – nonprofits, civic clubs, city and school district, volunteers, and others. One organization alone would be hard-pressed to make Eden Prairie great; working together, they help create one of the best cities in the U.S. in which to live and work.

This is why the Foundation put the word “collaboration” in its mission statement: because we do better together.

It’s collaboration that’s celebrated every year at this time, through the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon sponsored by the Foundation and Flagship Bank. This year’s luncheon was held Dec. 13, and it brought together 74 persons from more than 35 separate organizations in Eden Prairie. (Pictured above are four of the attendees: Cindy Eddy, Gary Stevens, Vicki Bomben, and Kathy Educate.)

The purpose of the luncheon is to thank these community activists – many of them unpaid volunteers – for their service to Eden Prairie. And, also to promote communication and collaboration so that new ideas and initiatives can germinate and grow.

To be fair, credit for the idea goes to Suburban National Bank, which originated the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon more than three decades ago. The Foundation and Suburban’s successor, Flagship Bank, are merely standing on the shoulders of bank founder Roy Terwilliger and the staff he worked with over the years.

If there is one thing that luncheon attendees have in common, it’s that they are what is called “community builders.” The kind of builders poet Charles Benvegar had in mind when he wrote this poem, called “The Wreckers”:

I watched them tearing a building down,
  A gang of men in a busy town;
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell
  They swung a beam and a side wall fell.
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
  And the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No, indeed!
   Just common labor is all I need;
I can easily wreck in a day or two
   What builders have taken a year to do!”
I thought to myself as I went my way,
  Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
  Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
  Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
  Content with the labor of tearing down?

Are you a community builder or a community wrecker? We know 70-some persons who are community builders, and we’re proud to call them the Foundation’s friends.

Categories: People Who Give Back

About the Author Mark Weber has been the executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation since October 2013. In this role, he enjoys meeting with Eden Prairie residents, and being an active member of the community. If you’d like to connect with Mark, call him at (952) 949-8499 or email him. You can also read Mark’s full biography.




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Eden Prairie Community Foundation

OUR MISSION: Enriching our community through philanthropy, collaboration and leadership.

OUR VISION: Enhancing the quality of life for all who live and work in our community.


Eden Prairie Community
8080 Mitchell Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

(952) 949-8499


Eden Prairie Community Foundation