Steele County is Stronger Together

Steele County is Stronger Together

I look around and see the fields primed for a strong harvest this fall. I think about this process of sowing and reaping and how that relates to the people of Steele County and the eco system that support us. Everyday we have an opportunity to contribute to this system by helping those around us and when we do, our community thrives. When we neglect the needs of those around us, our community withers. Steele County is stronger together.

At United Way of Steele County, we envision a sustainable and vibrant community where residents enjoy an enriching quality of life, economic opportunities, and self-sufficiency, and are secure knowing a network of human service agencies is ready to assist them if needed. This work does not rest. We know that in order to achieve this vision we need to be diligent.

It is not enough to simply fund the agencies that ensure every member of this community has their basic needs met. We must make sure that these agencies can serve, despite the challenges they are facing. Through collaborations with Steele County Public Health, Shields of Steele, PC’s for People and support from staff and volunteers and many others who have helped along the way, we have done just that. Steele County is stronger together.

The need does not stop with our partner agencies and the clients served. Steele County is known for its economic opportunity in large part due to our local businesses. The businesses that have helped to make us the community that we are have had to face unimaginable obstacles that have altered their lives and the lives of all those who depend on them for employment, products. and services. United Way of Steele County continues to promote wearing masks in public so that you can safely support local businesses through our virtual #MaskUp campaign. With COVID-19 funding from Gillette Pepsi Co. and Bremer Bank as well as help from volunteers from Wenger Corporation, Steele County Public Health, Steele County Safe and Drug Free Coalition, and the community, we have since taken this campaign to the streets, with local events throughout July, that will allow us the opportunity to distribute masks to businesses for use by their patrons and the general public. Steele County is stronger together.

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” United Way of Steele County knows that we must fight for diversity, equity and inclusion in our community if we are going to survive. Every person has value and every person contributes something; we reap what we sow.

As our Equity Statement asserts, “We recognize structural racism and other forms of oppression have contributed to persistent disparities which United Way seeks to dismantle. Our United Way network strives to engage community members, especially those whose voices have traditionally been marginalized. We work with residents and public and private partners to co-create solutions that ensure everyone has the resources, support, opportunities, and networks they need to thrive. We commit to leveraging all of our assets (convening, strategic investments, awareness building, advocacy) to create more equitable communities.”

United Way of Steele County is proud to partner with Better Together in participation and promotion of Reading Circles, a grassroots initiative aimed to help educate people on race, white privilege, anti-racism, and how to become a more inclusive community. Steele County is stronger together.

Our children are our future and in order to ensure this future we must give them every opportunity to succeed. Children’s literacy, the primary focus of Women United, a United Way of Steele County affinity group, continues to pave the path for children across Steele County.

Despite being unable to hold the annual Power of the Purse event due to COVID-19 restrictions, this group overcame. Pulling together their collective resources, they raised over $14,000 to ensure that every child 0-5 receives a book each month through 2021! Steele County is stronger together.

School districts are working tirelessly trying to find the best solutions for their students this upcoming school year. Families are overwhelmed by the prospect of another year of distant learning. The question on many minds is can we do this again. One thing is certain, regardless of the method chosen, we don’t have a choice but to succeed, our children are counting on us. United Way of Steele County is working with the local school districts to identify the challenges students may face this upcoming year, so collaboratively we can find solutions. Steele County is stronger together.

I don’t think anyone would deny that this year has tested our resilience. But those that have had an opportunity to experience life a bit longer know that we have had hard times before and each time we have come out of it stronger, more aware, and prepared to at least try to be better. Steele County is no different. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I believe we are up to the challenge. Steele County is Stronger Together!

Annette Duncan is President of United Way of Steele County. She can be reached at 507-455-1180 or via email by Our website is