Community Connections: Focus on local entities and their successes

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

If you stop and think about it there are many success stories for Crookston in the last few years, and even in the last year; yes, even during the pandemic. Many local entities stepped up to help the community, its businesses, its residents, and still try to write the story for the organizations they represent.

It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make things happen especially for nonprofits that may lack staff or proper funding. Late nights, missed family time, what seemed like never-ending lists of things to do. And then the project is complete. The event happens. And it’s all worth it.

The organizations in this Community Connections section are just a sample of entities that have had recent successes. Everything from granting businesses relief funds and loans, hosting events that were safe enough for people to come out during a pandemic, rewarding essential employees, volunteering to feed and clothe those less fortunate, to making sure the City of Crookston was as best represented for incoming visitors to the community.

Those highlighted here include the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority, Downtown Crookston Development Partnership, Crookston Visitors Bureau, Crookston Rotary Club, Crookston Kiwanis Pioneer 100s, and Crookston Lions Club.

Believe me, I do know there are so many more worthy organizations that deserve a mention. Just look what the United Way of Crookston did during the pandemic. They raised more money than they have in years and were able to give meaningful grants that will impact lives for a long time. And there’s Polk County Public Health who has been a savior for more than just Polk County during the entire COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve beared the grief of lockdowns, exposures, quarantines, vaccinations, and, I’m sure, have had to deal with many people who might be upset, scared, or disagree with how they’re handling things.

We have our local businesses who have fought tooth and nail to keep their doors open, dealing with reduced capacity, lack of staff, heightened health and safety measures, and the continued worry that they’re doing enough to keep their customers safe but still coming inside or curbside to order their food or purchase their products.

So many people, businesses, nonprofits and volunteers deserve a pat on the back for enduring what they’ve had to endure in the last year-and-a-half and rising above, keeping their head held high, and still finding time to help others and their community. People have stepped up to eat out more or get take-out more than ever before just to see their favorite local diner keep their doors open. We’ve seen people slowing down their trips out of town and buying local if it means they get to see their friend stay working in their store. Even the media, yes, the media, has worked what seemed like unlimited hours to make sure their local residents felt educated enough in what was going on in the world, their state, their county and their city when it came to the pandemic and anything that might distract them from the pandemic.

So what drives the entities mentioned in this publication to keep going? Is it community pride? Brilliant ideas? Dedication? All of the above, it sounds like. These entities deserve for someone to listen, someone to invite them to the table, and give them the chance to plead their case for funding and/or recognition. The people behind these organizations, and many others, have spent countless hours coming up with ways to make Crookston better. There are partnerships formed, thoughts shared, volunteers assisting others, sponsorships made for special projects or events, and, most importantly, bonds formed.

What good is an idea if it remains an idea and doesn’t turn into an action? These entities? They’re not just talkers, they’re walkers. They want to see their projects through and some won’t stop until it happens. Whether big or small, something that’s good for the community should be recognized.

The City of Crookston, its staff and City Council members have the opportunity to interact with these groups on a regular basis and should do more to bring them up to have a seat at their table. There’s potential for partnerships on many worthy projects and by including the people that represent these groups, and many others, you’re showing them that their work matters.

If you’re picking up what I’m putting down here, you’re seeing that these groups, though individually strong, could be even stronger if they had more backing and felt valued. Just look at what they’ve done on their own and, now, think about what could be done if they had more resources. Give them a chance to make this city shine. You won’t regret it.