Anna Marie’s Alliance Wins Local Touchstone Energy Community Award

After being selected out of 217 Operation Round Up applications as one of six finalists to be nominated for the award, Anna Marie’s Alliance was named the winner of the 2019 Stearns Electric Touchstone Energy Community Award.

According to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, every nine seconds, a woman in the United States is beaten. In fact, one in three women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Anna Marie’s Alliance, incorporated in 1978, provides a safe shelter for abused women and their children in Central Minnesota. The organization’s core mission is to provide a safe place for victims of domestic abuse.
Although Anna Marie’s Alliance has 42 employees, the organization is truly volunteer driven. Last year, 203 volunteers contributed nearly 11,000 hours of volunteer time, Sandy Nadeau, director of development and communications, said. Those volunteers helped the organization provide a wide range of services
to over 3,000 women and children during the last fiscal year, including providing a safe home for 487 women and 195 children.

Anna Marie’s Alliance serves five counties: Benton, Stearns, Sherburne, Wright and Mille Lacs. “Individuals come in with nothing or very little and often haven’t kept up with their physical and dental care,” Nadeau explained. “We are able to shelter 36 women and children at a time and provide them with a safe and secure place to stay, and the support and resources they need to get their feet back under them.”

Anna Marie’s was also the first shelter in the state to provide a safe space specifically for pets. In January 2014, the organization opened up an area to care for pets of the women and children staying at their facility. Last year, the Pet Safe Home housed 11 cats and 18 dogs, among other animals like rats and ferrets.
In order to keep their facility operating smoothly, Anna Marie’s Alliance relies on community support and fundraising efforts.

“The greatest need for the organization is funding,” Nadeau said. “We need to keep raising money for both operations but also for our capital campaign to remodel and expand our shelter.”

Phase one of the four-phase capital campaign recently wrapped up with the completion of the Center for Family Peace.

“Our new Center for Family Peace addition provides a chance to open our doors to the community for the first time in 40 years,” Nadeau said. “In fact, we have an Anna Marie’s Alliance sign outside of this new facility for the first time in our history.”

“The Center for Family Peace will focus on prevention and education. We are hoping to stop the violence before it starts,” she continued.

In 2019, phase two continues with plans to renovate and remodel the shelter where the women and children reside.

“This year, we plan to double the size of our daycare, expand our kitchen, improve our dining area, update the secure entrance to the shelter and add a new therapy room,” Nadeau explained. “We need to provide
the individuals we serve with a wonderful place to call home.”
To help secure funding, Anna Marie’s Alliance applies for several grants throughout the year, including
the Stearns Electric Association’s Operation Round Up® grant. “Operation Round Up has been an amazing way to support our work and a wonderful opportunity to share the work we do,” Nadeau said. “We have to be cautious about the information we can share, so getting in front of community organizations such as Operation Round Up is huge.”

“Anna Marie’s Alliance clearly demonstrates a strong commitment to community that we at Stearns Electric value highly,” Stearns Electric Operation Round Up coordinator Whitney Ditlevson said. “We are very pleased to recognize this organization’s contributions to our local community.”

In addition to an annual grant through the Operation Round Up® program, Anna Marie’s Alliance was recently selected as the local Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award winner from our service territory.

“This area is blessed with so many groups that are willing to donate time and effort to better our community,” Ditlevson continued. “We are pleased that as a Minnesota Touchstone Energy Cooperative, we have this opportunity to recognize those individuals and organizations that impact our community in a positive way.”

Every year, the Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award recognizes businesses, non-profit and community
groups that have shown a strong commitment to their communities. Stearns Electric uses its Operation Round Up® program to select a local organization as our local Touchstone Energy Community Award winner. That organization receives a $500 prize and plaque and is automatically entered into the statewide competition along with other statewide cooperative winners. The statewide winner is selected at the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s annual meeting in St. Paul every March. The statewide winner receives an additional $1,000.