The power of giving

St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation sustains charitable legacy

Submitted Photo Over the course of 18 years, St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation continues to provide financial gifts that provide life-saving tools and defibrillators to the Ward County Sheriff’s Department.

Providing hope for the future by strengthening communities defines the intended impact of St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation.

Throughout Minot, the shelves of food pantries are being filled as shelters continue to prepare beds for families in need.

During the span of 18 years, the determination of community organizations alongside the devotion of caring volunteers have been aided with grants and sustainability from St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation.

Shelly Weppler, the president of St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation, believes anyone can make a positive difference if they follow their heart and sustain their ability to give.

“My hope is for someone to see a greater light,” Weppler said. “Every day, the actions of a non-profit organization impacts lives. I hope members of the community continue to follow their hearts by taking action and giving back. People can really make a difference if they listen to their hearts.”

More than a century ago, the Sisters of St. Francis brought their zeal, compassion and unfaltering altruism to the city of Minot.

Founded in faith and constructed by deeds, the vision of providing healthy and sustainable financial gifts continues to stand strong.

From empowering Minot’s brave first responder’s with life-saving defibrillators to inspiring the city’s youth with educational tools and resources, the mission of St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation has been a beacon of light for 103 years and counting.

For Weppler, carrying on the tradition of giving sustainable resources is a proud and rewarding endeavor.

Recently, St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation distributed more than $400,000 to over 90 Minot-area organizations during their 18th Annual Regional Grant Luncheon.

“The organizations are so thankful for the money they receive,” Weppler said. “It allows them to impact the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well being of the clients they serve. The organizations along with their volunteers are truly the lifeblood to the community.”

Devoted to the values of their founders, St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation was established in 1998.

According to Weppler, 1998 was a transformative year that revealed her life’s calling.

“I am blessed to have the opportunity to grow with this foundation from the very start,” Weppler said. “While I was working at Minot State University’s foundation office in 1998, I received a phone call asking if I’d be interested in pursuing this opportunity.”

After accepting the position of president, Weppler’s first test was to help the newly formed foundation to complete its recent transition.

“At the time, we had two hospitals in Minot and one was going to sell,” Weppler said. “When a non-profit hospital is sold, the money has to return to the community as a non-profit. During this time, nuns from Colorado owned the hospital and the decision was to split the assets. Fifty-percent would go to the nuns who had worked at this hospital and done good things.”

When the assets were finally split, St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation came into fruition.

With $2 million earned in partial money, Weppler along with members of the foundation were eager to help the community by making an immediate impact.

“Six months after we started, we made a grant,” Weppler said. “We had $2 million to operate with and we gave a financial gift to the Ward County Sheriff’s Department. Some of the board members were hearing from the community that this was a need. During this time, there weren’t defibrillators in the vehicles and they were the first on the scene. We bought two defibrillators to put into vehicles at the time.”

As St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation continued to grow, so did its identity.

Two years after its creation, Weppler along with members of the board decided to commit their services toward community needs.

“We serve as an umbrella of resources,” Weppler said. “In our community, we don’t have a lot of the resources that we offer. If you’re in Minnesota, there are many foundations to reach out to and ask for funding. In Minot, we’re one of the few. So, the dollars that we provide offers such a great relief to all of the non-profit organizations that are doing such great work in our community. For them, just knowing that we are available offers them great hope so they can continue doing great work.”

Based on the fiscal philosophy of St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation, financial sustainability is the key to charitable continuity.

“As a community foundation, this allows us to not only use the money we were going to get but to also encourage organizations that are helping others to set up endowments for their own sustainability. We help to grant out the money we receive along with helping organizations build an endowment of their own. We advised organizations to think about their financial sustainability rather than going out every year and asking everyone for a whole lot of money. It’s important to think about what happens if the money is no longer there.”

In 2007, the North Dakota tax credit for charitable giving was introduced and provided St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation the ability to help several organizations establish sustainability.

“The tax credit offers people who can afford to give greater gifts a 40 percent tax credit,” Weppler said. “This really opened the door for larger gifts. Such gifts were required to go into an endowment or a savings account. “

In addition to helping organizations sustain their funds, St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation has also aided individuals as well.

“Several people come in to give gifts wherever their heart wants to go,” Weppler said. “Some people set up their own cause which allows them to decide where their gift goes every year in a donor advised fund.”

While sustainability creates the opportunity to give, making a positive impact in the community is equally important to everyone at St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation.

“We’re really focused on the mission of organizations and not the dollar amount,” Weppler said. “The most important number is how many people will be impacted.”

At the end of every year, St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation requires organizations to provide a performance report to asses how different programs continue to impact their communities.

According to Weppler’s performance reports, over 35,000 people have received help by the financial gifts contributed by St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation.

“When you hear that 35,000 people have been impacted, you know that a difference is really being made in someone’s life,” Weppler said. “Grant day is always a great day. It feels like Christmas.”

For Weppler, being in the presence of charitable volunteers and dedicated organizations is an inspiring moment for her and the foundation.

“This is for the people who work in the food pantries, the youth camps and for organizations that may not have the funds to ship them off to a conference outside the state,” Weppler said. “At our luncheon, we not only want to give our money out but we want to create a little moment of inspiration. I want the organizations and their volunteers to know that it’s all about you guys. The ones who are out in the trenches and making a difference in their communities. If it wasn’t for these good people, what would our mission be? They’re helping us get the money to the people who need it most.”

To learn more about St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation visit