Andrea Nelson – Special Events Coordinator
The United Way of West Central Minnesota recently conducted a search for the position of events coordinator on our staff. Fortunately, Andrea Nelson answered that call, and has been an invaluable addition since coming on board in August of 2021. The events coordinator is tasked with overseeing all our incredible United Way events such as Brew-Ha-Ha, Power of the Purse, and many others. Along with ensuring existing events are successful, we have utilized her ideas regarding potential new events, in an effort to reach the most people with the most effect in our changing landscape. This is a challenging position anytime but has become even more critical since the onset of the COVID pandemic and Andrea has certainly held her own as she has and continues to keep the events going and benefitting our communities despite the unprecedented challenges that have arisen.
Andrea began dating her husband Brandon while in High School, then together they moved to Sioux Falls while Andrea attended the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota where she studied social work. Following school, the couple returned to the West Central Minnesota area and began their family, raising three children, Levi (12), Gracie (9), and Miles (6). Prior to her joining the United Way team, Andrea was a stay-at-home mom. In her spare time, along with family time, Andrea enjoys gardening, cooking, biking, boating, and fishing. She has a deep sense of community, and a passion for helping people in need. In fact, this was partially responsible for her interest in the United Way.
Prior to her role with our team, Andrea was limited in her knowledge about what the United Way does, and just how involved in the community the organization is, both visibly and behind the scenes. Her husband had participated in a workplace payroll campaign, and her kids benefitted from the Imagination Library program. Since then, she has found it amazing just how involved the United Way is in our area, thanks to the generous donors and volunteers who make our programs and initiatives possible. Andrea has shared that working with the United Way team has shown her what a dedicated and passionate team we have here in our service area. It was surprising for Andrea to learn how large that service area is, all the ground that is covered, and has come to appreciate her position as a phenomenal way to become introduced and familiar with all the communities. She is excited about helping to bridge those communities to provide the most benefit to individuals and families in need. Hers is a vision for organizations in our area communities all working together for the cause and appreciates that having a larger area can utilize the combined power of them all.
Andrea hit the ground running and developed a new event that we plan to host annually. That is, our Battle of the Beards competition. Starting a new program is not an easy endeavor, and often it takes time for the community to embrace it and for it to be most effective. Battle of the Beards proved to be a great success, generated a large amount of community interest, and was a lot of fun. Andrea believes that the success of the event, as well as having the support and love of the United Way staff and board in every aspect of her role.
This year, we are all thrilled to return to in-person events and activities and have used the opportunity to revise and rethink our event lineup. This year, Andrea has brought back one of her personal favorites, our Brew-Ha-Ha event. More than just a fun title, it is a fun way for the community to laugh and support an incredible cause. Power of the Purse is another event that we are currently finalizing the plans for. This summer, our events will be a little different than the usual. We are introducing two great options including a virtual fishing tournament and a trap tournament. It is our belief that these fun activities will allow us to reach a larger audience with a diverse range of interests. We hope that our events provide something for everyone.
She is also very excited about our new project. The Village Children’s Museum will soon be a program of the United Way. (more information to come soon) Our plan is to take the great things the Village is doing now around early education and to expand both our reach and services including adult education classes, daycare certification, and other community-focused uses. Operating the Village as a United Way program, Andrea feels, is a great way for the community to see a tangible example of the United Way’s goals.
Andrea shares a piece a wisdom that we all should take note of, “It’s amazing what you can do if you have people who believe in you.” She is grateful for all the support she has received, not only from the United Way, but also from event sponsors, community partners, donors and volunteers, and the community at large. She is especially excited to be a vital part of the United Way team, and desires for all our events to be successful and enjoyable for everyone. Making a difference is something we all can do, however when we harness the power of a group, there are no limits to the good that can be done.
There is no doubt that together, when we support and love one another, we can change the lives of so many who lack the resources to reach their full potential. Andrea’s efforts, and those of many others. As more people become aware and active with our events, we believe they will see and be challenged to give of their time and treasure and enlarge the impact drastically. We hope you will consider getting involved in the way that works best for you and help the United Way to change lives. We also invite you to reach out anytime to learn more. Together, we can all Live United!