Sarah Van Beek – Board Member
When The Village Children’s Museum became a program of the United Way of West Central Minnesota, our goal was to continue to rely on the leadership of The Village Board and integrate their efforts into the structure and operation of the United Way. We are grateful for our new board members coming to us from The Village and look forward to their ability to reach and serve even more individuals in West Central Minnesota. Sarah Van Beek is one of these individuals, and we are thrilled to have her join the board of the United Way.
Raised near Raymond and Prinsburg, Sarah spent much time in Willmar and felt a connection to the area even at a young age. She is a graduate of Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg, like her dad before her. She attended Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, followed by Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois for her nursing degree. After marrying her husband, Jayme, who is currently a physician with CentraCare-Willmar Clinic, the couple moved to Des Moines for a few years and then returned to Willmar for two years, where Sarah worked for Willmar Surgery Center. Jayme’s medical training then took them first to Sandusky, Ohio then on to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Once completed, the couple returned home to Minnesota to stay, both working for ACMC. Following her nursing career, The Village gave her an opportunity to move in a direction that had guided her life, to work and live out her faith in practical and valuable ways.
Sarah and her husband are parents to Titus (11), Alexis (8), and Oliver (6). Working as a housewife and mother, Sarah learned of The Village through friends Paula and Jeron Smith who were among the museum’s founders. She initially offered to help with manpower. Jayme and Sarah saw the potential and importance of having a safe, inclusive learning environment for area children. As the group went through many ups and downs establishing the museum, her volunteer work transitioned into a board position. The Village became a family effort, with even her kids lending a hand where they could. While she had no museum experience, she was skilled with numbers and primarily helped with back-end administrative duties and bookkeeping. For Sarah, it was a chance to display the love of Christ in her daily life. And though the museum is not a ministry, she hopes that their work allows people to feel loved as Jesus loves.
She is very proud of The Village, all it has accomplished, and the potential to make an even larger impact. Mostly, she is proud that it is a neutral, welcoming space that is safe for all. The Village was made possible through the incredible engagement of a cross-cultural team of local individuals. It is accessible to everyone in our area and beyond; financially, geographically, and culturally. It is actively working to build relationships and bring people from different backgrounds together in valuing themselves and others.
The Village had reached a point where the staff was no longer able to sustain new growth, and the United Way provided the resources to do just that. Together, we can reach more people, move to full-time staff, and serve the community in tangible ways. Sarah is also excited to work with the United Way, an organization that has been a longstanding community supporter that creates positive and lasting change. As a board member of the United Way, she anticipates a bright future, and a chance to personally serve the community in new ways. As she becomes more familiar with our community support efforts, and knowing the importance of supporting area needs, she hopes that she can help spread the message about all the United Way does to affect change for the better, and help the United Way do even more to support families and individuals in our neighborhoods.
Sarah brings a unique perspective through her travels and activities and has found interesting the changes taking place in the community and seeing the difference as we all learn to prosper together, despite our differences. She believes that the undercurrent of everything the United Way does is love. For her, the United Way relates to her personal faith in powerful ways, and she strives to serve, love, and contribute well. She is grateful for the opportunity to help everyone LIVE UNITED.