Steve Gerberding – Immediate Past President
When Steve Gerberding agreed to become the board president for the United Way of West Central Minnesota, he had no idea what challenges would arise during his tenure. Having helped navigate the organization through the sweeping changes forced upon the organization due to the COVID pandemic, he is now entering a new phase of service as immediate past president and looks forward to continuing to be a part of such an important community resource.
Steve is a Minnesota native who grew up in the Twin Cities, graduated from the University of MN with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and recently retired from a 40-year career as a health care executive. The best decision of his life was to marry his college girlfriend and they recently celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary. Steve and his wife raised their three children in Sartell MN and moved to Spicer where they now make their home. They are thrilled to have three grandchildren all of whom arrived in the last couple of years.
Steve’s involvement in the United Way started during his first job after college when he started contributing financially to the organization through payroll deduction – something that he continued throughout his entire career. It was after moving to the Willmar area that he was invited to join the Board of the United Way of West Central Minnesota – an opportunity he was honored to accept. Steve feels good about “giving back” through the United Way to help neighbors and friends in need address the challenges and struggles that they face, usually due to no fault of their own. Life can throw many curveballs, and the United Way exists to help people overcome them.
The role of the President of the United Way of West Central Minnesota is to provide leadership and oversight to the organization. This happens in many ways, including being a resource to the Executive Director, Staff, and Board Members; Chairing the Board Meetings, participating on the Executive and Finance Committees, participating in community events, helping to recruit volunteers, committee and board members, etc. Steve feels fortunate to have worked closely with James Miller and most recently with Kevin Diedrich, two very talented United Way of West Central MN Executive Directors.
As tragic as the COVID pandemic has been, it forced the organization to ask some tough questions about how things had always been done and get creative. Steve was impressed by how the Board, Volunteers, Staff pulled together with community partners to help those in need given the new realities everyone was facing. Hundreds of COVID masks were distributed, donations were made to the area food shelf, funding was provided for the Growmobile (providing programming and resources to area daycares and children), Imagination Library (providing free books monthly to area children up to age five), the 211 hotline (provides linkages to area resources such as housing, tax preparation services, etc.), Stuff the Bus (proving hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies for area children), etc. The pandemic was also a catalyst for the Board to engage in strategic planning that resulted in some major organizational changes, including reviewing, and updating the organization’s Mission and Vision statements; hiring a marketing firm to raise the organization’s profile, opening a Litchfield United Way office, engaging in new fundraising initiatives, and establishing a new grant award process.
If there is one thing Steve would like to share with the community about the United Way of West Central Minnesota, it is that the organization is comprised of neighbors, colleagues, and friends who are dedicated to helping every individual reach their full potential. He asks that anyone willing and able consider volunteering, helping with events, contribute financially, or even becoming a member of the board. Those who volunteer and donate are the engine that makes the United Way’s good work possible. We invite you to consider becoming involved yourself and see the amazing difference you can make in the lives of others. We are all in this together!