Yuri Haglund – Board Member
Yuri Haglund of Spicer, MN joined the United Way of West Central Minnesota’s Board of Directors in September of 2020, during the early phases of the COVID pandemic. A manager for Velcro® Brand fasteners, her sense of dedication to her community is strong. She was seeking an opportunity to serve in meaningful ways right here in West Central Minnesota. Having traveled and lived in cities across the country, her unique perspective and experience made her a valued addition to our team. She has a strong passion for community and has worked hard to pivot the organization in a way to be most effective, especially in area health and nutrition. Though her term will soon be ending, her work has been invaluable. Most would describe Yuri as a passionate problem-solver who is generous, blessed, and made it her personal mission to give back.
Yuri was born in Mexico and lived in 3 countries before the age of 15. She settled with her family to Tucson, AZ. It was here she met her husband, Brent, and the couple then moved to Phoenix, AZ where they lived for 13 years. An opportunity sent the family to the East Bay of San Francisco for 3 years, before she was recruited by Jennie-O and moved to the Spicer area around three years ago. They also have a 14-year-old son named Graeme. Yuri has always been involved in her community and was an active volunteer at Graeme’s school. With her son growing older and there being less opportunity to volunteer at his school, Yuri was seeking a new way to give.
Yuri spoke with her supervisor at Jennie-O about service opportunities and was led to the United Way. She decided to join the board rather than volunteering and financial giving alone, because it gave her a chance to make a larger impact and see first-hand the opportunities for service in our area. Though she had never served on a board previously, she was excited by the prospect and thought it would be a fun and rewarding experience. Though Yuri has never been in need personally, she feels a connection with those who are. Her mother and grandmother had both been in poverty but overcame it, and that history gives her a fire to want and even need to give back to others who are in similar situations and help them to thrive in life.
She had given to the United Way throughout her career through corporate payroll campaigns but knew little about what exactly the United Way was doing. Yuri saw that in the past, the United Way was a community safety net, and the public generally knew that the United Way could help them in some way. On the board, she saw firsthand the calls for help coming in and then people either receiving help or being pointed to where they could find it. However, needs are ever-changing, along with the community, and the Pandemic only illuminated the need to change how we serve to make the greatest impact. With several areas of local need being addressed through stimulus funding and assistance, the board was able to look not only on the area communities, but on the organization and other service organizations and come together to ensure all needs are addressed effectively. In this way, everyone is better able to continue meeting needs as they shift over time.
It did not take Yuri long to dig in, and she enjoyed being a part of such an extensive community outreach to meet local needs. For Yuri, her heart is especially big for kids’ health and nutrition, and she volunteers to distribute the Cardinal Backpack Food Program which supplies at-need children with backpacks containing food on Fridays to ensure they receive necessary nutrition on the weekends as well as when attending school. Yuri also played an important role in the Mission/Vision Committee which recently reframed and refocused our organizational mission and vision to align with our true focus. It was this group who helped illuminate the three pillars of need the United Way works to address: education, health, and basic needs. This also allowed to laser-focus our vision on how to greatly impact our communities where they need the most help.
Yuri has loved how work in our region feels so much more impactful than in the larger population centers. Having lived in those environments, she found it hard to feel like a part of something that truly made a difference. Now, she feels privileged to see her efforts, and those of so many others change lives before her eyes. The tapestry of our communities here are tightly knit and that allows for those in a position to give to do so in the ways that matter the most when they are most needed. Yuri believes in the power of the United Way and believes in the importance of efforts like these board member spotlights, so that others in the community can be inspired to get involved themselves.
She believes that when we don’t share what the United Way does for area families and individuals, it takes away the inspiration for others. When it comes to serving others, we must not let modesty affect our opportunity to serve as many people as meaningfully as possible. Yuri knows our area is wonderful and imagines a community that feels a responsibility to one another, and to care for one another as needs arise. It is her sincere hope that people are inspired to share their personal community impact, taking it beyond something that makes you feel good, but that inspires others to do the same.
The work of the United Way may be directed by the staff and board, but the real power comes from the community who give of their own time, talent, and treasure to help their neighbors and strengthen our communities. If you have been involved with the United Way in the past, we thank you. For those who have not, we invite you to learn more about how you can change lives right here in West Central Minnesota. Together, we can all LIVE UNITED!