The following is a speech I delivered at a Toastmasters meeting. Enjoy!
“How could you live in such a God-forsaken place?!” “Do you still ride horses and live in tee pee’s up there?” “How’s the weather up in North Dakota?” Those are just a few of the ignorant questions I am asked when I say I’m from South Dakota. Why do I live here? I am educated, I am self-employed, I am well-traveled and have seen a lot of the country…I could live anywhere. But why do I live in SD? SD chose me. There have been many times when my husband and I started to fantasize about living elsewhere. Upon further reflection and research of other areas, we’ve come back to the belief that SD is the best place for us.
Did you know that SD is celebrating 125 years next month? What if there was an easy way to celebrate our state that is commonly referred to as beautiful and rugged and the people who are resilient, hard-working and humble? Let me tell you about the Frontier Fund. The Frontier Fund is a very recent local effort started and managed by volunteers (myself included) to raise $125,000 to celebrate 125 years. The money raised will be donated to organizations and grass-roots efforts who are reflecting the values and attributes of SD.
The fund has been supported by Governor Dennis Daugaard, and recently, South Dakota Senators John Thune and Tim Johnson. “South Dakota’s 125-year history has been paved by the humble, generous, and hard-working men and women in our state who lend a helpful hand to their neighbors and communities,” said Thune. “Charity is woven into the very fabric of who we are as South Dakotans. The Frontier Fund not only celebrates this 125-year record of philanthropic endeavors, but also seeks to strengthen our communities by infusing funding to organizations across the state. I applaud the good work of the Frontier Fund, and look forward to watching its charitable giving add value to our communities and strengthen our state’s resolve.”
Johnson agreed. “Throughout South Dakota’s 125 year history, lending a helping hand to others has been an integral part of our pioneering tradition. Whether it involves assisting a neighbor to bring in the crops or helping a stranger dig their car out of a snowbank, helping others is part of who we are as South Dakotans,” said Johnson. “With its charitable work, the Frontier Fund continues our state’s tradition of giving back to the community. The excellent work of the Frontier Fund will help keep our frontier and generous spirit alive and well for South Dakota’s next 125 years.”
This is where you, dear South Dakotans, come in. How can you help? There are 3 ways. You can help spread the word by mouth and social media. Secondly, you can encourage eligible groups to apply for a grant. Thirdly, you can donate. One of the things that impressed our governmental leaders is that fact that we’re asking for a small donation from lots of people instead of looking to the usual suspects such as the Vecurivich Foundation. A $5 donation from everyone in this room would be approximately $100. A burger at a fast food joint, a fuf-fu coffee from a coffee shop or a lottery ticket are all about $5 each. For $25 think of a nice meal out, a movie with popcorn or the latest best-selling novel. $5 or even $25 is a small amount to give to honor South Dakota.
I challenge you to get behind the Frontier Fund. SD only turns 125 once and this is a great opportunity to say, “SD chose me.” I leave you with the words of Governor Dennis Daugaard, “The Frontier Fund embodies who we are as South Dakotans – people of ingenuity and innovation, coming together, offering time and treasure, to create a thoughtful program that honors the good people and good things that are happening in this great state.”