2019 Rural Dakota Pride honorees

In the first photo is Jeannie Hofer. In the second photo on the left is Franklin Olson and on the right is Jim Lane. And in the third photo on the left is Rich Bakeberg and on the right is Angie Mueller.

Each year, SDFU recognizes individuals who give back to their communities with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. To meet the 2019 honorees, attend the Rural Dakota Pride Ceremony held at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 31 during Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair on the Freedom Stage.

Jeannie Hofer, Huron
When Jeannie Hofer explains her work as a volunteer with Manolis Family Safe Center she says, “It’s about accepting and helping and extending a hand and a heart.”
Extending a hand and opening her heart to those in need is second nature for Jeannie, 69, who is grateful an aunt and uncle were there for her, taking her in and raising her when she and her siblings were left without a home due to domestic violence.
The Manolis Family Safe Center is a volunteer organization for victims of domestic abuse and their children. Along with providing victims with a safe place to live, Jeannie and other volunteers take turns buying groceries, cleaning and doing home maintenance, driving family members to counseling and doctor appointments and anything else necessary to “help them feel empowered and in control of their own life,” Jeannie explains. “We give them a new avenue to follow so they don’t have to fall back into the same domestic situation. We can give them guidance to help them make better choices.”
Although she does provide support services to adult victims, Jeannie says her focus is typically the children. “I was one myself. When it comes to domestic violence, children don’t have a choice. Parents do. The children need someone there for them,” Jeannie says. “I encourage them and let them know this is not their fault, and they don’t need to let this experience come between them and their future.”
Even before volunteering for the domestic abuse shelter, Jeannie, a mom to three now grown children, Melissa, Jennifer and Mike, says she and her husband, Wayne, have always had an open-door policy when it came to helping kids. Over the years the couple has opened their home up to several children who needed support or a place to stay.
“I was blessed as a child to have an aunt and uncle who took care of me, so I’ve always wanted to do the same,” she says.
In addition to the Manolis Family Safe Center, Jeannie, who is a small business owner, also volunteers with Coats for Kids, Salvation Army and is an active member of Bethesda Church.
“Huron is where I live. I want to pay back to my community. We have excellent supporters in Huron. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” she says.

Other honorees include:
• Angie Mueller, Ethan, who co-founded (with Angie Klock)the Be{YOU}tiful Strides Running Club in 2015 in Ethan for girl grades three through six.
The program is designed to  empower girls through running and faith-based principles.
“We wanted to help girls realize that with a little work, encouragement, practice and belief in self, they could do something big,” explains Mueller, who has two daughters, Avery and Sadie and a son, Blake.
During stretches, Klock leads a character-building, faith-based object lesson. When their 30 minutes of exercise is complete, the girls, together with their running mentors, walk to school.
“We knew that the only way we could accomplish all our goals was to also focus on Bible truths. We needed God involved too,” says Mueller.
• Jim Lane, Groton, a volunteer robotics coach at Groton High School since 2011.
• Rich Bakeberg, Frederick, who after the Cenex station in town closed, spearheaded the development of a self-service fuel station and leased the facility to Agtegra.
“After going without a local gas station for quite a while, this was a big success for us and our community,” explains Bakeberg, volunteer chair of the Development Corporation.
• Franklin Olson, Pierpont, who became secretary-treasurer to Farmers Union Independence Local 923 when he was 18. That was 65 years ago, and he has been a strong advocate for Farmers Union and cooperatives ever since.
“If we didn’t have cooperatives in our country right now, farmers would not have a local place to do business,” Olson said. “We have always fought for family farmers, fair prices and education programs.”

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In the first photo is Jeannie Hofer. In the second photo on the left is Franklin Olson and on the right is Jim Lane. And in the third photo on the left is Rich Bakeberg and on the right is Angie Mueller.

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