A Legacy of Philanthropy in Rochester
If you won almost $1,000, what would you do with your windfall?
Ask detectives, deputies, and law enforcement members from Olmsted County, and you'd likely hear this response, "I'd donate it to charity."
That's exactly what happened this week at Willow Creek Golf Course in Rochester. Every year for the past thirty years, members of law enforcement community, along with family, friends, and business leaders gather each fall to raise critical funds for the Von Wald Group Home, a 12-bed facility providing shelter, counseling, and support to two hundred southeast Minnesota teens each year.
Like other golf tournaments, the event includes a raffle, silent auction, and cash prizes for longest drive, best putt, and best team score. What's unusual is the support from Sheriff Kevin Torgerson's team and how many donate their winnings back to the Von Wald Group Home, making the event a highly successful fundraiser.
The generosity doesn't end there. Julie Leisen, of DeWitz Home Builders, has served on the golf committee for over thirty years. Her father, Bob, along with Chuck Von Wald and other community leaders, founded the Group Home in 1989. Julie's daughter Meghan recently began volunteering at the event with her Mom, representing three generations of volunteers.
"I've worked with Sheriffs Chuck Von Wald, Steve Borchardt, Steve Von Wald, Dave Mueller, and now Kevin Torgerson. I have been so honored to work with them on this endeavor," said DeWitz. She added, “there are few places for youth to go when home is not an option and the Von Wald Group Home is a needed alternative in the community to a law enforcement facility”.
The Von Wald family also includes three generations of volunteers. At 90, Chuck Von Wald is the only living founding member of the Group Home. He regretted he couldn't golf this year as the October temperature was a bit chilly. Son Steve and grand-daughters Andrea, Erica, Kendra, Malinda serve on the committee, continuing an impressive family legacy of service and volunteerism.
Long-time presenting sponsor Midwest Specialized Transportation, along with other local businesses, have supported the charity golf event for decades, introducing their employees, vendors, and colleagues to the Von Wald Group Home mission. "Midwest Specialized has always been proud to support the Von Wald Group Home in Rochester", said Vice President and General Manager Sean Claton. "Our sponsorship over the years is a small attempt at reinforcing the mission of providing a safe and nurturing environment for the youth of Rochester."
"We are so grateful to the Rochester community, the volunteers, sponsors, and golfers for their amazing support," said Dan Pfarr, CEO of 180 Degrees. Founded in 1971, 180 Degrees operates the Von Wald Group Home along with eight other social service programs across the state.
For over thirty years, CEO Dan Pfarr has been on the front lines of the human services community, working to lift-up youth, adults, and families in crisis. His focus on trauma-informed care helps shape the direction of 180 Degrees and inspire a team of nearly one hundred employees. As a multi-cultural organization with staff and clients who have suffered a life of prejudice and inequality, 180 Degrees continues prioritizing discussion and action against a system of racial injustice.