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Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Foundation launches endowment fund

Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Foundation recently announced the launch of the Essentia Health Community Health Endowment Fund, a new endowment committed to ensuring the long-term, holistic wellness of the Brainerd lakes area community by supporting Crow Wing Energized.

Crow Wing Energized logo
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

Crow Wing Energized will keep powering on in its efforts to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The new Essentia Health Community Health Endowment Fund aims to ensure the long-term, holistic wellness of the Brainerd lakes area community by supporting Crow Wing Energized.

“It’s to support community health efforts in Crow Wing County specifically related to Crow Wing Energized,” said David Jeremiason, director of development at the foundation. “It is a large and meaningful project for our community.”

RELATED: Crow Wing Energized health summit features mindfulness, meditation
Crow Wing Energized’s stated mission is to improve the health and wellness of county residents through a focus on healthy choices, mental fitness, workplace wellness and community connections.

“Crow Wing Energized is a partnership between Essential Health and Crow Wing County to improve population health in our area,” Jeremiason said.


The partnership between Essentia Health and the county was founded in 2013. It provides programs focusing on workplace wellness, mental fitness and healthy choices “to redefine how the people of Brainerd Lakes perceive wellness,” according to Essentia Health.

RELATED: COVID-19 panel kicks off annual Crow Wing Energized health summit
“Probably one of the most significant statistics is the Minnesota Department of Health puts out rankings for county health. In 2017, Crow Wing County ranked 61st out of 87 counties — that’s not very good,” Jeremiason said.

Every three years, Crow Wing Energized conducts a survey of adults in Crow Wing County. The 2017 survey found 65.7% of adults were not eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and 64.1% were not meeting physical activity recommendations.

Dressed as a green bean, Mara Pointer (left), tomato Kalsey Stults, zucchini Kim Rollins, carrot Molly Raske and pepper Shane Riffle perform the Great Vegetable Debate Tuesday, July 30, on the Mills Free Stage at the Crow Wing County Fair. The live debate among vegetables was part of Crow Wing Energized launch of One Vegetable One Community, a program which strives to unite the community by encouraging people to plant, grow, cook and share a single vegetable. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“In three years, we’ve moved up to 40 in overall county health rankings. And we feel a lot of that has to do with the Crow Wing Energized and the programs that are promoting health and wellness for people in our county,” Jeremiason said.

The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, or SHIP, supports “community-driven solutions to expand opportunities for active living, healthy eating and commercial tobacco-free living,” according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

“SHIP is the current funder. That’s what funds Crow Wing Energized, but you have to apply for that every year,” Jeremiason said.


RELATED: Essentia Health foundation awards $29,950 in grants
Crow Wing Energized’s health and wellness efforts in the county include, for example, the establishment of breastfeeding areas in the workplace, healthier vending machine options, tobacco-cessation programs and the Make It OK campaign to address mental illness stigma.

“If you didn’t receive that funding, this program would be in jeopardy, so that’s why we’re doing this endowment, which is to try to secure long-term funding to support community health,” he said.

Kara Griffin, Crow Wing County Community Services program manager, showcases the healthy vending options for county employees. Submitted photo
Kara Griffin, Crow Wing County Community Services program manager, showcases the healthy vending options for county employees. Submitted photo

The recently announced Essentia Health Community Health Endowment Fund will serve as a sustainable funding source for community health programs in the county, which are largely funded by grants.

“I think health impacts everybody. I mean everybody wants access to programs that improve our health and wellness in our community,” Jeremiason said.

The goal is to raise $1 million for the endowment by year’s end.


Jessica Williams of the Crow Wing Energized Tobacco Coalition holds a disassembled Juul electronic cigarette with the Juul pod in her left hand. The USB flash drive-sized pod contains the same amount of nicotine solution equivalent to about 20 cigarettes or a pack of cigarettes. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

“If we could get $1 million in the first year, that would show that people are serious and committed to improving community health in our area,” Jeremiason said.

More than $450,000 of that $1 million goal has been raised, according to Jeremiason.

“That was raised through personal contacts with donors who care about community health in our area,” Jeremiason said. “The long-term goal is to build an endowment of $5 million. … We would still apply for grants to support these efforts, but we wouldn’t be solely dependent on outside funding.”

RELATED: Crow Wing Energized: The importance of sleep
Jeremiason said the new endowment fund is a long-term project that will include meeting with area businesses and individual donors to convince them to make donations to the fund that will support Crow Wing Energized as a part of their annual charitable giving.

David Jeremiason is the director of development at Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Foundation. Submitted photo

“Many businesses in our community already benefit from Crow Wing Energized,” he said. “Crow Wing Energized’s workplace wellness group provides resources for businesses to offer more healthy options for their employees.”

For more information — or for those who would like to make a gift of stock, appreciated assets or a planned gift — contact David Jeremiason at David.Jeremiason@EssentiaHealth.org or 218-820-6893. Or to make a donation online, visit https://bit.ly/3eWbKSg .

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

Related Topics: HEALTH NEWS
I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write articles for the Wadena Pioneer Journal weekly newspaper owned by Forum Communications Co.
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