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Touchstone honors two

Two local nonprofit organizations have received awards for providing valuable public services despite hard economic times. The Proctor Area Community Center (PACC) received the 2003 Touchstone Gold Award. "It is really a model of shared services ...

Two local nonprofit organizations have received awards for providing valuable public services despite hard economic times.

The Proctor Area Community Center (PACC) received the 2003 Touchstone Gold Award. "It is really a model of shared services in our region," said Sampson. PACC provides adult education, services for Senior Citizens, activities for youth and activities and events for children and families. The center also provides meeting spaces and computer access.

The Harbor House Crisis Shelter received the 2003 Touchstone Silver Award. The program was recognized by the Community Foundation for the effective use of volunteer resources and maintaining financial stability while tripling its service.

The Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation announced the winners of its 2003 Touchstone Award on Tuesday. The theme of the ninth annual awards was "Excellence in These Times."

The Touchstone Award was created to recognize area nonprofit programs for leadership in transforming problems into opportunities and service into action.

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"This is a very special event for us, and we hope it is a special event for each of our winners," said Holly Sampson, president of the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation.

The Community Foundation judged the nominated programs for performance, resourcefulness, effectiveness and demonstration of the focus "Excellence in These Times." Sampson said that during the current hard economic times, nonprofit groups are experiencing an increased demand for services and decreased funding. The recipients of the Touchstone award used the available resources to meet the need in the community.

PACC is a partnership project between the Proctor School District and the area community. "Our selection committee was really impressed in the collaboration with the school district and the community."

"This award has been a tremendous honor to our community," said Ted Peterson, director of community education for Hermantown and Proctor schools. "We're very proud about the PACC and what it has accomplished over the years."

The center opened in 1991 in a renovated downtown Proctor store. At that time it was owned and operated by the Proctor School District. Two years ago, the center was faced with a deteriorating building, declining enrollment in schools and financial challenges, the PACC partnered with the city of Proctor to build a new community center which became incorporated with a new city hall and police station. In 2001, an opportunity for state bonding became available which provided $1 million for the new center.

PACC moved into the new building in January 2002. Today, the school district, city and community share financial responsibility and upkeep for the center. It is also the home of the Proctor Museum, the local cable access channel and a catering program that is run by Proctor High School students.

Harbor House opened in 2001 in Superior and provides "safe harbor" housing and assistance to single mothers and families. It is the only homeless shelter in Douglas County for single adult women and for two-parent families with legal custody of children.

In 2001, the shelter provided housing for 16 adults and 22 children. In 2002, the number nearly tripled to 53 adults and 58 children. This year the number of individuals served by the shelter is expected to be near 200. "What we are trying to do is meet the need of the community," said Laurie Howard Slind, Harbor House Board Chair. "We want to help as many people as we possibly can, and with the help of the foundation we can."

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The shelter receives referrals from social service agencies, law enforcement officials and community organizations. Harbor House provides emergency shelter for up to 30 days for each family that is accepted into the program, and provides assistance, in the form of class and services, to help the family find permanent housing. "It is a very good feeling to see people come out of this and be able to take care of their families," said Howard Slind.

Harbor House Crisis Shelter is a ministry of Faith United Methodist Church, Superior and part of Outreach Ministries.

The Duluth-Superior Community Foundation encourages private giving for the public good. It provides grants to nonprofit organizations and individuals in such areas as the arts, education, community and economic development, environment and human services. It is a permanent community endowment built by gifts from individuals and organizations.

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