In an effort to begin healing, reconciliation and growth within the community of McLaughlin and the surrounding area, a task force formed in order to begin collaborating about the needs of the area. An anonymous donation was made to fund the group efforts initially which the ELCA of SD had helped make possible for our community to receive the gift.
The group then began meeting a minimum of once-per-week for months with an open forum around areas of concern, current issues, and areas of opportunity. The group decided to name themselves the Community Alliance Group (CAG).
The group determined it must have a focus around what is the ultimate goal for a long-term impact, so we developed a community needs assessment survey to reach out directly to the people in the area. There were great efforts both in-person and online to achieve successful completion of surveys.
By combining the data from those surveys along with the stated needs throughout the group meetings, there were three areas identified to be the focus for development: 1) Children's & Family Programs 2) Wellness Center 3) Thrift & Resource Center
There rapidly became a positive vibe throughout the community because of the alliance group efforts. The regular monthly meetings continue to show consistency towards accomplishing the abundant list of goals each year.
**Community Alliance Group is a proud recipient of the South Dakota Education Association/NEA 2023 Friend of Education Award**
Born and raised near McLaughlin, Kimberly returned to the area after 18 years of experiences away from home. She has an extensive background in both financial services and business development. However, it is her passion and commitment to serve the community that has led the CAG to achieve the goals it sets forth as well as continually develop at a rather rapid pace.
"I am humbled and honored to have been selected as the Executive Director for this non-profit organization," said Kimberly Olson. "This is our home. We all want to see our friends, family, and neighbors succeed in life, be healthy, be happy, and have hope for the future of this community. We must work on breaking down the barriers and walls that formed here over many decades. We are all in this together and by working together, all things are possible."
In 2021, the group became structured as a non-profit organization rooted in faith, spirit, and culture. The entity is led by a board of directors which consists of local area community members willing to offer their leadership and expertise to the non-profit organization.
Kimberly Olson, Chairman
Jonathon (Jody) Sam, Vice-Chairman
Pearl Johnson, Secretary
Ardyce Taken Alive, Treasurer
Kelsey Brown Otter, Director
Candice Mizera, Director
Paul Guggolz, Director
Fr. Kim Fonder, Director
Paul Lofgren, Director