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"Bemidji Leads!" to honor stewards of the community

"Bemidji Leads!" will honor stewards of the Bemidji community with a recognition event on Thursday, April 15, in the social hall at Bemidji United Methodist Church.

"Bemidji Leads!" stewards will cook and serve the Bemidji Community Soup Kitchen meal that evening at the church, and the program will follow at approximately 6:45 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Each year, "Bemidji Leads!" honors groups and organizations that have made a significant contribution to community life in the Bemidji area. Past award recipients include the Bemidji High School show choirs, Northern Dental Access Clinic, Dragon Boat Festival, Bemidji Green Up, Bemidji Proud, Bemidji in Bloom, Bemidji Day at the Capital, Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area and the Headwaters Alliance for Drug Prevention.

"If you step back and look at our community, Bemidji has so many organizations and groups doing great things," said Dave Hengel of "Bemidji Leads!" "We truly are blessed with leaders and stewards willing to build a better Bemidji community."

An individual community member also will be honored as recipient of the Jim Bensen Steward of the Year award. Jim Bensen was the original recipient of the award. Former Bemidji State University Student Senate President Cody Nelson and former North Country Health Services President Jim Hanko also were recipients.

"Bemidji Leads!" began in 2003 with a group of community members committed to working together to build a better future for the area. Recently, "Bemidji Leads!" began implementing a new strategic direction, focused on key initiatives in education and talent, innovation, and leadership. A brief overview of the initiatives will also be released at the celebration event.

"I work in communities throughout Minnesota and have found that the pride that Bemidji residents feel for their community, the desire they have to make it better and more prosperous, and their willingness to work together to be successful is not all that common," Hengel said.