Local groups in need of volunteers to fill open spots

Photo by Tucker Henderson
The Friends of the Library group welcomes new members as they continue to support the NYM Public Library including a recent bus trip to Duluth.

Tucker Henderson


A pressing need in many communities these days are open positions on local boards, committees, and councils. New York Mills is no different and has a range of open positions from smaller, less regulated boards to large boards and those that operate within municipal oversight.

Oftentimes, those who serve on one board, are very likely to serve on another. Especially in rural areas, individuals might see multiple boards with similar faces as those who are able and willing to help, are often needed elsewhere as well.

Residents may have noticed some of the familiar faces if they have attended any of the myriad of monthly meetings in the area. Board positions have been getting harder and harder to fill with each coming year as people get busier and busier. This is very hard on nonprofit organizations who rely on volunteer members for their annual activities. Organizations are also very good at filling the gaps when they are short on help, but it can be very taxing to go long stretches without adequate personnel.

“The more people working on something, the less stressful it is for everyone involved,” said community member Latham Hetland. “Everybody has their own things and are involved in other stuff, but the more people that are involved, the less work each individual has to do.”

Hetland very well may hold a record for the most-involved member of NY Mills, purely based off of the eight current board positions that he fills in the community and countless other activities he is involved in around the area.

Here are some of the board and council positions currently open in the NY Mills area:

Santa Anonymous

A loose board of about four to five people make up the Santa Anonymous core organizers. Hetland belongs to this board and thinks that he is the only one who hasn’t served for 10 years or more. With no formal meetings and most of the activities held in November and December, this is a great option for those with a busy schedule who would still like to contribute to the community in the later months of the year.

“Part of it is working with community members to figure out where help is needed,” said Hetland. “It’s buying the presents, ordering the food, coordinating volunteers for wrapping presents, sorting items, and delivery.”

Hetland said that his favorite part of participating in Santa Anonymous is getting to be a part of the holiday cheer and helping out his fellow community members that might need a helping hand during the Christmas season.

Those who would like to learn more about Santa Anonymous can call (218) 640-3254.

NY Mills Education Foundation

This board of educational supporters is made up of nine local community members who like to support the NY Mills School District #553 by providing opportunities to classrooms that wouldn’t have been possible without their assistance.

“That’s a newer organization,” said Hetland. “We started in 2017 with the purpose of providing extraordinary opportunities for the NY Mills school and the students and staff.”

The board meets bimonthly on the third Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. at the school. Five two-year terms are opening up with a chance of serving for a total of three terms (nine years).

“We’re looking for individuals who are interested in supporting the school and want to help continue to grow the Education Foundation and find new ways for it to benefit the community,” said Hetland. 

This board is largely made up of those with educational and parent backgrounds, but members from all walks of life are invited to contribute.

“We provide grants to staff in the school for unique opportunities,” said Hetland. “We have sponsored trips, we have bought books for classrooms, we’ve done a lot of grants. We work on fundraising and have different events for that. We support the school in whatever way possible.”

“Seeing the ideas that the staff come up with and seeing the follow through after the grants are approved and the impact it has on the students,” Hetland said was his favorite part of the organization.

Those who are interested in this opportunity, get in touch with the school at (218) 385-2553.

NY Mills Library Board

The NY Mills Library has one open board position and is seeking a candidate that supports the mission and vision of the library, resists censorship of library materials, can attend monthly meetings and is willing to help with library fundraising. The candidate must be a resident of Otter Tail County.

Julie Adams, Director of the Library, said that anyone who is interested can find an application with general questions at the front desk at the library. Applications will be reviewed by the current board and a recommendation will be made to the city council, who ultimately makes the final decision.

With a board of seven community members, the board oversees month-to-month operations of the library and makes budget and policy decisions. The term is a three year commitment with three possible terms.

“I just like getting opinions and feedback from the library board members on what we can do here,” said Adams. “It’s always great to have a fully functioning board.”

Anybody interested in the library board position may inquire within or call them at (218) 385-2436.

NY Mills Civic 

& Commerce

The NY Mills Civic and Commerce board has five members and room for more. Being a business member is not a requirement to be on the board.

“We are looking for new energy, people with new perspectives, not just business owners,” said Hetland. “Those who are looking to expand the identity and brand of NY Mills.”

Hetland said that the easiest way to learn more about the organization is to attend one of their monthly meetings and get an idea of what it is that the board is trying to accomplish.

“We’re not afraid to try new things,” said Hetland. “I think that’s exactly the kind of thing you need. Being a part of the big events in town such as Lundmania, the Christmas Tree Festival, Corn Feed and seeing the community gather and come together to provide a place to show off what our town is.”

Cultural Center

The NY Mills Regional Cultural Center is also seeking new members who are interested in the arts and culture of our rural area. Members are not restricted to the NY Mills area as there are board members currently as far away as Richville and Dalton, Minn.

“We’re always looking for new people who are interested,” said Hetland. “We talk about funding opportunities, events, future goals, we’re working on a lot of things for the future.”

Hetland mentioned that the best way to learn about the Cultural Center is to attend an event, look around an exhibit, peruse the gift shop, and visit with a staff member.

Those interested can also call the Cultural Center at (218) 385-3339.

Friends of the Library

“Friends of the Library is separate from the Library board,” said Julie Adams. “They do fundraising and advocacy for us. Anyone can join, it’s not an appointed position. We’re always looking for volunteers to join us. It’s an open door process for people to join.”

The board meets twice a year in April and November and provide extra opportunities for the library as well as furnishing things like seating and shelving for the library.

“Right now the biggest thing that the Friends of the Library do is the book sale,” said Adams. “They sponsor programs, Trivia Night, Bingo for Books and prizes for that.”

“Their positivity about the library and wanting to encourage the community and the library to work together,” said Adams. “Especially on the programming part of it. The positivity about the library that the members have is great.”

Finn Creek Museum

Photo by Tucker Henderson
Finn Creek Museum is seeking out new board members with a passion for Finnish heritage and community history.

The Finnish-heritage museum south of NY Mills is also searching for passionate Finnish Americans to join their ranks in promoting Finnish heritage in the NY Mills area.

“Finnish organizations have been disappearing in Minnesota and the United States at a rapid pace for the past few decades,” said Public Relations Director, Tucker Henderson. “Finn Creek has weathered the storm, but we’ve been trying to find some new interest for the past few years.”

Finn Creek is also known as the Minnesota Finnish-American Historical Society, Chapter 13 of NY Mills, which, despite the mouthful, also has the ability to promote Finnish identity and heritage in the local area along with the operations out at the open air museum.

There are several board positions open and interested community members are sought to fill them. Directors attend monthly meetings and help out with summer operations which includes the Finn Creek Festival in August.

Those interested can message Finn Creek Museum on Facebook or can call (218) 639-8389.

NYM 2025

NYM 2025 is an organization seeking to promote growth within the NY Mills community in areas of the school, city, and private sectors. An executive committee, steering committee, and economic development committee are all opportunities for interested community members to take part in.

“We’ve done a lot of work in the past few years since we did our original strategic framework that is forward looking,” said Hetland. “We look at ideas based off the needs and desires of the community and work together to accomplish those things.”

These accomplishments include the walking trail, day care, and the ongoing fundraising of the dog park.

Hetland mentioned that NYM 2025 is looking for as many perspectives as possible.

St. Peter’s 

Lutheran Church

Church council positions are a large part of keeping a church going. St. Peter’s Lutheran Church has a church council position open and are hoping to find a church member to fill it. The church council discusses budget, personnel, and monthly operations of the church. 

Any member that might be interested should speak with the current council and current council president Denise Peltier.

NY Mills Food Shelf

The NY Mills Food Shelf is looking to fill a few of their board positions as well. Both the Apostolic Lutheran Church and the Congregational Church has church-to-food shelf position open in which any member appointed by the church can participate. 

The food shelf has around three meetings a year and is open once a month to provide food for those in need in our community. 

Those who would like to learn more about the open positions can visit with their church leaders or call (218) 285-3339.