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Project FINE honored for work (11/04/2012)
By Emily Buss

Submitted photo
     Fatima Said and Bill Spitzer.

What makes a community unique is due in large part to the diversity of its citizens. Winona is near a world-renowned medical campus, in between two major Midwestern cities, nestled on a river booming with commerce, and educates thousands of students at three post-secondary educational facilities. People from around the world live in our river town.

It has been the mission of Project FINE for the last 22 years to facilitate their needs and assimilate newcomers into the community. The constant dedication to helping refugees and immigrants be proud to call Winona County home has garnered Project FINE a prestigious award from the Minnesota Council for Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits.

“To be honored with this award is very exciting,” said Project FINE Executive Director Fatima Said. The organization received an award for excellence in providing outstanding services to those who are new to the area and for dedication to community partnerships. “We are a small nonprofit organization with a clear, but challenging mission, a small staff, and extraordinary community support.”

Project FINE first opened its doors in 1990 with the help of a grant from the University of Minnesota Extension to provide services to at-risk youth and non-English speaking families. Staff members, skilled interpreters, and community volunteers have offered their services throughout the years to facilitate those needs. Today, Project FINE assists more than 2,500 individuals annually to assimilate into the community.

The Minnesota Council for Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits hands out two awards each year – one to an organization with $1.5 million or more in annual operating expenses and one, such as Project FINE, that operates on fewer funds.

“Our Board of Directors is very dedicated to our mission and strives for excellence and transparency,” Said said. “They work in five committees and bring their gifts and abilities to help us address all the challenges of accomplishing our mission. Project FINE would not be the organization it is today without the commitment and work of our Board of Directors.”

Project FINE was selected as an award recipient based on 10 distinct attributes that Said said they proudly display – their role in society, governance, planning, transparency and accountability, fundraising, financial management, human resources, civic engagement and public policy, strategic alliances, and evaluation.

“This is the first time this award has been given to an organization in Winona and we are very proud to be that recipient,” Said explained. “This is a big deal for us and for the entire community.”

Said said the organization will receive a financial gift from the Minnesota Council for Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits to be used to continue the work of providing for those in need.

“We have been able to continue our work with the help of all our wonderful collaborations and we are happy to be in this community,” Said said. “Working in the diversity and nonprofit business, our work is not always at the top of the list for recognizing. But, we are very proud to focus on integrating newcomers. When we support those in need, we support the entire community.”

For more information about services provided at Project FINE, visit the website. www.projectfine.org



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