Giving Back

Joe Ryan, CEO and owner of Oppidan Investment Company

Joe Ryan’s worldview is simple: leave the world better than you found it.

As the CEO and owner of Oppidan Investment Company, a national property development firm based in Excelsior, Ryan knows he—and Oppidan—can make a real difference in the communities they serve.

Interact, entering its fifth year at Minnetonka High School (MHS), is a service club for young people ages 14 to 18 and is essentially the youth arm of Rotary International, one of the largest nonprofit humanitarian service organizations.

As Lin Ecklund describes her rescue organization, NorthStar Shih Tzu Rescue, it’s evident she loves her role. “It’s the best feeling in the world to help save a life” she says. A long-time volunteer with other dog rescue organizations, Ecklund decided in 2012 to establish her own.

Imagine you’re writing a shopping list. You drop your pen. Now imagine you can’t pick it up. Simple tasks like retrieving an object from the floor, opening doors or calling for help can be impossible feats for some people with physical disabilities.

Abby Gordon got the idea for Project Honey Bee after watching a documentary about the insects’ impending extinction. “I’ve always been interested in helping the environment,” says Gordon, a 15-year-old Minnetonka high school sophomore.

The importance of reading can’t be overstated. Children who become competent readers are more successful in school and in life.

Minnetonka’s Emilee Metcalf is known as a “hair farmer” since she has donated her hair three times to organizations benefiting those diagnosed with cancer. Her previous donation came after she battled uterine cancer in 2011; the cancer is in remission.

More than 260,000 American students study abroad each year at the college level. Most are enriched by their multicultural experiences and exposure to international diversity, but these trips are not without risks.

For 30 years, Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners (IOCP) has supported the needs of local families. And as of April, another six families will be sheltered and supported because of the community’s commitment to care for others.

Both Nikki Erickson and Nikki Swoboda became involved with theater at their respective high schools.

The best gifts of the holiday season are often the gifts of time, talent and charitable contributions. As 2012 draws to a close, consider carrying your volunteer efforts into the New Year.