Your Community Needs You!

The Southeast Minnesota REALTORS (SEMR) is a local trade organization made up of over 1300 REALTOR and Affiliate members that serves the 11 most southeast counties of Minnesota. Our members support local community efforts that work to improve the lives of all and share the vision to improve the communities in which they live.

SEMR wants to help and are proud to announce our SEMR Giving Campaign Initiative. Each HUB within SEMR was tasked in identifying an organization that could use a hand up to meet the needs of the people they serve. Each HUB was also tasked with raising funds and supplies to help these local community partners because the need is so great. Now here is the fun part… SEMR will match each HUBS fundraising efforts up to $10,000 per community. That’s a goal total of $50,000 with a potential match of an additional $50,000! We can get there with your support.

When COVID-19 hit our region and the world, no one knew what was to come. Now, a year plus has past and we have seen firsthand the struggles that some in our community continue to go through. We know we can make a difference in your community. Please click on the communities’ pages below and learn about the organizations that would benefit from your generous donation. Thank you for your consideration.

The Albert Lea Main Street Program supports downtown vitality by promoting its economy & events, as well as helping to rejuvenate & maintain its historic grandeur. Our downtown businesses have received aid during COVID from different sources, but most of these programs/grants/loans were strictly for survival. ALMS is looking to open a grant to “Thrive, not just Survive”. This grant would put in place critical marketing, software tools, and physical infrastructure to ensure these businesses aren’t just making it out of this pandemic but leveling up on the other side. Our downtown is the heart of the community, by helping them, we help the entire community!

Donations to The Salvation Army Food Shelf help feed the hungry in Freeborn County. Last year, 161,548 pounds of food was distributed through the pantry to help feed 6,165 individuals. The lunch program provided over 10,000 meals last year. The Salvation Army could not do this without the generous donations from the community.

With a matching grant of $10,000 that the SEMR Board has offered to the Albert Lea REALTORS, if they can raise $10,000, they have an opportunity to give $20,000 to the Albert Lea Community, but they need your help. After looking at possibilities, the REALTORS have chosen the Albert Lea Main Street Program to help the downtown businesses that have been hit with difficulties through these COVID times and The Salvation Army Food Shelf. That would mean that if we meet our goal of $10,000- OR MORE- we could provide each organization with at least $10,000.

The Austin Farmers Market Project

The 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment put out by Mayo Clinic Health Systems showed a strong need for access to fresh and local foods for the citizens of the greater Austin area. The City of Austin has a large section of land in downtown Austin that cannot be built upon traditionally due to its proximity to the River. The City approached Impact Austin about partnering on a project to give a permanent site and structure to a Farmers Market in downtown Austin.

A grant through the U of MN & the Sustainable Research Development Partnership allowed Impact Austin and the City of Austin to do virtual community engagement sessions in the fall of 2020 to involve the greater Austin community in developing the architectural design & plans for a permanent farmers market location in downtown Austin.

Address: 501 Oakland Ave East, Austin MN 55912

Image Supplied by Google Maps

Proposed Design & Plans

When creating a new organization from the ground up, there are expenses that come with building a firm foundation that will support the health of the organization for years to come. We are pursuing engagement from the community to build the organizational structure of the Market, and ultimately, a Market on site this year (2021) with Vendors providing their own canopies/tents until the permanent structures are funded and built.

The Southeast Minnesota REALTORS ® Association (SEMR) approached Impact Austin by way of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce about partnering with us in this project via a program initiative called the SEMR Giving Campaign. SEMR will generously match any funds raised by the community up to $10,000, which means we could have $20,000 cash injection to get the Farmers Market Project up and running.

Impact Austin is excited to be partnering with the Southeast Minnesota REALTORS® Association (SEMR). The team is grateful to be receiving funds for this foundational work that will enable us to start to grow the market this year and set us up for better success next year as we continue seeking grant funds to construct the permanent structure & facility.

The Rochester Area Realtors and Affiliates are now selling raffle tickets! Tickets are just $10 and can be purchased from any participating Realtor or Affiliate or by coming by the SEMR Office at 3400 East River Rd NE, Rochester. A full list of prizes is available at ‘Raffle Prizes’.

Check back as often as you would like because additional prizes are being added weekly. Tickets will be sold up until the end of June 30th, 2021 with the final drawing at the SEMR office at 12 noon on July 7th.

Bear Creek Services is a nonprofit organization that was established 1976 by parents who had adult children with disabilities with no place to call “home”. Today, Bear Creek Services supports more than 100 men and women who have developmental disabilities or traumatic brain injuries. The organization has 12 group homes, 3 apartments, and also hosts an Independent Living Services program that allows 50+ individuals who have special needs to live independently in their own apartment. Fundraising and volunteers are required to help the organization break even on its programs each year.

Bear Creek Website

Bear Creek is currently building a wheelchair accessible home for women who have disabilities.  (See Video)

The mission of Hiawatha Homes is to provide quality support services to people with disabilities at home and in the community.
Vision: the people we support are living a fulfilling life of their choice in a community that values and includes them.
We have 21 community-based homes, family support services, and respite care, where we support 120 people to live fulfilling lives of their choice. Eleven of the individuals we support today moved into the original Hiawatha Children’s Home in 1976.

The funds raised through this community partnership with SEMR will be used for projects such as; flooring replacements, kitchen cabinet replacements, concrete work (driveway lifting & new patio install), landscaping materials, general home maintenance, and preventative care.

Hiawatha Homes Website

Having been given an opportunity to “Give Back” to the community, Rochester area REALTORS have chosen Hiawatha Homes and Bear Creek Services to be the recipients of a grant that the SEMR Board is offering. The Board has announced they will make a matching grant available to each hub of up to $10,000 to go to local non-profit(s). If we meet our goal of $10,000- OR MORE- we could provide each organization with at least $10,000. With the pandemic, both of these organizations have lost a lot of opportunities for fundraising, so having a chance to help in any way will make a big difference for them. Please consider helping them by making a donation.


Owatonna Parks and Recreation Movies in the Park

Each year Owatonna Parks and Recreation strives to offer a variety of events, programs and activities to enhance the quality of life for our community. 2020 provided challenges with offering in-person events and while we were able to change some of our activities and events to virtual activities, we were missing being able to bring our community together. Thankfully, we are looking forward to getting back to offering in-person events this summer! One of the events we are excited to bring back is our Movies in the Park. At least two times throughout the summer we’ll offer a family-friendly movie at one of our beautiful Owatonna parks. The movie is free to attend, and pre-movie activities will be provided! This is an opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy a movie in a unique setting. It also offers a chance to bring our community together and enjoy fellowship with friends and other community members. Look for movie dates and information on the Owatonna Park & Rec Website.

Transitional Housing of Steele County

Transitional Housing of Steele County is an interfaith nonprofit organization. Our mission is to respond to people with housing needs in Steele County, Minnesota. Transitional Housing began in 2000. It started as a meeting of concerned people, including leaders of local churches, who wanted to end homelessness in Steele County. The group carefully considered the best way to serve the homeless population and decided to adopt the transitional housing approach. Transitional Housing has proudly served the homeless, and those who are in danger of becoming homeless, ever since.

Over 300 people are homeless in Steele County on any given night, including small children and families. Some live-in abject poverty and abusive relationships, while others live in their cars or might be fortunate enough to have temporary housing with friends or in shelters. Homelessness is often hidden, but it is still there. To read more about this interfaith nonprofit organization, visit Transitional Housing of Steele County.

Owatonna - Donation

We chose Habitat for Humanity to show that as Realtors, we care about more than selling homes. We care about safe housing for everyone. Besides building homes, Habitat also has the programs A Brush with Kindness, Critical Home Repair and Aging in Place. Each of these helps make it possible for people to remain safely in their home when they could not afford to do so otherwise- things like leaky roofs or handicap ramps are some of the projects that are taken on.

Winona ORC Industries, Inc. is an organization that provides safe and inclusive employment opportunities for people with special needs. Many of these workers would be unable to find employment opportunities any other way. They currently provide commercial laundry service for Winona Health and the nursing homes in Winona- a service that most of us have likely been unaware. They need a new or repaired water heater that would cost $25,000 to $30,000 to repair or $70,000 to $150,000 to replace. Our contributions could make a substantial difference toward that cost and provide this essential service by people with disabilities, providing them with quality employment.Winona REALTORS have been presented with an opportunity to “Give Back” to our community. The SEMR Board has announced that they will make a matching grant available to each hub of up to $10,000 to go to local non-profit(s). After looking at several possibilities, the Committee decided to split it between Habitat for Humanity and Winona ORC- two exceptional service groups. That would mean that if we meet our goal of $10,000- OR MORE- we could provide each organization with at least $10,000. We hope you will donate and help us reach that goal.