CENTURY 21 Atwood shares the story of Laura Stevens, Mankato, MN
“If we can see outside of our own experiences, equity becomes more possible now and for future generations”
Laura Stevens has lived in Mankato, MN for 22 years. Over the last 15+ years relentlessly giving back has been her priority. It started in 2005 with a family trip to Naperville, IL., where she visited a children’s museum with family. That was such a great experience for her kids, she wondered why Mankato didn’t already have one. Through an Early Childhood Family Education class, she met a couple of other women who had already started working on a museum. She joined them in their work towards bringing that to reality for the families of Mankato. That was only the beginning. Since, she co-founded the Women’s Giving Circle of the Mankato Area Foundation, worked at the Greater Mankato Area United Way and YWCA Mankato, and volunteered at numerous other organizations like Mankato Kiwanis, Mankato Youth Place and Holy Grounds. These commitments all center around a focus of equity – for women, for children, for families, for future generations.
“People don’t know what they don’t know, and in so many cases don’t even realize that levels of inequity exist. If we can see outside of our own experiences, equity becomes more possible now and for future generations.” Laura has become a relentless, passionate ambassador of equity by serving in various fundraising projects that empower, educate, and provide resources for so many. Sometimes, we do not even consider that the advantages we have may be unreachable to others, so we may take them for granted and without realizing, teach our kids the same and create unintentional bias. Laura is creating conversations that open a greater understanding of how we can all positively impact the future for our community’s children and families through equity awareness. And she does this through her philanthropic efforts each day.
Giving back is deeply rooted in Laura. Donating money to organizations that she feels passionate about, Laura feels more connected to her community. Fundraising was the role she fell into in her various volunteer and work positions. Making the calls to get other people to contribute was a natural conversation for her, and that ability has helped so many organizations, communities, and people. “It’s not scary to ask for money! I call people that have an interest in the cause and talk about what their contribution could do for others. I find out their passions, find out about them and learn about their life experiences. Connecting people with people is what it is all about.”
Everyone can contribute to bridging the equity gap in their own way. Some of our greatest contributions can be in changing the conversation around us, helping other people see outside of their own experiences through our contributions to discussions that take place in our inner circles. Laura makes it sound easy to get even more involved, “Find something you are passionate about, there is a need in all places.” She has a relentless mindset and it is contagious!