Colette Barton started with United Way in 1997 and has been on the Richland/Wilkin Community Foundation advisory board for seven years. This July, she will be starting a new chapter in the community.
“It was a bittersweet decision to make the change, but it’s just time to let someone else take the reigns,” she said. “I’m still staying in the community that I love.”
Barton accepted a job working as a spiritual caregiver for CHI Hospice. She said that her new position will fit nicely with her current position as a grief care coordinator at Joseph Vertin and Sons Funeral Home, which she has worked at since February 2017.
Barton began working for non-profits in 1991. Before working with United Way, she was a regional administrator at Easter seals in Fargo where she supervised caregivers who went into the homes of individuals with special needs and supported families.
“I have a servant’s heart. It fills my cup and my soul to be able to serve people,” she said. “Being able to help others is one of my passions.”
During her time at United Way and the Community Foundation, she made changes to the organizations to make the groups’ mission even stronger.
“Colette Barton, who is the executive director of the United Way and board member of the Richland-Wilkin Community Foundation saw a vision that the (Community Foundation) endowment fund and United Way in a lot of ways were doing similar work in our community,” said Jana Sipe Berndt, chairperson of the foundation. “She saw a need to bring those two groups together because we were doing a lot of similar work.”
The two groups began working together five years ago to dissolve the local United Way and turn over the remaining money to the Richland/Wilkin Community Foundation. In December 2019, all of that became official.
“We went under one group name. We continue to work with our non-profits and continued to help our community into a very strong community where people want to live, work and raise their families,” Berndt said. “She was our vision and our leader who helped us work through the challenging questions we had in bringing those two organizations together. She really got us to the spot where we are at today.”
Berndt explained that one of the main reasons why they brought those two groups together was to sync their work and be more powerful in the non-profit sector of the community. Working under one umbrella will make the group more efficient, effective, and have the money stay local, she said.
“Colette has had such a strong influence on the nonprofit world in this community and she will be greatly missed as our executive director. I know that she is going to stay involved in the nonprofit world so I know the community is going to still benefit from her great work,” Berndt said.
Barton is planning to remain a volunteer advisory member for the Richland/Wilkin Community Foundation.
“I’m going to miss working with the agencies and strategizing and seeking creative solutions to meet the needs of the community. Whether that be through partnering and facilitating organizations to pool their resources or thinking creatively to come up with a solution to a community need that is identified. That’s the area I am going to miss the most – working with the people of the community to benefit the people of the community,” Barton said. “I’m still going to participate in the community at some level. There are always opportunities to support the nonprofit world whether that be volunteering or a board role, I’ll figure that out.“