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Rochester, MN Cultivates a Compassionate Community

Health care shapes community's character

By Kari Kynard Ridge on June 26, 2018

Rochester, MN
Rochester / Courtesy of United Way Olmstead County

At the heart of Rochester’s development and growth is its existence as a community built around health care and compassion.

These roots trace back to 1889 when Mayo Clinic opened and began offering the latest in medical technologies and care for people who now travel here from all parts of the globe. This empathetic culture extends into the city and beyond, with local residents and businesses working together to make up a service-minded and friendly community that welcomes people from near and far.

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With a robust economy and civic-minded culture, Rochester has yielded an exceptionally compassionate environment which, in turn, has generated a large nonprofit sector. Rochester Area Foundation, a community-based nonprofit that covers a 30-mile radius around the city, builds and enhances the quality of life in the greater Rochester area through philanthropic leadership and community partnerships.

“Rochester is unique in many ways, but repeatedly I am struck by how residents in the area care for and about each other,†says Jennifer Woodford, president of the Rochester Area Foundation. “I see altruism and generous giving in action every day.â€

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The community’s health-care and philanthropic missions are closely entwined – RAF began in 1944 with a grant from Mayo Clinic.

“Members of all sectors of our community – nonprofits, businesses, the public sector, educational institutions and others – work together every day to improve our communities,†says Woodford. “These partnerships harness our collective knowledge and resources, allowing us to evolve quickly to meet the broad needs of our communities.”

In the Business of Caring

The city’s frontline employees are accustomed to helping and responding compassionately to both residents and visitors coming for appointments with esteemed doctors and staff and for cutting-edge medical treatments.

To better serve all populations, local businesses have created a culture of community involvement and philanthropy. Since 1984, Powers Ventures has served residents and visitors traveling here for health care with its portfolio of businesses that includes Canadian Honker Restaurant and one of the largest catering enterprises in Minnesota. Joe Powers, president of Powers Ventures, says his company’s employees embrace its internal culture of respect, honesty, integrity and courtesy.

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“In our hiring practices we look for new employees who have a compassion for others and a strong will to serve,†Powers says.

Powers’ company estimates it has donated more than a half million dollars’ worth of food to local community groups that address hunger issues. In addition to giving back 10 percent of its profits to local efforts that address issues such as homelessness, youth development, hunger and programs that show appreciation for military members, Powers Ventures also encourages employees to volunteer in the community. Joe Powers says that empathy leads his employees to respond compassionately to customers living with health challenges.

“More often than not, our employees can sense when someone is dealing with a difficult time, physically and emotionally,†Powers says. “Our employees understand that the job is not just serving a customer food.â€

United in Compassion

United Way of Olmsted County is among the many local nonprofits that Powers Ventures supports. The organization unites people with resources in a mission to provide the building blocks for the community’s high quality of life – health, education, income and basic needs.

“United Way of Olmsted County is privileged to serve and be part of a community that cares so deeply for each other,†says Jerome Ferson, president and CEO of United Way of Olmstead County. “We are joined by thousands of community members in our common pursuit to help people in need reach their potential and create a more equitable community for all.â€

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Calling Mayo Clinic “a crown jewel of compassion, care and collaboration in our community,†Ferson says his organization’s mission is closely linked with the local industry of care.

“Rochester area residents care about one another and those who come here for health care,†Ferson says. “Time and again, residents give graciously of their time, talent and treasure to help create a better community and a positive experience for visitors.â€

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