When Bob Youngerman was working for the Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) in Winona, his offices were on the second floor of the HCO building.
“I considered Dennis Theede my landlord,” he says. However, in getting to know Dennis, Bob became aware of the work that HCO did and says he grew to appreciate the organization’s mission. A few years after he retired from SMRLS in 2011, Dennis approached him about serving on the HCO Board.
Bob previously served in the U.S. Army for 20 years – 4 years in active duty, and 16 years in the army reserve. After leaving the army, he went on to attend the University of Minnesota Law School from 1972-1975. Upon graduating, he took a job in Houston County as the Assistant County Prosecutor from 1976-1979, however, the job never felt like the right fit. When an opportunity to work at the legal aid offices opening up in Winona became available, he joined SMRLS and remained there for 32 years.
Bob says that his growing interest in HCO felt very natural. In his legal profession at SMRLS, Bob served people of various backgrounds: senior citizens, people with mental and physical handicaps, and those in poverty. His history of assisting people who are in need meshes well with HCO’s mission.
Now and in the future, Bob thinks one of the biggest challenges that HCO faces is financial. Federal and state funding is crucial for HCO. Changes in funding, rules, and regulations are followed closely by HCO’s Board and administrative staff.
There’s also the challenge of hiring and keeping good employees, especially when there are similar organizations that are better funded, such as those owned by Mayo. COVID-19 has also aggravated that challenge. “It is stressful for staff to be faced with the new burden of making sure everything is sanitized, and dealing with personal protective equipment for themselves and the individuals in the programs.”
However, Bob feels that HCO is well equipped to weather these challenges. He is especially complimentary about HCO’s Executive Director, Suzanne Horstman, whom he calls hard-working and conscientious.
“HCO has a good Board, strong financial guidance, and wonderful administrative personnel,” he shares. “Everyone is doing a wonderful job.”
Bob has three adult daughters and 6 grandchildren, who all live in the Twin Cities.
He lives in Winona, where he enjoys keeping in contact with friends and pursuing his love of politics. He is currently President of HCO’s Board of Directors.