The primary funding that HCO receives from state and federal sources does not pay all the bills, so donations from the community are an important part of helping HCO support our friends and neighbors with developmental disabilities.

Who are HCO’s donors? What is it about HCO that motivates people to donate so generously? We asked! Jerry and Pat Papenfuss, former owners of Winona Radio, shared with us what leads them to donate to HCO.

Jerry says that he and Pat are impressed with HCO’s long history of solid performance, strong leadership, staff that are so dedicated and committed, and that there is so much longevity among staff.

He says that in their opinion, if you compare HCO to similar organizations in the state, HCO is one of the best. They recognize that HCO serves a critical need in the community, and have seen that historically, the agency manages its assets well. Jerry and Pat are impressed by the fact that HCO has such an “outstanding training system for young people,” and enjoys such wide support from the community.

When Dennis Theede retired from the agency, Jerry, a lifelong community fundraiser, recognized an opportunity for HCO to not only honor Denny’s years of service to HCO, but also to help fill an important gap for those HCO serves. He and Pat helped lead a Legacy campaign in Denny’s honor, which raised over $100,000 from community donations.

Jerry was born in Winona, and raised on two different farms: in Wilson Township and on Garvin Heights. When he was going to college he was a member of the JayCees, a group of young men who were interested in service to the community. It was at a Mrs. JayCees function that Jerry met Pat, a native of Carver County, who had graduated from Marquette Journalism School, and was the editor of the Women’s Pages at the Winona Daily News. They will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year.

They became involved in the radio business when Jerry was hired by Jim Goetz to manage KAGE. They went on to own two radio groups, and stations not only in Winona, but also Fergus Falls and Perham, a total of 14 radio stations in Minnesota!

In retirement, they are still very busy, being involved with Minnesota State College Southeast, the Winona Community Foundation, the Benedictine Community, among others. They have been HCO supporters for many years, and they were previously honored by the agency with the HCO Good Neighbor Award.

They have three children (two living in the Twin Cities, and one in San Jose, California) and four grandchildren. All of their children are involved in their communities, and, like Jerry and Pat, are focused on helping others and giving back.

Jerry and Pat Papenfuss are good examples of the community members who are friends of HCO and want to see the agency thrive. Thank you to Jerry, Pat, and all those in the community who support HCO’s mission and work!