Foundation stories: local grads choose rewarding careers

By Ryan Damlo, Foundation Executive Director


One of the greatest pleasures of being part of the Tri-County Health Care Foundation is witnessing the difference we can make in the lives of our local communities. Recently, I was fortunate to meet with two local graduates who shared their stories with me. Sada (Thompson) Aschnewitz of New York Mills and Autumn Jahnke of Wadena were able to define their career paths thanks to opportunities given by the Foundation.


Sada’s Storyphoto of Sada, Foundation scholarship winner

As a junior in high school, Sada participated in Tri-County’s summer internship program where she rode in an ambulance, worked in the lab, and collaborated with doctors and nurses.

“The whole staff was open and honest and allowed you to learn and know what a career in the medical field was really like,” she said. “Plus, it allowed me to enter college with a clear path and committed to my goal of becoming a nurse. The summer internship program gave me extra confidence since I had already witnessed some of the clinical skills I was learning in a health care setting.”

In her senior year, Sada received a $1,000 high school scholarship from the TCHC Foundation. “Receiving the scholarship lessened the financial burden, and it showed me that other individuals besides my family believed in me and wanted me to succeed,” she said.

Sada graduated from New York Mills in 2007 and attended Jamestown University for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After graduating and getting married to Brad Aschnewitz, she moved to Dickinson, where she worked as a nurse. About five years ago, Sada and Brad moved to Grand Forks so she could enroll at the University of North Dakota to become a family nurse practitioner. She plans to graduate in May 2018.

Because Sada and Brad are both from New York Mills, and with two young children – Mila, 4, and Sage, 1 – they knew they wanted to come home to rural Minnesota.

Sada’s story will come full circle when she joins the Tri-County Health Care team in late 2018.


Foundation scholarship winner, Autumn JahnkeAutumn’s Story

Autumn knew from a young age that she wanted to work in a field that allowed her to help people.

From ninth through 12th grade, she participated in Venture Crew, which teaches basic life support skills and allows the opportunity to go on calls with the EMS team. As a junior, she joined the summer internship program at Tri-County. These two programs showed her many components of a health care facility and helped her confidently decide that nursing was the right path.

Autumn was awarded a $1,000 high school scholarship, as well as the $2,500 Davis Family Nursing scholarship from the Foundation. This scholarship assists students in all levels of nursing to give back to the community, inspire others to pay it forward and encourage qualified individuals to pursue a health care career in nursing. Autumn now attends M State Wadena.

“I am very blessed to have earned these scholarships,” she said. “This brings the value of my education higher considering I don’t have financial aid, and this is helping me get through school. It takes the stress away, and I can focus on classes.”

Autumn plans to graduate in May 2018 and aspires to be hired by Tri-County as a registered nurse.


Every donation counts

Each year, the TCHC Foundation gives out more than $70,000 to community events, grants and scholarships. Stories like Sada’s and Autumn’s show the value in what the Foundation does throughout the year.

Local support like that of Gary and Benda Davis, who created the Davis Family Nursing Scholarship, show that monetary donations can live on forever through a named endowment. Named opportunities within the Tri-County Health Care Foundation begin at $25,000 gifts or higher.

To learn more about leaving a legacy and helping the future of local health care, please contact me at 218-632-8148.


About the author: Ryan Damlo is the Foundation executive director at Tri-County Health Care. He joined TCHC in July of 2017 but has been a part of TCHC for the past two and a half years Foundation executive director head shotserving on the Foundation Board and the TCHC Wadena Clinic advisory committee.

Ryan and his family reside in southwest Wadena, and he is passionate about serving the community. Ryan volunteers with Pack 54 Cub Scouts as Cubmaster, serves as first-vice president of the Wadena Lions, is a board member for the Wadena Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and serves on the Wadena-Deer Creek Community Education advisory board. In his free time, Ryan loves spending time with his family, taking walks, going for bike rides and traveling.

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