Why I Give: Dane Bloch '08

Dane Bloch '08

Dane Bloch, class of 2008, is the development director for The Community Outreach, a Sioux Falls nonprofit "ministry of hope" that connects people in need with people who want to help through financial assistance, referrals and education. Bloch also volunteers as secretary of the Augustana GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Council.

He reflects on his time at Augustana and why he chooses to give back to his alma mater.

Q. Can you share a favorite memory from your time at Augie?

A. During my sophomore J-Term, I took "Political Trails" with Dr. (Joel) Johnson. During this class, we studied historical political cases including, among others, the Scopes "monkey trial" and the Lindbergh baby homicide. During the final week of J-Term, the class was split into different groups and assigned the roles of prosecution, defense, and jury. Dr. Johnson donned the black robes of the judiciary and we headed to the Minnehaha County Courthouse to retry these cases in the appropriate setting. We had a great time arguing over new and old information to come to our decisions. The proceedings were even covered by Keloland News.

Q. Favorite professor and why?

A. All of the members of the Government Department have impacted my development and career in very significant ways. Dr. Johnson is one of the most genuine people I've met and taught me that respect and dignity are the first steps in finding common ground when working with people with different viewpoints. Dr. (Joseph) Dondelinger is engaging and has the ability to bring many different viewpoints to the table, and I'm still certain he is on the CIA's payroll. Dr. (Peter) Schotten was always quick to challenge his student's thinking and encouraged me to hone and refine my opinions and beliefs.

Augustana left a deep impression on me in a number of different ways. I want to be a part of making this possible for current and future students.

— Dane Bloch '08

Q. How did Augustana help prepare you for your career?

A. The most important skill that Augie taught me was how to think critically. My career requires the ability to problem solve in a variety of different areas and often times simultaneously. An understanding on how to analyze and creatively solve problems enables me to overcome changing and challenging environments especially in arenas outside of my primary area of study. It is this skill that has allowed me to be successful in the political realm as well as the non-profit world.

Q. What's a typical day like for you?

A. With my organization, there really is not a typical day. Many days, I spend a lot of time at Coffea visiting and supporting my volunteer mentors. Other days, I meet with community, business, and church leaders to help engage their organizations in fighting homelessness in the Sioux Empire. I also spend time planning fundraising events to support the mission and goals of The Community Outreach as well as to raise awareness of the needs of those battling poverty in our community.

Q. What's been your greatest professional accomplishment so far?

A. The primary fundraiser for The Community Outreach is our Christmas for a Cause Concert and Reception. Over the past three years, we have build this into an event which raises $20,000 for those in need of assistance with housing, utilities, and work-related transportation. This, along with our other donors, enables us to raise awareness and reach out to assist nearly 5,000 people in the Sioux Empire on an annual basis.

Through these funds, we provide stability by keeping families together in safe and affordable housing, ensuring their lights and heat stay on, and giving them the ability to get to and from work with 30-day bus passes and car repairs. This stability allows for gainful employment and the ability to achieve self-sufficiency. Through partnership with the Sioux Empire United Way we are also able to provide financial education through our adult mentoring program, the Genesis Project. This mentorship program has assisted hundreds of families gain hope and self-sufficiency since inception over five years ago. In 2014, the program assisted 52 families and saw 99 percent of participants locate, obtain, and maintain safe and affordable housing.

Q. What inspires you to give back to Augustana?

A. Augie invests in the betterment of its students which is evidenced by the institution's investment in the renovation of the Mikkelsen Library, the creation of Froiland Science Complex, and its commitment in being involved in current affairs with events like the Boe Forum. If, in some small way, my gift helps make these investments in students possible, it is my pleasure to give back.

Q. Why did you choose the perpetual giving option as a way to donate to Augustana?

A. The perpetual giving option made giving easier and allowed me to give more over time than in a one-time gift. After setting up the recurring contribution online, I no longer have to remember to write a check or visit the website. This option made giving easy.

Perpetual giving also lets me give more over time than I would in a one-time gift, allowing me to make a bigger impact.