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Community and Civic Organizations: The Heart of Forward Progress

No matter the size, nonprofits connect any community at their core.
Polarizing debates often take shape around the public and private sectors’ roles in community development.
A firm capitalist might lean towards the private — or for-profit — sector, while an ardent progressive may favor the intervention of the public — or government-run — sector.
But there is one sector that is often ignored in this debate, and that is the voluntary — or nonprofit — sector.
Many community-based and civic organizations play an instrumental role in closing the equality gap inside a community. Their efforts are directed toward serving the public in some way, whether it be nurturing the success of state-wide retailers or promoting the education of our children.
Wherever your favoritism falls in the public vs. private debate, it should be evident that these non-profit organizations deserve a loud cheer — and perhaps a helping hand.

Nonprofit Structure
Before diving deeper into some of the community and civic organizations that make up the Hartford area, let us define and outline the characteristics of a nonprofit organization.
Generally speaking, most nonprofits fall under the Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3), which means they are exempt from most taxes by virtue of their charitable operations.
As tax-exempt 501(c)(3)s, these organizations are commonly referred to as charitable organizations. They are usually funded by donors, exempt from most taxes, and are structured to prohibit the benefit of any private interests. That is, they do not distribute profits to shareholders.
This is the most important distinction from for-profit organizations: While for-profits may frequently make decisions based on the best interest of its owners, nonprofits are legally required to funnel any earnings back into their organization’s efforts.
Therefore, it is important to note that these organizations are usually run and supported by people with their organization’s mission at the forefront.
This is certainly the case in Hartford, South Dakota. The number of community and civic organizations serving our region is truly remarkable. Their efforts do not go unnoticed.

Churches & Religious Organizations
As one of the most famous nonprofit organizations, churches and religious organizations constitute a large portion of the nonprofit sector.
There are an estimated 300,000 Protestant churches in the United States alone. While large in number, they are entirely supported by the members of their congregation.
Here in Hartford, we are blessed with many outstanding churches and church leaders who selflessly serve our community.
Cowboy Way Church was started in 2007 with the heart of a cowboy. Their mission is to spread the Word of God through the use of Western culture and tradition, so that all may come to know their Savior.
Cowboy Way aims to bring the Word to people on their territory — through rodeos, dramas, church services, and service to the people.
Over 100 years before the founding of Cowboy Way, Christ Lutheran Church began worshiping in 1901. 
While a century has passed since its establishment, things have not changed in regards to their mission and values. As their website reads, “What Pastor Dremelow said happened long ago, still happens among us as guided and blessed by the Holy Spirit.”
There are many others in our community, as well.  However your preference of worship, there are strong odds that you will find a home in the Hartford area.

Public Organizations
Quite confusingly, public organizations manifest several different structures inside and outside of nonprofits.
The important thing to remember is that these public organizations — wherever funding comes from — seek to meet the needs of the public without earning a profit.
The key to this formula is sustainability while advancing their mission.
A prime example is the United States Postal Service (USPS). As a semi-independent federal agency, the USPS is set up to be revenue-neutral. Rather than a form of taxation, the USPS is supported by the products and services it offers to the public.
This structure creates an incentive for postal branches to succeed in their efforts, which is certainly the case for the Hartford Post Office.
West Central School District is another exemplary case. With its sights set on student achievement, the administration and faculty navigate federal, state, and local oversight to ensure the absolute best outcomes for their students.
And achieve, they have: “Every school has its ebbs and flows on student achievement, but [West Central] is consistently at or above the state average for ACT, along with strong involvement in extracurricular activities,” beams Superintendent Brad Berens.
Other examples in the public realm include Siouxland Libraries Hartford Branch and the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Hartford Library provides an indispensable resource of materials and programs for local residents. As their mission statement reads: “Connecting you to a world of ideas and information to enrich your life.”
The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce works closely with the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce to boost local economies.
“We fully support each other,” Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce Director Jesse Fonkert says. “Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, so do we view each other’s efforts as complementary and mutually beneficial.”

Private Foundations
Private nonprofits are more loosely defined by the IRS and make up a majority of the public perception of nonprofit organizations.
In the Hartford region, we are fortunate to hold many effective nonprofit groups led by passionate leaders.
Conservationist groups like Borderlands Horse Sanctuary and Central Valley Struttin’ Gobblers work to promote synergistic, purposeful life with and for animals.
Whether by providing senior and disabled horses with appropriate care or rebuilding wild turkey populations, these organizations are causing positive change for the broader environment.
Athletic organizations work to encourage the role of sports across a community.
The Hartford Area Sports & Rec Committee is constantly promoting athletics for youth and families, and works to develop and enhance the Swenson Park Sports Complex.
Hartford Area Bike & Rec Trails Committee meets monthly to maintain and promote the use of the bike and rec trail in Hartford.
On a similar note, TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is a nonprofit organization that provides a winning formula and support for members who truly seek to reach their goal weight. Instead of endorsing celebrities or falsely promising results, TOPS emphasizes health over the “perfect” body.
Some organizations play instrumental roles in supporting unified groups of people.
Hartford American Legion is part of the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, which has its hand in a number of community programs. Mutual helpfulness is their devotion, and the mutual benefit is as clear as day between the members and recipients.
Others include Hartford Women of Today and Hartford Senior Citizens, which work diligently with local governments and institutions to provide a positive environment for their members.
Lastly, many nonprofits support local business by advocating for and educating their members. 
The South Dakota Retailers Association serves the retail, hospitality, and grocery industries in South Dakota by collectively investing in education, governmental affairs, and information services.
Downtown Hartford, Inc.’s efforts are directed towards developing an attractive, welcoming, and thriving downtown scene.

As should be evident, there is a plethora of community and civic organizations working to enrich the lives of everyone in the Hartford community.
These organizations are led by your neighbors, for your neighbors.
They are a clear picture that change can be effected at any level.
Whether working with or without a profit, one thing is certain about the people of Hartford:
Positive change will be made, and we will not wait around for it.

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