MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Neighbors helping neighbors: that was the idea that inspired Pam Determan to begin VINE Faith in Action over two decades ago.
Determan started VINE Faith in Action 25 years ago as part of her graduate school project.
”It has been phenomenal to see a vision come to life,” said Determan.
Since then, the organization continues to assist people in need with transportation, meals, home chores and much more.
But the powerhouse it is today began with humble beginnings.
“VINE started out in a piano practice room,” said Determan.
Growing out of its next two locations, VINE moved into its current location on East Hickory Street in 2014. The site was an old building that housed college classes.
The building was slated for demolition, but VINE was able to purchase it for just $1, completely renovating it into the VINE Adult Community Center.
“Pre-pandemic, and it will be again, a place for older adults to gather, exercise and continue to enjoy positive aging through education and programs,” explained Determan.
But now, Determan says it’s time to retire and pass the torch to Melinda Wedzina, VINE’s new executive director.
“I’m excited about the staff, board and volunteers of VINE [and] to continue to fulfill the mission that Pam [Determan] put forward,” said Wedzina.
Working in the community is nothing new for Wedzina, who founded the nonprofit Feeding Our Communities Partners, served as Chief Operations Officer for the nonprofit MRCI and serves on various community boards.
For Determan, her work has helped improve the lives of many. Recognizing her contribution to the community, the cities of Mankato and North Mankato have dedicated Dec. 1 as Pam Determan Day.
“I’ve received about 100 cards saying thank you for my work in the community. In fact, yesterday I received an email from a family member who lives in Barcelona [Spain] and the next day from a daughter who lives in Croatia ... and we had been involved with caring for their parents. It says to me that, the little seed that was planted years ago has grown and grown across the ocean and makes a difference to our world,” said Determan.