Your support is of great value to us. When you give to the Winona Community Foundation, you are a catalyst in ensuring we can do what we do today, tomorrow, and even better, for future generations.

At its heart, the Foundation exists to serve as a permanent source of charitable dollars for the benefit of all who live, work, and play in this wonderful place we call home. These dollars come from people like you, who have a giving heart and a love for our community. We all want our community to thrive, and we want to be your partner. When you invest in the Winona Community Foundation, you take on our community’s biggest challenges – and seize our biggest opportunities. Together, we can help our community flourish.

In addition to helping the community, we want it to be rewarding for you as well! That’s why the Foundation is making it easy to learn about the financial tools you can use to wisely plan your gift so that it can return benefits to you.

We’re happy to announce that we have launched a new planned giving website to make it simple for you to start your journey with a legacy gift! This website has all the resources, tools, tips, and tricks you’ll need to feel comfortable with your planned giving. For instance, did you know…

  • You can make a gift using appreciated securities and realize larger tax savings than if you had used cash
  • You can make a gift that costs you nothing during your lifetime
  • You can reduce taxes for your children and deliver and extraordinary gift to the community
  • You can convert surplus life insurance coverage into the gift of a lifetime

With planned giving, you can provide long-lasting support for your loved ones and the Winona Community Foundation all while enjoying financial benefits for yourself. These gifts are simple to arrange and allow you to be a good steward of the resources you intend to leave behind. Best of all, you can leave a lasting statement to the world about who you are and what you care about. Get started today by visiting our new planned giving website.

Donors Like You: Winona Legacy Stories

Whether you’re exploring the concept, or ready to take the plunge — getting to hear first-hand experience from Winona legacy givers may give you the inside perspective you’ve been looking for. With thoughtful planning, each of these individuals were able to benefit their loved ones and the causes they cared about all at the same time.

A Suprise Gift From a Person Known for her Giving Heart. Ramona L. Jezewski gives back way beyond her lifetime.

Ramona L. (Ladewig) Jezewski  grew up on her family farm in Stockton where they raised cows for milk and beef. In 1958, her family started a fish farm known as the Stockton Trout Farm. Ramona had a waitressing career at Wally’s Restaurant in Fountain City, Wisconsin, where she met many Winonans including her first husband, Henry Jezewski. After Henry died, she married another Winonan and a Wally’s patron, Bud English. Together Bud and Ramona lived near West Lake Park and in retirement, they enjoyed traveling internationally and domestically, always appreciating the people they met along the way.

Ramona knew that the Foundation meets the needs of the ever-changing community in a lasting way. As Bud shared, “she knew the Foundation isn’t a place where you donate once and then it’s gone.” She gave no instruction with her gift, nor did we expect the gift, so the Board of Directors took the responsibility of stewarding this gift seriously. After learning she had a strong love for animals, the Board decided to create a quasi-endowment and each year give the first $5,000 to the Winona Area Humane Society, while using any additional earnings for the competitive Community Grant program. The Community Grant program flexes to meet immediate program and project needs for local non-profits. The Board felt this would honor the reason why she gave to the Foundation in the first place.

Ramona will forever be known for her hardworking values, her giving heart, and love for family and animals. And now with the Ramona L. Jezewski English Fund, she will not be forgotten and her giving heart will live on.

Donna Helble Continues to be a Community Leader Through Her Gift.

Education and children’s literature were Donna Helble’s passions. In 1973, she moved to Winona to take a position at Goodview elementary where she taught grades one through four in the Program for Learning in Accordance with Needs. In 1988, she began her career at Winona State University as a professor of education. She chaired the popular community-wide “reading in the Mall” event for 25 years that promoted children’s literacy in Winona and the surrounding communities. She was known for her professional and civic contributions, serving on several boards and committees and receiving many awards and accolades.

As part of her will, Donna made a specific gift to the Winona Community Foundation with the direction to establish a special interest fund for promoting literacy of youth in Winona. Donna is no longer with us, but her passion for education and literacy will live on through her generous gift.

Lyndon and Jennie Pierce’s passion was for education. Twenty-two years later, kindergarteners are given the support they need to achieve reading success.

Lyndon and Jennie lived a humble and planful life that benefited our community years after their passing. Lyndon Pierce was a World War II vet, trucker and electrician. His wife, Jennie, taught in a rural Winona County school and then became a bookkeeper. Twenty-two years after they both passed, W-K Elementary School kindergarteners benefited from a generous gift from their estate that was given to the Winona Community Foundation.

Looking to honor the Pierce’s passion for education, the Winona Community Foundation Board of Directors chose to request grant proposals from the education community. As a result, it awarded Washington-Kosciusko Elementary School a three-year grant to pilot a program that would ensure all kindergartners are at reading level by the end of the school year.

Lyndon and Jennie took the small step of adding charity to their estate plan and through the direction of the Winona Community Board of Directors, the funds reached the Winona education community in an organized and effective way. Their legacy will live on in the lives of those kindergartners who received the additional support they needed to achieve reading success.

Pearl Prudoehl died in 2009 at the age of 95. This week, she’ll make sure an out-of-work mother can take her child to the doctor.

Pearl grew up on a dairy farm in Lewiston, MN. During a terrible snowstorm in the 1930s, a train derailed near her family farm and the men working on the train came seeking food and shelter in her home. Pearl, 20 years old at the time, remembers one of the men offering her mother spare change for her hospitality. Her mother declined, saying, “Our family doesn’t charge, we give.”

Pearl lived this motto during her more than 90 years. She extended this same philosophy when upon her death she left virtually her entire estate to charity.

The Laird Norton Families’ Legacy of Generosity

The family behind the Laird Norton Lumber Company has left an indelible legacy in Winona. The company started in 1855 and at its height in 1892 produced 150 million board feet of white pine lumber. Even though the lumber mill closed in 1905, the company headquarters remained in Winona until 1955, when it was moved to Seattle. A subsidiary, United Building Center, remained under family control until 2006, and was headquartered in Winona.

The Laird Norton Family success has been surpassed only by its generosity, especially to the people of Winona. beneficiaries include the Winona Public Library, the Bandshell and the land for the YMCA. They were also instrumental in the expansion of the Winona County Historical Center through a $1.5 million challenge grant. Additionally, the family helped secure the building for the Winona Arts Center, provided support for the Congregational and Methodist churches, Winona State University, and helped to start the Winona Foundation. The list is nearly endless… just like the generosity of the Laird Norton families since 1855.

Elaine Luksa had a passion for volunteer… and today, she continues to give.

Whenever organizations like the Winona County Historical Society and the Catholic Schools Foundation receive a gift, they are thankful they have been remembered. But when Winonan Elaine Luksa left them each a gift after her death in 2009, their thankfulness was followed by surprise at the size of the gift. Elaine led a quiet and simple life that included work, volunteering her time at the Historical Society and following her passion of travel. She visited all 48 contiguous states and many other countries.

Elaine’s bequests will have a long-term positive effect, leaving a legacy that will help the Winona County Historical Society and the Catholic Schools Foundation meet their goals for years to come.

Dick Kolter Continues to Teach Through His Gift.

Dick Kolter was a quiet man who lived modestly. He had a number of interests – amateur radio, trains, and the railroad, in fact he was a skilled engineer who volunteered diving a scenic train in Wisconsin on the weekends. For nearly five decades he was the groundskeeper at Westfield Golf Course in Winona, He took pride in keeping the grounds in prime condition. But the thing he loved most was teaching math to students in the Winona Public Schools.

That legacy will help his beloved students reach their potential for years to come… just as Dick did when he was alive.


Nancy M. Brown
507 – 454 – 6511
Email Nancy

Together, we can make a difference. Now and forever. 

Want to change the future? We can help! A little planning goes a long way. By discussing your charitable intentions with us, we can ensure that your gift is used just as you wish. We’re happy to provide valuable information about any of the creative giving techniques that are mentioned on our planned giving website. Most importantly, we want to hear your goals and dreams for the future as well as discuss opportunities for you to strengthen the future of the Winona community. You can contact us below or use our request for information form to get more information. We look forward to reimaging the future with you!