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Home on the Range, Catholic Foundation merge to streamline donations

In an effort to streamline accounting and donations, the Home on the Range Foundation has merged with the newly formed Catholic Foundation for the People of the Diocese of Bismarck. The move was announced Wednesday.

"It's simply a merger," said Mike Kiedrowski, executive director of the Catholic Foundation. "Home on the Range will have their own account."

While the funds are part of a larger investment pool, each entity participating in the Catholic Foundation will have its own account under the larger umbrella, Kiedrowski added. Donations going to Home on the Range, a ranch for at-risk youth outside of Sentinel Butte, will be attributed to its account.

By joining with the Catholic Foundation, the ranch hopes to generate more revenue to fund its day-to-day operations, executive director Jay Johnson said.

"It gives us more money for things that we might not have otherwise been able to have," Johnson said. "We're not paid the full cost of care here. Fundraising becomes very important and having this money will certainly help us meet the needs of the kids better."

Staff at the ranch will be able to focus more on the boys and girls it serves and less on fundraising, development director Jolene Obrigewitch said.

"With the merger, there's a financially and fiscally responsible board of directors who are basically monitoring the investments and making sure that they are socially responsible investments," Obrigewitch said.

The Catholic Foundation will be able to provide estate planning for planned donations to the Home on the Range Foundation and other entities under its investment umbrella, Kiedrowski said.

"Planned giving is going to be key in growing the foundation -- the Home on the Range Foundation, the Catholic Foundation for the People of the Diocese of Bismarck, as well as the parish and school endowment fund," Kiedrowski said. "There is strength in unity and we're all in this together."

The Home on the Range Foundation had received a few such donations in the past, Obrigewitch said.

The creation of the Father Fahnlander Endowment will help ensure the future of the 64-year-old ranch, Obrigewitch said.

"That's a big advantage to us because it is a qualified endowment. We can get a higher rate of return in the pool fund," Obrigewitch said. "There's also a huge benefit to our donors who have a love and passion for Home on the Range and are willing to make that kind of investment into the kids lives."

Home on the Range was founded in 1949 by Rev. Elwood Cassedy and moved to Sentinel Butte and built up by Rev. William Fahnlander.

Many of the children who utilize Home on the Range have developed dysfunctional coping skills after experiencing trauma. The mission of the ranch is to provide education, therapy, spiritual guidance, and recreational and work activities to help build functional coping skills.

It also hosts the nationally recognized Champions Ride Saddle Bronc Match as one of its primary fundraisers annually in early August.

"In the past, we haven't really made enough money to see much advantage from it," Johnson said of the Home on the Range Foundation. "That's part of the reason we really like making this merger -- so that we have some people who are much more qualified or competent to invest it wisely and it allows us more time to focus on the mission of taking care of the kids."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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