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Lake City group helps build a participatory community

By Dawn Schuett

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

LAKE CITY — While juggling the demands of their jobs and raising three daughters, Cheryl Geolat and her husband, Keith, didn’t know where to start when it came to making time for civic involvement.

That was before a postcard arrived in their mail a few months ago inviting them to join a new group in Lake City targeting 25- to 45-year-olds.

The non-profit organization, Lake City Better Futures, is providing the Geolats and others like them an outlet to serve the community. The organization’s mission is to promote Lake City, invigorate business, encourage volunteerism and organize youth activities.

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"Right now, it’s just great to be part of a group getting things done and seeing what we can do," said Cheryl Geolat, secretary for the organization.

Lake City residents Mandy Beltz, who works at Lake City Federal Bank, and Jay Christensen, a financial adviser at Whitecap Financial Group and a former Olmsted County Sheriff’s deputy, founded the organization in February.

Christensen said they wanted to establish a group unique to Lake City for those who live, work or play here. The concept behind it is to motivate members to become participants in the community rather than remaining "spectators."

The organization projects a can-do attitude. Membership is not for those of the mindset that "we tried it before and it didn’t work," Christensen said. The group had the attention of Gov. Tim Pawlenty last week. Pawlenty spoke to about 25 members of the organization during a meeting in Lake City, telling them to remain optimistic and lead purpose-driven lives.

Christensen said the group will prepare younger generations for future leadership roles.

Among the plans this year for the group are sponsoring the Car Cruise this past Thursday, mentoring at-risk youths, planning a career day and a free outdoor movie and helping with Johnny Appleseed Days.

Dawn Schuett covers news in Goodhue and Wabasha counties. If you have news tips or story ideas, call her at (507) 281-7487.

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