Posted on December 06, 2022
Building communities takes more than construction.
While Journey Group builds everything from hospitals to universities and bridges to parking lots, the spirit of the company is in how it believes in giving back.
“We’re mission-driven, and our mission is positively impacting lives by building community,” CEO Randy Knecht said.
“We’ve been blessed to work in a lot of cities of all sizes, and we want to leave those places a little better than before we got there, which goes beyond whichever building project brought us to the community. That’s been the philosophy of our organization for as long as I’ve been here, and the leaders who came before us set that example and foundation, and we continue to build on it.”
Journey’s philanthropic culture gained statewide notice this year when the company was honored with the Outstanding Philanthropic Corporate Award from the South Dakota Association of Fundraising Professionals. The award recognizes businesses whose giving makes impactful support and involves innovative approaches to solving problems in South Dakota, while encouraging and motivating others to take on leadership roles in philanthropy.
“Our committee unanimously agreed Journey was the best fit for this award,” said Kellyna Warnke, senior director of development for health affairs at the University of South Dakota Foundation, who served on the selection committee.
“We look for a corporation which has a significant record of exceptional generosity in its community or statewide through direct financial support of South Dakota nonprofit organizations. Journey had a wonderfully written nomination that received a near-perfect score from our committee.”
Dzenan Berberovic, Avera Health chief philanthropy officer, nominated Journey for the recognition.
Dzenan Berberovic, left, and Marlyn Bergeson, Journey vice president of operations
“In our work, we know hundreds, if not thousands, of constituents who are supportive of Avera, who are passionate about the people and causes of our organization, but Journey Group really touches us through several lenses,” he said.
“In addition to sponsoring Avera projects and programs for decades, they’ve also been involved intimately with our organization as volunteers. So it wasn’t only their philanthropic support that inspired us to nominate them, but it’s the broader, profound partnership we enjoy.”
For instance, every Avera Race Against Cancer includes volunteers, a team and corporate support from Journey Group.
Major building projects, including the recent expansion of the Helmsley Behavioral Health Center, included significant contributions from Journey.
“They provided one of the very first gifts to our most recent Light the Way campaign, which allowed us to open that facility on time and begin providing more support for the patients and families we serve,” Berberovic said.
“And they’re also great partners to many other nonprofits that have close relationships to Avera and that augment our mission and who we are as a ministry.”
Receiving the statewide recognition “is a great honor,” Knecht said. “To be recognized by someone outside our organization for doing what we say we’re going to do in terms of our mission and values and living those out is gratifying and humbling.”
Giving at Journey takes many forms.
“The biggest one is the Sioux Empire United Way because of the broad impact the agencies it supports make throughout our communities,” Knecht said. “So we promote that organization from a corporate side and through employee campaigns and rallies as a way for our employees to give back to the community. We support Forward Sioux Falls as a large initiative, and we certainly support our clients and their foundations, including Avera.”
Journey’s Ainsworth-Benning division in Spearfish does a park cleanup each summer.
You’ll also regularly find Journey team members serving at The Banquet or supporting Feeding South Dakota.
“And we encourage our team members to serve in various capacities on nonprofit boards and committees,” Knecht said. “It’s important to us to do that. We feel a responsibility to provide that leadership and help other organizations be successful through our efforts.”
Journey’s philanthropy stands out because it aligns “with who they are as an organization,” Berberovic added.
“They do a good job tying it back to their organizational culture, their mission and who they want to be in the communities they serve. For us, we’re grateful for Journey Group’s friendship. The best relationships are those where both become better, and in our case, both our organizations are better because of one another.”
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