Norm and Mary Ellen Keller want to assure everybody in Chippewa County can enjoy the parks, music, and arts as they have. "We are interested in doing what we can for people who do not have access to places others take for granted," Norm Keller said.
The Kellers, who live on Lake Wissota, opened a field of interest fund with the Community Foundation of Chippewa County last fall. The fund supports the following: programs that help financially challenged families to attend cultural and recreational events in the county; major improvements to Irvine, Riverfront, and Erickson parks in Chippewa Falls; programs and major improvements at the Heyde Center for the Arts; and programs and improvements at county parks that help medically or physically challenged individuals enjoy the amenities.
"Our big emphasis is on places that are free to the public, and especially in terms of children and adults who can't take advantage financially or physically of some of the places," Mary Ellen said."We like to support what we can," her husband said, which has included sponsoring a small-animal cage at Irvine Park and the Riverfront Park fountain.
They enjoy listening to music at Riverfront. "I have no music ability. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy music. Riverfront Park allows anybody that enjoys live music
an opportunity to do so," Norm said.
Erickson Park, near Glen Loch, features a handicapped-accessible fishing pier, boat launch, and boardwalk. "We love to see people using it," Mary Ellen said.
They have three sons and four grandchildren. Norm headed up the Eau Claire office of Blue Cross Blue Shield before retiring in 2003.
"I think we're just trying to provide a real sense of community," he said. "The Community Foundation provides an easy and efficient way to support our community now and in the future through legacy giving."
Grants support cultural and recreational opportunities to Chippewa County residents with an emphasis to serve those who are financially or physically challenged.