Happy 50th Anniversary, Sons of Norway Foundation!

50th logo

Leslee Lane Hoyum
Rockford, Minn.

Sons of Norway has a long history of offering a helping hand. In fact, that is what spurred its formation when in 1895 18 Twin Cities Norwegian immigrants banded together to protect one another from financial hardship. Over time, Sons of Norway has become a well-respected life insurance company with an enthusiastic fraternal side whose mission includes the preservation of Norwegian heritage and culture.

In 1966, Sons of Norway seized an interesting opportunity to help a youth folk dancing group realize its dream—to perform in Norway. An intensely engaged Sons of Norway member wanted to help and did. From that single action sprang the Sons of Norway Foundation, one of the first fraternal foundations to focus on its organization’s future.

For 50 years the Sons of Norway has grown, but its mission not only supports heritage and cultural activities, it also believes in the power of education as evidenced by the numerous scholarships awarded each year. Plus, it established a Humanitarian Fund, which, in a way, reflects the mission of Sons of Norway’s original 18 members—assistance in times of need.

Photo courtesy of Afton Weaver Afton Weaver, Pennsylvania, received an educational scholarship to attend Høgtun Folkehøgskole at Torvikbukt, Norway. As part of a class assignment she was given a tarp, some rope, and a map and told to hike up into the mountains and pick a spot to set up camp.

Photo courtesy of Afton Weaver
Afton Weaver, Pennsylvania, received an educational scholarship to attend Høgtun Folkehøgskole at Torvikbukt, Norway. As part of a class assignment she was given a tarp, some rope, and a map and told to hike up into the mountains and pick a spot to set up camp.

Sons of Norway and the foundation have played a vital role in establishing cutting-edge organizations such as Ski for Light (cross-country skiing with blind and mobility impaired skiers), Vinland National Center (drug and alcohol addiction treatment for persons with brain injuries and cognitive impairments), and the USA Cup (international youth soccer). Without the many donations from the foundation and individual lodges and volunteer support hours from Sons of Norway members and friends, those organizations would have experienced difficult growing pains. Although Sons of Norway no longer has direct governance over them, the foundation is proud to know it helped “raise children” to stand on their own. Ski for Light especially has created an exceptional and enduring bond with Sons of Norway and the greater Norwegian community.

The foundation has awarded nearly $1.4 million in scholarships, $390,000 in grants, and more than $500,000 in humanitarian aid. But the benefits of the foundation extend beyond the financial. They provide heart-warming experiences that span three and four generations. We all must remember that what we do today is the heritage of tomorrow. Happy anniversary, Sons of Norway Foundation!

For more information, go to sonsofnorway.com/foundation or call (612) 727-3611 or (800) 945-8851.

This article originally appeared in the May 20, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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