The student body of Dakota Wesleyan University has exemplified what it means to give back to the community.

Students' efforts to support the community through volunteering and engaging in a myriad of community service projects were honored Friday night during the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce, Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Mitchell Main Street and Beyond’s annual recognition event, a luau at the Corn Palace.

For those efforts, it’s only fitting the DWU student body took home the Community Service Award, the highest honor of the event.

“For 135 years, DWU students have positively impacted the life of Mitchell through their community service, diversity and tolerance and their commitment to faith,” said Austen Iverson, the emcee of Friday night’s luau. “Tonight, we are shining a light upon their service.”

From standing in a foot of standing water in the midst of the September flooding, helping lay sandbags to help homes, to taking part in community-wide volunteer projects, DWU students continue supporting the community.

Mikayla Street, DWU biochemistry student, spoke on behalf of the entire DWU student body, reflecting back on her positive experience she’s had at the local college.

“Each group I’ve been involved with at DWU has brought me a different experience, but by far the most impactful groups are the ones when we are assisting people in need,” said Street, alongside several classmates. “There is truly no greater reward than providing community service. In the weeks following the flooding, I had people stopping me around town thanking me for the help because I was wearing a DWU shirt.”

Prairie Family Business of the Year

After enjoying 38 years of business and giving to the community, Patzer Woodworking was recognized Friday night, earning itself the Prairie Family Business of the Year Award.

Despite enduring a devastating September flood that inflicted severe damage to its shop and showroom, Patzer Woodworking has made a resilient recovery through it all, continuing to create custom cabinetry to the Mitchell area and beyond.

“When I was 25, I decided I wanted to build cabinets in a garage for the rest of my life. And then 38 years later, you’re building cabinets in a building 50 times the size of your garage. It’s been humbling,” said Tom Patzer, owner and founder of Patzer Woodworking. “We had a rough flood, but the community and the people who offered to help have been amazing. It’s a great town to do business in, and we really appreciate this.”

From regularly contributing to local organizations like the Abbott House and Big Friend Little Friend to being involved with LifeQuest and Habitat for Humanity, Patzer Woodworking has given back to the community in many facets.

Patzer Woodworking’s custom cabinetry products can be seen on display at well-known South Dakota locations such as the Hemsley Center in Pierre and the new hotel on Phillips Avenue in Sioux Falls.

Tourism Excellence Award

Helping bring thousands of baseball fans and players to compete in Mitchell, the Mitchell Baseball Association was recognized with the Tourism Excellence Award, which was presented by the Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Throughout the 2019 season alone, Mitchell hosted seven tournaments, equating to 25 days of baseball action in the city of Mitchell. It brought 183 teams from across the state and beyond to visit Mitchell.

Luke Norden, Mitchell Baseball Post 18 head coach, and Dean Sadler, president of Mitchell Baseball Association, accepted the award, thanking the community for supporting the baseball culture.

“We’re truly blessed to have the baseball complex that everyone wants to come back and play in,” Norden said of Cadwell Park. “This award recognizes our group’s hard work, and the process of all the dirty work that comes with it.”

Main Street Champion Award

For her significant contributions to downtown events spearheaded by Mitchell Main Street and Beyond, Melissa Schwalm was named the Main Street Champion.

Under her leadership, the popular event known as Wingapalooza has experienced steady growth. The 2019 Wingapalooza marked the highest attendance the wing contest saw with 650 people, which was led by Schwalm and Mitchell Main Street and Beyond Executive Director Jared Indahl.

“Thank you very much, and I’m really touched by this award,” Schwalm said.