Chaska Human Rights Award


The Chaska Human Rights Award is given out annually to a person or organization who has made a positive impact on the Chaska community. Nominations from the public are encouraged.

Past Winners

2011: Jonna Herbstritt

In the spring of 2009, Jonna Herbstritt, a 7th grader began her commitment to fight against bullying words and actions directed at persons with special needs. She developed a pledge campaign that asked people to become more aware of derogatory words used to describe special needs individuals.  

2012:  Guardian Angels Church Homebound Ministry

Guardian Angels Homebound Ministry Program has provided volunteers from the church to serve as pastoral care ministers and visit those who cannot make it to church. 

2013: Gordon Stewart

Rev. Gordon Stewart from Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church helped organize the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr - Human Rights Breakfast and "Tuesday Dialogues" a public discussion series that covered topics ranging from ethics to current events.

2014: The Gathering Place - St. John's Church

The Gathering Place, sponsored by St. John’s Lutheran Church provided free homemade meals and companionship to 60-75 persons each week.

2015: The Blessed Bee Thrift Store

Begun in 2006, with a belief that four women, Carol Benetti, Sarah Carlson, Sue Mueller and Garni Warner could make a difference in their community. The Blessed Bee Thrift Store provided a unique shopping experience and help to community members in need. The Blessed Bee Thrift Store inventory recycled community contributions with a unique boutique style and personable service. The volunteer staff generated more than $35,000 per year in financial support to the community and organized an annual winter clothing giveaway of 400-600 coats.

2016: Launch Ministry

Launch Ministry was established to meet the needs of 18-29 youth in our community that were experiencing homelessness and needed help navigating the complexities of adulthood.  Launch Ministry’s programs offer life skills and mentoring to individuals struggling with becoming self-sufficient adults.  In 2014 Launch ministry opened a resource center in downtown Chaska which offers services, and short-term food and clothing provisions for youth. 

2017: Love In the Name of Christ (INC)

Established and nourishes relationships with local churches to meet the unmet needs that come from within our community. Love INC helped local churches build and sustain a network of ministries to respond to gaps in local services and acts as a clearinghouse to those in need to connect with gap ministries, such as providing supplies for laundry, cleaning, personal care, baby care, linens, food and gas cards. 

2018: Libby Fairchild

Libby Fairchild was active on multiple community Boards. Her service on the Boards was never as a mere place holder as she always served  as an active member, frequently assuming leadership roles and developing programs benefiting the citizens of Chaska.  Libby served on the Chaska Human Rights Commission for nine years, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Steering Committee Member, Friends of the Chaska Library, Ho-Chunk Nation Election Board, Library Foundation of Carver County, League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions, American Red Cross Twin Cities Chapter, Carver County Board of Personnel Appeals, and Families Moving Forward SW.  

2019: Barbara Colhapp

Barb Colhapp spent decades of service and dedication to advancing opportunity and human rights in our community through education. Barb was a dedicated teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) for over 20 years. Barb led the project "National Issues Forums for the New Reader." which targeted adult  students in Carver/Scott Counties - inmates of correctional institutions, adult basic education students, American Indian tribe leaders, and ESL students.  

2020: Lee Ann Winters

Lee Ann Winters served the Chaska community and surrounding areas for more than 12 years providing thousands of winter coats, hats, gloves and snow pants to families and individuals in need. Lee Ann's life of giving to others is reflected in her very high standard of collecting winter gear throughout the year, her home the base for sorting, washing and repairing (if needed) the donations that she receives. 

2021: His House Foundation

The His House Foundation is a community based not for profit human service organization which  offers a resource center located in the lower level of the Chaska Moravian Church and provides clothing and household items and food sharing through the Abundance Food Program. Additionally, His House Foundation provides Housing stabilization case management counseling services.  

2021: Girl Scout Troop 15554 

Members Sidney Boechers, Justin Meyers and Vaness Fayching and others brain-stormed ideas to contribute to their community.   Modeling on the practice of “Little Free Libraries” they planned, help construct and introduced the Little Free Pantry to the Chaska community. The pantry’s location at the Chaska Moravian Church in downtown Chaska has been ideal as it allows donating persons ease in restocking the pantry and for those who visit the pantry to help meet their food needs.