Seed money

Anonymous donation provides seed for PHS building project


Erv and Linda Golembiewski jump-started efforts to raise money for the Food Science and Agriculture Center to be built at Plymouth High School. — Submitted photo Erv and Linda Golembiewski jump-started efforts to raise money for the Food Science and Agriculture Center to be built at Plymouth High School. — Submitted photo Erv and Linda Golembiewski were thinking about setting up a scholarship fund, when a pair of Plymouth Education Foundation Board of Directors meetings changed their mind.

At the first meeting, Plymouth Superintendent Carrie Dassow mentioned what was then called the Greenhouse Project, and has since grown into the Food Science and Agriculture Center to be built at Plymouth High School in 2015.

At the second, Plymouth School Board President Mark Rhyan shared his vision that the foundation expand its impact beyond scholarships by leading the capital campaign for the project.

The potential caught the imagination of Mr. Golembiewski, who had served on the foundation board since 2005. He and his wife decided that jumpstarting the project was the best way for them to give back to the community.

“Community support is essential to keep moving forward, and giving back to the community is what we believe makes schools and communities vibrant,” he said.

They anonymously made a significant donation to be used for the project, but since have agreed to share their story publicly to inspire others to give to the students who are the future of our community. The foundation to date has raised more than $700,000 of the $1 million needed to build the stateof the-art facility, and will launch a public campaign May 1 to raise the rest.

“The foundation is so grateful for the generous support of Erv and Linda to move this project forward,” said Anne Troka, executive director of the foundation. “Erv along with the other 15 foundation board of directors, who are all community volunteers, inspire me by their dedication and commitment to make our schools and our community a model of excellence.”

Chose Plymouth 18 years ago

Mrs. Golembiewski, the oldest of five children, grew up on a farm in rural Dodge County. She pursued nurse’s training at Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee, then served as a medical nurse in the bush in Africa and as a frontier nurse in Appalachia. Realizing she needed more training, she then completed her bachelor’s in nursing at Alverno College and her master’s at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was an adjunct professor at Concordia University in the BSN Completion Program.

Mr. Golembiewski grew up in Milwaukee, the second youngest of nine children. Though his father did not believe college was necessary, he went into an accounting program at a UW-Extension in Milwaukee for two years and then transferred to UW-Madison, where he graduated as an accounting major and CPA. He worked for the City of Milwaukee for 32 years, 24 years of them as director of administration and con- trol in City Development, then as assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner. He also served eight years as Milwaukee deputy treasurer.

Eighteen years ago, after Mr. Golembiewski retired at age 65, they wanted to move to a community that was rural and had strong values. They chose Plymouth, and worked with a local contractor to build a home here.

Mr. Golembiewski began volunteering with St. Vincent DePaul, while Mrs. Golembiewski commuted to Milwaukee to serve as a volunteer parish nurse. He has volunteered in many ways with St. Vincent DePaul, from making home visits to serving the last eight years as the organization’s president and also serves on its board of directors. During his oversight, the St. Vincent DePaul Community Store has grown six times in size to meet the needs of the community.

“We believe strongly in giving back,” he said. “We have an obligation to give back with whatever talents we have.”

Just a beginning for foundation

Mr. Golembiewski believes the Food Science and Agriculture Center capital project is the first of many the foundation can lead to enhance the educational experience for students in the Plymouth School District, making the schools and our community a model of innovation, excellence and leadership.

“This is just the start of building our schools and community,” he said.

Since Mr. Golembiewski joined the foundation board in 2005, the group has changed significantly. The seven- person board used to meet five times per year, largely to make decisions about scholarships. Now the board has 16 members, meets 10 times per year, has a part-time executive director, follows a strategic marketing communications plan and is leading it first capital campaign.

While scholarships for graduating seniors will remain an important part of the foundation’s mission, Mr. Golembiewski supports the foundation board’s strategic plan to expand its role beyond scholarships to projects that benefit students throughout their school years.

In fact, it was the broad impact of the Food Science and Agriculture Center - administrators estimate it will serve nearly three-quarters of the PHS student body - that drew the Golembiewskis to the project.

Well-educated themselves, they support higher education. Yet they also believe a good society needs a variety of professions at all levels - higher education, technical school and entry directly into workforce - and that people with different types of skills are needed within a community.

“It is important that every student who graduates be excited about his or her future,” Mr. Golembiewski said. “Projects like this give students exposure to a broad range of opportunities.”

Food Science and Agriculture Center at a glance

• Groundbreaking set for spring 2015; to open in fall 2015

• 5,100-square-foot building to be built northeast of Plymouth High School

• 30-by-90-foot greenhouse attached to a 30-by-80-foot classroom

• Will feature state-of-the-art growing systems, such as hydroponics and aquaponics

• Will provide real-life, hands-on experience to students in seven academic areas (agriculture, food science, culinary arts, science, engineering, health, business)

• Will produce food that will be developed into new products and healthy recipes for school lunches and after-school snack programs

• Will host community education classes

• Will allow for partnerships with area businesses and community organizations

• Estimated cost $1 million, more than 72 percent of which has been raised by the Plymouth Education Foundation


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