Bjorklund Honored as Finalist for 2018 Community Impact Awards
Tory Bjorklund, the Chief Technical Officer of Levridge, a subsidiary of Stoneridge Software, was honored as a top three finalist for Minnesota Business Magazine's 2018 Community Impact Awards on February 22, 2018.
The Community Impact Awards recognizes businesses, social enterprise organizations, nonprofits, initiatives and individuals making a significant impact on communities in Minnesota. Bjorklund was nominated by Cody Marshall, the Vice President of Services at Stoneridge, for his tremendous efforts as President of the Regeneration Center, a nonprofit organization that was established to minister healing for those trapped by destructive behavior.
"Tory Bjorklund is a critical member of the client delivery leadership team at Stoneridge Software," Marshall said. "He heads up our Center of Excellence and is our lead architect for Stoneridge products and client projects. He is lovingly referred to as “The Mad Scientist” by teammates, and is known for his innovation and thought leadership. He was instrumental in setting up the corporate charitable giving programs at Stoneridge Software and is a strong advocate of volunteer leadership. Tory takes Mondays off from his full-time job at Stoneridge Software to focus on his nonprofit duties for the Regeneration Center.”
"It is an honor to be nominated, much less to be a finalist," Bjorklund said. "Although I do not seek notoriety for my service, I see this as an opportunity to inspire others to join me in trying to make a difference in the world around us. It is also an opportunity to honor God, by whose grace I have the opportunity to do what I do."
Bjorklund's journey to helping others was inspired by a time when he needed help himself. At age 14, living on his own with no guidance, Bjorklund had fallen victim to drugs and alcohol and was facing several criminal charges, including two felonies. At this pivotal moment, the right people entered his life and steered him toward the right path.
Bjorklund met a pastor who took him under his wing, taught him and ministered to him and he became a Christian. This experience made Bjorklund realize that there were more places needed to help people in transition, such as people coming out of jail or treatment for drugs and alcohol. He began working with jail and prison ministries on his own and with Prison Fellowship. His involvement in this area eventually led to the Regeneration Center.
Bjorklund was a creator of the service organization, along with partner Betty Coleman. He wears many hats as the center's president, a board member, and acting director, setting the direction for the organization, and executing on it. Through various programs, his leadership oversees 300+ volunteers and just two paid staff. He doesn't take a salary for any of his work at the Regeneration Center and the programs would not be as numerous or successful without the countless hours he has put in over many years.
The Regeneration Center
The Regeneration Center was established in 1998 in Alexandria, Minnesota. It is a non-denominational Christian organization that operates in cooperation with many Christian churches to provide ministry resources to the local church community. Since it is based locally, the Regeneration Center staff can understand the unique issues that the individuals in the community face, and can also readily access the leadership of local churches. With Bjorklund's guidance, the Regeneration Center’s programs have grown to include local and global efforts.
Community Kids Program
The Community Kids program began in October 2008 with the goal of providing kids in the immediate neighborhood with a safe place to have fun. At the Community Center, kids are encouraged to have fun and taught to interact with others in a kind and respectful manner. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the program provides friendship, snacks, and a craft or games. There is no cost for participating families.
Bjorklund explains that the Community Kids program was developed as a support network to provide positive relationships, help children realize their own value and possibly show them a different way of thinking. It has been around long enough that kids who participated in the program are in college today. Kids have credited it with providing them with a safe place, help with homework and support when they needed it most.
Opportunity Enterprises is a vocational program that aims to help ex-offenders and others just out of prison or jail find work and lead a productive life. Bjorklund had a vision for this program for a long time and tried many different ways to make it happen. In 2014, Bjorklund and the Regeneration Center, along with some area business owners rented a building on the Alexandria airport grounds and opened its doors. The program now has six paid employees and a board of directors. Opportunity Enterprises teaches life skills and vocational training in a job environment.
The Regeneration Center volunteers offer weekly Bible studies and anger management/resolution classes to men and women in the Douglas County Jail. The center has worked with another organization, Prison Fellowship, to train over 20 volunteers for in-prison ministry and mentoring.
Friendship Dinners is a program designed to support sobriety and help people stay safe and sober by providing a place and an activity for people to take part in on Friday nights.
Global programs of the Regeneration Center have grown to include ministries in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Haiti. Bjorklund does the strategic planning and budgeting for the global ministries and brings them to the board. He is also responsible for the execution of the plans.
Bread to the Nations
Bread to the Nations started out with a children's home in Haiti and expanded into a program called Building Strong Families. Bread to the Nation’s objective is to transform Haiti by working with the younger generation, providing funding for education, find viable means of supporting families, helping with business plans, building homes and sponsoring children in a children's home. A new initiative of the program includes providing water filters to families and access to potable water.
Place of Hope Africa
Based on the basic needs of children caused by AIDS, neglect, poverty, alcohol, and abuse, the Place of Hope Africa provides emergency housing and care for children in South Africa. The organization aims to build a school, clinic, and medical lab.
Thank you, Tory, for your outstanding accomplishments in giving back to the community!