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First State Bank Southwest makes $12,000 gift to Project Morningstar

WORTHINGTON -- According to its website, Worthington's Project Morningstar program offers "a residential recovery facility dedicated to reclaiming lives and providing support services" to its clients.

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Jerry Johnson (left) and Randy Simonson (right) pose with First State Bank Southwest CEO and Chairman Greg Raymo recently on the occasion of the bank’s $12,000 gift to Project Morningstar. Submitted Photo

WORTHINGTON - According to its website, Worthington’s Project Morningstar program offers “a residential recovery facility dedicated to reclaiming lives and providing support services” to its clients.

That mission struck a chord with the directors of First State Bank Southwest. As a result, Project Morningstar recently became the recipient of a $12,000 gift from the bank. Randy Simonson, who serves as president of Project Morningstar’s board of directors, explained the gift’s overall benefit.
“Back in 2014 - and it depends on who you talk to - it costs $40,100 a year to keep someone in prison, or a representative actually said $100,000,” Simonson said.
Those costs are insignificant compared to the funds typically required to support individuals with various types of addictions.
That’s where Project Morningstar comes in.
Worthington’s program operates a Celebrate Recovery group every Wednesday night that draws anywhere from 50 to 70 adults, and meetings also take place at the Nobles County Jail on Friday evenings.
“About a month ago, I stayed around with a group of guys at the jail on a Friday night,” Simonson said. “These were people there for multiple reasons - mostly addiction. … Usually when these kind of folks get out of prison, they wind up right back with the same group. That was the genesis of Project Morningstar.”
A program like Project Morningstar also serves to reduce the number of traffic fatalities resulting from impaired driving, along with accidents in the workplace, Simonson added.
“It just made a lot of sense to get Morningstar going,” he said. “There was an obvious need. … We help them (residents) get jobs and further their education. There are pretty strict ground rules there, including a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use … and we’ve had a lot of success.”
“Participants of our program have the security of private rooms, enjoy the fellowship of communal meals and find support and encouragement in the presence of others who share similar issues and goals,” adds the projectmorningstar.org website. “Residents are expected to pay monthly rent and follow all house rules, as well as adhere to the prescribed terms and conditions of their individual recovery plans.
“All residents are required to find employment within 30 days of entry into the program, or they may have the option of working at our facility until they can find employment. Residents are also required to participate in the Celebrate Recovery 12-step program, sponsored by Lakeside Church of Worthington.”
Simonson said residents usually remain at Project Morningstar for about a year before exiting the program.
“When I came to talk to Greg (First State Bank Southwest CEO and Chairman Raymo) about Morningstar, I presented it as a return on investment,” he explained. “It results in a savings of tax dollars, a safer community and a better place to work and live.”
“This program is getting people the opportunity to get their lives back,” Raymo said. “We have a group of directors that are very strong community-minded individuals, and they realize that re-investing in the community gives people a better place to live, a better place to work and more opportunities.”

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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