Guest Column: Why I love Albert Lea

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Kim Nelson is the director of grants and alumni relations at Riverland Community College. She and her husband, Jeff, live on an acreage north of Albert Lea with their two children, Adam, 19, and Sydney, 17. She serves on the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce board, the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau board, the leadership team for the Blue Zones, the Governor’s Fishing Opener committee and as treasurer for Albert Lea High School Girls’ Soccer Boosters. She was recently elected to the Albert Lea Area Schools board.

In the fall of 1993, an amazing man from Albert Lea asked me to marry him. A year later, on Nov. 26, 1994, we were married at Trinity Lutheran Church. Who knew I would not only fall in love with the man of my dreams, but also fall in love with a community we could call home!

Two years after we got married, we moved from an apartment in Albert Lea to a house we built in Hayward. Even though we lived in Hayward, we still felt connected to Albert Lea through our faith community at Trinity Lutheran Church. Early in our marriage, we started volunteering at church. I taught Sunday school and helped with the acolyte program while Jeff was an usher. Over the years, our faith family has become so vitally important to us. Jeff was baptized and confirmed at Trinity. I became a member in 1993, and as I said before, we were married there. Both of our children (Adam, 19, and Sydney, 17) were baptized and confirmed at Trinity. All four of us have stayed active in the church and its great work. We lift all we are and all we will be to our Lord and savior. Trinity has become the foundation of my love for this amazing community.

Email newsletter signup

As our children grew up and started school, it was apparent to us that I would not be happy working in another community while our children were in the Albert Lea school district. It was important during their early childhood years for both of us to be involved through volunteering and supporting their early care and education. This would be more difficult if I did not work in Albert Lea. I became the director of The Children’s Center in July 2006. In a big hurry, I found myself, along with our family, completely engaged in the community. Around this same time, we purchased my husband’s grandparents’ acreage north of town. What a special time for our family as our son’s bedroom had once been his grandfather’s.  My husband was able to work in the outbuildings that were once his grandfather’s, and I am able to prepare family meals in the kitchen Grandma Helen did. Family tradition and rich heritage is another reason why I love Albert Lea.     

Back to education — working at The Children’s Center afforded me the opportunity to work very closely with the school district, as well as other early childhood partners. I was also given the opportunity to advocate on the state level for the importance of early childhood education. Now that I worked in Albert Lea, I was able to serve on LESO (Lakeview Elementary School Organization) and volunteer in my children’s classrooms. Over the years, I have been a room mom, field trip chaperone, fun night volunteer, reading assistant and test proctor. As my children grew older and started to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, I started to volunteer with those groups as well. I was in the wrestling boosters, football boosters and soccer boosters. My love for Albert Lea grew even stronger as I was given the opportunity to work with District 241 and its schools.

My enjoyment of living in Albert Lea keeps the love alive. We are given so many natural gifts in this community — the gifts of many amazing people, service opportunities, community events and beautiful parks and waterways. Our downtown is being revitalized, and people are not only choosing to visit here, they want live here as well. I love you Albert Lea and look forward to the next chapter of this amazing story as I take my place on the school board.