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Meet the Team

Gary Cares is made up of passionate, hardworking individuals dedicated to making a positive difference in the community.

Our team is united in its mission to make a lasting impact in the lives of those around us and the people we serve.

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President

Wendy Bennefed

Wendy grew up in Twin Valley but moved to Gary after marrying Jason "JB" Bennefeld, a local "Garyite". Together they raised their daughter in this great small town and Wendy's goal is to continue to make Gary and the area a wonderful, safe community for everyone to live throughout their journey of life.

 

Wendy holds an associates degree in marketing and management from UMC, a bachelor's in Social Work and a bachelor's in Gerontology both from MSUM. She has 18 years leadership experience in medical and geriatric focus social work. In July 2022, she was proud to join the Anderson Family Funeral Home in Twin Valley and work along side her family (she is the oldest "Anderson girl").

 

Wendy has served the Gary community through her past volunteerism with the American Legion Axillary and Gary Community Club. She currently focuses on Gary Cares and Gary Pines Committees as well as other important community projects. Wendy helps run the Rural Readers Book Club with her daughter Abbie where they read anything they can get their mitts on.

bennefeld94@gmail.com

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Secretary & Social Media Manager

Abbie Bennefeld

Abbie was raised in Gary, where she enjoyed the relaxed, small-town lifestyle of playing around town with friends and partaking in community events. Abbie graduated in 2014 from Norman County East where she was actively engaged with many organizations such as Student Council, Nation Honor Society, and Family, Community, & Career Leaders of America.  She went on to further her education at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Mortuary Science in 2017.  She spent a few years living in St. Paul, MN before moving to Moorhead, MN. After spending some time living “the big city life”, her heart encouraging her to go home, and the decision was made to move back to rural Gary. Abbie was proud to come back to serve her community at Anderson Family Funeral Home in the Fall of 2021, where she gets to work alongside her family - something she appreciates every day. 

Abbie loves living with her two cats, Bean and Punky, and enjoys everything the Northern Minnesota outdoors has to offer - riding bike, kayaking, and gardening. Affectionately known as the "plant lady," Abbie boasts an impressive collection of over 150 houseplants, generously sharing her knowledge with others to help care for their green companions. Abbie joins her mom, Wendy, in running the local Rural Readers Book Club. Having a natural desire to help others, Abbie greatly enjoys giving back and serving her community in all aspects of her life, making her a perfect fit for the Gary Cares team.

abbiebennefeld@hotmail.com
 

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Shock & Awe Youth Representative

Emerson Engen

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Director

Bryan Thronson

Bryan is  a proud father of two and husband of  Amanda Thronson. He an alumni of Norman County East High School. Bryan and his father own Thronson Construction in Gary, a part owner of Gary Grocery (C-Store) and  a city council member. Bryan is the person you go to when you have to find out where to start. He is popular amongst locals and area residents for his big heart, willingness to assist and his "get it done" attitude.

thronsonconstruction@gmail.com

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Board Member

Lauren Sather

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Vice President

Buck Engen

Buck Engen is a proud father of four. He, alongside his wife Kristi, is a native of Gary and an alum of Gary High School. Beyond this, he also serves as the Mayor of Gary and holds the position of Fire Chief at the Gary Volunteer Fire Department. He is also the manager at West Central Ag in Mahnomen.

Buck's demeanor is one of calm and collectedness, especially under pressure. His knack for teamwork is evident as he enjoys collaborating with diverse individuals and groups to achieve common goals. Notably, he is one of the founding members of Gary Cares. 

kelly.engen@westcentralag.com

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Treasurer

Amanda Thronson

Originally from Borup, MN, Amanda Thronson knows all about the small-town life. She also comes from a family of eight kids, so there was never a dull moment growing up! 
 
She received her Early Childhood degree from Northland Community and Technical College in 2012, and after six years decided on a career change. She now works for West Central Ag in Beltrami as their office manager. 
 
Amanda is married to Bryan Thronson and they have 2 children. They reside in Gary.  She keeps busy with the kids (and husband), enjoys reading, and doing spontaneous things with friends.  She has a knack for organizing and keeping things tidy. She is the person to go to when you’re looking for someone to take the reins and follow through with a task.  She is excited to be taking on a role in a great organization like Gary Cares and the community! 

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Board Member

Anne Nalewaja

Anne graduated with a double major from North Dakota State University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Weed Science and Zoology.

Experience: 1994-2003 Worked Ag Retail in Ada & Halstad 2003-2013 Monsanto - 2013-2016 BASF – 2016- Done - May 2026 Bayer CropScience

Volunteering: Helping mentor youth group Shock & Awe Philanthropy group. Treasurer for Gary Cares Non-Profit group that does a county wide fund raiser Lead by example always Giving Back to my Community – Helping New Mexican population get involved in the community

Hobbies: Horseback Riding, golfing, Skiing cross country - downhill - snowmobiling, gardening, kayaking, fishing, hunting, & member of St. Williams Catholic Church. Oh yes, they have a hobby farm Wheat Soybean rotation plus 50 acres of grass hay that is to keep husband busy.

aenalew@gmail.com

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Board Member

Katrina Prestegord

Katrina Prestegord grew up in north east Montana on a cattle ranch with five older brothers. Katrina moved to East grand forks in 2013 where she met Trent Prestegord and shortly after, made her home in Gary. Trent and Katrina have been married for 7 years and have two sons, Logan (6) and lane (3). Trent and Katrina own and operate Trent’s family farm northeast of Gary where they grow mainly corn and beans.

Katrina worked in Long term care from 2014- late 2023, starting as a CNA, then transitioned to the activity field after a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. After working through the COVID pandemic, Katrina resigned as Benedictine Living Community's activity director to pursue a less stressful occupation in banking at the United Valley Bank in Mahnomen.


Katrina’s favorite hobbies are soaking in the sun at the lake, ranger rides with her family, relaxing on her deck, concert dates with her husband and playing games with family and friends.


Katrina joins Gary Cares to deepen her involvement into the community, enrich the lives of her neighbors and aide in developing the growth of Norman county for the sake of the next generation.

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