Joy Nelson, co-owner of Haugan Nelson Realty in Watertown, is the recipient of Association of Lutheran Development Executive's 2013 National "Spirit of Giving" award. Nelson received the award Sunday night at the recognition banquet in Indianapolis, Indiana.
"By donating her property for the construction of Joy Ranch and by continuing to give her time to fundraise, decorate, and teach horsemanship, Joy exhibits selfless giving,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard in written support of Nelson's nomination. “She is truly a steward of what God has given her."
Nelson was nominated by Lutherans Outdoors in South Dakota, an ELCA ministry. The non- profit organization owns and operates Joy Ranch, an upscale camp, conference and retreat center developed on the ranch property Nelson donated. Joy Ranch serves people of all ages and all abilities in a newly created Old West Town. Joy Ranch's facilities are high comfort, uniquely decorated, and fully wheelchair accessible. No detail was forgotten in the Old West decor, thanks to countless volunteer hours, dollars and in-kind gifts contributed by Nelson.
Joy Ranch Co-director Betsy Debertin agrees Nelson is deserving of the ALDE honor. "Joy doesn't just write a check, she lives a life of generosity,” said Debertin. “She is an example that I strive to follow. As Joy Ranch co-director, I've been lucky enough to see, first hand, what Joy's generosity has accomplished in the lives of the people who come here. Because of her generosity, families gather, businesses dream big, churches grow in faith, and people with disabilities experience new challenges and new friendships."
Nelson was humbled by all the praise. She said, “Words cannot describe what an incredible honor this is. I am actually quite stunned by this award. It really is my pleasure to be able to help people in this life with the many wonderful blessings that have been bestowed upon me. These blessings are meant to be shared and actually that is what makes life worth living, it indeed is the road to your own happiness, to be able to share and help others in this life rather it be in the form of a little better quality of life or by being able to experience things you wouldn't ordinarily been able to."