Shakopee rotary

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This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author's own.

Editor's Note: Shakopee Rotary member Ron Smith, who has devoted much of his time to improving the lives of people in a Colombian community, has been chosen by the Huffington Post as today's "Greatest Person." This is our story, which originally posted on Oct. 11. Our "Greatest Person" series focuses on people who make exceptional impacts on our city. Email your "Greatest Person" suggestions to [email protected] 

Located along the Andes mountains in Colombia lies a city called Cúcuta. A population of almost one million people, Cúcuta is the fifth largest city in Colombia. It is also the location of an extensive Shakopee Rotary Club project spanning many years and thousands of dollars.

At the head of the humanitarian projects in Cúcuta is Ron Smith, a 70-year-old Shakopee man dedicated to bringing hope, health and compassion to the most vulnerable communities in Colombia.

From installing a clean water system to setting up organic farms and coordinating a temporary hospital after a devastating landslide, Smith has spent his last 22 years at the Shakopee Rotary building up the international projects in Cúcuta.

Forty miles outside of Cúcuta is a small school for children who have been orphaned, their parents killed or disappeared. There, Smith has arguably made his grandest impact—installing a clean water system for the students and staff, as well as starting an organic farm where older students are trained to work the fields before they leave school.

"This way, when (the students) got out there, there is plenty of land, and they could just farm it and at least grow crops so that they can support themselves," Smith said. "These students are depending on the school for 100 percent of their support."

After a mudslide that tore down the local hospital, Smith helped coordinate a relief effort for the medical services that included bringing hospital supplies and setting up temporary operating and patient care tents.

"The hospital was completely wiped out and it was damaged extensively. They were able to get the people out of the hospital, but because of all the rain, it caused the ground to be somewhat loose. There were mudslides and they caused havoc," Smith said. "Essentially, we replaced their medical equipment that was lost in the hospital. We supplied all the medicine on a temporary basis for the hospital as well as the tents they could use, computers and mobile generators to run the diagnostic equipment."

Smith added, "So it was kind of nice that the people in the community were able to continue to live there and get medical care from (the doctors) that were previously giving them care."

Because of the way the Rotary is structured, Shakopee Rotary funds can be matched several times before they reach a project, which equates into thousands of dollars raised, said Chuck Berg, Rotary District Governor for Shakopee. Aside from raising funds, Smith has been instrumental in helping to define the scope of these large international projects, he said.

"(Smith) took the bull by the horns," Berg said. "He has traveled down there several times. When he comes back and talks about the work that he's done down there, it brings you near tears sometimes."  

But, it seems, Smith's proudest humanitarian project isn't the water he brought to the school, the "quite huge" greenhouse he helped build or the cattle he purchased for the community. It's the music he brought to Cúcuta: instruments and sheet music to the orphanage outside of town.

"I think children that learn how to play musical instruments and learn music—it helps develop their minds," Smith said. 

Smith's work illustrates that the Shakopee Rotary isn't an organization where "we send them a bunch of money and hope they do something good with it," said Berg. "It's more of a partnership with the (Colombian) Rotaries."

So what does Smith receive for helping the people of Cúcuta?

"When you just look at their faces and smiles, and look into their eyes, it's like they're having Christmas and Easter and their birthday all in the same day," Smith said.

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Barbara Brekke


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Barbara Brekke

Barbara J. Weckman Brekke



Shakopee, Minnesota
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Phone: (952) 402-9410
Fax: (952) 402-9417
Email: [email protected]


Areas of Practice

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Rebecca Ribich and Johanna Clyborne joined Barb in founding Brekke, Clyborne & Ribich, L.L.C. in Shakopee in 2005. The three attorneys and friends share a goal of providing quality, affordable legal service to individuals and families while being a vibrant, contributing business to the local community.

Barb’s practice focuses on estate planning, probate, small business planning, and consulting. Her goal is to assist individuals and families to proactively plan and coordinate their legal needs in relation to estate planning, property ownership and small business formation.

Barb was elected to the Scott County Board in November of 2016 and re-elected in November of 2020. As a County Commissioner, Barb represents District 1 of Scott County. Barb’s current Board appointments include the following Boards and Committees: Association of Minnesota Counties District X Delegate and Health and Human Services Policy Committee, Cedar Lake Water and Sanitary Sewer District Board, Scott County Community Health Board, County/Court Communication and Policy Committee, Scott County Joint Ditch Boards, Scott County Law Library Board of Trustees, Scott County Mental Health Local Advisory Board, Metro Alliance for Healthy Families, Metro GIS Policy Board, Metropolitan Emergency Services Board, Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency 50x 30 Education Preparedness Subcommittee, Scott County Historical Society, Scott County Justice Steering Committee, Scott County Labor Management Committees.

Barb received her Juris Doctor Degree from the University of St. Thomas Law School in 2005. During law school, Barb clerked at the law firm of Kennedy & Graven. Barb also served as a student attorney in the Legal Clinic at the University of St. Thomas where her practice area was elder law. Barb received Dean’s Awards in Negotiation Skills, Land Use Planning and Business Planning.

Barbara grew up in Shakopee, graduating from Shakopee Senior High School in 1989. Following high school, Barb attended the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where she majored in Agricultural Industries and Marketing. After obtaining a B.S. degree with distinction from the University of Minnesota in 1992, Barb worked with the University of Minnesota Extension Service as a Youth Development Extension Educator. She also pursued her Master’s degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics which she completed in 1997.

While raising her four children, Barb worked part-time for Minnesota Agricultural in the Classroom and other non-profit entities. Prior to law school, Barb taught Economics and worked with curriculum assessment efforts at Dunwoody Institute for four years.

Bar Admissions



  • University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2005, J.D., Cum Laude
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, 1997, M.S., Agricultural and Applied Economics
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, 1992, B.S., Agricultural Industries and Marketing, with distinction


Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Minnesota State Bar Association, 2005 – Present
  • Minnesota Women Lawyers, 2005-Present

Volunteer Activities

  • Shakopee Rotary, Member, 2005-Present; Chair of Community Service Division, 2007-2014; Chair of Programs, 2014-2017.
  • Families & Individuals Sharing Hope (FISH), Board Member, 2017-present.
  • St. Francis Regional Medical Center Board of Directors, 2012-2016, Board Chair 2014-2016.
  • Scott County Extension Committee, Member, 2008-2016; Chairperson 2011-2015.
  • Holy Family Catholic High School, Board of Directors, 2009- 2015.
  • KleinBank Shakopee Market Advisory Board, 2010-2015.
  • St. Mark’s Church/Shakopee Area Catholic Community Finance Council, 2011-2013.
  • Scott County Human Resources Advisory Council, 2012-2015.
  • Scott County 4-H, Volunteer 1992- Present; Adult Treasurer, 2009-2016.
  • SAINTS Foundation Legacy Committee, Member, 2009-2011
  • Shakopee Dollars for Scholars, Board Member, 1994-2010.
  • Shakopee Community Education Advisory Board, Member, 1997-2003.
  • Citizens Scholarship Foundation of America, National Advisory Board Member, 1993-1999.
  • Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom, Board Member, 1993-1997.
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Shakopee Rotary Club

Shakopee Rotary Club

Shakopee (MN), 55379, United States

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Non-Profit OrganizationCharity Organization

Work hours
MO 07:00 – 16:00 SAclosed
TU 07:00 – 16:00 SUclosed
WE 07:00 – 16:00
TH 07:00 – 16:00
FR 07:00 – 15:00
About Shakopee Rotary Club
Shakopee Rotary Club cover
Description The Shakopee Rotary Club was founded in March of 1955 and will be celebrating its 56th year of service to this community in 2011. Our club is open to men and women who either do business or reside in the Shakopee area. We enjoy a rich heritage of neighborhood, community, and world service.

Composed of more than 60 members, the Shakopee Rotary looks for business and professional people who are leaders and want to make a contribuition to their community. We are look for people who, as we say, put "Service above self".

You will find the membership of Shakopee Rotary diverse in age, gender, race, creed and lifestyle. Our membership spans generations; we have members in the early 30's and members in their 80's

As a member of Shakopee Rotary, you'll be part of an organization that gives back to the community in thousands of ways that make a difference. A couple of these include: Rotary Youth and Rotary Community Service fund

Every Member of Rotary Seeks to follow what is called the "Four Way" Test
Is it the Truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Founded March 1955

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Rotary shakopee

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Do You Drive A Rotary?

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