How Life Experiences Shape… | South Dakota Community Foundation

How Life Experiences Shape Philanthropy with DeMaris Nesheim

DeMaris Nesheim counts her blessings, and at the top of her list are the examples her parents set for her while growing up on a ranch near the community of Philip, South Dakota. Taught the value of working hard for something you want in life, DeMaris worked at the local telephone company as well as taught at a rural county school to afford her college tuition.

After overcoming challenges, including the unexpected passing of her first husband, Chuck Mathison, at just 45 years old, DeMaris raised her two children, Jodie and Jason and had a successful career as a franchise business owner. DeMaris has spent her retirement years living in Hill City, after reconnecting with her now husband, Erv Nesheim. DeMaris and Erv are deeply involved in volunteer work, serving on countless boards including Salvation Army of the Black Hills.

DeMaris sat down with Beth Massa, South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) Director for Foundation Relations, to discuss how her life experiences have shaped how she serves others. They also discuss DeMaris’s passionate partnership with SDCF to jumpstart Community Savings Accounts that have led to the creation of the Hill City Community Foundation and the Philip Area Community Foundation.

An experience that altered DeMaris’ life forever was the passing of her daughter, Jodie, to cancer at just 36 years of age. At the time of her passing, Jodie was the principal of a residential school in California for children who had experienced various forms of abuse.

“I was devastated, and I needed to find meaning in my life again,” said DeMaris, “so I made it my life’s mission to help children who have been abused and not given a fair shake in life.”

She has served on boards that work to find solutions for children in need, such as the Children's Home Society of South Dakota, Abbott House South Dakota, Lutheran Social Services, Salvation Army of the Black Hills and Lutheran Outdoors of South Dakota..

DeMaris Nesheim and Beth Massa, SDCF Director of Foundation Relations

DeMaris has never lost the value of working hard for something you believe in. When she and her husband Erv decide to support a nonprofit organization, they not only do so financially, but they are hands-on in their philanthropy. One such hands-on moment was when touring Canyon Hills Residential Treatment Center, she and Erv took it upon themselves to see that the kitchen could better meet the needs of the chef and residents.

DeMaris has a heart for serving not only her current community of Hill City, but also her hometown community of Philip. She partnered with SDCF to establish Community Savings Accounts for each community, utilizing SDCF’s Community Savings Account Challenge Program. When she began the quest to encourage the citizens of Philip to help match her $100,000 contribution, dollar-for-dollar, as well as SDCF’s challenge, it was an emotional plea that struck a chord. In just a matter of days, her challenge was met.

Starting a foundation in Philip was certainly a joyful experience. And to know that some really good things were about to happen in Philip as a result of this foundation was so gratifying.

DeMaris Nesheim
DeMaris and the Philip Area Community Foundation

DeMaris noted how each foundation has continued to grow since its initial establishment.

“The South Dakota Community Foundation has done an outstanding job helping to establish these foundations.” added DeMaris, “I can’t thank you enough for your help in making a difference.”

DeMaris’s story is an inspiring testament to the difference a single person can make to create a brighter future for countless people across South Dakota.

Learn how you can make a difference in your community by partnering with SDCF.