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Bullyan RV Founder Donates $1 Million to Local Minnesota Nonprofit

Joe and Nancy Bullyan.

The following is a report the Duluth News Tribune.

St. Ann’s Residence in Duluth, Minnesota, recently received a $1 million donation from Bullyan RV founder Joe Bullyan – in addition to $500,000 he gave the assisted-living facility during the pandemic.

The nonprofit organization has struggled to return to pre-pandemic occupancy levels and keep up with the rising costs of inflation, according to Scott Johnson, St. Ann’s executive director of eight years.

The organization began serving seniors in the community in 1890 from a western Duluth training hospital. In 1963, St. Ann’s moved to its current location, 330 E. Third St., near downtown.

The facility has the capacity to serve up to 167 residents. From 2014-2019, occupancy was typically 84%-90%, or 140-150 residents, Johnson said. However, it has hovered at 90-100 residents since the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the facility needed immediate help with its overdue credit lines with vendors, Johnson said. That’s where the Bullyan family provided a “lifeline” with their recent donations to keep the organization afloat.

In a March 19 letter to the Bullyans, St. Ann’s expressed its appreciation on behalf of its board and residents.

“You and your family have been remarkable partners, and your generosity allows us to keep our organization at the forefront of long-term care in Duluth and the surrounding area,” the letter said. “We deeply appreciate all that the entire Bullyan family has done to support numerous efforts throughout Duluth – having a lasting impact on so many.”

St. Ann’s is run by a team of volunteer board members. Each is elected to a three-year term with the ability to serve two consecutive terms.

Joe Bullyan’s father, Marco Bullyan, previously resided at St. Ann’s.

“St. Ann’s is a much-needed facility,” Joe Bullyan said. “They got a beautiful operation there and Scott is doing a good job, but they don’t get enough money from the state and county to maintain them.”

Board Emeritus Harry Podgorski had initially inquired with Joe Bullyan to request the large financial gifts. They served together as Skyline Rotary members and shared a background in local real estate and development.

“Joe had actually some very specific criteria with his donation,” Johnson said. “He wanted to help make sure that we could stabilize and move forward.”

Although Joe Bullyan and his wife, Nancy Bullyan, have long retired, their business is very much family oriented, Johnson said. The RV and motorhome businesses they started around 1954 are now operated by their son (also named Joe), and two grandsons, (another) Joe and Joshua.

Read the full story by Brielle Bredsten at the Duluth News Tribune here.

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