(Richfield, MN) — February 9, 2023 — Teri and Bill Popp and the James A. Levine Trust have been selected as the 2023 Louise Whitbeck Fraser Award winners.
The award is given annually by Fraser to an organization and an individual that have demonstrated a commitment to the Fraser mission: to make a meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of children, teens, adults and families with diverse intellectual, emotional and physical needs. It honors Fraser founder Louise Whitbeck Fraser, who opened a school for children with disabilities in her Minneapolis home in 1935. Today, the nonprofit serves about 13,000 individuals annually.
As the need for services grows, the support of donors like Teri and Bill Popp of Popp Communications and James Levine of the James A. Levine Trust has become even more crucial to Fraser’s ability to provide more services to more families throughout Minnesota. According to the CDC, 1 in 36 8-year-old children in MN have autism spectrum disorder, and 1 in 5 adults in Minnesota has a disability.
Since 2005, the Popps have donated about $200,000 to Fraser. A few months after their first donation to Fraser, their grandson was diagnosed with autism and referred to Fraser. Their daughter was living in New Hope, but she would drive her son to therapy at Fraser Minneapolis every week. When planning began for a new Fraser clinic in Woodbury, the need for more clinics resonated with the Popps, and they donated to support construction of the facility. Fraser Woodbury opened in 2018, providing pediatric, mental health and autism therapy to children through adults.
In 2020, the Popps gifted telephone equipment and office space for the Fraser Telehealth Hub in Golden Valley, which supports the Fraser Hope Line. The Fraser Hope Line is a free phone line that connects callers directly with a care advocate.
“Bill and I are deeply honored and humbled to receive this recognition and the award,” says Teri. “We continue supporting Fraser because of how the organization views the children, individuals and families they serve. They understand being on the spectrum isn’t something you cure. Rather, it means you function differently and have a different way of looking at things. They really help families put all the pieces into place and provide the best care.”
In 2002, Annette Levine began supporting Fraser, making a generous donation toward the construction of the Fraser Minneapolis clinic. Until her passing in 2009, Annette was known for being a community activist and philanthropist. She attended the Fraser Gala every year with her son, James, who is on the autism spectrum.
James is a talented artist, who uses colored pencils and markers to create artwork. James also loves music and enjoys ballroom and square dancing. He continues to attend the gala, where he enjoys the music and food. He also donates his artwork to be auctioned at the gala.
In 2013, James continued his mother’s legacy of support for Fraser. Because of his love of music, James became the Fraser Gala entertainment sponsor. To date, he has donated more than $430,000 to the nonprofit.
Before Annette passed, she asked her friends Harvey and Leigh Cohen and their daughter Robyn to become her son’s guardians.
“Personal connections and support is what is important to him, and we value that highly also,” says Leigh. “It means so much to James to support an organization that does so much for so many people. We are so honored to accept this award with him.”