Reconnecting: Alumni gather, reflect and “pay it forward”

Annie standing by alumni banner

What does a café owner, operating room assistant, mechanical designer and IT web developer have in common?  They’re all Moraine Park graduates!  Moraine Park alumni from all walks of life gathered for an Alumni Connection at Annie’s Fountain City Café in Fond du Lac on November 16 to reconnect with old friends and network with other alumni.

Don Charleston of Washington, Illinois took the honors for having the most distant graduation date (1974) and most distance traveled to attend (250 miles one way). The most recent grad was Candice Mittenzwei who graduated in May 2017.

group sitting at cafe table Annie Culver, owner of Annie’s Fountain City Café, is a ’90 culinary arts and ’96 supervisory management Moraine Park grad. Two years ago, she decided to pursue her dreams and opened the eclectic and homey café serving specialty coffees and beverages, home-style sandwiches and soups, and mouth-watering bakery items.  The café is decorated with collections of retro coffee carafes, casserole dishes, over-sized serving utensils and other kitchen items right out of the 50’s and 60’s.  Annie believes in supporting and giving back to the community.

The café has a pay it forward wall where customers can pay for an item, write it on a sticky note, and post it on the wall so others who may be down on their luck can enjoy a free meal or cup of coffee.  The café also sells unique gifts made by area artists and food items from the local community.  Recently, Annie expanded into catering and is excited about adding a special touch to events and gatherings through her culinary talents.

Moraine Park president Bonnie Baerwald was on hand to update the group on college activities and initiatives.

In addition, Moraine Park Alumni Advisory Committee member, Holly Luehring (’97), announced the establishment of an alumni scholarship for Moraine Park students. Even more exciting, gifts made to the alumni scholarship will be matched up to $4,000 by Don Charleston. Don shared how he went from shoveling 4 tons of steel a day at a plating shop, to becoming the project team leader of electrical wiring at Caterpillar.  He credits Moraine Park for helping him find his passion and said he owes his success in life today to three great MPTI instructors, Larry Lamont, Ralph Drumwright and Keith Drazkowski.

Don has established two scholarships for Moraine Park students.  A portion of his gift is matched by Caterpillar for an even greater impact.  “I am grateful to the Caterpillar Foundation Matching Gifts Program for supplying additional money to the Moraine Park Foundation on my behalf.  There is no greater feeling than to share with students in need.”

The Moraine Park Alumni Advisory Committee plans to hold alumni connections quarterly at other alumni owned or lead companies in Fond du Lac, West Bend and Beaver Dam.

For more alumni opportunities, contact Joan Brezinsky at or visit

Written by Joan Brezinsky
Alumni & Annual Fund Specialist