FALL 2014 By women... for women...about women...
Mom Goes Back to School
Raising bees and our food supply.
No Pets Left Behind
Pets in abusive families.
Plus... • JUST DO IT • THANKSGIVING • OIL MEETS VINEGAR A BRAINERD DISPATCH PUBLICATION
Christine Albrecht, M.D.
Berit Amundson, M.D.
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Fall ‘14 Contents
When Oil Meets Vinegar
Amazing taste treats result when this woman mixes oil and vinegar. by Jodie Tweed Amanda Buck is building a bee business and helping save our food supply. by Sheila DeChantel
34 Dive In and Do It 40
From gardener, to sculptor to cheese maker, a retired teacher gives us a blueprint for productivity. by Karen Ogdahl
No Pets Left Behind
What happens to pets when women and children leave abuse at home? The Mid-Minnesota Women’s Shelter has an open door policy. by Jenny Holmes
42 20 Years of Thanksgiving
The Smith family of Pine River believes no one should eat alone on holidays. They’ve made Thanksgiving a community event. by Carolyn Corbett
On The Cover
Working mom Katie Seipp Deblock returns to school this fall. Photo by Joey Halvorson.
In This Issue
editorial • 4 A Maine Memory
spirituality • 18 Crossing Over
farmer • 30 Amaze-’N’-Pumpkinz
business • 6 Baby’s on Broadway
homegrown profile • 20 Whalen In Country Music
clubs and clusters • 32 I’ll Meet You At The Depot
theatre • 8 Lamp Camp
health and wellness • 26 If I Kiss You Will I Get Diabetes?
her say • 37 Life Is Beautiful
by Meg Douglas
by Jill Dahmen
by Sandy Opheim
by Marlene Chabot
by Sheila Helmberger
emotional health • 14 Time To Tell
by Becky Flansburg
school • 16 When Mom Goes BackTo School
by Mary Aalgaard
by Catherine Rausch
entrepreneur • 28 Love Nourished
by Cynthia Bachman
by Alison Amy Stephens
by Naomi Berndt
the arts • 38 Lisa Jordan Finds Her Peeps
by Kathleen Krueger
by Katie Seipp Deblock Fall 2014 | her voice 3
from the editor
Tim Bogenschutz EDITOR
Meg Douglas PHOTO BY MEG DOUGLAS The Barbara Bush Garden’s simple statuary: rock bench, garden shoes, hat and book.
A Maine Memory
I was chatting with a neighbor across the street when she asked with a grin, “How was your trip to Maine? Catch sight of George and Barbara (Bush)?”
Well, as a matter of fact, I did - in church! Built in 1857, The Church on the Cape is a classic, white-steepled structure in Cape Porpoise, Maine. Church families have fished the Atlantic waters for generations and retirees from as far afield as New York and California have joined the congregation. Unlike much of the southern Maine coast, little has changed in the sleepy little settlement or the church sanctuary and for the past 12 years, my sister Ruth has served as pastor. No surprise, I look forward to my annual Maine visit with family in this seaside setting. Just down the shore in Kennebunkport, summer residents President George and first lady Barbara Bush have attended an Episcopalian chapel with its own historical charm on Sunday mornings, but the church opens late June and this year, the president and his wife looked for an interim Sunday service. Sitting in a pew in early June, I heard voices around me whispering “secret service” and watched as middle-aged men in sport coats, talking into their lapels, walked down the aisle. It appeared we were about to get a visit from the neighbors. Without fanfare, Barbara, easily identified by her whorl of white hair, slipped into the pew. Her husband, assisted by an aide, was lifted from his wheelchair and seated next to her. Always earnest hymn singers, the congregation voices seemed to swell in pride. Ruth was all smiles as she gave what I call her 4
Fall 2014 | her voice
warm Minnesota welcome. Born and raised in Minnesota, she was first assigned the Methodist charges of rural Madison and Bellingham as pastor, but moved east after my mother with Yankee roots migrated back. This morning Ruth announced two birthdays: the Christian Church birthday called Pentecost and the 89th birthday of Barbara Bush. The congregation rose to their feet as one, giving Barbara a standing ovation. Since George’s 90th was to follow later in the week, we all stood again with more applause, almost like a Republican rally. Only it wasn’t, rather a proud and pleased congregation. The next day, a self-identified Democrat explained the surge of non-partisan support this way, “They’re like one of us. We feel protective,” adding that over the years the Bush family has been generous to the community. Just that morning, I’d walked in a pretty little pocket park along the ocean donated by Barbara. The simple statuary: a rock bench, garden shoes, garden hat and a book. Now that I’m home, I’ve thought more than once about that peaceful park and The Church on the Cape. It represents for me a moment in time when the political wrangling that divides the country faded. And if Presidents George W. and Bill Clinton can work together and grow to respect each other, maybe that spirit can spread. Goodness knows, we’d all benefit. n
Joey Halvorson COPY EDITOR
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babysonbroadway.com 47 East Broadway Little Falls
PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON Adelle Chisholm helps moms find safe products for babies at her Little Falls store, Baby’s on Broadway.
By JILL DAHMEN
Fall 2014 | her voice
“Babies…” she grins, “…tiny little miracles.” In less than one minute after meeting Adelle Chisholm, it’s easy to see her passion for moms, babies and baby products. Her new store, Baby’s on Broadway, in downtown Little Falls is a place where she uses that passion to help moms find safe and quality products. She describes herself as a “research nut” who has acquired a wealth of knowledge about a wide range of products, from budget conscious to high end. She loves sharing what she has learned with moms so they can find what products will be the best fit for them. Her store is a place where moms can come and get an honest opinion and information as well as try out the products they are interested in. Her love of research plays a part in the founding of Baby’s on Broadway. Six years ago, before her first child was born, she learned everything she could about baby products, their safety ratings, benefits and risks in order to get the safest products for her coming arrival. She visited stores, read reviews and touched, tried and played with as many products as she could. She became such a wealth of information that her friends and family turned to her for recommendations. Ride-alongs with others to baby stores became her new hobby
and the idea of opening a baby store became a frequent joke, but the seeds of a dream were planted. In the summer of 2013, a closing baby store offered to sell Adelle their inventory and the dream was set in motion. Baby’s on Broadway opened its doors in September and she has quickly become busy sharing her wealth of knowledge with others. Although Adelle can tell you about the hottest selling blankets, trendiest little shoes, or ideas for pampering a new mom, what is especially important to her are mattresses and car seats. “I’m such a car seat nerd,” she laughs, but then becomes serious explaining her concern about car seats. “Ninety-five percent of car seats are installed incorrectly. In an accident, this could cost a child’s life. The consequences are so unforgiving.” She explains further that even in a fender bender, the car seat that protected a child for that incident may now be compromised if another accident were to occur. Car seats also now have expiration dates of about six years. Adelle is in the process of becoming certified in car seat installation, one more step to support and educate new moms. In the crib room, she points out various
“Babies...tiny little miracles.” for people to have choices and so she offers a variety of price points of products that she feels good about selling and are high quality. Her service is exceptional and personalized. There are more features and services Adelle offers to take a load off of moms. Her baby shower room is an easy option for moms-tobe, already decorated with a simple, tasteful elegance. For those shopping for the new mom, a baby registry and gift wrapping are available to make gift giving easy. There is no need to worry how to get that new crib home or how all those pieces fit together as delivery and set-up are typically free. Adelle’s goal is that Baby’s on Broadway is not just a store, but a total experience for moms and babies. The growing success of her business seems to be based on just that — customers receiving quality products and service, getting informed advice and enjoying babies. Moms are welcome to stop by for a cup of coffee, get an opinion or two, and the most fun of all — to show off their tiny little miracles. n
Jill Dahmen is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Little Falls. She also teaches part time at St. Cloud State University as an adjunct faculty. She and her husband Allen are involved in short term missions, riding motorcycle and hobby farming. They have seven children.
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features of different mattresses, what features are important and which to avoid. For example, although a flame retardant mattress sounds attractive, the chemicals used are harmful to the baby’s developing brain and can be an asphyxiant. She also explains which mattresses are less vulnerable to mites and bacteria buildup, as well as the latest research on which mattresses reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. At her specialty store, Adelle encourages customers to try out her products’ features, something not available at a big box store. She has a full size vehicle seat in which guests can try buckling in different car seats to the vehicle seat. She also encourages them to push their babies around in the strollers and sit them in the high chairs. In addition to studying and trying products herself, she tests them out in the real world, on her own children or children of those close to her. Although it has been challenging overcoming the stereotype that specialty stores are expensive, Adelle works diligently to offer competitive prices. She feels it is important
ORSON PHOTO BY JOEY HALV
ples, kids sing, dance
At Lamp Camp in Sta
By SANDRA OPHEIM
In the summer what is there to do for kids? I bet being goofy, laughing, wearing costumes and being on a stage is popular. Lamp Camp is one example of an activity that is safe, fun, creative, and a way to make a change in a child’s life. “Lamp Camp is hard, but fun,” says an enthusiastic Meghan Van Alst. “It is very hard to memorize three dances and a song. I like the improvisation because if you want to be goofy you can do it. Also, you can’t say ‘no’ at Lamp Camp.” Meghan is one of the many young actors and actresses who participated in theater camp. Her smile and enthusiasm was shining through as she prepared to get on stage for her warm-up activities. I could tell that being a part of camp gave her self-confidence and pride to be a part of something artistic. Lamp Camp was a dream
Fall 2014 | her voice
that Justin Edin always wanted to fulfill. A Staples-Motley High School graduate, he is the Lamp Camp’s artistic director for a second summer and participated in a similar Madhatters drama camp 10 years ago in Wadena. “I really disliked camp my first week as a teenager, especially the singing and dancing. However, I was continually encouraged by the drama camp staff. They pushed me to keep trying new things. I eventually sang a solo, developed a natural ability to shine in improv and it helped me find my voice. I truly enjoy the theater experience now.” Through the support of the Five Wings Art Council and Amy Hunter’s grant writing skills, Justin received financial support to host Lamp Camp in Staples for a second season.
and learn to improvis
the Justin is not new to t director an ist ass stage. He has been Madhatters the th wi for the past 10 years ena. theater group out of Wad n’s University and, Joh St. Justin attended de a new friend, Sam Fujii. while going to school, ma is Camp Music Director. It Sam is this year’s Lamp do er mb me community refreshing to see a young providing a drug-free is It . something so positive option for our youth. ’s l-aged student, is Justin Nikki Edin, high schoo to ky luc am “I youth campers. sister and was one of the as like this with my brother fun be able to do something e nin for e nc da been involved in the director.” Nikki has ral ne Ge c usi M mostly through years and her training is ach the other kids. It is a vac tea lp of Brainerd. “I also he lls ski e nc da n ow rned that your tion from life. I have lea in ive act o als is i others.” Nikk improve by working with in the spring. music and plays softball tly livMusic Director, is curren mp Sam Fujii, Lamp Ca rforpe al voc in eived his master’s is ing in New York. He rec He n. tio uca ed ’s degree in music at mance and has a bachelor ng ini tra sic mu al eived addition tin an opera performer who rec Jus t tha red no Music. “I was ho the Manhattan School of w up in with Lamp Camp. I gre lp he th. It invited me to come to you in ce en fid it helps build con ubea the boys’ choir and I feel d an no pia the .” He sat down at t. ren pa also prepares kids for life ap y ver re we . His talents air the ed fill ies lod me tiful
“My mom was an influence in my musical career. She is an elementary educator of over 20 years. She currently lives in California.” Many hands make Lamp Camp a success. Jessica Southwell is the choreographer and photographer invited to be a part of this camp. Although she is a Florida native and University of Central Florida graduate, she is happy to spread her talents in the small town of Staples. She currently works as a professional dancer and performer at Disney World, teaches dance and helped choreograph performances like “Footloose” and “Miss Saigon.” “I learned from Nikki that there isn’t much opportunity for dancing and performing in Staples.
The dancers at Lamp Camp will learn to salsa and do the Lindy. They also learn ballroom dancing and become comfortable dancing with the opposite sex.” She continues with a huge smile, “The kids were very excited when I taught them how to do some breakdancing.” Campers that attend will learn theater skills such as monologues, scene work, improvisation, music, dance and comedy. They are encouraged to explore their creativity. They learned about sound, lighting and tech for the theater. The technology end was presented by Kevin Olsen, former Staples-Motley School District play director and educator. The camp was funded in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature.
Amy Hunter played a large part of this event as the grant writer. She is a Lamplighter Theater board member with duties in public relations. She co-produces events such as Lamp Camp, setting up the space, promotions for the event, getting board members on hand for supervision of young campers, arranging food on performance nights and any other last minute details. “My favorite part of Lamp Camp is seeing the children grow and the excitement that they show.” Sandy Porter is also involved in the Lamplighter Theater events, helping in production of plays. It is a tremendous job that requires someone who can find talented community members to do make up, advertising, set design, costume design and ticket sales. When she is not involved in the theater, Porter
is a Central Lakes College educator and also an EMT at Lakewood Health System. Last year, faces of the youth performing at Lamp Camp glowed with excitement and pride as they performed. This year’s youth will enjoy their moments of fame in front of family, friends, and the community on Aug. 15. n
Sandra Opheim is the author of the picture book, “Whose Hat is That?” She is an educator and coach in the Staples-Motley Schools and a mother and wife who loves anything outdoors.
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Fall 2014 | her voice
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
Oil Vinegar F
Lois Hensel and husband Steve opened Loide’ Oils and Vinegars Tasting Bar June 2013 in Nisswa.
By JODIE TWEED
Four years ago, Lois and Steve Hensel were vacationing in Fort Collins, Colo., when they stumbled upon a vinegar and oils tasting bar. A tasting bar? Steve had some convincing to do to get his reluctant wife to step foot inside the store and investigate. Like many people, her experience with vinegar did not extend beyond apple cider vinegar, and she couldn’t imagine wanting to drink it. But that trip to the Colorado vinegar and oils tasting bar changed their lives. They purchased a few bottles of higher grade balsamic 10
Fall 2014 | her voice
vinegars and olive oils, and learned how much flavor they can bring to any meal. They were immediately hooked. Lois developed such an interest in vinegars and oils that she began researching her options on opening her own tasting bar in Nisswa. She contacted four franchises and three suppliers until she chose California-based supplier, Veronica Foods. Loide’ Oils and Vinegars Tasting Bar opened June 30, 2013, in a retail space behind Ganley’s Restaurant in downtown Nisswa. Loide’,
Vinegar and oils both contain
antioxidants and polyphenols, which can help protect your body from heart disease and cancer. pronounced “Low-Way-Day,” is Italian for Lois. This summer she relocated her business to a larger store next to the Nisswa Post Office on Main Street. The shop features up to 60 varieties of oils and balsamics. Customers may walk through the store and sip samples drawn from stainless steel fustis, which are used to dispense the vinegar and oils. Sure, balsamics and oils are frequently used for salad dressings, marinades and
glazes, but the sky is the limit to how to use them. Balsamics, especially the fruit-flavored varieties, can be drizzled on ice cream – yes, vinegar on ice cream – cheesecakes, brie, yogurt and fruits and vegetables. Or drizzle lemon-lime olive oil on ice cream sprinkled with sea salt. Combine a blackberry and ginger balsamic vinegar with a Persian lime olive oil to create a simple but delicious salad. Balsamics may also be added to seltzer water or plain tap water. Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oils are more than just an added flavor, they also provide many health benefits. Vinegar and oils both contain antioxidants and polyphenols, which can help protect your body from heart disease and cancer. Balsamic vinegar is a lowcalorie option, and can be a good source of calcium, iron, manganese and potassium. A customer who lives in Cambridge travels regularly to Lois’ Nisswa shop to buy spicy oils to roast his favorite treat, walnuts. Lois herself enjoys frying an egg in chipotle oil before she heads off to work.
Fall 2014 | her voice
How to use
balsamic vinegars and oils from Lois h Salmon: Marinate with blood orange oil and tangerine balsamic. h Balsamic Fizz: Pour champagne into flute, drizzle with 1 teaspoon pomegranate quince balsamic to taste and float a few sugar-coated pomegranate seeds to garnish. h Meatballs: Mix chipotle oil and chocolate or espresso balsamic for the glaze. h Marinated olives: Mix Hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil, Red Barrel-aged wine vinegar with some fresh orange juice, minced garlic, fresh thyme and lemon zest to marinate olives. h Fruit skewers: Cut up and place strawberry, watermelon and melon squares on skewers. Serve with Persian lime olive oil and raspberry balsamic.
h Deviled eggs: Replace mayonnaise with chipotle or Harissainfused oil for a little spice h Kale chips: Brush washed and patted dry kale with garlic or chipotle oil, top with sea salt and bake.
Fall 2014 | her voice
h Bruschetta: Drizzle basil-infused oil over heirloom tomatoes and splash with 18-year traditional balsamic. Serve on toasted bread/crostini using Tuscan herb oil or just simple serve on a plate. h Seltzer/Spritzer drinks: Add 3-4 tablespoons of your favorite balsamic to an 8-ounce glass of seltzer water, ginger ale or plain tap water for a tasty, healthy drink. You can also add to alcoholic beverages.
h Salad dressings: Combine balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oils at a ratio of approximately three tablespoons oil to 1 tablespoon balsamic. Some people enjoy a ratio of two to two. Blend and enjoy. h Balsamic marinades and glazes: Sprinkle your meat or seafood liberally with your choice of balsamic. Let it sit, refrigerated, for 30 minutes or more, and best if left overnight. Then grill or bake. Balsamic can also be used at the table as a â€œfinish.â€? h Oil marinades: Brush your pork, poultry, beef, lamb or fish with olive oils to hold in moisture and add flavor. Drizzle with balsamic before or after cooking. Goat cheese, brie or other mild cheeses: Drizzle with fig balsamic reduction.
h Butter substitute: Olive oils can be used to replace butter and vegetable oils. Use them to sautĂŠ vegetables and greens or scramble eggs. They can be used to dip bread or drizzled on pasta or even soup.
Sampling a selection of oil and vinegar before purchasing is part of the fun.
gifts. She suspects her shop will remain busy through the holidays as more people discover the versatility and benefits of vinegars and oils. If you’ve walked past the store and scratched your head, wondering what a vinegar and oils tasting bar could be, consider yourself warned before stepping inside Loide’ Oils and Vinegars. “I have to warn you, it is addicting,” Lois said with a laugh. n
Jodie Tweed is a freelance writer living in Pequot Lakes.
Your view on life is ever-changing... let us be there along the way.
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Lois was asked once how she was ever going to sell oil and vinegar. She knows that if she can get people, like herself, to step foot into her shop and try the products, they’ll enjoy them as much as she does. There’s little to no selling involved. “If they taste it, it sells itself,” she explained. “When people taste it, they are just amazed. It’s amazing how simple ingredients can make your food taste fantastic.” Several area restaurants, including those at Madden’s and Grand View Lodge, have started using her vinegars and oils, she said. She has hosted some private tasting parties and other special events. The shop bottles its own vinegars and oils. If customers bring back their old bottle, they can receive $1.50 off the cost of purchasing a new bottle. Most balsamics and oils range from $12.95 to $33.95 per bottle. Balsamic enthusiasts can purchase balsamics, aged for 100 years in Italy, that range in price from $125 to $275 per bottle. These types of balsamics are meant to be enjoyed after dinner, using an eye dropper to drop onto your tongue, said Lois. The Hensels have three adult sons, Joe, Josh and Caleb, and their first two grandchildren are due five weeks apart this fall. Their son, Joe, who lives in Bemidji, designed the Loide’ bottle logos. Lois provides a military discount to those who are veterans or who have been or are currently serving the country in the military, something that is close to her heart since all three of her sons are active military. The Hensels opened a second store in Walker in June. Their Nisswa shop will be open each day throughout the year, while the Walker store will likely be open weekends during the winter months. Lois said vinegars and oils make great
PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON Catherine Rausch tells her story of abuse and healing.
By CATHERINE RAUSCH
It was December 2007. My husband and I had just returned home from a conference about the spiritual roots of disease. Using what I learned at the conference I was sitting in our den releasing some fears connected to my fibromyalgia when (to my surprise) a five-foot by two-foot grayish colored cloud appeared. The cloud stood off to my left a few feet between the couches where my husband and I often sit to relax. 14
Fall 2014 | her voice
Time to TELL I stared at the cloud until it disappeared. God had a message for me and by the size of the cloud I knew it was serious, but I didn’t understand what it meant. I ran the image of the cloud over and over in my mind while I went into the kitchen to make lunch. After several hours of trying to figure out what it might mean I heard a voice on the inside of me, “You won’t get rid of the fear until you deal with the shame and guilt that hold it in place.” I wasn’t sure how my fear would be connected to abuse, but I knew any shame and guilt would be from my childhood sexual abuse. Though I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. After three years of repenting and getting deliverance from many fears it seemed impossible I could have that much more fear to deal with. During the next four months I gave a lot of thought to the positive and negative consequences of being open about my
abuse. I could see no other way to get the healing I wanted, so I typed the word “abuse” into my computer and pressed the search key. A webpage for a women’s abuse group popped up. I dialed their number and talked with JoAnne. Their meetings were less than an hour’s drive from my home, so I went the next Tuesday. They were in the fifth week of a tenweek series. The topic for the evening was forgiveness. A sweet, mild mannered woman named Sondra was sharing her forgiveness testimony. I like true stories, but it was hard to process what Sondra had been through. She shared how her family was migrant workers, and how her father had sexually abused her from the age of 2 until the age of 12, when she left home. He also abused her mother. Sondra told us how God’s love made it possible for her to forgive her father. She also shared how she had asked her father
to forgive her for her rebellion against him. He said, “I should be the one asking you to forgive me.” I was shocked real life stories like this existed. Sondra’s transparency and the openness of the group drew me in. I was invited to help with meeting set up, share my story or even teach if I wanted to. It felt odd I didn’t have to be a member or a special speaker to help out. I was not abused as severely as Sondra, but her story made it clear I needed to open up about my abuse to deal with it. I attended the next five classes, and signed up to attend and help with registration at the October series of classes. A year after that first visit I was ready to tell my story. I talked about my childhood sexual abuse, my father’s drinking problem and my unhealthy allegiance to organized religion. I also shared how a recent heart revelation of God’s crazy, amazing love for me was restoring my broken, shattered existence. When I finished speaking I stepped forward to return to my seat. Everything went into slow motion, my head was foggy and my footing was shaky. It felt like stepping off into oblivion with no floor to hold me. When my foot met the floor, reality came back into focus. With the second step the room and the people formed around me again. I remember noticing I still existed. A woman from the group said, “Thank you for sharing.” My head cleared and I stood there feeling like I belonged, not to the group, but to life. Telling my story was not about flaunting my pain, or getting revenge for the injustices done to me. I had been silent for 50 years. If need be, I could be silent for a lifetime. Telling my story was about confronting the shame and guilt of abuse. It was about being open about my abuses and finding out I wasn’t alone. It was about forgiving those who had hurt me and accepting God’s willingness to release the pain to Him. And lastly, telling my story is about encouraging others to deal with the abuse that has hurt and hindered them. n
Brainerd Sexual Assault Services
• 853 sexual assault victims (since 2006)
45% • 45% of those victims were minors
Hours • Less than 15% of victims file a report within 72 hours.
• Over half of the minor victims were abused by family
Last 18 months • 91 cases of child sexual abuse in the last 18 months including 31 adult women seeking help for abuse experienced as a child.
*SOURCE: Amanda Schwarzkopf, Sexual Assualt Service. These numbers are those who used services by SAS angency and does not reflect the total number of victims in our area. Some victims get help from other sources and many more never discuss the abuse at all.
Catherine Rausch lives in Little Falls with her husband Duane. They have four adult children and seven grandchildren. God is her main source of motivation. She writes poetry and non-fiction stories with plans for a book and a screen play. She also speaks and teaches on topics relating to abuse and offers one-on-one prayer counseling at Catherine.email@example.com. Fall 2014 | her voice
My college “career” started in the fall of 2000. As a fresh-faced, excited 19-year-old, I enrolled in a handful of general classes at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Moving into the dorms in Lake Superior Hall was my first real taste of independence, and although I had always been a bright student, I was quickly distracted by the enticing social aspects of being a college student. Hanging out with my friends commonly trumped homework. After only four semesters, I decided to take a short break from school, and soon after that, I found out I was expecting my first daughter, Parker.
The time at home with my young daughters was priceless, but the urge to further my education was still there...
Katie Seipp Deblock juggles school and work with raising daughters Parker, 9 (right) and Peyton, 8.
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
When Mom Goes Back to School By KATIE SEIPP DEBLOCK
It is 11 p.m. when I get home from a busy shift of serving burgers, beer, steaks and smiles at Grizzly’s in Baxter. After a full day of activity with my daughters and the seemingly never-ending household responsibilities, followed by my shift at work, I’d like nothing more than to put my feet up for a while, unwind with a glass of merlot, and then hit the hay. But I’ve got an online social psychology quiz to take, a discussion post to create for my team development class, and a hundred pages of “Research Study and Design” to read. I’ve got homework and lots of it. With my daytime and evening hours already filled with family and work responsibilities, I am left with the late night hours to fulfill my school ones. 16
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The birth of my second daughter, Peyton, followed the next year, and my “short break from school” was transformed into full-time motherhood. My days were filled with diaper changes, sippy cups, ECFE classes, pushing a double stroller down the Lakewalk in Canal Park and play dates at the park. The time at home with my young daughters was priceless, but the urge to further my education was still there, sometimes buried beneath Cheerios and teething toys, but still there. When my girls were still babies, I made the decision that when they went to school, I would go back, too. As it will, life threw a few more curve balls and my relationship with the girls’ father ended abruptly. At just 24 years old, I was unemployed, confused and suddenly single-parenting two little girls. Realizing that I needed a support system, I made the move from Duluth back to my parents’ home in Nisswa. The girls and I took over their basement, and were happy to have Nana and Boppy’s love, support and generous help. Within months, I had picked up a serving job at Grizzly’s in Baxter and had my own apartment, just down the road from my parents’ house. The idea of returning to school started to creep into my mind again. In early August of 2010, I showed up for one of Central Lakes College’s EZ Enrollment sessions. That day, with two little kids in tow, I walked into CLC with the intent of seeking more information on taking classes and walked out with a class schedule. I would be starting
classes in just 10 days. The sudden decision to just go for it, to register for classes, was what it took to take me from that just-below-the-surface idea of finishing my degree to actually getting the process going. That same week, as I picked up a new gray back pack with pink and green hearts and Mr. Sketch markers for my soonto-be-kindergartener, I also picked up school supplies for myself. Over the course of the next three and a half years, I would buy many more school supplies, for both my daughters and myself. I continued to work four or five shifts a week at Grizzly’s and juggled my work schedule with my schoolwork and the girls’ piano lessons, swimming lessons and other activities. On many occasions, Parker, Peyton, and I could be found together at the kitchen table, all of us with our heads bent over that evening’s homework. At Central Lakes College, I took anywhere from two to five classes each semester, including summers, and in September of 2012, I was accepted to the College of St.
Scholastica (CSS) to pursue my bachelor’s degree. Through CSS’s pilot program on the CLC campus in Brainerd, I completed my bachelor of art’s degree in organizational behavior with minors in management and psychology. I graduated summa cum laude in December 2013. Whenever I found myself feeling overwhelmed with balancing work, school, and kids, I reminded myself that the craziness was temporary, and that it will all be worth it in the long run. The day I received that piece of paper from the College of St. Scholastica, I realized just how true that really was. n
Katie Seipp Deblock lives in the Cuyuna lakes area with her husband, Ryan, two daughters, Parker and Peyton, two dogs and two cats. A third daughter will be joining their family this fall. Katie enjoys mountain biking, gardening, beekeeping, teaching Group Power classes at the Brainerd Family YMCA, cooking and hanging out with her family and friends.
Strong in more ways than one, Katie teaches Group Power classes at the Brainerd Family YMCA.
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Part of her ministry, Linda Axvig teaches women in Progreso, Mexico the art of mosaic crosses.
PHOTOS AND STORY By MARLENE CHABOT
You’ve probably seen Linda Axvig’s mosaic cross creations somewhere, but have you heard her tales concerning Mexico? Eleven years ago, when newly retired Linda and husband Keith decided to spend winters in Harlinger, Texas, they never dreamed they’d be crossing the Mexican border to help the poor instead of hitting a hole-in-one on a golf course, but God had His own plans in store for them. “Just before leaving for our winter getaway,” Linda shared, “Keith and I were deeply affected by a minister’s awe inspiring message. He told us, ‘If you want to walk on water you need to get out of the boat.’” And step out they did. After reaching their winter destination, the Brainerd couple, who spoke no Spanish, got involved with a Christian ministry delivering groceries to poor families in Mexico, but it soon became apparent that type of volunteer work wasn’t enough for them. “We wanted to have more personal interaction with the
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Mexicans,” Linda said. So they ventured out on their own to towns called Matamoros, Rio Bravo, Reynosa and Progreso. Shortly after Linda and Keith began their ministry and started using personal money for it, Dan and Pat Schulist of Brainerd visited them in Mexico and suggested the two couples form a nonprofit corporation together called SONshine Ministries. Today SONshine Ministries, a non-denominational ministry, builds homes and churches, sends support through pastors to 20 families in Matamoros and Progreso and funds a soup kitchen, safe house/orphanage and education for 59 Mexican children. When Linda first discovered the women at the dump grounds in Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville, Texas, she wondered what she, a person with artistic talent, could do to help them better their lives. Luckily, it didn’t take long to think of a solution. Find available supplies and teach the women a hobby so they could sell their products: ponchos, clothespin
bags, necklaces, etc. There was only one hitch. Whatever crafts were taught by Linda and another woman from Missouri would have to be done by hand; the room they used for classes had no electricity. “Forty-nine women wanted to attend,” says Linda. “Our room was so tiny we decided to offer one class in the morning and another in the afternoon.” The students had other ideas. The classes were so successful many in the morning group didn’t want to leave. The instructors told them they could stay but only if they stood or sat on the floor since there weren’t enough chairs. Sometimes supplies used for a project were truly unique. For instance, volunteers at an adult day care in Texas cut up plastic bags and wound them into balls like yarn so Linda could teach her students to crochet rugs. The various classes Linda offered in the four towns not only taught the women a skill which would later give them an income, but showed them how to save so they could
“Just as this cross is made beautiful from broken pieces, God will receive a broken life and make it into something beautiful,”
for a few years, the cartel moved in,” Linda explained, “and it became too dangerous for outsiders to remain involved in the towns of Matamoros, Rio Bravo and Reynosa so we severed our ties.” Even though it’s been 11 years since the Axvigs began crossing over into Mexico, the cross lady constantly searches for new skills to teach the women of Progreso. Three years ago Linda discovered yet another craft at a Texas Christian Women’s meeting, mosaic crosses. As soon as she got back to Brainerd, she began to design some for herself. “The crosses take about six days to finish,” Linda said. When ready, an appropriate Bible verse and her quote, “Just as this cross is made beautiful from broken pieces, God will receive a broken life and make it into something beautiful,” are attached to the
backside of every item. Once when a guard refused them entrance into Mexico and inquired about the cross in her arms, Linda shared her unique saying with him. “His eyes teared up and he let us in.” When asked why she continues creating crosses and hasn’t moved on to another artistic venue, Linda becomes emotional. “The cross is important to me because I was redeemed at the cross.” Linda, who has appeared at numerous functions in Brainerd, Texas and Mexico, gladly shares her mosaic cross techniques and stories with anyone who wants to learn more. In 2013 she demonstrated her craft in the Curling building at the Crow Wing County Fair. n
Marlene Chabot is a freelance writer, novelist and member of Great River Writers and Sisters In Crime. Her fourth mystery novel, set in Minnesota, was released in June. She’s currently working on her fifth. Find her on Facebook at Marlene McNeil Chabot or www.marlenechabotbooks.com
purchase more supplies. While the instructors held classes, their husbands kept busy with projects of their own. They delivered bags of food, fixed old appliances and found out what a family’s greatest needs were. Usually a stove or washing machine were at the top of the list. Unfortunately for Linda and Keith, things came to an end when they least expected it. “After working in Mexico
FAll 2014 | her voice
in Country Music
By SHEILA HELMBERGER
Brainerd native Megan Whalen Knutson lives in Nashville and rubs elbows with some of today’s biggest stars and most talented people in country music. She is the director of label resources for Big Machine Label Group which has a roster including artists like Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry. A 2002 graduate of Brainerd High School, Megan says music was a big part of life growing up in Merrifield. Her parents, Marnie and Chuck Whalen, were both teachers in the BHS School district and surrounded their home in music. Her dad’s a talented vocalist and guitar player. He played in a cover band while she was growing up and still plays in two today. Her mother was a fan of musicals and Megan says she used to clean the house to songs from “Singing in The Rain,” “Oklahoma,” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” A favorite outing was Wednesday night karaoke at the Black Bear Lodge. Megan played girls hockey in Brainerd and her father coached. She tried being a 20
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goalie but says that didn’t work out too well so she moved to forward. After graduation she planned on going to Augsburg and thought she might play hockey there. Her sister, Jennifer, is a teacher in the Twin Cities and Megan thought she might go into the family business too. Then she visited Nashville and toured Belmont University. She was sold. While majoring in music business and finance with an emphasis in marketing in college, she snagged an internship at Broken Bow Records. She came home for a year and a half after graduation but knew she had to get back to Nashville. She got a job at Starbucks and back in touch with her contacts in the music industry. Soon she was on the road with the Monster Truck Challenge, an outdoor Monster Truck Rally show owned by the owner of Broken Bow Records. She was the office manager during the week and on weekends she went to the dirt track rallies and sang the anthem and sold merchandise. When the Monster Truck Rally closed, the VP of Finance and Legal at Broken Bow Records created a
On set at the music video shoot of “Cruise” in 2012, Brainerd native Megan Whalen Knutson with Tyler Hubbard (left) and Brian Kelley. Photo credit Anthem Pictures.
position for her. “I was ecstatic. It doesn’t hurt to have a Midwestern work ethic down here,” she says. “The label was growing, they saw how hard I was willing to work and they knew I had a finance degree.” In 2010 a friend tipped her off that the president of the record label Republic Nashville was looking for an executive assistant. Megan jumped at the chance to work for Jimmy Harnen who had been at Capitol Records and was a crucial part of breaking big named artists like Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Eric Church. Republic Nashville recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with 11 number one singles, over 5.3 million album sales, more than 34 million track sales, five CMA Awards, five ACM Awards and multiple Grammy nominations. In April of last year she was promoted to director of label resources, working for all four labels of the Big Machine Label Group. She maintains the single and album release schedules, handles creative administration, including video and photo shoots, oversees production and deals with budgets. She also
works with the COO and legal counsel. “One of the cool things about my job is that I don’t have a typical day,” she says. Many of the positions she’s held in Nashville have been created for her. “I always try to pick up the ball. I ask questions. I raise my hand – if something comes up at work – whether it was at Starbucks or the monster truck rally, if something needed to be done, I raised my hand. It seems to me that people who are willing to do the work get rewarded.” Megan has had tremendous mentors in her career and she’s still always surprised how down to earth and genuine the label’s artists are. “It takes so many people to break an artist,” she says, “It’s amazing how many hands are involved from songwriting, production and publishing. How it all happens and works just has to be magical.” Megan married her husband, Eric, at Manhattan Beach Lodge in 2010. He grew up in Alaska and is a songwriter in Nashville for Cal IV publishing. “That’s another fun way we are connected to the music industry,” she says. Her perfect life would be summers in Minnesota and winters in Nashville but says that isn’t very realistic. She misses the fishing, hunting and the people back home. She sees her family about three or four times a year and almost always comes home in July. “There’s no other place in the whole wide world better to be on the Fourth of July.” Megan is due with the couple’s first child, a daughter, in September. Naturally, she’s already wondering about the youth hockey programs in Nashville. n Sheila Helmberger lives in Baxter and has been contributing to area publications since 1999.
Upper left: Stacy Blythe, Kathleen Drosey, Jimmy Harnen, Reid Perry, Kimberly Perry, Scott Borchetta, Neil Perry, Megan (The Band Perry, backstage of Riverstages at CMA Music Fest 2010). Right: Jason Aldean and Megan at Country Radio Seminar in 2009.
Career Highlights from her time at Republic Nashville & the Big Machine Label Group:
• The video shoot for “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. Megan snapped the photo that was used for the single cover. • The Martina McBride album release, riding on a chartered Amtrak train across the United States from L.A. to N.Y.C., bringing awareness to the fight against breast cancer. • A two-day Florida Georgia Line video shoot that took the crew to Cancun and Tulum, Mexico.
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PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
Bee Story By SHEILA DECHANTAL
Amanda Buck is a busy mom. At the age of 30, she helps her husband run their trucking business, takes care of their three children (Tammy 7, Lucas 4, and Grace 3), has two large rescue dogs and is considered a “beekeeper” when it comes to their bees. It was about five years ago that Amanda saw a show on the Discovery Chanel about colony collapse disorder. This is a phenomenon where worker bees abruptly disappear in the honey bee colony, significant because many crops worldwide are pollinated by honey bees. While the exact cause is unknown, theories include pesticides, change of habitat… The Discovery show stirred something within Amanda that she just could not let go of. “I went to Book World in Baxter and bought every bee book they had, which turned out to be seven books,” said Amanda. She immediately started studying and told her husband Tim, “I am going to get some bees.” In the beginning, Amanda purchased four packages of bees (three pounds each) and 12 established hives. She used the knowledge she gained from her books and watched YouTube videos to learn what to do. Amanda knew that beekeeping was primarily a man’s business and not many women are involved in the startup. She set the hives up in her yard with a goal that by the end of her first year she would have 50 hives. To reach her goal, she had to learn how to graft, which is going into the hives, taking an egg, and grafting the cell to make a queen bee. “Grafting,” Amanda says, “takes time and patience.” Not all beekeepers can do this, but it seems that Amanda has a knack for it and caught on quickly. “Every new hive needs a queen,” she says, and Amanda was grafting queens which in turn, created new hives. By her first winter, Amanda had brought her colony up to 48 hives, just two short of her 50 hive goal but Minnesota winters can be hard on bees. Minnesota beekeepers average around a 50 percent success rate of keeping their bees year
Fall 2014 | her voice
Bee Keeper Amanda Buck has worked in the bee business for three years, moving her colony to Florida in the winter to avoid “colony collapse.”
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Fall 2014 | her voice
In protective gear, Amanda works with the bees. The wafting smoke helps calm the bees.
An almond tree that is pollinated bears seven times more almonds.
around. Amanda’s first winter of beekeeping in 2012 took its toll. By spring she’d lost all but one hive. Where many would have felt frustrated and given up, Amanda just started again. She purchased 28 nucs which are half hives and four more packages of bees. As fall of 2013 approached, Amanda, now with 67 hives, was nervous that she’d lose the majority of her bees again come winter. Through a family connection, Amanda had conversations with a nine-year beekeeper in Florida, who was very impressed with her success in such a short amount of time. He made a deal with her. She could bring her bees to Florida where they could pollinate trees in a warmer climate and in turn he asked that she help him with his own struggling bee business. Having access to trucks through her trucking company, Amanda, with the help of her husband and father, took the bees to Florida. Amanda helped the beekeeper in Florida with his business, going back and forth from Minnesota to Florida throughout the winter. “I would go for one week each month,” Amanda said, “while in Florida I would help with 24
Fall 2014 | her voice
the beekeeper and look after my own bees as well.” By the time Amanda returned her bees to Minnesota this spring, she had not lost any of her hives. She also has increased her bee count quite significantly. With this growth, Amanda is confident that she will finish out this year with over 2,000 hives. With beekeeping, you can go down many different avenues; you can create hives and sell them, you can be about the honey, about grafting and so much more. She has already been offered to sell her business to larger beekeepers but Amanda has refused. “I love what I am doing, and I know I can do so much more,” she says. Amanda’s first priority is grafting, honey is secondary. Education is also important to Amanda. “People have no idea how important bees are to our world. Eighty percent of all food is pollinated by bees. Without bees, we have no fruit or vegetables. The alfalfa that cows eat is pollinated by bees.” Amanda shakes her head saying, “You can see how a world without bees can spin out of control quickly
Amanda tries to keep her bees away from pesticides as they can destroy an entire hive. Bees are needed to grow foods that feed the world.
husband and all three of her children, as well as extended family and friends, have had an opportunity to be a part of the process and have created the company Buck’s Busy Bees, found on line at www.bucksbusybees.com. She features many items for beekeepers, and will have honey available soon for purchase this season. Amanda is also currently looking for host homes as she continues to grow her business. A host home is a household willing to allow space on their property for bees. Host homes will be awarded with a case of honey for the use of their space. See more information on host homes on the Buck’s Busy Bees website. Long term beekeepers cannot believe how much Amanda has learned and grown in her short time of being a beekeeper. Amanda’s faith in God, determination to do well, and her thirst to do it right, are all assets in her success. Bees are dying at an alarming rate but Amanda is doing what she can to help reverse this fact. n
Honey bees are the only insects that provide food eaten by humans. and when they are gone, they are gone. We are nothing without the bees.” Amanda works hard to keep her own bees away from all pesticides as many pesticides can kill the entire hive. Keeping her bees away from all chemicals is important to Amanda. Her honey is clean, natural and not over processed. Amanda says honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/ digestive-enzymes.html enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains pinocembrin, an http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/antioxidant.html antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning. Amanda has been working hard with the beekeeping business for three years. It is hard work that consists of building bee boxes, feeding new hives, making sure each hive has a queen, adding additional boxes to a hive as the space provided fills with honey, and when it is time, harvesting the honey. Her
A Brainerd native, Sheila DeChantal reviews books at bookjourney.wordpress.com. Besides being a lifelong, crazy, book addict, she also enjoys biking, roller blading, hiking and other adventures.
Fall 2014 | her voice
health and wellness
PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON
Former Miss Brainerd Quinn Nystrom, with her parents Bob and Rachel Nystrom, is committed to sharing her story of living with type 1 diabetes.
If I Kiss You... By REBECCA FLANSBURG
Past Brainerd resident and former Miss Brainerd, Quinn Nystrom was just barely into her teens when she pricked her finger, took a reading on her little brother’s blood glucose meter and began the unfamiliar journey of trying to figure out how to live a “normal” life with a chronic disease. “At the age of 13, I found out life is… unexpected,” shared Quinn. “I found myself in a doctor’s office at Brainerd Medical Center, listening to my parents and my doctor discussing a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. I remember the doctor telling me I had a chronic and incurable disease that started with the word ‘die.’ But even after hearing my doctor’s prognosis, I also remember having only one con-
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cern; would I still be able to go to the junior high school dance on Friday night? In reality, the Nystrom family was no stranger to diabetes. Quinn’s five-year-old brother, Will, had been previously hospitalized and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes so it was a common sight to see insulin in the refrigerator and hypodermic needles by the fruit bowl in the kitchen. But now it was Quinn who had to learn to micromanage everything she ate and drank alongside her brother and the months that followed that fateful day were a blur of needles, tests, diet changes and even teasing at school. “I had had people around me calling me ‘Type 1’ or putting cake in front of me on purpose because they knew I shouldn’t eat sugar,” Quinn shared. “I guess they thought it was funny. I didn’t think it was funny at all.
Will I Get Diabetes?
When you are 13, all you want is to â€˜fit in.â€™ I was painfully aware that I was now different from other kids my age. I worried that I wouldnâ€™t get asked to dances or slumber parties. My parents and family were wonderful and supportive, but I struggled with the fact that I had no control over how this illness was going to dominate my life.â€? Then, a unique opportunity presented itself to Quinn a few months later when her parents announced she would be spending a week during her summer break at a special camp for kids diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, a camp aptly named Camp Needlepoint. Located in Hudson, Wis., Camp Needlepointâ€™s goal is to provide a fun and safe camping experience for children living with diabetes. â€œCamp Needlepoint was such a turning point for me,â€? Quinn revealed. â€œFor the first time I was with kids my own age that were just like me. They had the same worries and struggle as me too. It was there that I learned that I was the only one who could dictate the quality of my life. I learned to hold my head high and not be secretive any longer. I was like â€˜hey, my pancreas doesnâ€™t work right. Who cares! Letâ€™s just move forward.â€™â€?
remember how lost I felt when I was first diagnosed,â€? added Quinn. â€œI wanted my book to be a resource for kids and parents to read and understand what life is managing a chronic illness, and have it come from the perspective of a young person who is living with it every day. I am proud to be able to share my story and be living proof that a chronic illness is not a death sentence, but an opportunity to live life with purpose and passion.â€? Currently, Quinn sits on the Community Leadership Board for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Diabetes Association and
chairs the Advocacy Committee. She was the youngest recipient of the prestigious ADA Star Award in recognition of her work on behalf of diabetes. â€œEveryone has their cross to bear in life. It could be illness, death, loss or divorce. Everyone has a choice in how they deal with the issues in their life too. I believe itâ€™s all in how you decide to take those circumstances in life, and use them to move you forward instead of back.â€? To learn more about Quinn and her book visit www.QuinnNystrom.com n
Rebecca Flansburg is a freelance writer and work-at-homemom who lives in Baxter. She is also a full-time virtual assistant in the field of social media, content management and blogging. You can connect with Rebecca on her blog, Franticmommy.com.
â€œI wanted my book to be a resource for kids and parents...â€?
NORTHLAND CENTER NIS SWA , MN
218 â€˘ 961 â€˘ 0095 W W W. B E L L E C H E V E U X N I S S WA . C O M
Since that first season at Camp Needlepoint, Quinn has committed herself to sharing her story of living with type 1 diabetes to audiences across the country. At age 16, she was named the National Youth Advocate for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and spent a year traveling across the country to camps, conferences and corporations. As the National Youth Advocate for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) she even spent time at the White House and the United States Congress. Published in January 2014 by River Place Press, Quinnâ€™s new book, â€œIf I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes?â€? is a first-hand account of negotiating life with type 1 diabetes. â€œI
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PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
Nourished By MARY AALGAARD
Photographer Laura Radniecki created a business called Love Nourished to rekindle the romance in relationships.
Fall 2014 | her voice
One thing photographer Laura Radniecki noticed while working with various clients is that the wedding sessions are focused on the couple, their great joy in the moment and theirValeri love Ann for Diller each owns other.Valeri When sheFamily worksFoods withinyoung Ann’s Merrifield. families, the focus has shifted. The kids get all the attention, she says, the couple barely interacting. The spark that might have been glowing on their wedding day, has faded. Looking at her own life, Laura realized that she and her husband were just as guilty of falling into daily routines and living more like roommates than lovers. Her creative business mind started working on the dilemma, creating unique ideas to rekindle romance and keep the relationship interesting. Because, let’s face it, after 10 years or more with the same person, there aren’t many new topics to discuss. So, Laura created little conversation cards with a list of date night topics to discuss, thinking especially about couples who don’t have many hobbies in common. The cards were easy to fill out, helping the non-writers leave love notes for their sweetheart. She named this business Love Nourished and started giving out “Date Night in a Bag” as gifts to the couples she photographed. Some people order the products for wedding showers
walks with her toy poodle Remy, or spending time with her husband Matt, riding bike or going geocaching, a new hobby they enjoy together. Laura wants to help other people, which is probably why she was drawn to nursing. She also needs to live a creative life, and has the skills and gumption to be a successful business woman. She holds classes on how to use your digital camera called “Love Your Camera”. She has an ebook, available for free download on her website, www.lauraradniecki.com, titled “10 Tips for Living an Intentional Life.” She’s planning on writing another one to go with her “Love Your Camera” workshops, and how to be successful in your own business, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between. n
Laura prefers to shoot photos on location.
Mary Aalgaard is a freelance writer and blogger. Her blogs www.playoffthepage.com include Play off the Page, inspiration and entertainment reviews; Ride off the Page, a travelog; and Dine off the Page, for chef’s tips, recipes, and restaurant reviews. Mary is also a playwright who works with both children and adults. She and her sister Joy started Primo Art Spa, giving private voice, piano and writing lessons and offering classes in art and theatre.
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or anniversary gifts. But, the giving doesn’t stop there, she also donates a portion of each sale to Thirst Relief, an organization that provides drinking water to impoverished nations. For every Love Nourished product sold, one person will receive five years of clean drinking water. You can find these products on her website, www.lovenourished.com. About her business style Laura says, “I’m an introvert and a strong business woman, two things you wouldn’t normally think go together,” says Laura. In fact, she set out to be a nurse, completed the degree, took and passed the bar exam and said, “No, this isn’t what I want to do.” Her husband Matt, a Marine, was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii, where Laura soaked up the sun and savored the beauty of her surroundings. Here is where she started thinking seriously about photography and taking her first plunge into entrepreneurship. When the couple returned to Minnesota, Laura’s career took off. She is now booked nearly every weekend for weddings and fills in the gaps with family portraits, reunions and senior pictures. Laura describes her style as “celebratory storytelling” and often in her wedding shots, you will see personal touches like the bride’s shoes dangling from her fingers, members of the wedding party helping each other button up or brush a loose strand of hair from the bride’s eyes. Sweet moments, real moments, the ones you want to remember. You won’t see canned studio shots in Laura’s portfolio. She prefers to shoot on location, come to your home, cabin, or favorite hangout. She wants you to feel relaxed and comfortable and enters the story with a smile on her face and interest in who you are. If you want to include your family cat or your ukulele, she says, “Sure, bring them along.” An outdoor lover herself, she prefers the natural lighting, early evenings being best, and most people relax in nature as long as the weather cooperates and the mosquitoes aren’t too bad. So, how did this strong business woman with creative ideas get labeled an introvert? “I’m not shy,” she says, “as some people think introverts are. In fact, I interact and laugh with my clients and find them interesting. I regain my energy by being alone and quiet.” After spending the weekend with a wedding party, Laura regroups in her home office, editing, reading, planning the next event, and taking
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Fall 2014 | her voice
farmer PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
Nikki O’Day (second from left) opens her farm with the help of her children Jared, 17; Madison, 11; Keagan, 14; selling pumpkins, creating a corn maze and providing hayrides and a petting zoo.
By CYNTHIA BACHMAN
As the air cools and the autumn colors brighten it is pumpkin season and time to plan a fun visit to Amaze-NPumpkinz near Nisswa. There you can select pumpkins and enjoy nature as you maneuver the corn maze. Nikki O’Day says she got the idea after a family outing of a movie and pizza. As she evaluated the outing she realized they had spent their time indoors and had a day filled with tech-
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Pumpkin Chunkin’ Day • Live bands • Pig races • free to military members, volunteer firemen and their families.
Fall 2014 | her voice
nology. Through this experience she decided she wanted a “connect-withnature” family adventure. Her idea: to create a corn maze for her children and friends. In April of 2010 she had three acres of corn planted on the land that had been in her husband’s family for 125 years. As she saw her children in the corn maze, she decided to create a business by opening the farm to others to enjoy. Soon a corn box (think sand box filled with corn kernels), hayride, petting zoo, concession stand, live bands and creatively painted spider and snake gourds were added features. Later she added an after dark, haunted graveyard with
reaching hands, fog and a laser show. In her first year Nikki planted three varieties of pumpkins. She now has 40 kinds of pumpkins, gourds and squash. Unbelievably, she hand plants and weeds nine acres. Nikki has developed a schedule to plant the hills of pumpkins, etc., to stage their ripening over a four-week period. Some seeds have been given to her by the Stony Brook Farm Inc. in Foley, Minn. They have been very generous with farming/ harvesting knowledge and seed sharing to assist Nikki in her business. Nikki says, “It is my practice for us to pray in the field after planting as I am so blessed with the sharing and
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kindness of my family, local farmers and friends that support me as I learn to farm. I am thankful for all the help I have received.” Her husband Chris is a great support and helps when he can. He works in his family business: Westside Auto Body and Boat Repair Inc. Nikki tells me her husband’s nickname is MacGyver since he easily repairs the many breakdowns that happen with farming. Nikki’s parents, Kathy and Dwayne Johnson, are “such a blessing” with their giving of knowledge, supplies and hands-on support. Nikki is dedicated to share what she can. Her special passion is to teach children to handle and care for animals. She says that many people do not have the opportunity to be with animals or to enjoy outdoors/farm time so she has become an educator. On the farm they have rabbits, goats, runt sheep, ducks, geese, chickens and mini pot-belly pigs which are also featured in the pig races. The corn maze is planted in two sizes.
The small version has “short” corn for preschool children while their parents and grandparents sit on bales at the outer edges, visiting. Then there is the large corn maze, a new challenge each year. Nikki talks in delight as she describes how she and Chris plot the maze on graph paper and over a three-day period of friendly exchanges they individually sneak to the paper design and make changes until it is finally decided. Nikki says, “My design always wins.” Since Nikki uses corn stalks for decorating, they plant a full field of corn by tractor to create the maze. When the corn is fully grown Chris marks off the maze with yellow ribbon then Nikki’s father, Dwayne Johnson and Chris cut away the corn to create trails. Nikki hires local children to haul the stalks from the field. Next, she decorates. Nikki has over 90 sites she decorates in the community with autumn displays and has plans to increase her business to include winter themes. She only charges for the produce she has
grown: pumpkins, corn, etc. but not for the creative energy she puts into each arrangement. You will see her handy work in Nisswa, Garrison, Pequot Lakes, Crosslake, Brainerd, Hackensack, Outing, Walker…the list goes on. Her scenes are outside of banks, restaurants and resorts. Nikki has started a successful growing business; she hires local children plus three full time employees August to December. Her business has provided her with a healthy environment. With all the exercise involved to work the land she has lost weight and gained energy. n
Cynthia Bachman grew up and lives in the Brainerd area with her husband, Brian. She enjoys gardening and spending time with family.
Fall 2014 | her voice
clubs and clusters
I’ll Meet You At
Left to right, some of the community’s early families are represented by the following women: Lynda Weiss Daughter of the late Herman Weiss and Clara (Hoplin) Weiss. Clara, born in 1926, has been a Pine River resident most of her life.
By ALISON AMY STEPHENS
Colleen (Cromett) Moser Daughter of the late C.W. (Billy) Cromett III and Iris (Engel) Cromett. Her paternal great-grandfather, C.W. (Billy) Cromett II traveled west from Maine in 1880 with the logging industry. He was described as “probably the most colorful founding father of the Pine River community.” Alison (Amy) Stephens Daughter of the late Clark and Amanda Amy, co-owners and publishers of the Pine River Journal from the early 1950s until 1990. Alison’s grandmother, Alice (Clark) Amy, along with her two sons, settled in Pine River in 1931. Pat Johnson Daughter-in-law of the late Arvid Johnson and Opal (Houg) Johnson. Opal, a one-room schoolhouse teacher, is now 104. Arvid, at age 9, arrived in Pine River in 1914, along with his family who traveled from Mora by 32
Fall 2014 | her voice
The Women’s Committee of Heritage Group North is enthusiastically preparing for this year’s “Tea at the Station – A Petticoat Junction Function,” scheduled for Sept. 4 at the Historic Pine River Depot. This is the kick-off event for Pine River’s Heritage Days. Heritage Group North (HGN) is an allvolunteer, non-profit organization based in Pine River. HGN’s mission is to gather, interpret and share history of the greater Pine River area, promote public appreciation of the past and stimulate Heritage Tourism. HGN relies on memberships, grants and the generosity of the public to accomplish its goals. HGN’s flagship project has been the restoration of the Historic Pine River Railway Depot. Through HGN’s efforts of restoring, protecting and repurposing this building, The Depot is now listed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. Last years HGN-sponsored “Tea at the Station” was a women’s fundraiser to sup-
port its annual Depot operations and growing project list. The ladies in attendance enjoyed Victorian High Tea, complete with scones, finger sandwiches and sweet treats, served by Miss Pine River and her court, dressed in authentic aprons and caps. The cloth-draped tables were set with flowers, fancy serving dishes and silverware. Many attendees donned vintage hats and clothing for the event. During the gala, the Depot was abuzz with music, laughter and conversation, often beginning with the phrase, “I remember…” Displays featured historic clothing, pictures and collections. The food was donated by local businesses and community volunteers. The program, including an illustrated presentation entitled “Her Story is History, Too,” was given by Douglas Birk, former Director of the Institute for Minnesota Archeology, a founding member of the HGN Board, currently serving as the board’s historian. Doug grew up in Pine River. The most exciting feature at last year’s tea was the introduction of the Volume I booklet of “Heritage: Stories of Women From the
Tea at the Station Presentation • Gifts • Goodies
A Stitch in Time
See the quilt that was assembled from recovered antique quilt blocks!
Tickets are sure to sell out! Reserve yours: Alison Amy Stephens Alison4mk@msn.com or Pat Johnson (218) 587-4795
Alison Amy Stephens lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Pine River, Minn., with her husband, B. Michael Stuppy. A former English teacher in Hopkins, Minn., Alison has been an executive senior director with Mary Kay Cosmetics for the past 38 years. She also oversees the Steven C. Amy Memorial Scholarship Fund, begun by her family 40 years ago at Central Lakes College. Alison is vice chairman of the HGN Board of Directors. Preserving the elegant, whether flowers, fashion, good books or memories, is her passion.
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Pine River, Minnesota Area.” What began in 2013 as a “table-favor” idea for the Tea, has now become an on-going project for the women of HGN, the gathering and creating of a “Her”story of the women who were early settlers and residents of the Pine River area. Volume I begins with Ammarilla (Spracklin) Barclay (1859-1942) wife of George Barclay, a Civil War veteran, who in 1873, established a trading post as Pine River. Ammarilla married Barclay in 1878, becoming the first white woman to live between Gull and Leech Lakes. While Tea was served, brief “Her”itage stories of the featured Pine River women were read aloud as their vintage images were projected onto a big screen. The stories and pictures submitted by family members along with an heirloom from the estate or household of each of the featured women became door prize gifts. The committee is now gathering family “her”story contributions and pictures for Volume II and encourages local long-time families to submit their matriarchal “Her”stories and pictures to HGN. The theme for this year’s “Tea at the Station” will be “A Stitch in Time,” and promises to be a gifts and goodies afternoon. The program centers around this past year’s project of assembling a Quilt made from discovered quilt blocks created by local women in 1939. Each block was signed by its creator who will be featured in the presentation, along with the process and vintage materials used. The quilt blocks belonged to the late Amanda Amy, a founding member of HGN. Her daughter, Alison Amy Stephens, a founding and current board member, is the quilt’s custodian. It has been painstakingly assembled by Bunny Witt of Pine River, assisted by Arlean Rosemore and daughter, Mary, from Mother Originals Quilt Shop in Pequot Lakes. The Women’s Committee of HGN invites you to share in this annual event, which has become a delightful gathering for all things “Her.” Mark your calendars, call your “Her” friends and tell them, “Meet me at the Depot.” The 2014 “Tea at the Station” is expected to sell out. For ticket information, contact Alison Amy Stephens at Alison4mk@msn.com or call Pat Johnson at 218-587-4795.
Dive In and DO IT!
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
By KAREN OGDAHL
Sally Boos takes a moment to relax in her peaceful Japanese garden, ornamented by a number of her own creations. A rock cairn points the way.
Sally Boos doesn’t have degrees in visual arts, culinary arts or drama, but lack of professional training hasn’t stopped her from becoming a sculptor, cheese maker and actor. Her advice: Dive in and do it! How does all this happen? According to Sally, it is her tendency toward impulsivity. “If I want to do something, I just do it,” she said. “Years ago I decided we needed a patio, so I went and got a shovel and started digging. There wasn’t Internet back then, but I had a vague idea that you dug down, put in some sand and laid some bricks.” Did it work? “Well, my husband Jim rescued me, but I laid the brick!” Ironically, this impulsivity resulted in a peaceful Japanese garden on the edge of the woods at Sally’s lakeside home. Ornamented by her sculptures and everchanging rock cairns, the garden holds a dry stone riverbed, a crooked bridge and soothing, green shade plants.
Fall 2014 | her voice
online and discovered sites that showed how to make armatures out of plastic and wire covered with papier-mâché. I tried that, but papier-mâché was too flimsy for outside. Then I found another website that talked about salt clay. That didn’t hold up either. Jim suggested fiberglass, and we found a product used to patch dents in cars. The problem was that it hardened really fast, so I couldn’t make modifications. One
day I was wandering through a home improvement store and found a rubberized spray for patching roofs. It worked pretty well, but it was expensive, so I found some brush-on that worked.” She also made a loon that, sadly, didn’t survive the winter. “The fiberglass split open. I must not have sealed it properly, and the moisture inside melted the salt clay. I could not save it. I felt bad about that.
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“It started because our son Andrew needed to do a project for a college class on ancient shrines of the East,” Sally said. “He came home one rainy weekend, and he and Jim dug it up, laid it out and placed all the rocks. It was pretty rudimentary, but it had all the elements: earth, water, fire, air and spirit. He got an A and said, ‘It’s yours now!‘” Sally has made modifications and additions over the years. It is a constant work in progress. “I do a lot of research on the Internet, and whenever we travel I try to visit other Japanese gardens for ideas, but really, I just do what I want. People may think it isn’t a true Japanese garden, but to me it’s lovely. It’s my favorite place to sit in the afternoon – cool and shady, on my bench, a glass of wine. This is where I want my ashes spread,” she said. Sally’s yard is also the setting for her sculptures – all made with help from the Internet, visits to home improvement stores and lots of trial and error. Her first attempt was a heron. “That came out of boredom mostly. I was out in the garden one day and decided I needed something vertical. I thought about metal sculpture, but I didn’t want to take up welding. I began looking
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NORTHRIDGE AGENCY Fall 2014 | her voice
The loon was my favorite,” she said. Sally’s next project was her entry into cement sculpture. After her grandson Corbin was born, she wanted his footprints preserved. She bought mortar mix, made some steppingstones and wondered what else she could do with 50 pounds of mortar mix. Her sculpture, “The Reader,” an impressionistic figure holding a book, was born out of hardware cloth, newspaper and mortar mix. “When I started The Reader, I didn’t know what it was going to be, but then it just came to me,” she said. “The body wasn’t hard, but I needed a head. How was I going to make a ball out of cement?” The Internet came to her rescue. “You buy a glass globe for a light, spray the inside with non-stick vegetable spray, line it with fiberglass cloth to reinforce it and fill it with cement. When it’s dry, smash the globe, and you get a nice, round ball.” Sally’s most challenging sculpture so far depicts her grandson. “I have great memories of him in the summer running through the garden. He’d throw his arms out behind him and pretend he was Superman,” she said. She wanted to capture that memory in a sculpture using his own clothes – his shoes, shorts and shirt, which required that she become acquainted with material hardener. “Everything went fine except for the clay head. I struggled and struggled with it and finally gave up on trying to get it realistic and instead went with representational and I think I succeeded.” It now resides in the garden. In addition to her sculpture, Sally is also a gourmet cook and cheese maker. Her cheese making started with a kit to make farmhouse cheddar and mozzarella. The cheddar was inedible, but the mozzarella was good enough to keep her interested. Then she found a website that taught her how to make Parmesan, but it took most of a day to make and had to age 10 months. Sally was skeptical. The problem was that she had to raise the temperature two – three degrees every five minutes, not easy for someone whose mind runs a mile a minute. “I’d get bored and go off to check my email, the temperature would go way up and the batch would be ruined. I had to learn patience, which is really hard for me. Now I have a thermometer with an alarm on it,” she laughed. She ages the cheese 10 months (another waiting game) in her “cheese cave,” a dorm-size refrigerator with an external thermometer set at 55 degrees. Now she makes cheese regularly so that she always has some ready to eat. Guests can attest that it’s delicious. Sally has also jumped into local theater despite her lack of experience. “I tried out for plays in high school, but I was shy and never got a part. When I retired, I saw a notice about auditions for “The Sound of Music.” I told the director I didn’t want a big part. I was a nun, and it was so much fun, I wanted to do it again,” she said. She has since appeared in “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Fall 2014 | her voice
Sally’s love of reading inspired this sculpture.
all cutlines can go here all cutlines can go here
and “The Rimers of Eldritch.” “I love being around theater people. They are so much fun and have such energy. It’s a mix of old and young. I love the kids. They are just starting out and excited about life and the world. Drama has shown me that there are good people and bad people and most people are in between and can’t figure out which they want to be,” she said. In a world that values five-year plans and organization, Sally takes another path. “I’m not much for planning,” she said. “When I think of a project, I want to do it now. I want to go to the store, get what I need and get started. People should just dive in and see what happens.” And, oh my, what delight and beauty exists because Sally Boos keeps taking the plunge. n
Karen Ogdahl is a retired English teacher, writer and community volunteer who lives in Baxter.
PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON
Life is Beautiful
By NAOMI BERNDT
One of the nicknames that I’ve been given by those in the local community is “Smiley.” Most people enjoy the smiley part of me, but there are those people who also ask the question, “Why are you so smiley all the time? What makes you so happy?” Let me tell you why... I grew up with an alcoholic father who doesn’t remember many of the memories of his time spent with me, my sister and my mom. He may not remember those memories from early on, but there are memories to be made with him now and in the future, now that he is sober. I have no regrets, and I continue to smile, because life is still beautiful and it continues on. When I was 19, I was sexually assaulted by someone I used to look up to and trust. The physical scars have long disappeared, but some of the emotional scars still remain. I have forgiven him though...why? I am now a wiser person because of it. I have no regrets, and I continue to smile, because life is still beautiful and it continues on. Last November, two friends and I were almost killed when my friend drifted my truck and rolled it. Those friends tried to get me to lie, and take the blame for the accident, to cover their butts. There were no lies made by me that night, no lives taken, but there were two friends lost. But I hold no grudges. I make more adult decisions because of that experience. I have no regrets, and I continue to smile, because life is still beautiful and it continues on. I have loved two guys, who I thought loved me right back. I shared special memories with them, that will only be just that... memories. But they each helped me build character in ways I still may not completely understand. And I continue to love them anyway. Why? Because we were put on this earth to love, and after realizing that, I am at peace with myself more than ever now. Life is short. There are experiences that break you and tear you down. But there are twice as many experiences that can build you right back up to make you a stronger person. Don’t let temporary regrets turn into lifelong ones. Instead, look back and smile. Because each experience, good and bad, makes you who you are. Life is still beautiful and continues on. n Naomi Berndt is 21 and lives in Crosslake.
Fall 2014 | her voice
Finds Her Peeps By KATHLEEN KRUEGER
When Lisa Jordan and her husband, Jeff, moved to rural Brainerd from the suburbs of Chicago, she thought she would be trading the arts culture of Chicago for the natural beauty of the northwoods. To her surprise and delight, that was not the case. Instead, she continues to be amazed at the strength and depth of the arts culture and community in the Brainerd lakes area. Lisa is the new director of The Crossing Arts Alliance, often referred to as â€œThe Crossingâ€? or TCAA. She was among several candidates that interviewed for the position after the previous director, Millie Engisch-Morris, resigned to take a position with another organization. Although Lisa has never worked for a nonprofit organization before, her years of experience working in the corporate world, along with her degree in studio art, made her a strong candidate for the position. Lisa is also a working artist herself with a focus on fiber art and working with felted wool.
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
Lisa Jordan, new director of The Crossing Arts Alliance, is an artist who works with fiber art and felted wool.
Fall 2014 | her voice
four kids foraging in the woods surrounding their home. Her kids have learned which plants are edible and which are not, but they aren’t always looking for items for the kitchen table. Often they’re looking for items for Lisa to use as natural dyes for her wool. Lisa collects things like strawberry plants, flowers, mushrooms, nuts and fungus to create a wide range colors. She also likes to combine her felted wool with wood and stones. She makes wood broaches unlike any you would find anywhere else. With the stones, she puts them in a nest of felting wool, then uses hot water to shrink the wool into seamless felting that covers the stone. To add more interest and texture to the felt covered stones, she uses brightly colored yarns and threads in creative designs. Some of Lisa’s small fiber covered stones are for sale in Art-o-mats all around the country, including the one in the Smithsonian. In addition to enjoying her natural surroundings and her artwork, Lisa loves to teach her skills to eager learners. She’s cre-
ated tutorials and taught small groups about hand sewing and felting. If you’d like to meet her, she’s the cheerful blonde sitting in the TCAA office located in the southeast corner of the Franklin Arts building. You’ll also find some of her creative work on display in the TCAA Sales & Gift Gallery. Be sure to check it out. n
Kathleen Krueger is a full-time freelance writer. You will find her articles in several lifestyle magazines, including HerLife Magazine and Upscale Living. She also provides mentoring and does workshops on beginning a freelance writing career online.
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Discovering The Crossing Arts Alliance a few years ago was Lisa’s first introduction to the arts community in the lakes area. She immediately became a member and began volunteering her time in their Sales & Gift Gallery located in the Franklin Arts Building. Lisa realized that she’d “found her peeps!” “I was amazed at all the different things The Crossing was doing,” Lisa recalls, “and by the number of talented people in our community.” When asked why she applied for the director position, Lisa explains that, as a member, the most important thing to her was that someone filled that position who would be committed to carrying on the important work of The Crossing. She has that kind of passion for the organization, but would have gladly supported any other person who had been chosen to fill that role. Within the first few weeks of serving as The Crossing’s new director, Lisa learned that the organization had an even broader level of interaction with the community than she had been aware of as a volunteer. She discovered programs that involved every age level and many different segments of society. The Behind the Bricks program is one program that Lisa is particularly proud to have The Crossing members involved in. Behind the Bricks brings art behind the brick walls of the Crow Wing County Jail. Volunteers work with inmates in the jail providing opportunities for the inmates to express themselves creatively, either in visual art or written form. In the spring of this year, dozens of pieces of art created through this program were brought to The Crossing Arts Alliance office. Local artists each selected a piece for which they would create a companion piece over the summer. Writers will be inspired by a visual piece they’ve selected and visual artists have selected written pieces to inspire their visual creations. The companion pieces will be exhibited together “Behind the Bricks” in the Crow Wing County Jail in September and then publicly at The Crossing’s Q Gallery in October. A premier-quality photo book will also be compiled that showcases the art created by the inmates. Lisa is always learning and adding new skills and materials to her artistic craft. Her love of nature figures strongly into her artistic creations as well. She often takes her
Fall 2014 | her voice
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
NO PETS LEFT BEHIND
By JENNY HOLMES
When she finally got to the point she couldn’t take the physical and verbal abuse any longer, Barbie Nelson knew she needed to get out. But the fear of what her husband of 28 years would do to her beloved cat, Sunny, and Macaw named JJ if she left, froze her in her tracks. Fortunately, Barbie didn’t have to face those fears due to the long-standing, open door policy for pets and their people at the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center in Brainerd. Louise Seliski began the program back in 1978, the first year the battered women’s shelter opened its doors, to allow women and their children to bring their family pets with them when they retreated from an abusive situation at home. Louise, who retired from the Center in 2011 after 33 years of serving as director, recalls a devastating situation that led her to allowing families to bring animals to the facility. “A few months after we had opened, we had a woman in the shelter whose husband was a very dangerous guy,” Louise recalls. “He had served time in prison for attempted murder. It was an abusive situation in which the woman decided to leave him and come to the Center. After she left, he began sending messages around to her friends saying that if she wasn’t home by the next day, he was going to kill their cat. She didn’t leave right away. But when she did go back home to retrieve some of her belongings, she found that he
Barbie Nelson removed herself, her cat Sunny and her Macaw JJ from an abusive situation, using the open door policy for pets at the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center.
Donations Donations are greatly appreciated! • Pet Food • Pet Supplies • Pet Carriers • Kitty Litter, Boxes and Liners
The Center also needs to build an outdoor kennel area.
More info: 828-1216 40
Fall 2014 | her voice
had beaten the cat to death with a baseball bat. And the cat didn’t die right away. It had run around the house and there was blood everywhere. It was so tragic. After that happened, I thought, ‘That’s it. This wasn’t going to happen again.’” The Women’s Center in Brainerd was the first battered women’s shelter in the United States to allow women to bring their family pets with when leaving an abusive home,
according to the American Humane Association, Louise noted. And while this type of program has been gaining momentum and media attention nationally over the past year, Louise is proud to say this local program has been offering it for nearly four decades. “I’m a pet owner, too,” Louise noted. “And it’s been proven that many women will stay in a violent relationship because of not being
Center’s hallways. “Everyone would laugh when they saw him,” she said. “They’d clap at him to get his attention and then all 30 pounds of him would go running back down the hall to my room after he was spotted. And everyone at the Center treated my pets so well. They didn’t make me feel bad that I was taking up space for myself or for them.” Several years ago, a grant from a national movement called Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T), allowed Louise and the Women’s Center to provide current vaccinations, spay/neuters, and other necessary health precautions to be administered to incoming animals. Today, donations are still accepted. Studies have shown that upwards of 48 percent of women refuse, or delay, leaving an abusive home out of fear of leaving their pets behind. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71 percent of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims. Louise recalled one particular story that specifically impacted her while serving at
Dr. Kristel Schamber Owner
the Center. The dog’s name was Precious. And Precious entered the Center with her female owner after fleeing a dangerous domestic situation at home. Precious was downstairs of the home when an altercation began upstairs between the man and woman. The man began beating the female. Precious heard this, ran upstairs and, physically, put herself between the two during the fight. The man, enraged, kicked Precious down the stairs. Bruised but not broken, Precious took to the stairs once more and went to defend her owner. “I felt like if any dog deserved to be in that shelter, it was Precious,” Louise said, “ And I think it’s made a huge difference in the lives of battered women and their kids.” We’re sure Precious and a certain cat and bird combo would agree. n
Jenny Holmes is a freelance writer and currently runs her own public relations and communications business. She lives in Nisswa with husband, Tim, and their two school-aged children.
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able to get their pets out. Some women will sleep in their cars with their pets. And, you know, there’s a real part of me that understands that. So, it really became important to me. If we were going to help battered women, that was something we needed to look at.” Back in 1978, Louise had approached local kennel facilities to see if they would be willing to temporarily house family pets while the woman and her children were at the shelter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t something those she contacted felt they could do at the time. So she took it upon herself to make it possible on-site. “In my home, my dog sits with me when I watch TV. My dog is like my child. And I couldn’t grieve any harder if I lost my dog,” Louise said. “Another consideration of that are the children of abusive families. They have to be uprooted from their homes, maybe leaving their favorite teddy bear behind. And then to be separated from their dog. That’s traumatic for these kids.” “Bringing pets into the shelter is kind of a last-resort type of thing,” Louise explained. “We typically check to see if the woman has any family, friends or neighbors who could keep the pets first.” There are only a few, select bedrooms at the Center designated for families with pets. Because of allergies, cats are only allowed in those designated rooms, as well as an outdoor courtyard area. “We don’t take every animal in,” Louise noted. “People have to sign a contract and they have to take care of their own animal. We would never take in an animal that we felt would be a danger to anyone.” But Louise is sure that troubles from people far outweighed those from pets over her tenure at the Center. “I did this for 33 years, and I can tell you that people created far more problems than any animal we ever took in. I am totally amazed at the dogs, in particular, we’ve taken in. Gentle. Calm. Lovable. And everyone adored them, including children at the Center who didn’t have pets. It was so therapeutic.” Nearly four years ago, when Barbie first entered the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center, she brought with her an exotic bird and a cat – her pride and joy. “I’m sure they were thinking, ‘who has a bird and a cat?,” Barbie laughed. “But I knew, with the situation I was in, I couldn’t leave them at home. They aren’t pets. They’re my family.” Occasionally, Sunny, her extra-large feline would escape from their room into the
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years of Thanksgiving
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON An annual tradition since 1993: Floyd and Vi Smith’s progeny and volunteers prepare turkey and fixings for the Pine River community.
By CAROLYN CORBETT
A long table laden with pumpkin pie and apple pie topped with whipped cream. Cheerful fall tablecloths and bright yellow napkins. Wicker baskets of rolls gracing tables. The bewitching aromas of turkey and dressing floating in the air. Laughter and teasing. Matching orange T-shirts on a whole bunch of bustling people. It was Thanksgiving Day 2013. Eight of Floyd and Vi Smith’s nine children were at work at the American Legion in Pine River preparing to serve 350 pounds of turkey, mounds of potatoes and dressing and 40 pies. One son was in Iowa; one daughter flew in from Denver. Sixteen grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren were there, too, for the annual tradition. The family served the community as they honored the memory of Floyd and Vi Smith. It was Floyd and son Tom who got the whole thing going
Fall 2014 | her voice
back at Christmas 1993. Daughter Lissa (Smith) Douglas and her husband Jim were in their second year helping deliver Christmas dinner meals from the Legion. The couple ended up back at the folks’ house afterward where the guys said, “We should do this on Thanksgiving. Let’s do something as a family for the community.” Floyd believed nobody should eat alone on Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Or Easter. When the Smith kids were growing up, Floyd and Vi always had extras at their holiday celebrations. Anyone who would have had a solitary meal was invited to join the Smith family. So Floyd was thrilled at the thought of giving back to the community, making sure nobody was isolated. For him it was like having some friends over for a holiday dinner, only on a larger scale. Floyd Smith was present for only the first of the dinners,
passing away before the second was hosted, but his family carried on the tradition in respect for their father. Vi was the official greeter and go-to person until she passed away shortly before Thanksgiving 2012 at age 86. The Smith â€œkidsâ€? range in age from 51 to 67. The grandkids and great-grands are enthusiastic participants, the youngest among them bubbling with pride at the opportunity to help. Even the tiniest tykes wear T-shirts proclaiming the 20th annual Thanksgiving dinner. There is no charge for the Smith family Thanksgiving dinner. It is open to anyone looking for a meal on the holiday. Those who choose to make a donation know it will go for more good. The money supports the local food shelf and provides mittens and hats for youngsters in need at the elementary school. One year money went to support the First Responders. Before the doors were unlocked in November 2013, son David led the Smith clan in a prayer of thanksgiving for all the gifts in their lives. When the doors were opened unto a chilly day, there came wonderful white-haired folks with canes and walkers, shy toddlers, families and singles, all hungry and happy to be there. Eugene Meier, Pine River, has been at all 20 of the dinners. He arrived in his yellow plaid shirt and dapper hat and sat wait-
Far right Mary Roubal (left) and Sherry Hutchins enjoy each otherâ€™s company when they volunteer at the community meal.
Continued on page 46... Fall 2014 | her voice
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From page 43...
Volunteers have fun making the meal a success.
ing for buddies to fill the chairs and “tell lies and drink coffee.” Wally Velishek and his family came from Belle Plaine, a three-hour drive each way, and his siblings came too. Their grandmother, Doris Wiese, has lived in Pine River for over 30 years. She’s in her 90s now and her family didn’t want to overwhelm her with activity, so the family gathered together as guests of the Smiths. In from the cold came 209 people, and there to feed them were Tom Smith, Teresa Smith Chambers, Pat Smith, David Smith, Bill Smith, Shirley Smith Forrey, Lissa Smith Douglas, Mary Smith Roubal and all their kin. Each of the people who came through the door was welcomed as a cherished guest. They were cordially escorted to the tables where they waited for the double serving lines to open, before filling their plates with traditional Thanksgiving fare. They were asked if they needed their plates carried to the tables for them or if they needed refills of coffee or if pie could be fetched for them. Their reception was beyond neighborly. It was heartwarmingly sincere. Equally sincere was the gratitude of the guests. Some eyes glistened with tears as appreciative diners expressed their thanks. Dinners were carried out to 90-100 people around the community. The deliveries were made to private homes, three 46
Fall 2014 | her voice
senior apartment buildings and the employees at work in the Holiday gas station. In the past the Smiths have delivered meals to local EMTs, police, Whispering Pines Good Samaritan home and Essentia, for families called in to spend final hours with dying family members. Each person received two styrofoam containers. One was filled with all the hot foods: turkey, stuffing, vegetables, potatoes and gravy; the other held carrot and celery sticks, a roll and butter, cranberries and a piece of pie. Those who deliver the food are touched by the greeting they receive. “When you deliver into a house,” the family says, “there is so much emotion, so many thanks.” The delivery team tries to take the younger family members with them at least once so they can experience that joy in giving to others. The planning began shortly after Thanksgiving the year before. Lists were compiled and numbers figured. Had there been too much of something or not enough of something else? As November neared there were plates, napkins and cups to be acquired, turkey deals to be scouted out, T-shirts to be ordered, arrangements made for pies and rolls. On the day before Thanksgiving, preparations began in earnest. Some cook turkeys at home in roasting bags. Eight other turkeys – two ovens full –
are baked at the Legion. All are carved on that Wednesday and divided into trays of white meat and dark meat. Giblets and vegetables are simmered for hours for the stuffing. It is a family affair and they all work hard together to make it happen. But it’s not all work. “This is a fun, fun family,” said granddaughter Sherry Hutchins. “The laughs and carrying on, the silliness. This is the sound of love.” Less than 48 hours after those initial preparations, when all who congregated had been fed, the Smiths gathered in small groups to eat their own turkey dinners. Afterwards some left for other holiday commitments while others stayed till the end, washing pots and pans, cleaning the kitchen and the main room, mopping the floors, leaving the Legion rooms spotless. The day had lasted from early morning until late afternoon. “This is the love,” said Sherry again. “We know Grandpa and Grandma are watching us.” n
Prior to playing with words for a living, Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years. At 35, she resigned and sailed off into the sunset. Literally. Along the way she became a contributing writer for a number of sailing magazines. Today, as a freelance writer/editor, she has over 250 articles published in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines.
506 James Street, Brainerd, MN • 218-829-4705 www.brainerddispatch.com • www.pineandlakes.com
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