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Summer ’15 Contents
Alive and Kickin’
An Outdoor Woman
Preserving The Woods and Wild
Nancy Cross Community Conductor
Three nonagenarians share their lessons in longevity. By Jill Hannah Anderson
When an alligator suddenly charged her in the wilds with tale whipping and jaw snapping, depredation biologist Mandy Uhrich didn’t back down. By Sheila DeChantal
New to the area and Northland Arboretum, Mary Corrigan has a “can do” philosophy. By Jenny Holmes
This economic development executive knows the value of networking on a personal and professional level. By Arlene Jones
She’s high profile during the Fourth of July, but this head of Brainerd Community Action has a diversity of duties. By Carolyn Corbett
On The Cover Photo by Mary Aalgaard, Joy Ciaffoni picks strawberries at
Wallin’s Berry Farm.
our intrepid photographer, had to take some time off with a broken ankle, but she’s back at it this summer, eager to capture life in lake country.
In This Issue editorial • 6
spirituality • 16
business • 28
books • 38
by Danae Blanck Anderson
by Rebecca Flansburg
Multi-Cultural Books For Girls
Marching On In The Light Of God
Working With An Interior Designer
OAB? LOL? OMG! Urinary Incontinence
food • 23
outdoors • 31
clubs and clusters • 40
travel • 14
summer fun • 26
by Denise Sundquist
by Sheila Helmberger
by Joan Hasskamp
by Cynthia Bachman
Finding Her Voice by Meg Douglas
health • 11
by Melody Banks
by Marlene Chabot
Strawberry Fields by Mary Aalgaard
What’s New At The Zoo
Wild Women Run The Ragnar Race resorts • 36
SweetWater Resort by Catherine Rausch
4 Summer 2015 | her voice
Living With Lyme Disease
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PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON
from the editor
Finding Her Voice —Then It Got Real Loud
ou don’t have to live on a farm
to love strawberry picking.
Or the strawberry picking
article by Mary Aalgaard in this edition of Her Voice.
By women. For women. About women.
Meg Douglas DESIGN AND LAYOUT
A frequent contributor, Mary is multitalented with multi-interests. She writes freelance, plays, reviews, blogs; she teaches piano and drama. It’s an impressive list and speaks to a creative fertility like the Red River Valley farmland where she grew up. A family grain farm in Good Hope Township was home to Mary, the fourth of six children. Mary wasn’t a “dig in the dirt,” kind of farm girl. While older brothers cultivated the soil on tractors or rode combines, she cultivated the imagination, keeping a journal, reading books, telling stories, playing piano, causing her mother to wonder, “What’s going to become of you?” Putting minds at ease, Mary graduated from the University of North Dakota with an English and German major, taught English, first in a small town called Oslo then later in the communities of East Grand Forks, Grand Rapids and Parkers Prairie before landing in the Brainerd lakes area— and finding her voice. As Mary tells the story, Jennifer Wilson, then pastor at Lord of Life Lutheran, asked her for thoughts on women and faith. That became her first Her Voice column, “Faithful Mothers,” in 2005. Mary’s writing skills resonated with the magazine and soon she was writing on a regular basis. “I never thought of myself as a writer,” says Mary — until she was published. Now, more than wife, mother, teacher, she was a writer, taking a picture of her first publication check, marking a new identity. After her “Faithful Mothers” column, Mary wrote more on mothering, raising children and later on writing and theater. 6 Summer 2015 | her voice
How exciting to see her self esteem grow, as did her expanding focus, right before our eyes! It was after a divorce in 2009 that Mary started blogging. Not isolating, blogging connected her to others, almost in a smalltown way. “I followed other bloggers, they’d follow me, I felt I knew them,” says Mary. Four years ago, The Guthrie Theatre put out an all-call for reviewers. While some might be daunted by regular trips to the Twin Cities, Mary put aside any self-doubt, applied and was selected, later adding the Children’s, Ordway and Park Square Theatres to her list of reviews. After reviewing other plays, Mary wrote her own, “Coffee Shop Confessions,” premiering at Coco Moon in Brainerd and other coffee shops in the area. Another play is percolating in this playwright’s head, “Grandma Grace,” the story of an older woman who gives piano lessons while being cared for by her community. Beside major multi-tasking, including 18 piano students, Mary teaches theater classes to elementary and middle school students. A case study in success, Mary dreamed big dreams, believed in herself, then launched a career in the wider world. Mary puts it more memorably: “Her Voice helped me find my voice — then it got real loud!”
Meg Douglas, Editor
Joey Halvorson COPY EDITOR
For advertising opportunities (218) 829-4705 1-800-432-3703 Online at: www.her-voice.com CONTACT US: Comments, suggestions or story topics: Lisa.Henry@brainerddispatch.com (218) 855-5871 or mail to ATTN: Her Voice Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 A quarterly publication of the Brainerd Dispatch. Printed by Forum Communications.
copyright© 2003 VOLUME 15, EDITION 2 SUMMER 2015
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Feel confident and pain free again
’ n i k c i K d n Alive a
(L-R) Lorraine, Alice, and Fern, getting ready for their 90th birthday party and kicking up their heels.
PHOTOS AND STORY By JILL HANNAH ANDERSON
1924, when the average life expectancy was 54 years, Fern (Lingwall) Deshayes, Alice (Johnson) Hite and Lorraine (Deshayes) Sturdevant were born. At 91, Fern is the “old gal.” Alice and Lorraine, born the same day, will turn 91 in August. And they all still live alone in their own homes.
8 Summer 2015 | her voice
These women, all related through marriage, have been friends for more than 75 years. Alice grew up on a farm half way between Emily and Crosby. Fern was born and raised on the family farm, formerly located where Emily Greens Golf Course is today. Lorraine, born in Iowa, moved with her family to the Emily area at the age of 1. As teenagers, they spent their free time walking around the quaint town of Emily. “My brother had the café, and we’d stop in there for a soda or a snack,” Alice remembers. “Ice cream was a big treat back then.” Fern says. “Word would get around when Anderson’s ice cream shop got a shipment.” With no electricity, the ice cream was stored on dry ice and didn’t last long. Folks in the town also had ice cream socials. “We’d sit out on the lawn of a home in town, everyone making their ice cream, and sharing it,” Fern continues. “Maybe that’s why I like ice cream so much,” Lorraine says. “You know what I didn’t like? That Garfield tea my mom made us drink!” Fern looks at Lorraine, puzzled. “You probably didn’t like the taste of it because it was a laxative!” They all got a good chuckle out of that. Each attended a different grade school. At Alice’s Fairfield
schoolhouse, “We’d bring a raw potato to school, put it in the ashes of the pot belly stove and it would be ready for lunch.” Fern talks about the soup she’d put on top of the stove in the Emily schoolhouse, and Lorraine remembers “going across the street to the grocery store and spending my pennies on gum,” at the Fifty Lakes schoolhouse. As teenagers, Alice cleaned cabins and worked at Miners Hospital in Crosby. Fern worked at the Emily grocery store and Lorraine, whose family moved to Washington State when she was a teen, got her first job as a nanny for a lady with a heart condition. When World War II broke out, Lorraine changed jobs. “I went to welding school at Winslow Marine Railway & Shipbuilding, on Bainbridge Island. We built Minesweepers and worked on repair ships. I met my husband, Bert, in the shipyard. He was a welder, and one day he was welding below me on the ship. My sparks were falling on him and he came up and was angry with me,” Lorraine laughs at the memory. “He got over it.” Meanwhile, back in Emily, Alice and Fern were dancing up a storm. Area farmers hosted barn dances and there were dance halls everywhere with goofy names like The Golden Bubble and The Pine Cone. Alice smiles, remembering those fun times. “I think that’s why I like old country and western songs so much, they remind me of all those dances years ago.” Fern has saved many items from those years, including some of the ration tokens from World War II used to buy specific items such as sugar, coffee, tires or shoes. “I’ve kept things that have a history to them, things like all the letters from my friends and husband.” Lorraine looks at Fern in surprise. “You have old letters I wrote you? Burn them! I don’t want anyone seeing that silly stuff I wrote.” Fern just grins. I don’t think she’s going to burn them. The three young girls’ simple dreams of finding love and having a home and family of their own (each had two children) were fulfilled in the 1940s. After the war, Lorraine and her husband moved back to the area and, in 1948, they built Emily Hardware with brother-inlaw Ronald Havenor. While Lorraine stocked shelves and checked
Lorraine (center) riding with other ship workers on their way to work in Winslow, Wash.
“I went to welding school... we built Minesweepers and worked on repair ships.” ~ Lorraine
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Summer 2015 | her voice 9
“I think that’s why I like old country and western songs so much; they remind me of all those dances years ago.” ~ Alice in inventory at their store, Alice and Fern worked at the Emily grade school. I asked them if they could have chosen a career years ago, what it would be. “I’d have gone to school to be a teacher,” Fern says. “I’d have loved to get into photography,” comments Lorraine. And Alice? “I wish I would have gone in to home interior design.” Which brings me to the question I asked each of them separately — yet got the same answer from all three. (Listen up here teenage girls!) What advice would they give young women today? All stressed getting an education so you can support yourself before rushing into marriage. What keeps these women going is their varied interests. If you drive by Alice’s house in the summer, you’ll likely see her out gardening. In the winters Alice quilts by hand and started doing woodwork and painting years ago with Fern. “After we retired from working at the school, we started using a jigsaw and planer to make wood crafts,” Alice says. Fern’s husband, Art, taught her how to paint in the mid-1990s. Fern now paints ornaments, glass, rocks — just about anything — and sells them at an area craft fair. She belongs to Pine River Art Club and sells her paintings through the club. She has taught Alice to paint and, along with Fern’s friend Lenore Croatt, they paint in Fern’s studio. Lenore is a great help to Fern, bringing in the wood each day for Fern’s wood stove and loading it for her. “I wouldn’t be able to live on my own without Lenore’s help.” Fern’s two daughters, Susan and Robyn, live in the Duluth area and are thankful Lenore is close by to help their mom. Lorraine spends her summers working in her enormous yard and in winter she does scrapbooking and embroidery. “I also enjoy taking photos of the wildlife that wander into my yard.” Lorraine misses the driver’s license she gave up a few years ago. Thelma and Louise — I mean Alice and Fern — still have their licenses and can be spotted driving all over the county. At their age, health is a major concern. “My daughter, Doreen, drives school bus and checks on me every morning when she drives by. If I don’t have my light on and shade up by 7 a.m., she calls,” Alice says. Her
10 Summer 2015 | her voice
(L to R) Alice, Fern, Lorraine at age 15. The beginning of a 75-plus year friendship
son, Gary, also lives in Emily and helps her out. Alice has a medic alert, so does Fern. Then there is stubborn Lorraine. “I know, Denise keeps bugging me to get one.” Lorraine says of her daughter, who lives around the corner and checks on her every day. They have all taken some pretty good spills and have had some other health issues but, overall, are doing well. “We’re stubborn,” says Fern. Alice and Lorraine agree. “That’s why we’re still here!” They chuckle. Their stubbornness may help keep them going, but so does the love they have for their town and their longstanding friendship. “I have so many wonderful memories of growing up here,” says Fern. Alice agrees. “I love being close to church, the post oﬃce, grocery store, and friends.” And for Lorraine, “I love the lakes and rivers. Emily has always been home. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.” After all, this is where their heart — and friends — are. n
Jill Hannah Anderson enjoys writing, running, reading, and the outdoors, has started a new guest book recommendation blog: http://fridayfictionfriend.blogspot.com/ and is currently working on her second women’s fiction novel. You can connect with her here:www.JillHannahAnderson.com.
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By MELODY BANKS
Some find it so embarrassing that Dr. Michael Cady, a gynecologist at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, says, “Women will often choose to endure it for years rather than discuss it with their doctor.” Cady wants women to know that the problem is quite common. It is estimated that as many as 37 million men and women in the US experience incontinence. And, according to Cady, “Women are twice as likely to be affected because of their anatomy, pregnancies, childbirth and menopause. Pregnancy and childbirth can stretch or weaken the pelvic muscles which may not cause a problem until a woman is older and estrogen levels decrease. Our goal is educating women to help them understand that urinary incontinence is nothing to be embarrassed about and it is treatable.”
Summer 2015 | her her voice voice 11 11
Women with incontinence have several treatment options. PHOTO BY MELODY BANKS
One study suggests a woman may wait as long as six years before seeing a physician.
12 Summer 2015||her |her hervoice voice 12 2015 voice 10 Summer Spring 2014 2015 her voice 10 Winter
Urge and stress incontinence are the most common types of urinary incontinence. Though both result in leakage, the causes and treatment options vary. Urge incontinence is often called Overactive Bladder (OAB). “This type of incontinence happens when nerves in the bladder send signals to the brain that cause it to contract and leak,” explains Cady. “OAB can also create an uncomfortable feeling of the need to urinate even though the bladder is not full.” Stress incontinence is also frustrating. “Weak muscles or damaged tissue is often the cause of stress incontinence” says Cady. “A woman may only cough, sneeze or laugh to cause leakage. In a small number of cases the pelvic muscles may have become weakened causing the uterus to drop into the vagina, putting pressure on the bladder.” This condition is called pelvic prolapse. “Women often wait until incontinence begins to affect their quality of life before they schedule an appointment,” explains Cady. One study suggests a woman may wait as long as six years before seeing a physician. “They may wear pads or avoid social gatherings and traveling. Incontinence can lead to women becoming isolated. I’d like them to know there are several safe and effective treatment options available today for both urge and stress incontinence.” Treatment may begin with trying Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles. “I generally recommend a visit to a physical therapist for a couple of biofeedback sessions,” says Cady. “This helps women target the right muscles. Up to 80 percent of women will see an improvement if the exercises are done correctly.” In cases where the exercises are not effective, women have
other choices. “Several medications are available for OAB,” says Cady. “If medications don’t work, we can perform a same day surgery and implant a neuromodulator called the InterStim System. It is a small device, similar to a pacemaker that was approved by the FDA in the 1990s. The surgery is very low risk with a success rate as high as 70-80 percent. “Women dealing with stress incontinence also have several options available,” adds Cady. “We feel it is important to offer a non-surgical choice first so we often suggest that they try a pessary device. The pessary is inserted into the vagina and supports the uterus or bladder.” Pessaries are mainly used for pelvic prolapse but they can also be helpful for women with urinary stress incontinence.
The surgical option for stress incontinence is the TVT Tension-free sling. This 20 minute surgery uses a mesh support-sling. “It has become the gold standard option for treating stress incontinence with a 90 percent success rate,” says Cady. “While women may have seen commercials targeting earlier mesh sling procedures in lawsuits, the ads are misleading. They should not be concerned. It is a very safe and effective surgery.” One of Cady’s patients, a 62-year-old woman from Aitkin, couldn’t agree more. She had the procedure done in December 2014 and reports she has not had any trouble with the TVT Sling and that it has changed her life. “It is true what they say about women dealing with incontinence,” she says. “I had quit going places. It was embarrassing. I was wet all the time. I wondered, ‘Do I smell? How often should I take a bath, three times a day? I waited too long, four or five years, before I had anything done about it. I wish I had done it years ago. Now I can go to work or out to dinner or a movie and I don’t have to worry. The best thing is I don’t have to wear pads anymore!” n
Melody Banks lives in Nisswa. She works as a freelance writer and graphic artist.
Summer 2015 | her voice 13
Jenna Hemphill at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Jenna was awarded a full scholarship to attend Hebrew University.
STUDIES HEBREW IN JERUSALEM
By JOAN HASSKAMP
Hemphill’s love of travel has given her a unique perspective
on cultures throughout the world, including an understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conﬂict after studying Hebrew in Jerusalem.
It began in the summer of her senior year at Pequot Lakes when she and three others from the Evangelical Free Church in Crosslake traveled to Malawi in southeast Africa on a mission trip. She loved the experience so much that she went back again the following year to assist at a church run school for orphans. “Those two trips to Africa gave me a taste for travel and put wanderlust in me,” Jenna said. During college at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago,
14 Summer 2015 | her voice
she traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for one semester to study at Belfast Bible College, which was aﬃliated with her school. Between her junior and senior year she traveled to Indonesia to teach college students English as a foreign language. There were very few tourists or international visitors, which meant she stood out with her blond hair and blue eyes. “Some days I literally stopped traﬃc when I stepped out the door,” Jenna recalled with a laugh.
After graduation from Moody’s, she became interested in Biblical Hebrew, which led to a six month stay in Israel. She volunteered at a Christian community, where she received full room and board plus a small stipend in exchange for housekeeping in a hotel. “During my stay, I realized how much I enjoyed living in Israel,” Jenna said. “It was similar enough to the U.S. that I felt comfortable in the surroundings.” Eager to return to Jerusalem, the Fifty Lakes resident applied for a scholarship to attend Hebrew University to work on a master’s degree. When summer faded and no word came from the college, she concluded that a return to Israel wasn’t to be. Then five weeks before the start of classes, she received notification that she had been awarded a full scholarship. She found the school to be much more secular than the conservative Christian Evangelical College she attended in Chicago. But her biggest challenge was adjusting to everyday life in a foreign country. It was a daily struggle to figure out how to ride the bus, where to buy groceries or do laundry. Once she learned the Hebrew language and the customs, she became more comfortable. Over time she made many friends and met a variety of people. Jenna found that her viewpoint changed on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict because she was exposed to many different perspectives. She described relations between the two groups as very complex — socially, politically and emotionally. “No one is right and no one is wrong,” Jenna said. “Each group has to recognize their own faults and seek peace over revenge.” One of the highlights for her was attending a Passover ceremony in the Samaritan community. Because the Samaritan community is very small, close-knit and isolated, few people from the outside ever witness the slaughter of the lambs. Jenna found she was far more comfortable with the killing than her friend from Berlin, a big city. “My time in Israel was a very formative experience,” she said. “Jerusalem attracts a wide variety of people, from students to tourists to international
“When I work hard, focus on today and keep my eyes open, the opportunities present themselves.” ~ Jenna Hemphill
workers. I’m so thankful for the many experiences I had and people I met.” Jenna, 26, returned to the lakes area in September with a M.A. in Bible and Ancient Near East. Her ultimate goal is to teach Biblical Hebrew at the university level, which will require a Ph.D. While this will necessitate three to five years of additional study, she remains undaunted. “I’ve always been a stubborn and determined person.” Her resolve is best illustrated by an experience from her childhood. When Jenna was 9 she asked her parents for a horse. They initially said no because of the cost and their belief she wasn’t mature enough to care for the animal. After much persuasion, they gave her the green light but only if she could raise the money. By working numerous odd jobs and saving every penny, she purchased Buddy a mere four years later. “I’ve had Buddy 13 years and he is the love of my life,” she said. That same determination has propelled her to learn multiple languages as she travels the globe. Her initial trip to Africa made her realize that there is another very different world beyond
the borders of Minnesota. Until she resumes her schooling, she may move to the metropolitan area to teach English as a second language. “I’m so thankful to God for giving me the opportunities I’ve had,” Jenna said. “When I work hard, focus on today and keep my eyes open, the opportunities present themselves. Things just seem to fall in place.” n
Joan Hasskamp is currently working on a humorous book titled “We Don’t Care Who Wins as Long as Joan Loses.” Now that she’s retired she has even more time to embellish and exaggerate stories about herself. She lives in Crosby.
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Summer 2015 | her voice 15
Marching On in The Light of God
M STORY AND PHOTOS By MARLENE CHABOT
“Marching on in the light of God...” So begins a song Salvation Army members sing, including rettired ired Midwest congregational leaders Lt. Colonels Bodil B odil and Marvin Dahl who worked side by side
At the Brainerd Salvation Army headquarters, Pastor Bodil Dahl.
for 39 years in the service of the Lord. This February, the Dahls celebrated 51 years of marriage. A marriage planned by God, fate and faith bringing the two together. Bodil Götrich and Marvin Dahl met in 1960 at the Salvation Army Church on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis, a week after Bertil and Lissy Götrich arrived in Minnesota with their four children. “I was 16 when we first met,” Bodil says. “We had left Karlshamn, Sweden, behind because my parents, Salvation Army pastors, had been offered the opportunity to evangelize in America.” The couple felt the call to full-time ministering while they were dating, but it wasn’t until 1964, six months after their marriage, that they finally followed through with their career plans and enter the two-year Salvation Army seminary (College for Oﬃcer Training) program in Chicago. As I listened to the friendly, energetic Swedish woman generously share snippets of her extraordinary life before 16 Summer 2015 | her voice
and after marriage, it wasn’t diﬃcult to piece together what influences shaped the woman she became — a Salvation Army soldier. Bodil, the oldest child and only girl,
Bodil and her husband Marvin Dahl have been married for 51 years.
was born in Strömsund Jamtland, a northern region of Sweden. Her parents had been pastors to the Laplanders
for several years before her birth. Three months after her arrival, her father requested a move to southern Sweden. “He was tired of the extremely cold winters,” she explained. Karlshamn was a pleasant, idyllic Baltic Sea town to grow up in. While still a young girl, she learned very quickly not to be afraid of work. “At age 11 I picked strawberries and when I turned 12 I worked in my father’s music and pet store.” She was taught a portion of the money she earned was to be tithed to the church and given to missionary work. When she was 12 1/2, more responsibilities were placed on her shoulders. Her mother was hospitalized for three months after her youngest brother was born and she had to make sure her three brothers were fed, sent off to school and finished their homework. “I grew up fast, but there was a lot of love in our family.” December of her 12th year, Salvation Army chose Bodil to portray St. Lucia for their St. Lucia celebration.
“Four-hundred people packed the chapel.” After Bodil’s formal education in Sweden was finished, she began studies to be a beautician, completing them at Robbinsdale Beauty School in Minnesota. She worked first for Bungalow Beauty Shop, where she remained for almost four years. “It gave me a chance to work with people of all walks of life and witness to my faith,” says Bodil. Later, her work with Salvation Army congregations throughout the Midwest continued to enhance her love for the Lord and involvement with a diverse group of people. The married lieutenants’ first congregational appointment was in Sturgis, Mich., where their eldest son was born. “Working with your partner is great because you share the responsibilities.” During their 14-year stay in Michigan, the couple worked with nine congregations varying in size from small to large. Bodil and Marvin also spent four
years in Wisconsin, 13 1/2 years in Illinois, five years in Minnesota and a short stint in Indiana. “A three year period was spent in Wisconsin and upper Michigan,” Bodil said, “working with younger people at the various Salvation Army locations. During the summer we were involved with youth camps at Army Lake Camp.” Another short assignment found them supervising seniors in western Michigan and northern Indiana as second in command. The Lt. Colonel enjoyed working with women’s groups the most and seeing the results. “Once I earned their confidence they began to open up and share their concerns with me. Then we would pray about it.” Near the end of their career, the couple established a pastoral care department so those in Salvation Army pastoral work could unload their burdens. “Not everyone has mentors they can speak confidentially to like Marvin and I did with our parents.” Nor a relative’s lake home to recharge themselves. “We
had no electricity, no running water, no fridge — just quiet time with the family. It was wonderful.” In 2000, the honor of advancement to Lt. Colonel was bestowed on the couple, a title normally reserved for supervisory positions. “We’re still marching on even in retirement,” says Bodil. Whenever Captain Scott Strissel of Brainerd’s Salvation Army needs their help or other church groups, they answer the call. “The Lord is my light and my shepherd, whom shall I fear...” Psalm 27. n Marlene Chabot is a freelance writer, novelist and member of Great River Writers, Sisters In Crime and Marco Island Writers. Last fall, two of her short stories appeared in anthologies. She’s currently working on her fifth mystery novel. Find her on Facebook at Marlene Mc Neil Chabot or www. marlenechabotbooks.com
Summer 2015 | her voice 17
An Outdoor Woman
By SHEILA DECHANTAL
on’t let the blond hair fool you. At ﬁrst sight, 5-foot, 4-inch tall Mandy Uhrich looks like a girl who probably enjoys hanging out with her friends at coffee shops, sipping an iced mocha and catching up on the latest happenings. However, you would be mistaken.
A depredation biologist for the Department of Natural Resources, Mandy is taking not only the biology world by storm, but also the fishing world. If you don’t recognize her name, you should.
she knew she wanted to be a biologist. She always had a love for the outdoors and loved to puzzle out how nature worked. Besides, in rural North Dakota she says there was not a whole lot to do besides being outside. “TV was not an option. Video games were not a thing. You had school, and you had your chores, and then you were kicked outdoors,” says Mandy. During the early years when Mandy did get a chance to watch TV, she nearly wore out fishing videos, such as Al Linder’s. At the age of 18, Mandy became a hunting guide. To pursue her dream of biology, she moved to Minnesota and attended university. Mandy moved to Brainerd in 2008, working for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, then moving to the Department of Natural Resources in 2012.
Mandy Uhrich is a depredation biologist for the Department of Natural Resources and a professional angler and hunting guide.
In South Carolina, Mandy participated in an alligator hunt to destroy aggressive gators.
to prove herself on the water and there is where Mandy excelled. Now, Mandy travels six months a year, almost every weekend on the road, fishing tournaBiologist and Hunting Guide ments. Often, the men are approaching In her early 30s, Mandy is an outdoor her for fishing advice. woman. With five older brothers and as These fishing tournaments bring a the only girl in her family, Mandy says lot of joy to Mandy. It isn’t only about she is the only one who likes to hunt the fishing she says, it is also about the and fish. “Dad had almost given up on amazing people you meet. “You become having someone to hunt and fish with,” Fishing Tournaments It felt natural at that time to also jump like a family. You are on the water toMandy laughs, “and then suddenly here comes this little blond girl who wants into competitive fishing. While it is not gether, you eat together, and you help nothing more than to be outside doing uncommon to see women biologists, it one another and support one another. everything that he likes to do.” Mandy’s is uncommon to see women who fish Listening to some of the long-term fishfather was a fishing guide on Devils professionally, a sport 99 percent male. ermen tell their stories is such an experiMandy admits it took a while for her to ence. You become a part of their story. Lake in North Dakota. From a very young age, Mandy says be accepted as “one of the guys.” She had They become a part of yours.” 18 Summer 2015 | her voice
right at her. Even the experienced team she was with said they had never seen one so big. The alligator was hidden in the long grass and suddenly charged, tale whipping and jaw snapping. The startled team offered to help but Mandy said no (even though inside she admits she was a little freaked out!), that she wanted to do this herself. And to no one’s surprise, she did. Classes for Women One of Mandy’s current focuses is assisting women to be more comfortable in doing outdoor activities such as fishing. In April she offered a class only for women on selecting proper equipment and the proper techniques when fishing bass, muskie and other species. This class was offered for free thanks to the DNR’s program of Becoming An Outdoor Woman. What she hopes to create is a “safe zone” for women to ask questions. “It is hard to ask questions”, Mandy says, “When you are in a room with 30 guys who already know what is going on.” Mandy has noticed changes in the men/women ratio throughout the years and believes we are moving in the right direction. She says that now there are more opportunities for women to get involved in outdoor activities, even at the high school age. Her advice to women who want to fish and hunt: “Get out there and do it!” n
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ALICIA ELSON Sheila DeChantal is a freelance writer who feeds her bookish side by writing book reviews at her website: bookjourney.net. She lives in Brainerd with her husband and two rescue dogs. When she is not reading or writing she enjoys biking, running, hanging out with friends and anything that involves putting on a costume.
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Hunting Gators As a guide on one hunting trip, Mandy met a wonderful couple named Buddy and Ginger who invited her to come and hunt with them in South Carolina. She happily accepted, saying it was like they had adopted her. Last year, this same couple invited her to assist in an alligator hunt. This hunt was a depredation hunt, to eliminate the larger alligators (8 feet long or larger) that were becoming a danger to the area. These larger alligators become aggressive, showing up in people’s yards and endangering small children and pets. This hunt was to take out the troublesome alligators. Mandy went in with a team of three plantation managers on a 30,000-acre plantation where they set up snares on the land near the water for the alligators. “You check the snares several times a day as you do not want the alligators to suffer. When you go back and find a snare no longer on the grass where you set it, it has an alligator and it is time to go and capture that alligator.” “Capture” means that you bring the alligator close enough to you to where you sit on the alligator, place charge order around its mouth, and tie up its legs. All of which Mandy insisted that she do on her own. Her biggest scare was one of her traps captured a very unhappy 11-foot, 700-pound alligator that came snapping
www.wrtower.com | 218.825.7787 Summer 2015 | her voice 19
Woods and Wild PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
Mary Mary, quite contrary. How does your garden grow? With volunteers and sweat and tears. And getting your ducks in a row.
By JENNY HOLMES
been a year-and-a-half since Mary Corrigan accepted the position of executive director at the Northland Arboretum. And in that time, she has taken a ‘can do’ philosophy to “let’s get it done.”
Summer 2015 | her voice
The Northland Arboretum
experience; worked with the Ikon The history behind the Northland Corporation in Bloomington as Arboretum is thick with irony. Vice President of Operations, givWhat was once the location of the ing her an extensive background in Brainerd landfill is now home to running a business; and worked as a over 500 acres of grasslands, tree consultant for businesses looking to plantations, lush gardens and nearly reorganize their business model. She 12 miles of trails for walking, run- knew business was her calling and ning, hiking and cross-country went to St Thomas University to get her MBA in Business Management. skiing. The trails are designed to ac- While in school she worked in opercommodate all ages and skill lev- ations, training, sales and marketing els and are considered among the for MoneyGram. When the combest in Minnesota. The arboretum pany announced it was relocating to is used extensively by junior high Dallas, she knew the time had come and high school runners and skiers to “exit stage left.” “It was at that point I thought, for both practice and competition. During the winter months, the trails ‘Where do I want to go? What do I are groomed professionally by the want to do?’” Since her husband had a job where Brainerd Nordic Ski Club. In addition, the arboretum owns he worked from home and had the a Norway pine plantation to the flexibility to relocate, the couple north, and leases land from Crow made the decision to move to their Wing County directly behind family lake home on Lake Alexander the Westgate Mall. The Nature in Cushing. During that time, Mary Conservancy owns nearly 200 acres learned of the position available at within the arboretum boundaries the Northland Arboretum. “With my past history in sales, — one of Minnesota’s primary exmarketing and an understanding amples of a Jack Pine Savanna. Areas of interest at the Northland of the financial aspect of running a Arboretum include several demon- business, I thought the executive distration gardens near its visitor cen- rector position would be a great fit.” Since being offered and acceptter, the Monet Bridge and Pond, the Department of Natural Resources ing the job, Mary said she truly feels Landscaping for Wildlife project, all roads have led to this place. Not the Secret Garden and many flower long after taking oﬃce, she rolled up her sleeves and began to dig in. beds maintained by volunteers. It goes without saying — it takes a motivated, and skilled, individual to Digging In Mary began at the ground level, keep all cylinders firing. And with a career touching on a evaluating the current Board of variety of fields and areas of exper- Directors and asking them to make tise, you could say Mary’s experience some diﬃcult decisions. “I wanted to change the expectais as vast as the opportunities within tions for what it means to be a board the Arboretum itself. member. I think it’s critical that each individual really gets involved. Mary’s Background Born and raised in St Cloud, I wanted to set the expectation that Mary received her undergradu- we’re a team and we all need to roll ate degree in teaching and taught up our sleeves and do this together.” The change in direction resulted second grade before she realized it wasn’t her calling. From there, in the resignation of a few standshe went into the banking indus- ing board members, but also allowed try, where she gained financial for an opportunity for the remain-
ing board to help determine areas of need within the board to provide diversity of those who represented the arboretum at an administrative level. “It has really been a learning experience. I think there is such a difference between the corporate world and the nonprofit world. There are some similarities, but many differences as well. From where it was when I started to where we’re at now, we’ve gotten into a better spot from a relationship standpoint to a financial standpoint. There’s more visibility, and that’s one of my goals to continue that.”
Arboretum Membership and Partnerships Since its inception over 40 years ago, the arboretum has been supported through membership, grants and special gifts. In 2014, Mary set a goal to reach 2,014 members. At the conclusion of the year, not only had they reached their goal but they also surpassed it with an impressive 2,047 members. In addition to enjoying all the Northland Arboretum has to offer, members also receive special discounts, invitation to membersonly events, special publications and more. But, likely, the most valuable perk comes by way of a recent partnership between the Northland Arboretum and the American Horticulture Society. Through this partnership, members of the Arboretum also receive free admission and parking at over 300 arboretums and gardens around North America and the Cayman Islands. Arboretum Awards In September 2014, on behalf of
the arboretum, Mary accepted the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Large Non-Profit of the Year award given by the Brainerd Jaycees and Brainerd Community Action. “That was really cool, being the Summer 2015 | her her voice voice 21 21
arboretum had never been awarded something like that before. It was quite an honor. When I look at all of the things that get accomplished here with a very small staff, and when you think about what it requires to run the whole arboretum; they’re very dedicated employees. They’re fabulous. But, as an
run events to, literally, getting their hands dirty by digging in the dirt. “Between the volunteers and the staff, that’s what keeps this place running.” But Mary isn’t one to rest on what has been achieved over the past few months. In early 2015, she held her first strategic planning meeting with the arboretum board. Through the process, several areas of focus were determined for moving into the future, including educational programs for all ages, building long-term partnerships within the community, as well as growing membership. “I felt it was important to get out of the oﬃce and visit with people in the community about what they feel is needed or is missing at the arboretum,” Mary said. “Taking into account the feedback we’ve received, we’re currently working with the University of Minnesota Rural Development on establishing a fitness trail at the arboretum.” With ground breaking in June and anticipated completion by August, the arboretum will be home to a fully Accessible Wellness Fitness Trail with two miles of trails through varied types of topography and fitness stations along the way. Users can walk or run the trail and stop at each station where an activity will be suggested via signage or smartphone. Mary said it was important to her that these trails be handicap accessible since current trails at the arboretum are not.
Future Goals Another of Mary’s goals for the coming year and beyond
includes expanding their children’s educational programming. The arboretum is currently working with the Crow Wing Master Gardener program to offer a Gardening 101 course for children in grades 3-7. Participants will come to learn from Master Gardeners about building and maintaining raised gardens. In addition, the Arboretum will provide an on-site plot for each participant to maintain and tend to their own raised garden throughout the Mary answers a young girl’s question about summer. a piece of fur at the arboretum. Mary has certainly set the bar high for herself, but she is conexecutive director, you also need to wear many hats. Some days fident with the teamwork of her staff, board and volunteers, the I may be out on the trail helping determine where we’re go- arboretum will make a name for itself in and around the lakes area ing to be dumping something, or as a recreation destination. giving a tour for a wedding. The “We just want to get everyone In 2014, over challenge is to make sure you’re excited again,” Mary emphasized. doing that but also getting out “This is beautiful property. And part in the community and accomof it is just the awareness that we’re plishing those strategic plans here. We have to continually make gave of their time. of building partnerships. It’s a sure we’re heard and people underbalance to spend your time relastand the different opportunities tionship building and also assure things are running smoothly available. I’m really hoping the addition of an Accessible Wellness at the arboretum. Sometimes it’s keeping many balls in the air. Fitness Trail will help raise awareness for this unique draw to the But it’s also very rewarding.” lakes area, which in turn helps the community. It’s really a win-win all the way around.” n Volunteers and Fitness Trails What’s even more impressive, Mary notes, is the number of individuals who believe so strongly in the arboretum that they Jenny Holmes is a former reporter for the Brainerd Dispatch and currently owns a public relations and volunteer countless hours to ensure its success. In 2014 alone, communication firm. She lives in Nisswa with husover 2,300 volunteers gave of their time to help coordinate and band, Tim, and their two school-aged children.
22 Summer 22 Summer 2015 2015 | her her voice voice
y r r e b w a Str
STORY AND PHOTOS By B MARY AALGAARD
laid out my grocery items on the conveyor belt: Sure Jell, sugar, ﬂour for a crust, and cream cheese that
I use as the “sauce” on my fruit pizza. The cashier asked what I was making. I told her strawberry jam, strawberry pie and fruit pizza. She said, “I don’t really like strawberries. They seem so tasteless.”
“Oh,” I said, “Then, you have never tasted strawberries picked fresh off the field, or better yet, a wild strawberry. That’s when they are the sweetest fruit.” The berries you buy at the store, or worse yet find crammed in your yogurt parfait cup from a chain coffee shop, can be horrible, either tasteless or bitter, and hard in texture, versus soft and juicy like the ones I popped in my mouth while picking berries last summer in the Brainerd lakes area. Those are the berries you serve over ice cream or use to adorn a fruit pizza that you’ll share at a family event, like a Fourth of July celebration and arrange the fruit like a pinwheel or American flag. I called up my sister Joy and asked if she’d like to go berry picking with me. She donned her big, floppy hat and off we went to Wallin’s Berry Farm. The air was warm, the day sunny, and the rows well attended. We both love musicals, so we worked our way up the rows to a few show tunes. When we got to “The Music Man,” we were living out the song, “Pick a little, talk a little, pick, pick, pick, talk, talk, talk.” We talked about the yummy things we could make with our fresh strawberries. We also talked about the healthy experience of getting out into the fresh air, moving our bodies (despite the knee strain), and getting locally grown produce. One of the best things you can do for your body is to eat foods Summer 2015 | her voice 23
ARM ER’ MARKETS
TUESDAYS: Franklin Arts Center Parking Lot, Brainerd, Minnesota THURSD AYS: American Legion Parking Lot Nisswa, Minnesota FRIDAYS : Gander Mountain Parking Lot Baxter, Minnesota
Fruits of her labor: Mary’s Fruit Pizza.
ALL MARKET HOURS 8 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
that are grown within about a 50 mile radius of your home. You’re guaranteed their freshness, and supporting a local business to boot. If you’re following the movement back to sustainable locally grown agriculture, you have several options here in the lakes area. We chose Wallin’s Berry farm to do our picking because it was close to Joy’s home. They are easy to find, three miles east of Nisswa on County Road 18, and they have friendly, helpful staff, and a thick padding of straw between the rows to help protect our knees as we scoot up the rows, picking and talking. You can find current picking conditions and dates for strawberries, raspberries and blueberries on their Facebook page. Another place to pick is Roger’s Berries, located five miles west of Garrison. My friend Cindy Bunting 24 Summer 2015 | her voice
picks there because it’s closer to her home, and Roger employed her boys last summer to pick for the folks who are unable to do their own picking. The boys learned that the earlier strawberries are bigger and juicier, and get smaller as the season progresses. They suggest coming early to pick to avoid the heat of the day. The boys are usually done picking by 8:00 a.m. to fill orders for the day. Use sunscreen, or wear a big hat! It can be buggy out in the fields, so they also recommend insect repellent for the mosquitos. Wash your hands before picking, though, so you don’t get the spray on the berries. I didn’t find a website for Roger’s Berries, but you can call ahead to find out picking conditions or to place an order, 218-839-2665. A few other places to get local ber-
ries are Brambling Rows and Nelson Shine farms. Nelson Shine is located southwest of Brainerd. They have a map on their website, as well as a phone number and a list of the various farm produce they have between three different farms owned by family members. Brambling Rows is located south of Brainerd, near St. Matthias. They have a large selection of u-pick produce and are easily found on the internet for updates of growing seasons and picking. These are just a few of the places to pick berries and get fresh produce in the Brainerd lakes area that I found by visiting with fresh food lovers and searching the internet. You may know of others in the area. Also, many of the local growers bring their produce to the Farmer’s Markets, where you can easily get all that you need and more! Plus, it’s
We live here.
love here. know here.
a Knosall Sandy-296-1111 218
Mary picked 16 pounds of berries with sister Joy.
Sandy Swanson 218-839-4390
lam ra F1-7229 b e D -82 8
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fun to visit with the growers and chat with the friends you bump into. Picking with my sister was a blast. We talked about our mom and her love of gardening, which Joy inherited, and I did not. I kept my mind on the prize, though, as we kept half-crawling, picking, and talking, until we came to the end of our long rows and carried our full buckets to the pay station. We had crawled, talked, and picked our way to 16 pounds of berries! Mmm. Mm. n Mary Aalgaard is a freelance writer and blogger. Her words stretch across the globe through her blogs on www.playoffthepage.com. Her original drama â€œCoffee Shop Confessionsâ€? was performed in coffee shops around the Brainerd area in 2012. She works with both children and adults to create original dramas, and is offering theatre classes for kids where they write their own plays and create the set, with the help of her sock puppets Millie and Willie Cottonpoly. Summer 2015 | her voice 25
on Carl3s39 y d Cin 1-0
Karin Nelson 218-839-6310
atten Dolly M 92 51-42
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Dinah Sundberg 218-839-1918
nen Hei 83
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Judy Altri 218-820-4
Summer 2015 | her voice 25
o o books fun summer
By CYNTHIA BACHMAN
The fact is, if you have a giraﬀe I want to be your friend. The That is why I was ﬁrst in line to purchase a season pass That when the Safari North Wildlife Park opened south of Brainerd the summer of 2014. And I plan to be ﬁrst when they re-open this summer.
Cheyanne Vogel (right) and Megan Pierso n.
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It is a wonderful park with a mix of animals from five continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America. Pens and plantings are arranged so that the animals reside in designated areas together as they would in a savanna. Trails flow though the zoo for people to view animals with good vantage points at both ground level and raised platforms. For the last 20 years Kelly and Kevin Vogel have traveled the Midwest with their petting zoo, camel rides, pony rides, pig races and wildlife educational shows. But now they have settled with their two children, Cheyanne and Zachary, and their many animals in the Brainerd lakes area. After all of their travels they have decided that it is time to be in a permanent location. Therefore they have
worked long and hard to plan, plant, and build trails, fences, shelters and displays on 42 acres. Then they moved 60-plus species of mammals, birds, reptiles and primates to the wonderful and well situated beautiful park: Brainerd’s new local zoo. OK, a moment here, think about moving a giraffe?! Their dedication to the animals is top notch, as they provide fresh food and water, clean pens and keep up with daily chores and maintenance, as well as focus on the safety and health needs of the animals. Each of the animals and birds have been born and raised in captivity. Kelly and Kevin’s goal is to provide the animals and the zoo guests with the best possible experience. The Vogels are aware that seeing and touching an animal can make a
life-long impression, that to interact with animals may create a connection to nature and influence one’s world. Safari North Wildlife Park provides exhibits and community relations to reach their goal to understand, celebrate and conserve wildlife through excellence in education and animal husbandry. They support classroom studies that engage students in critical thinking, observation and discovery — all provided in a safe, comfortable, fun and stimulating environment. They can offer programs that fit the studies of youth groups, such as 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and science classes. The zoo includes a barnyard petting area with a milking cow station. Close by is a playground for children to run and climb. In a central location there is a snack shack to purchase food so you can gather under a sheltered picnic table space to eat. Near this is a canopy where there are opportunities to handle animals and to learn facts about creatures from around the world during the scheduled free wildlife educational programs. As the summer of 2014 advanced and I used my season pass for frequent visits to the zoo I was pleasantly pleased with the ongoing property updates. Freshly planted trees, fruit and pine and ongoing flower plantings, potted and ground bed displays, even a planting of raspberries. An archway was built to welcome visitors to the petting zoo. My favorite was the wonderful surprise of the curly haired baby camel that spent several weeks in the petting area. Babies were born about the zoo; I saw newborn monkeys and freshly hatched chicks. And what a thrill to hear Edgar, the pied crow, talking loud and clear: “I need a driver.” Come to Safari North Wildlife Park and plan to spend the entire day; it is an adventure. You can purchase a daily ticket or a season pass. The season pass allows you to take your children on a daily outing to see and learn about
animals and play on the incredible play area with the rope “spider web” to climb about and disperse the youngsters energy. Visitors can celebrate a birthday, a unique work event or spend time with friends. The zoo offers the space for a walking date or meeting. Get to the Safari North Wildlife Park to make your day special. And if you are looking for me; I will be enjoying time with Puzzles the 4-year-old giraffe. There is easy access to Safari North located five miles south of Brainerd or two miles north of the Welcome Center on Highway 371. Safari North has free parking which can accommodate RV’s and school buses. n
Cynthia Bachman and her husband enjoy their season pass to SafariNorth. With each visit Cynthia walks the trails and learns about the animals. She is a Brainerd native who is very pleased to have a giraffe in the neighborhood.
WILDLIFE PARK 218-454-1662 SafariNorth.com
OPEN DAILY: May 22 - Sept. 27 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (last ticket sold at 5 p.m.)
1499 Adults $ 99 9 Children $
Season passes available for singles, couples and families.
Summer 2015 | her voice 27
business PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON
Working with an Interior Designer “Lake Country Style” By DANAE BLANCK ANDERSON
is everything and every-
thing is design,” said Jack Lenor Larsen, world renowned textile designer. I was fortunate to hear Larsen speak at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts several years ago and this simple quote has stuck with me since. It made me realize how truly everywhere we go; every building we see, every space we are in… or vehicle we drive, was designed by someone. Someone spent hours thinking about the details and drawing the space to scale, selecting the materials, hardware and colors and specifying how to fabricate items or directed builders and craftsmen how to construct it. Sometimes in our ever changing fast pace life the design process gets overlooked and I want to dissect it for you. Here in the lakes area we are lucky enough to be surrounded with natural beauty. This wonderfully Interior Designer Danae Blanck Anderson colorful place in Central Minnesota is home to green grasses and trees, brown says her work is not all glamorous-sandy beaches, blue skies and waters, yellow sunflowers, red roses, orange designers do get down and dirty, sweep sunsets, gray winters, white snow and floors and carry heavy boxes. the list goes on. It is perfect to take these colors and textures from the outside indoors to create beautiful environments to live, work, play, heal and worship in. One may ask, “Well, how do we exactly do that and create something we will love that transcends time?” My answer is… with a lot of careful thought, planning and by working with an interior designer. The goals during the phases of the design process are for the interior designer to first listen to their client’s needs, identify the design issues, figure out their design style (which doesn’t always
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mean “up north”), collect data including budget, research samples, tools and techniques, finalize a concept(s) and present the results to the client. This is the basic design model. From there a decision is made and the creative process is unleashed with some of the many skilled subcontractors and trades people we have right here in the Brainerd lakes area. One of the most rewarding parts of this job is helping people create functional and aesthetically pleasing built environments. The look on the client’s face typically says it all at the end of the project. Another aspect I love about working in this ‘neck of the woods’ as an interior designer is being hands-on at jobsites during the various construction phases. It’s great not to feel like I daily need to wear a suit and stiletto heels but instead go to work with most likely, a bunch of guys and fit in by wearing jeans and a hard hat. Interior design is not all glamorous, designers do get down and dirty by sometimes having to sweep floors, carry heavy boxes of ‘design stuff ’ or shovel a path to get to a hidden key in order to let a subcontractor in to get work done at a site… because we do whatever it takes to complete our design mission. Although interior designers are often called upon to do smaller jobs such as, color consulting, they can also be the ‘icing on the cake’ making a large project run smoothly from beginning to the end. Truly, interior designers are advocates for their clients ensuring that the client gets what they want and what they paid for. As a practitioner, I am constantly reminded of the importance of communication that is necessary to run a good design project from start to finish. Sometimes in the industry designers joke about being marriage counselors, color analysts, educators and financial advisors all wrapped into one since along the way projects become very personal with big decisions that affect homeowners or businesses for many years to come. Interior designers must be mindful of the health, safety and welfare of the public, not to mention impact on the environment, with the products that are specified. Not all interior designers have the same specialty, background or training but careful research and interviewing will help consumers decide who fits their criteria to bring a project to life. Some things to look for are experience, references, testimonials, training /education, professional organizations, certifications and pay structures. Personalities play a role and in some cases so does timing. The key is to realize that wonderful intangible elements like creativity, intuition, imagination and professionalism are worth paying for to achieve the result you’ve been dreaming of. n Source: “American Society of Interior Designers Professional Practice Manual.”
Danae Blanck Anderson is a certified interior designer (CID), a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and owns I.D. Your World, a residential and commercial interior design consulting firm. Anderson has practiced design for 20 years and enjoys the challenge it brings. She has a bachelor’s degree in both interior design and mass communications/public relations from Minnesota State University, Mankato and enjoys writing freelance articles about various topics, especially interior design. She truly loves the lakes area and lives in Brainerd with her husband Jarrett and sons Jace and Jude.
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Summer 2015 | her voice 29
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Ideaz Galore Interior Design Services Pequot Lakes Home Office 218-568-8884 or 612-718-3874
30 Summer 30 Summer 2015 2015 || her her voice voice
ild W Women
By DENISE SUNDQUIST
run with a bad crowd: teachers, health care professionals, accountants, moms. We run to be together and to get away from it all. It was during a refreshing spring run I heard someone discussing Ragnar Rum, which sounded like a good time and delicious. I enthusiastically said, “Count me in!”
“I ru n with a bad crowd! ”
Denise Sundquist (center bottom) joins Charlene Vogt in “running wild” at the Ragnar Race. Summer 2015 | her voice 31
Unfortunately, I verbally committed ly 9th century Scandinavia. He was a to a Ragnar Run. We formed a team of conqueror, a wild man, a leader, fearless 12 crazy women and called ourselves and free-spirited. Maybe these terms “Girls Just Wanna Have Run” with ‘80s didn’t describe any of us; we were just themed costumes and music. We were looking for a chance to run along beauin good company with 400 teams, or tiful scenery, conquer some steep hills and celebrate as a team. about 4,000 other crazy runners. Each Ragnar race is 200(ish) miles, We decorated our two day and night, relay-style. We signed up vehicles, packed our for the Great River Run which is held coolers with bevevery August and takes a team from the erages (no alcobluffs of Winona to the Twin Cities in hol allowed, not about 32 hours. In a Ragnar Race, only even rum) and one runner hits the road at a time. Each headed out with participant runs three times, with each promise of sleep leg ranging between three and 10 miles deprivation, epic and varying in diﬃculty. Our team was blisters and uncomprised of some strong runners, av- forgettable stories erage runners and a swimmer. Each of of adventure. us picked a leg that was challenging, We were not disappointed. On the first but not overwhelming. Ragnar races are something of a phe- leg, the weather was misernomenon.The first race was held in Utah ably hot and humid and the Wisconsin hills seemed more like mountain passes. in 2003 and has expanded Instead of bringing running rapidly to 15 scenic racshoes, we should have es across the United packed our climbStates. Ragnar was a “I thought she said ing gear. king and hero of ear-
As a runner took off down the road, the remaining five runners in the van drive ahead a couple of miles. As the runner approaches everyone hoots and hollers, someone rings a cowbell, another runs across the road to highfive them and offer them water and a sports gel. The runner continues and the van drives ahead a couple more miles to wait for another round of cheering. Not all runners prevailed during the race. Unpredictably, one of our runners from Van 2 was overcome with flu-like symptoms after her first leg and was quarantined to the back seat with a bucket. In order to complete the race, teammates had to run her remaining two legs in addition to their own. We were down but not defeated as the sun set and our Van 1 runners
s l r i G Just Wanna Have
32 Summer 2015 | her voice
Runners include: (L to R) Ellen Thomes, Denise Sundquist, Nicole Blasing, Amanda Dickinson, Sherry Wright, Charlene Vogt.
We formed team of 12 a crazy wom en! COUNTRY LINEUP Front (L to R) Trudy Nelson, Sheila Miller, Ellen Thomes, Nicole Blasing, Amanda Dickinson, Back (L to R) Christa Miller, Julie Herbst, Shawn Duerr, Sherry Wright, Heidi Hagen, Denise Sundquist, Charlene Vogt.
began their second leg. Because of the schedule, every runner in Ragnar runs in the dark. Initially, we were all nervous about running in the middle of the night, but it turned out to be the highlight for many of us. The temperatures were cooler and nothing crept out of a cornfield. Leg three began early the following day. At this point, no one has slept or showered and we are getting a bit delirious. Van 1 went to the wrong exchange location and Van 2 lost one of their runners. Where we once all jumped out of a van to cheer our teammate on, we now sprawled across our seats, half comatose. As the runner approached, we barely moved. The driver rolled down the window, yawns, “Ya doin’ okay?” No water. No gels. No cheers. No cowbell. Somehow we managed to navigate through the last 70 miles with breathtaking views along the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers which brought us near the University of Minnesota and the finish line.
While all of us have competed in races, we couldn’t compare this experience to anything we have done before. Twelve smelly women ran 201 miles in 32 hours sleep deprived and exhausted. It was just the adventure we were looking for. While I may not be ready to sign up for another Ragnar race just yet, I can’t wait to join these women in another epic challenge; but perhaps something with a shower. The following Monday, I excitedly described my Ragnar experience to my co-worker as I showed off my numerous blisters. She looked down at my feet and said, “You guys paid to do this?” Of course we did. We are conquerors, wild women and leaders, fearless and free-spirited. n Denise Sundquist is the health and safety coordinator for the Brainerd School District. Since her sons left for college, she has embraced a more active lifestyle including local triathlons, running races and mountain biking with her husband, Matt, on the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System. Summer 2015 | her voice 33
n i b a C e h t t A heryal ills any Hats
A Woman Wearing M
STORY AND PHOTO By ARLENE JONES
There’s nary a day you wouldn’t need running shoes to keep up with Cheryal Lee Hills, executive director of Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) and an active member of Women Wine Down Time (WWDT.) Economic Development Administrator
As executive director of R5DC, Cheryal works on issues such as energy eﬃciency and renewable energy, local foods, sustainable living and transportation planning, affordable community housing and healthcare. Well versed and exceptionally knowledgeable in the value of economic development within these themes (and many more), she is able to convey the economic story of rural Minnesota and create successful networks. Cheryal routinely connects the dots, builds bridges, alliances and strategies among her statewide and national connections. “Who else cares about this and can help us do this work,” she says. It may very well be that building networks is one of Cheryal’s finest qualities. With numerous statewide and national partnerships, R5DC is one of nine regional economic development commissions throughout the state. Executive director since 2006, Cheryal is often called to speak both statewide and nationally on building economic prosperity in rural areas. Cheryal herself admits that she accepted the position with limited shared knowledge of its financial position. A woman of many hats, she relied on her past experiences including as a stay-at-home mom to her three children, a full-time community volunteer, a hospice nurse, an executive director of a builders’ association, holding both a contractor’s and realtor’s license and a small business owner with her husband, Mike. With mounds of paperwork and working 80 hours a week, she says, “I knew our commissioners were brave elected 34
Summer 2015 | her voice
Cheryal Hills, Executive Director of Region Five Development Commission, is an active member of Women Wine Down Time.
oﬃcials, my coaches and my linebackers. I knew we had talented staff that kept catching the balls I’d throw and who would run like professionals. I knew we had community partners who all had skin in the game and had paid to see us win a game or two.” Ask anyone who knows her, and they’d say she has nine undefeated seasons.
Women Wine Down Time Of the many roles Cheryal has perfected, she is also the creative mind behind and the glue that holds together the Women Wine Down Time (WWDT) group, a growing group of women who get together strictly for the opportunity to spend time together, usually over a glass of wine or two. In 2001, Cheryal says she observed her male colleagues building relationships on the golf course or fishing trips to the boundary waters and she yearned for the same comradery with her respected female colleagues. She was looking for something other than a membership-oriented group, envisioning no dues and no guilt if you couldn’t attend and including all female colleagues, regardless of occupation. Cheryal asked her longtime friend, Janelle Riley, if any such group existed. There were a few women who would get together regularly and year-round at Iven’s on the Bay. On a bad day, they’d call Iven personally and ask him to open early to accommodate the group. When Iven’s closed for the winter, Cheryal was elected to coordinate
Rules for WWDT 1. Except for the annual full moon party, Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, men are allowed to participate. However, if they choose to, they must pay for the whole group. That has happened once.
new name was the group went through many months of visits and hours of laughter and, in hindsight, Women Wine Down Time is a better fit. The intent of this group is to network and share information. If someone is looking for a new human resources policy or new employee or needs help evaluating scholarship applications, chances are another member of the group can assist. At one meeting, there was an instance of swapping employees! Many of the participants have known each other since their children were in grade school. They share family news and events. They keep each other updated on community happenings and build alliances. They share opinions, offer congratulations and condolences and lift each other up. They give equitable support and continue to build professional and personal relationships.
W 2. No negativity regarding your spouse.
3. All women, regardless of occupation, are welcome.
Weaving Together the Pieces of Her Life
When I asked Cheryal what the highlight of her work was and what she of this group traveled to Wisconsin enjoyed the most, she responded, “I refor a grape stomping event. On occasion, there may be only three women ally do love everything.” She finds the who gather. There is no guarantee who diversity of her work exhilarating and will be attending and, as Cheryal says, delights in the outcomes of her work that measurably make a difference in “That’s the beauty of it.” Originally, the group called them- people’s lives. She finds the teams of selves Women Who Wine, but that professionals that she works with, both name apparently had been trademarked in her occupation and her group of locally and Cheryal received a cease and women friends, her heroes. She takes desist order. She jokingly remarks that great pride in these roles, noting, “I get the best thing about coming up with a to use my strengths and surround myself with talented people to find proj-
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ects and programs that add value to the lives of the people in my region.” Cheryal recently added another hat to her expanding collection. After the birth of her granddaughter, Cheryal said, “I have no idea how this will shift our thinking and our lives but I’m hearing from my friends how amazing it will be. I’m excited to get her (granddaughter) into the garden at an early age and Mike says he is excited to teach her how to fix stuff and how to drive a tractor. Oh crap, guess that means I’m buying a tractor.” I think she’s spot on, again. n Arlene Jones actively farms 80 acres with her husband, Bob, just outside of Brainerd. The Farm on St. Mathias is known as a destination farm, growing the region’s premiere vegetables, hosting numerous weddings and fundraisers and fall family fun. In her spare time, Arlene is dedicated to genealogy, family time and local foods. She is also a current Bush Fellow.
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the email list to invite and choose new opportunities for meeting spaces. The WWDT group chooses places to enjoy the outdoors and the water in the summer months, and to be near a fireplace in the winter. They also frequent as many local businesses as possible. In 2008, several of the WWDT group were at a Rotary fundraiser and agreed to split the bid on a silent auction item. At least a dozen members
Summer 2015 | her voice 35
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
SweetWater Resort — “The small resort with the big experience” By CATHERINE RAUSCH
The sign read, “For Sale by Owner.” Chuck Brey said to his wife, “Look up, it’s a resort not a cabin, let’s go in and see.” A friend had a cabin nearby, and he and his wife Cindy liked the area. Instead of camping for another summer, Chuck and Cindy wanted their own place. But a resort with six cabins was stretching it, they thought, though it would be one way to settle family disputes. Eight months after that first visit the couple signed on the dotted line for SweetWater Resort. They moved in April 25 and opened for business May 1. “That first year,” Cindy says, “we shot from the hip,” but before long SweetWater Resort became “the small resort with a big experience.” Nestled on the far southern point of Fish Trap Lake in the rural community of Lincoln, SweetWater Resort offers a year round facility with a focus on family reunions. “We just don’t know what’s around the corner,” Cindy says. For winter enthusiasts there’s ice fishing and snowmobiling and Cindy partners with Camp Shamineau to offer horseback riding, paint ball, zip line and a climbing wall.
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Cindy and Chuck Brey own and operate SweetWater Resort on Fish Trap Lake. Cindy is enthusiastic about the crafts she offers visitors.
Prior to owning SweetWater Resort, Cindy worked as a grants manager for the state of Minnesota. After purchasing the resort Cindy cut back to two days a week as projects person. Cindy wanted to work closer to home, and on the morning of her last day, a job opening with the state got posted in Brainerd for an employer representative. Cindy knows it is no coincidence that the state had been thinking about posting this job for three years, but didn’t do it until she needed it. In 2011 Cindy left her state job and went full time at SweetWater.
At The Resort
Cindy’s day starts at 6 a.m.. Part-time staff come around 9 a.m. to help mostly with cleaning the cabins. Mornings start with boat and pontoon cleaning. Activities start at 10 a.m. and are designed to promote family closeness. Projects
include cement stepping stones, bird baths and butterfly feet (your feet make the wings). Or you can decorate T-shirts or make spoon wind chimes until lunch time. Afternoons consist of grounds keeping, laundry, book work, emails, preparing for new guests and family picnics. Interruptions include phone calls; guest questions or needs; and traﬃc inquiring about the resort, renting a boat/ pontoon or shopping in the gift shop. Dinner is 5:30 p.m. or whenever they can squeeze it in. After dinner again involves activities with guests until dark; including bubbles, rockets and relay games, or checking in new arrivals and getting them settled. Then back to the oﬃce to finish anything left undone. It is clear that Chuck wholeheartedly celebrates Cindy in her calling to keep the resort up and moving. He works full-time as an electrical engineer with waste water systems, but he also offers Cindy a helping hand when possible. Prayer is a big part of life at SweetWater, with healing gardens on the grounds. A family blessing is offered to guests before they leave and sometimes, if she forgets, they come looking for their blessing.
In the Community
Cindy also keeps active in the community through both the Little Falls and Brainerd Lakes chambers of commerce. She attends several sport shows and craft shows each year during off season to get the word out on SweetWater Resort. For nine years running Cindy has volunteered for Career Exploration Day, put on by Bridges Career Academy and Workplace Connection and held at Central Lakes College the first Friday in March.
Career Exploration Day is not a job fair, but instead offers practical insight into what is available for students after high school. It is designed to help students find jobs and careers fitted to their specific talents and interests. Cindy believes if students can have experience in several vocations before graduating from high school they will be able to choose secondary education better suited to their abilities. This year over 2,400 high school students and counselors from 20 plus high schools attended Career Exploration Day; involving 140 businesses offering 200 careers. Cindy fills an empty seat, whenever possible, at Mississippi Connection, a network of business owners that meet once a week in Little Falls to promote their services, offer support and pass along referrals to each other. She also makes quilts, with her sis-
ter’s help, for use in their six cabins. Cindy wants SweetWater to be a unique experience of rest and respite not found elsewhere for her guests. One of their guests told how she had been praying for her family for years and knows that their time at SweetWater Resort answered some of her prayers. Cindy’s gift of hospitality and love for people is evident in all she does. n
Catherine Rausch lives in Little Falls with her husband Duane. She will soon have an e-book, “Faith under Attack,” published on Amazon and is currently taking a writing course on screenwriting. She is available to speak and teach on topics relating to abuse and writing. Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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greatrivereyeclinic.com Summer 2015 | her voice 37
Multicultural Books for Girls Discovering the world through the pages of a book
BY REBECCA FLANSBURG
ooks still play a huge part of all childrens’ lives and studies have shown that reading to your child as little as 20 minutes per week will result in stronger readers and an interest in books that lasts a lifetime. But just as important as having books available to our children is the ability for your child to “see themselves” in the pages of the books they read.
Despite census data that shows 37 percent of the U.S. population consists of people of color, only 10 percent of children’s books published have diversity content. This includes books that contain characters of color as well as characters that represent a minority point of view. Children’s literature is a wonderful place to share stories and information about different cultures, race, religion, language and traditions and as parents we need to share these
types of books with our kids so they can embrace new ways to connect to a diverse world. If are looking to add diversity to the family bookshelf, sites like Multiculturalchildrensbookday.com, WeNeedDiverseBooks.organd multicultural children’s book publisher LeeandLow.com are a wealth of ideas and inspiration for your young readers to enjoy. n
U.S. population is people of color Board Books Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Young Readers (ages 6-9) The Magic Poof
This padded board book is perfect for the tiniest book appreciator in the family. Author Mem Fox and illustrator Helen Oxenbury introduce us to a multicultural array of babies who are living in different parts of the world. From large cities to the country, from the ice to the hill, Fox concludes her story with the statement that each of these babies “as everyone knows, I have ten little ﬁngers and ten little toes.” This beautifully simplistic this picture-book collaboration between Fox and Oxenbury offers up a message of diversity and tolerance to very young children. This book is also available in a bilingual edition.
Seven-year-old Ange-Marie has a secret; her hair has a mind of its own! The Poof is a great ball of curly hair that sits on top of her head. His magical and mischievous nature literally pulls her and her friends into new adventures! In book one of The Magic Poof series, Ange-Marie must decide what to wear for school picture day, but The Poof also wants to look good for picture day, too! How does Ange-Marie look her best and keep her enchanted and hairy friend a secret? Inspired by his wife’s unruly hair, author Stephen Hodges created story with about special little girl whose hair represents so many children’s hair with their own special curl.
By Mem Fox, Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Summer 2015 | her voice
By Stephen Hodges, Illustrated by T. Kyle Gentry.
SOURCES: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/blogs/ scholastic-parents-raise-reader/changeyour-familys-life-20-minutes-eachweek?cid=PAR/smd/20150223/facebook/ rrblogchangefamily20minutes//PAR/ content/9am&linkId=12503096 www.fireandiceya.com/authors/dgdriver/ crysea.html http://www.themagicpoof.com/ http://packngogirls.com/ http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com multicultural-reading-resources/ diversity-book-lists-for-kids/ https://www.leeandlow.com/
Middle Reader (ages 8-12) Pack-n-Go Girls® Series By Lisa Travis and Janelle Diller
Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal, Best Children’s Chapter Book Series and Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, the “Pack-n-Go Girls®” want to shrink the world. Co-founders Lisa Travis and Janelle Diller created the series because they wanted little girls all over the world to dream of going to faraway places and not just to the mall. What better way to learn how to discover the world than through the pages of this enchanting series. Perfect for girl readers ages 6-9 (high second grade/low third grade) this series has fun titles like “Mystery of the Ballerina Ghost,” “Mystery of the Thief in the Night” and “Mystery of the Golden Temple” and allow readers to explore regions like Mexico, Thailand and Austria through the pages of the books. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., Pack-n-Go Girls® specializes in creating innovative stories for girls that deliver positive messages around independence, adventure, and global awareness.
Young Adult (ages 12-18) Cry of the Sea By D.G Driver “Cry of the Sea” was released by Fire and Ice Young Adult Novels in 2014 and is one of the few books available that features an American Indian female protagonist. Juniper Sawfeather is just an average 17-year-old girl who doesn’t ﬁt in at school and feels like she is constantly living under the shadow and expectations for of well-known environmentalist parents. Anxious to graduate from West Olympia High School she sets her sights on going to college in San Diego, much to the chagrin of her parents. But everything changes when Juniper and her father respond to a late night call about a huge oil spill and sea animals in danger. Once they arrive they discover this is no ordinary sea animalvs-oil slick rescue when they stumbled upon dying mermaids who have washed ashore. Father and daughter struggle to save the mermaids but instead are swept into the middle of conspiracy involving a powerful oil company, a shady scientist and new friends who only want to know Juniper because she’s “seen a mermaid.” To make matters worse, Juniper has suspicions that the mermaids have been discovered before and are in danger of being exploited or killed. This book was a thrilling read and offers something young reader don’t often see; a young Native American Indian female protagonists in positive and strong role.
Rebecca Flansburg is virtual assistant, freelance writer, blogger and proud Minnesota mom. Rebecca is also project manager for the national online event Multicultural Children’s Book Day and is part of the planning team for Minneapolis’ Moms Rock! Expo. She likes to share her workfrom-home and social media knowledge and help other Mompreneurs earn a living on their own terms. You can connect with Rebecca via her blog Franticmommy.com or on Twitter @RebeccFlansburg.
Summer 2015 | her voice 39
clubs and clusters
Lyme Disease PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON
By SHEILA HELMBERGER
here are better ways to begin a friendship, but Judy Dwire and Tania Melby started theirs dur-
ing the worst times of their lives. Lyme disease is sneaky. The symptoms make it difficult to diagnose and the treatment can take years.
Often it is a challenge to find medical personnel to recognize it and insurance companies to fund its management. The progression of the disease can vary from mild to serious and sometimes leads to life-altering, long-term disabilities. The journey can be frustrating and lonely. Judy and Tania share the experiences that brought them together through the Brainerd Lakes Area MN Lyme Association. They know first-hand how important that support can be. Central Minnesota is famous for wood ticks and has a large population of the species that carries the disease. Lyme disease is easily misdiagnosed
Lyme Disease Awareness Month: May www.LymeMn.com
Summer 2015 | her voice
A chronic lyme disease support group in Brainerd includes: (front row L to R) Jan Burns, Tania Melby, Caryl Goreham, Judy Dwire, Mary Nelson (back row L to R) Mike Frazier, Roger Dwire, Doug Nelson.
for its tendencies to copy other serious diseases such as MS or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Judy remembers when she knew something was wrong. Her leg started to hurt and she had found a spot behind her knee. At the end of one work day it was so swollen her husband took her to urgent care. “There I was told I could be sure I didn’t have Lyme,” she said. She left with a couple of weeks’ worth of antibiotics. At the end of that treatment she didn’t feel any better. For months she suffered with
Chronic Lyme Disease Meetings 6 p.m. (second Thursday of each month) Eagle’s Nest Church, Breezy Point A place to share stories and learn from one another. Doctors, microbiologists and other professionals sometimes provide education.
“It is a freaky bacteria and it can hide from treatment.” ~Judy Tania remembers when she got the tick bite that started all of her trouble. After she had been camping in Crosslake, she noticed a rash and suspected she had poison ivy. She says only 20 percent of the people ever get the bulls-eye around the bite that you hear so much about. “Most get different rashes. I was very healthy up until that point though,” she adds. “They used to call me a health nut.” Tania says she had Lyme’s disease for over nine years. “It took three years to diagnose it,” she says, “I was at a point where I really couldn’t function. I could barely walk. They thought I had MS and then I had Bell’s palsy on top of that. My face was paralyzed. I had some stroke symptoms, heart attack symptoms, night sweats. I went to many different doctors, even the Mayo Clinic.” It wasn’t until she saw a doctor at the infectious disease clinic in Duluth that they pinpointed her problems correctly.
“They looked at my chart and off Highway 371 last year thought that might be it. called Papa’s Treasures Use green We started going through of Hope. Another all of my symptoms and outreach, Journey of light bulbs for I had a blood test.” “I got outside lighting Hope, will operate to where I couldn’t work in conjunction with in May to show area anymore,” says Tania, “I churches. your support. gave up my business. We Gov. Mark Dayton lost our home. It was very has declared May Lyme devastating and there were no Awareness Month. answers.” Homeowners are asked Judy believes her Lymes is to change their outside finally in remission. “I’m doing lighting to a green bulb as a pretty well now. Every once in a symbol of support for those while I notice a symptom. It can suffering from the disease. lay dormant in your body for two For more information on days, five years, even 25 years,” she the Brainerd Lakes Area MN Lyme Association, go to says. “It is a freaky bacteria and it can hide from treatment.” www.lymemn.com. During their struggles with diagno- n sis and treatment both Judy and Tania started attending a support group in Brainerd. When that group dissolved, the two decided to start another. Sheila Helmberger is a To help with funding and help vicfreelance writer in the tims, the pair started a nonprofit store Brainerd lakes area.
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chronic pain. A friend from work, who had been treated for Lyme, suggested she might have it, too. Judy picked up some brochures on the disease when she went to the doctor with her friend. “There was a list of 40 symptoms. I had 38 of those. “I missed being diagnosed for five years,” says Judy. “I struggled for a long time finding doctors and treatments,” she says, before finally determining the right mix of antibiotics and supplements to make a difference.” Treatments can be expensive, too. “You have to take lots and lots of natural vitamins and supplements that insurance companies don’t even touch. The expense from that alone can hit the pocket pretty deep. I was fortunate,” she says, “that I found out what was wrong.”
Summer 2015 | her voice 41
PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON
N Nancy Cross
As director of Brainerd Community Action, Nancy is busy all year round, but especially during the Fourth of July.
By CAROLYN CORBETT
ancy Cross, director of Brainerd Community Action (BCA) since 1993, loves working with people. She loves to see people begin to realize their dreams, to see plans come together. “I absolutely love what I do and hope it makes a difference in people’s lives. I love to see them succeed, whoever they are.”
Nancy Cross, director of Brainerd She’s passionate about seniors. She’s Community Action (BCA) since passionate about her family. She’s pas1993, loves working with people. sionate about the 4th of July, the Ski She loves to see people begin to re- Patrol, the Paul Bunyan Trail. She coaches and she cheerleads. She alize their dreams, to see plans come together. “I absolutely love what I do offers resources and reassurance. “I and hope it makes a difference in peo- orchestrate. It’s like conducting,” she ple’s lives. I love to see them succeed, says, and she does it well. In 1991, Nancy and her family moved whoever they are.” The purpose of BCA is to establish to this area from Lincoln, Neb., where unity within the community and to she had been a real estate broker and obtain personal involvement by the vice president of a development corgreatest number of the community’s poration. Her husband, Mark, was an people, and Nancy embraces that mis- architect searching for a job. He found an ad in the sion with passion. nthusiasm, energy, passion. n e w s p a p e r for architects “I want in Brainerd. to bring Especially passion. The day out the Nancy came best in other people. Everybody has some- home from the hospital with a new thing to offer. They need the opportu- baby, Mark flew to Brainerd to interview and was offered a job. The deal nity to shine.” Nancy is passionate about veterans. was that Nancy would get to retire She’s passionate about young people. and be an at-home mom. They made
Summer 2015 | her voice
the move and she was proud of being home with their kids, but she was a people person, socializing primarily with youngsters. One day her 8-yearold son said, “Why don’t you go get a job and get a life?” So she did. Nancy is the type of person who would rather things happen than not. The fact that people try is important to her. When she was just a young girl, her mother said no to her about something. She doesn’t remember what it was now, but she remembers her reply: “I really don’t like that word ‘no’.” Nancy works with everyone who finds their way to the Community Action door on South Fifth Street. She has completed 80 501c3 applications for the IRS, for federal tax exemption for nonprofit organizations. “I love red tape,” she laughs. “Bring it on.” Every event and project offers something different and each needs to be fundraised. She works with groups to
readiness. When she returns and gives the word the parade starts. It’s huge. Over 30,000 people line the route. The entire sports complex is full. “You think about all those memories that are built in that one single day. Families together, laughing, happy.” In Nancy’s second year, she was sitting in the stands just looking and listening when she heard a little 5-yearold girl tell her grandma, “This is the very best day of my whole vacation!” One of the lesser known projects that Brainerd Community Action does is the CARE Directory. In the last few years, BCA has morphed into another economic development tool with the support of nonprofits for the area, and the Coordinating Area Resources Effectively Directory is an important part of that. Individuals can use this reference manual to find CONTINUED ON PAGE 46...
help them figure out strategies for fun- and also each other.” The yearly July 4th activities are 100 draising, grant writing and how best to present their project. She loves to see percent community-based funded, how passionate people are. That word from corporate sponsors to elderly widows giving donations in memory keeps coming around. One of the things Nancy really loves of their husbands. The preparations about her job is that she gets to an- are a lot of work. Nancy marvels at the nounce the Outstanding Citizen of energy there, all the people who put the Year. “The volunteers who receive in so much time and effort to make it these awards make a huge difference happen. in other Nancy had people’s a horrible e don’t need to control, nightmare lives and the in the fi rst year she just conduct.” ~ Nancy Cross commuorganized the nity. It is celebration. amazing what they accomplish, their She dreamed that no one would come impact on other people. The award al- and she’d be in the middle of the footways surprises them. To announce a ball field going, “Hello? Hello?” On the person as the Citizen of the Year and day of the event, she was overwhelmed. see the look cross the individual’s face? “OMG! Are you kidding me? Holy To me, that is the ultimate.” cow! Look at all these people coming When working with kids, Nancy together.” gives them responsibility and authorEach year she rides the parade route ity. She tells them she is there and will in a golf cart or on the back of her husgladly problem solve with them, but band’s motorcycle to see that all is in that she will not do their projects for them. “I love to watch their process. There are very talented youth in the area. They need to be appreciated and recognized.” She believes adults have to learn how to give up power and control, that when working with kids, adults need to be there for them, but don’t need to tell them what to do step by step. “Conducting. We don’t need to control, just conduct.” Nancy also believes that being involved in the community gives young people so much. It teaches them responsibility, teaches them how to say no and mean no, teaches them how to communicate with adults. It introduces youth to people in the community and teaches them they can go straight to the top, because they know how. Perhaps Nancy’s favorite event each year is the 4th of July celebration. She has orchestrated the Independence Day activities for the past 22 years. “The 4th of July is a community celebration. It is one day out of the year for families to laugh and play and forget other worries. I’m a patriot. We come together to celebrate this nation’s birth
Summer 2015 | her voice 43
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 42 a variety of services: chemical dependency, the arts, volunteerism, service clubs, senior services, churches, veteran’s groups, youth services, social services, schools and more. It is important to remember that BCA serves as a fiscal agent, a proxy for the nonprofits in the area. Ultimately it is the support system for the many groups and organizations that exist in the Brainerd lakes area. “All of the community events, the people involved, the CARE Directory and the support of nonprofits are intimately intertwined to strengthen, to glue the community together,” Nancy explains. “I love this community. It’s a great place to live and a great place to raise kids. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a community that was so giving. Giving of time, ideas, financial resources. Not only posing issues, but offering solutions.” n
Prior to her passion for playing with words, 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.
46 Summer 2015 | her voice
Nancy shaved her head in support of her sister!
When Nancy’s sister was diagnosed with cancer, and receiving chemotherapy treatments, Nancy shaved her head in support. Nancy has been named the Honorary Chair person of Susan G. Komen Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure, Saturday, June 27 at Forestview Middle School.
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Published on May 29, 2015
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