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by women… for women… about women…

Inside: Inside: • • • • • • •

Picture Perrrfect Posthumous Prose and Poetry Zonta’s Christmas Home A Queen of H.A.R.T. A Story of Faith Knitting for Baby The Gift of Literacy


by women… for women… about women…


WINTER 2012 | her voice

WINTER 2012 | her voice







Swedish Christmas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Judy Kuusisto shares some of her Swedish heritage and holiday traditions. You won’t need to be Swedish to appreciate them.


by Judy Kuusisto

The Gift of Literacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 During the holidays, we’re flooded with gift ideas for the kids. Crosslake children’s librarian, Ginny Hersey, recommends some age appropriate titles. by Jodie Tweed

Zonta’s Christmas House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 If you missed Zonta’s Christmas house tour, reading Jenny Holmes’ story will give you incentive to go next year. by Jenny Holmes

Picture Perrrfect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


Marian Segersten loves exploring the trails of the Northland Arboretum, snapping landscape and nature photos. Learn how she turned a hobby into a career. by Diane Peterson

A Story of Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 How many of us live a life dictated by faith? Read about Kathy Carlson, a woman who does. by Carolyn Corbett

Passing on the Scoop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Born into a Crosby-Ironton newspaper family, Lori LaBorde follows in her father’s footsteps. by Jill Anderson

In This Issue 26






When Lights Grow Dim by Audrae Gr uber


Celebrating a Daughter’s Smile by Sheila Helmberger

activist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Arielle the Activist by Meg Douglas

law enforcement . . . . . . . . . 18 S t ro n g Wo m e n , K i n d H e a r t s by Karen Ogdahl

38 43

volunteers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Doing Time by Elsie Husom

good works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Spirit of Giving by Mar lene Cha bot

helping hands . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Beauty Care Continues in Crosby by Joan Hasskamp

her say


Roots and Wings by Mar y Aalgaard

travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Te a c h i n g U n d e r t h e S h a d ow o f a Vo l c a n o by Jan Kur tz

a hero among us Bonae Stohr by Cynthia Bachman

good reads



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

Gone Girl b y S h e i l a D e C h a n ta l

youth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Girl Scouts– More than Selling Cookies by Te r r i H e n r i k s o n

wellness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 L i v i n g We l l @ H o m e by Bettie Miller

Cover photo by Joey Halvorson On the cover:Judy Kuusisto illustrates our cover with St. Lucia and the tompten, iconic images celebrating a Swedish Christmas.

36 Read Online:


WINTER 2012 | her voice

WINTER 2012 | her voice


fr o m t h e e d i t o r Broadening

our Borders

Glendi (left) lives in Desierto, Gualtemala. Spanish teacher Jan Kurtz (middle) greets former work-study student, Lorena.


Over the holidays this year, I’m sending a Christmas gift to a little girl named Glendi in Guatemala. There’s no lack of grandchildren of my own to gift or local organizations to support during the holidays, including the Salvation Army and the local Marine Corp Toys for Kids. But now a nine-year-old girl named Glendi has broadened the borders of my world, extended my “family” and captured a piece of my heart. It happened last summer, when my niece blogged about her two-month internship in Guatemala with an organization called Partners in Development. As a child, Julie had come to Guatemala on mission projects for a week at a time with her parents. Now a premed junior, she interned two months this summer in Guatemalan villages. She taught parents, teachers and children about parasites, their prevention and treatment; studied the impact of clean well water and learned about the people and their culture, Each day she blogged her insights and observations and posted pictures on her Facebook page. Over the summer, her world began seeping into mine. First I donated to PID’s medical programs, then sifted through the stories of children in need and finally I took on the sponsorship of a child in Guatemala; Glendi. It brings me great joy to see her smiley photo. 6

WINTER 2012 | her voice

While my interest in all things Guatemalan is relatively recent, Jan Kurtz, writing in this edition of Her Voice, forged a Guatemalan connection that goes back to 1981. Then a Spanish teacher at White Bear Lake High School, now at Central Lakes College, Jan remembers her Guatemalan work-study student, Lorena, recounting horrific tales of civil war violence and a fear of kidnapping back home. “Tacos and La Cucaracha just faded in importance,” she says. It was a lesson in other peoples’ realities that Jan never forgot. And perhaps has spurred her lifelong interest in and exploration of other peoples’ cultures. First came a medical mission, then last February she spent three weeks in Guatemala as part of her sabbatical year, teaching for an organization like PID, called Rising Villages. Through the immediacy of her vivid writing in this edition of Her Voice, you can read “a day-in-the-life” of this third grade teacher in San Pedro. Three weeks, says Jan, gave her a feeling of “not just passing through.” She worked with teachers and students every day, and visited parents in their homes at night. Jan talks warmly about being greeted by children on the streets of the village and taking them for ice cream after school. Jan’s immersion travel is one way we learn about and connect to a broader world. Ahead of her time, she understands that as technology expands and commercial enterprise continues to go global, we have much to learn as citizens of the world about others. Kathy Carlson might echo that thought. Carolyn Corbett tells the story in this edition of Her Voice of a woman whose faith took her to Costa Rica for seven years as a missionary. And so I take baby steps, sending greetings of “Feliz Navidad” and presents to a little girl in Guatemala. Who knows where it will take me!


Meg Douglas, Editor

Staff PUBLISHER Tim Bogenschutz EDITOR Meg Douglas ART DIRECTOR Nikki Lyter PHOTOGRAPHER Joey Halvorson





• For advertising opportunities call Carla Staffon 218.855.5834 or 1.800.432.3703 find our publication on the web at E-mail your comments, suggestions or topics to or mail them to Her Voice at Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 copyright© 2003 VOLUME NINE, EDITION FOUR WINTER 2012

by Judy Kuusisto photos by Joey Halvorson


My family is typically and quintessentially American. On my father’s side are ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. Both his parents traced their forbearers to men who fought in the Revolutionary War. I’m telling you this because at Christmas we become overwhelmingly Swedish.

WINTER 2012 | her voice


Mom is a first generation American. Her parents came from Sweden as young adults hoping for a better life than they could have had in their homeland. I can only imagine how hard they found it to leave and know that it was unlikely they would ever see their families or familiar places again. Mom’s dad, Bror Gustav Petrus Carlson was born in 1890 in Hallengeberg, Smaland. It is one of the southernmost provinces. The soil is rocky and hard to farm. He was one of eight children. His father was a tailor. He left Sweden on Christmas day in the year he turned 21. After arriving in the USA, he apprenticed in the steam fitting trade. Mom’s mother, Anna Marie Carlson was born in Karlskrona, Blekinge in 1887. Her parents were farmers in this province on the southeast corner of Sweden. She came to this country with her younger brother in her early twenties. After working two years on a relative’s farm in western Nebraska she moved to Omaha. She attended a Swedish Lutheran church where one rainy evening after services she offered to share her umbrella with a tall blue-eyed, nicely dressed man as they waited for the street car. Thus began a relationship that led to a very happy marriage. They moved from Omaha to Lincoln where my grandfather worked for the Burlington Railroad. They settled into a community of Swedes where traditions of home were important, the coffee pot was always on and something that smelled wonderful was always just about to come out of the oven. At least that is how I remember it. When my parents brought my sister and me to Minnesota, we loved the Scandinavianness. Suddenly it was easy to keep and enjoy the foods and traditions. Every year we work our way through December to Christmas Eve, the time of light in darkness, the promise of goodness and the much loved Lutheran concept of Grace. There’s a Swedish carol that begins with a verse many Minnesotans can feel in our very bones. In the bleak midwinter Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow; In the bleak midwinter, long, long ago. Christmas in Sweden is an antidote to darkness: a month and more of celebration. 8

WINTER 2012 | her voice

As in Minnesota, Sweden gradually turns from the Land of the Midnight Sun to the Land of a few hours of Daylight. The holiday is called the Festival of Light. Many Old Norse Celebrations were co-opted and replaced by Christianity when Sweden became Christian in 1103, but there were still parts of the country that held on to the old religion as late as 1177. The first holiday the Swedes observe is called St Lucia’s Day, Dec. 13. There is quite a bit of debate about how the tradition began. Some versions say that during a terrible famine St. Lucia, an Italian girl, martyred for her faith, appeared to starving peasants with food. She is said to have arrived by boat, crossing a large lake, stopping at many villages. Others say she is the successor to the Norse goddess Freya who, during the longest night of the year came to the people with food and drink as promise of goodness and prosperity in the year to come. Light in darkness is a theme throughout the month of Advent. There are candles in most windows. In Churches one candle is added on the altar each Sunday until Christmas Day. In the early morning, the oldest girl of the family, wearing white dress with red sash and 5-7 candles alight in a wreath of lingonberry leaves, serves coffee and Lucia rolls flavored with saffron. All the children participate as Star Boy(s) and girls follow her holding candles in procession through the darkness of the unlit house. The children sing Santa Lucia, an Old Italian song. Swedes have traditionally felt that handmade gifts are best. In the Folkschools my grandparents attended crafts and skills were taught along with the usual subjects. Boys learned woodworking, girls learned to weave and everyone learned to knit and crochet. The boys specialized in mittens, hats and scarves. Everyone was supposed to be well fed. The poor people received gifts of food and other goods. Sharing is extended to the farm animals in the form of extra measures of

In this illustration of a Swedish Christmas tradition, the oldest daughter dresses in white on St. Lucia’s Day, leading the other children in an early Christmas morning procession. Judy includes the tompten, a whimsical gnome-like character part of Swedish lore.

Christmas in Sweden is an antidote to darkness: a month and more of celebration.

food. Some families saved the last sheaf of grain from the harvest and set it up on a pole so that even the birds would be remembered. The Hustompten tradition is one of my favorites. Every property has its own tompten. He is a small gray bearded gnome who cares for the sick animals and generally guards against fires and other dangers. The one thing that is required to keep a tompten happy is a bowl of rice pudding on Christmas Eve. No one ever sees him eat it, but it is a very good sign when it is gone by Christmas morning. Many families had different customs concerning the Christmas tree. Some children awoke on Christmas day to find the tree and presents, some families hung the tree upside down from the ceiling. In my mom’s it was customary to decorate the tree in the center of the living room all together. When it was lighted, they danced around it, singing a song to welcome the holiday. Then the tree was moved into a corner and presents were piled beneath it. On Christmas Eve our family still gathers for Smorgasbord. Our table is alight with candles and happy faces. The menu varies from year to

year depending on how many we are serving, but some dishes remain constant. Rye bread, butter, bondost cheese, pickled herring, smoked salmon, lingonberry sauce are the cold dishes. Potato Korv, bruna bonor, sweet and sour red cabbage, mashed rutabaga, boiled potatoes and white sauce are the hot dishes we always serve. Then, of course, there’s the lutfisk. Lutfisk is the penitential food of the Scandinavians. Undoubtedly developed during a period of cruel famine, lutfisk is codfish dried on racks in the icy Nordic air, then soaked in lye, a major constituent of Drano and old-fashioned, home-made soap. Our ancestors came to America to escape religious persecution, to escape the draft, and a few to escape the law. What they should have been trying to escape was lutfisk. Rice pudding is always our dessert along with at least two dozen kinds of cookies and coffee. Each person serves their own portion of pudding from a large bowl. In the bowl, a single almond has been hidden. The person who finds the almond is destined to have good luck in the coming year. After supper it is time to exchange gifts. In many homes the Jultompten (who looks like Santa Claus) comes to each family’s home sometime after the children are asleep on Christmas Eve. Our family has now grown to encompass many other ethnic groups and faiths. We are, however, all Swedes on Christmas Eve.


Judy’s grandfather, (left) Bror Gustav Petrus Carlson left Sweden at age 21 and settled in Nebraska. Her grandmother, Anna Marie Carlson, worked on a relative’s farm in Nebraska after sailing from Sweden. They met and married in a Swedish Lutheran Church.

Judy Kuusisto

Judy Kuusisto is an artist, illustrator and writer.

WINTER 2012 | her voice


no n - p r o f i t s

byAudrae Gruber photo by Joey Halvorson

E t e l e phone and TV Lily Atwel worked in Brainerd with the monitor State Services for the Blind from 1992 can guide until this year when she retired. the user with larger numbers and voice activation. Learning how to use your other senses becomes a major part of the process. Lily demonstrated techniques and provided materials — bold lined paper and pen, Our first encounter with Lily Atwel was a low vision watch with a larger face, hand few years ago. My husband Paul was diagmagnifiers and large print telephone and nosed legally blind. His glaucoma and failed address books. She showed us Talking Books, eye surgery had landed us in a place where one hopes you never have to be. Doctors are a National Library Service that provides very skillful giving medical help but the special digital players and book cartridges. results of vision loss are devastating and life- There are over 10,000 books and magazines altering. The independence of driving is available. With a phone call, new titles can gone. Simple, “taken for granted” activities be ordered and delivered in a few days. This require new strategies. Entering an unfamil- visit opened doors and a whole new way of iar room becomes a challenge. Meeting life as well as finding a new friend. Lily was born Easter Sunday (thus the people becomes difficult when you can’t see name Lily) the second child of nine on a their faces. Statistically, more than 25 million people farm near Darfur, Minnesota—the same in the Unites States live with vision loss. farm her Swedish grandfather had homeVision supplies at least 90% of our learning steaded. From Mountain Lake Minnesota to and ability to function. As our population California to Australia to Saudi Arabia, lives longer, the incidence of vision problems Lily’s life- journey has been an adventure. becomes more of a reality. One in three will Wherever she went, Lily followed an educahave cataracts. Try wearing a blindfold for an tional path. The list includes studies in: denhour and you will have some idea of the tal assistance training at the University of Minnesota, interior design in Melbourne impact of vision loss. We met with Lily in the Crow Wing Australia and eventually a master’s degree County Human Services Building in in rehabilitation counseling. Her work with the State Services for the Brainerd where she explained the different Blind in 1992 led her to Brainerd. The kinds of strategies and devices that could Brainerd territory covered the north central enable Paul to make his life more managepart of the state from Brainerd to Baudette. able. Her office was filled with reading machines and supplies. Reading machines Part of every week was spent “on the road.”


are tabletop magnifiers which can provide large print and differentiated lighting when you put a newspaper or book on its movable stage. Colored bump dots stick on anything and can provide a guide to running the micro-wave, dishwasher, TV monitor and all kinds of home devices. Adaptations to the 10

WINTER 2012 | her voice

Lily went to homes when an office visit was not possible. She advised each person on ways to make their environment safer and more manageable. Her calm and positive approach provided hope and functioning to people who felt they had no future Supplying items and ideas was not the only help that Lily provided. Her skills as a rehabilitation counselor offered each client strength and a “can do” spirit. Her kindness and warmth provided a soft place for the faltering. Depression is not an unusual response for people with vision loss. Lily promoted self- confidence and independence. For 20 years Lily gave her time and energy to this cause. In addition, she helped organize the Brainerd Area Low Vision Support Group which meets at Woodland Care Center. The program offers educational opportunities for members to share information and obstacles as well as exchange ideas and talk. Woodland has generously offered space and encouragement to the project which includes many of their residents. It is not unusual to have 30-40 vision loss members at a meeting. In July of 2012, Lily announced her retirement. Her leaving will be a huge loss to the vision- challenged community. State reductions in funding resulted in her position in Brainerd being covered by a representative from St. Cloud. Thankfully, we will not lose Lily. She will continue her connection with the Low Vision Support Group, as well as Quilts for Kids, Encore Art, Brainerd Area Art Club and volunteering with the Friends of the Brainerd Library. We wish you the best, Lily, and look forward to seeing you around town.


Audrae Gruber

Audrae Gruber is a writer, bird watcher, dog lover, grandmother, great-grandmother, no-audience piano player, and a member of Brainerd Writers Association, Heartland Poets and Kindred Street Writers. She enjoys working out at the Y, going to theatre and music performances and walking the dog.

he a l t h


Every mother knows what an extraordinary feeling it is when your child looks at you and smiles. Leslie Anderson knows how it feels when your six-year-old daughter’s smile means the world. A single mother of four, she also knows what it feels like to spend months away from your home and the rest of your children while you sit at your tiny toddler’s bedside in a hospital, praying for a miracle. Three years ago Addison Shafer was an energetic three-year-old when her grandmother, Peggy Anderson, noticed she was having trouble using her arms and legs. She took her to the hospital. The doctor said if he didn’t know any better he’d think she’d had a stroke. “But three year olds don’t have strokes,” he said at the time. Addi was sent to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and Leslie learned her daughter had moyamoya, a disease that causes the vessels that supply blood to the brain to thicken and narrow. Surgery can be done to repair the damage. “They basically take a bi-section of an artery and lay it in there and help regrow blood supply to the brain,” said Leslie.

by Sheila Helmberger photos by Joey Halvorson

Doctors decided Addison would need surgery on both sides of her brain. After the first surgery the news was good. “It went great,” says Leslie. “They spent a month in the hospital then Addi went home to heal. “She was doing pretty good and starting to get her mobility back,” said her mom. In therapy they noticed some troublesome signs and Addi ended up back in the cities. She’d had another stroke. After a week in the hospital doctors performed the second procedure. “It went even better than the first,” says Leslie. That night a massive stroke wiped out everything from both surgeries. Other complications included an emergency intubation, more mild strokes, and more time sitting next to Addi’s hospital bed for her mother and grandmother.

“It takes years to recover from a stroke,” said Leslie, “but after the first year there’s minimal recovery. Based on the doctors’ diagnosis,” she says quietly, “Addi probably won’t get much better.” She uses a trachea to breathe and has a G-tube (gastrostomy tube) attached to her stomach for nutrition. Leslie and Peggy are trained in care and maintenance for both. Peggy stays at Leslie’s Sunday night through Tuesday with Keelie, 10, Eliana, 9, and Quintin, 4, while Leslie

Leslie Anderson’s six-yearold daughter, Addison, lives with moyamoya, a crippling, degenerative diagnosis. Even with this health challenge, mother and daughter haven’t forgotten how to smile. WINTER 2012 | her voice


continues to work full time for the Best Buy Corporation two days a week in the cities and three from her home near Motley. Addi goes to school three days a week. And when she’s home sometimes her sisters and brother go to her room and lay with her. “Addi loves it when you lay in bed with her,” says Leslie. “When Quintin screams she’ll smile. Sometimes you look over at her and she’s just grinning.” The two older girls remember the year mom was gone all the time. “There were definitely times the other kids were bounced around from family to family,” says Leslie. She says her siblings have been great. “It’s been a lot of learning,” says Leslie who relies on 24-hour nursing care for Addi. She’s grateful, too, for help that has come from unexpected places. Contractors from her church added a room onto her home for the hospital bed, wheel chair and other special equipment Addi would need. Then her family had a painting party and helped put everything away. Make-A-Wish installed a larger bathtub needed for Addi and The Brighter Days Foundation stepped in with other gifts for the family. Leslie appreciates her Best Buy family, too. “My district and another district sponsored us as a family for Christmas. I had

Helping hands reach out from many sources including friends and family; Leslie’s church congregation, her employer Best Buy, Make-A-Wish and The Brighter Days Foundation.

people from work who sent us money and donated vacation time for me to use while I was on leave. One of my stores that I supported created bracelets as a fundraiser to help earn money for my family. While we were in the hospital, they brought gifts to me and the girls to try to keep us cheered up and busy. They have just been great with the time I needed away and working from home.” “Obviously it gets easier,” said Leslie, “At least you can talk about it without bursting

in to tears. The first year and a half it was pretty hard to absorb it all. Our biggest challenge now with Addi is keeping her healthy and out of the hospital.” In April, Addi had pneumonia. “God is good. That’s all you can say,” says Peggy, who is in awe of her own daughter. Leslie has decided to go back to school in October but she’s not sure what her future holds. “When you get in Addi’s face and she smiles,” says her mother, “You know there’s something going on, you’re just not sure to what degree.” Follow the family’s Caring Bridge site at and enter addisonshafer. For information about moyamoya, log on to


Sheila Helmberger

Sheila Helmberger lives in Baxter and has been contributing to local publications for over 12 years.

W 12

WINTER 2012 | her voice

s t o r y a n d p h o t o b y J o d i e Tw e e d

Ginny Hersey, a Crosslake children’s librarian, recommends giving books to children as gifts. Books “bring the world to a child in a way that movies and television do not,” she says.

The Gift of Literacy Crosslake Library children’s librarian offers tips for buying books for children


When you give a child a book, you are giving the world. A quality children’s book can expand a child’s vocabulary, perspective and knowledge. A book can help that child be more successful in school and life. Owning a book can give a child a sense of empowerment. Books are amazing gifts. Just ask Ginny Hersey, children’s librarian at the Crosslake Area Library. Hersey believes in the power of a good book. She has a master’s degree in children’s literature and spent 28 years as a kindergarten teacher in the Wayzata School District. She retired from teaching in 2004 and when she and her husband, Ken, moved to Fifty Lakes in 2007, she was looking for ways to share her passion for literacy. She joined the Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point and Crosslake Area Early Childhood Coalition and started volunteering at the Crosslake Area Library as it was being formed.

WINTER 2012 | her voice


In that year, before the library was built, Ginny asked about plans for children’s programming in the library. She discovered there were no plans. So Ginny went to work, writing a proposal for a five-year plan for a children’s library, including a weekly story hour for preschoolers, a Dad’s Night program and a six-week summer children’s library program for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. She helped develop these programs in the years since and has added a story hour for infants and toddlers during the winter. She is affectionately called “Miss Ginny” by the many preschool children who attend Story Hour for Preschoolers at 10 a.m. Thursdays at the Crosslake Library. She consults with ordering new books for the children’s section of the library and is currently working with all K-5 classes of Crosslake Community School students during their classes at the library. Ginny’s lifelong passion for children’s literature is evident in her personal collection of about 500 children’s books at her Fifty Lakes home. Every special child in Ginny’s life receives a new book at Christmas and birthdays. She always attends a baby shower with a wrapped copy of her favorite Mother Goose book written by Iona Opie. “I think a book brings the world to a child in a way that movies and television do not,” Ginny said. As a member of the Early Childhood Coalition, Ginny has presented literacy classes often to area Early Childhood Family Education classes and to area day care providers as they advance their professional certification. Ginny teaches parents and caregivers that children develop many school readiness and literacy skills when they are read to early and often at home. As a kindergarten teacher, it was easy for her to identify the children whose parents read to them, she said. 14

WINTER 2012 | her voice

A child who is read to develops prereading skills, such as a growing vocabulary, letter and sound recognition, and an understanding of key concepts of the printed word. Ginny believes in the current research that supports reading to every child at least 20 minutes a day, even after they have begun to read on their own. She recommends reading to your child even into the pre-teen years because it can strengthen the bond between parent and child. Ginny, her daughters, along with her granddaughters, shared a family book club. The children, then in upper elementary and middle school grades, picked the book out themselves. Everyone read it and then discussed it. It was a great experience for everyone. Ginny offered the following tips on choosing a quality children’s book for the special children in your life this holiday season: Ask an expert for advice. Ask your child’s teacher, a bookstore owner or a librarian for suggestions on age-appropriate, quality children’s books. A top-selling children’s book isn’t always the best book, she said. Ginny has to examine a book first, so she’ll visit a bookstore or library and find it there before she’ll purchase a copy. For younger children, fewer words per page are better. When buying a book for young children, look for a book with fewer words per page and excellent picture support. Ginny said a book with a good story line for young children will be something they can relate to, sometimes with repetition and rhyme. A good story begs to be read over and over again, she explains. Avoid children’s book with a contrived agenda, she said. Some children’s books seem to be written more for adults than children, who often can’t relate to them. For the reader, or for chapter read-alouds, look for characters about the age of the child; animal

characters are more popular for children under 8. Try choosing books about other times, cultures, adventure, fantasy or nature. Encourage variety and use graphic titles, TV or movie characters and licensed charcters such as Barbie, Disney, Thomas the Train, etc, less frequently. These are often weak examples of good quality literature, especially in condensed or simplified versions, Ginny said. Ginny said her favorite authors for books for young children up to first-graders include authors Jim Arnosky, Mem Fox, Eric Carle, Paul Galdone and Denise Fleming. Her favorite authors of chapter books, for children ages 7 on up, include Beverly Cleary, Gary Paulsen, Tony Abbott, Mary Pope Osborne, Roald Dahl and Kate DiCamillo. Ginny’s personal favorite books for younger children are “Ginger,” by Charlotte Voake and “Owl Babies” by Martin Waddell. For those who are unsure of what books to buy this holiday season, Ginny offered the following suggestions: Infant/Toddlers “Clip Clop” by Nicola Smee. Preschool, ages 3-5 “A Kitten Tale,” by Eric Rohmann. “Pete the Cat” series by James Dean and Eric Litwin. “My Truck is Stuck,” by Daniel Kirk. Children ages 5-8 “Two Bad Ants,” by Chris Van Allsburg. “James and the Giant Peach,” and other titles by Roald Dahl. Children ages 7 and up “The Secrets of Droon” series by Tony Abbott. “The 39 Clues” series by Gordon Korman, Jude Watson, Peter Lerangis and Patrick Carman.

Don’t forget about classic children’s books. Ginny’s favorites include “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” by Paul Galdone, “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen and “Alice In Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll. Ginny reads often, both non-fiction and fiction, and is in two books clubs. She recently enjoyed the book, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein. Some all-time favorites are “The Cape Ann” by Faith Sullivan, “My Antonia,” by Willa Cather, and “Daughter of Fortune,” by Isabelle Allende.

Ginny especially enjoys playing with her grandchildren, traveling and a game of bridge. When not at the library, Ginny enjoys volunteering in special events and camp life at Camp Knutson in Crosslake and at Crosslake Lutheran Church.


Jodie Tweed

Jodie Tweed, a freelance writer and former Brainerd Dispatch reporter, lives in Pequot Lakes with her husband, Nels Norquist, and their three daughters.

WINTER 2012 | her voice


ac t i v i s t

by Meg Douglas



WINTER 2012 | her voice

photos by Joey Halvorson

It was a contentious campaign and 23-year-old Arielle Schnur, Brainerd, was in the thick of it — not garnering votes for a candidate, but as a community organizer for Minnesotans United For All Families (MN United.) On one hand, it was the first “grown-up” job, for this May 2012 college graduate from the University of Minnesota Duluth. On the other hand, she’d held activist positions through college and felt ready to become responsible for the north central region of Minnesota as MN United’s community organizer. While jobs for any recent college graduate with a decent salary and benefits are hard to come by, Arielle found one near to her heart. MN United is a broad coalition of over 600 organizations, community groups, churches and businesses that came together to defeat the constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. “This was the largest grassroots organization in Minnesota. No campaign was ever run like this before,” says Arielle. Their unique process, explains Arielle, didn’t demand equal rights, but rather encouraged conversations about why the amendment that limited the freedom of committed couples to marry should be defeated. No easy task, as gay marriage ranks right up there as one of the hot button issues of today. So how does she work? “I talk to people,” says Arielle. At the kick-off campaign in Brainerd in July, Arielle introduced parents who shared their stories and expressed the wish that their gay children just like yours and mine, should have the opportunity to marry. Later small groups met, not to rile up participants but to learn how to talk to friends and neighbors about this controversial issue, “and still keep them as friends and neighbors,” says Arielle. She says that with a flashing smile, and a light laugh, but knows whereof she speaks. During her tender teen years at Brainerd High School, Arielle had to come to terms with her sexual identity, a painful and gut-wrenching process.

Arielle had been a “good girl” at BHS. A good student involved in a lengthy list of extra-curriculars, she didn’t “smoke, drink or do drugs,” says Arielle, and at 14 had committed her life to Jesus Christ. But life for her was not a carefree round of studies and socializing. She was taught by her church that homosexuality was a sin but found herself having first crushes on TV stars, then female classmates. It didn’t happen all at once but over time, at age 16, she realized her feelings toward a female friend went beyond friendship. Night after night, “I cried myself to sleep. I thought my feelings were wrong, I thought I would burn in hell,” says Arielle. It was a hidden shame, a self-hatred that nearly drove her to take her own life. She thought that if she was to go to hell, she might as well go now, as wait for later. Late one night, in crisis, she showed up at a friend’s doorstep seeking solace and found it in the arms of the supportive family. “I turned it over to God,” she says. “Because I lived, I began to believe I was OK as I was.”

And then one day she said it out loud, “I’m a lesbian,” and a new reality began to grow.

Arielle Schnur, BHS and recent college graduate “outs herself” to herself at a favorite coffee shop as she takes on a demanding activist job.

An active life at UMD helped strengthen her self-esteem. She majored in women’s studies and volunteered in sexual assault services and a Women’s Health Center as a

clinic escort and legal advocate for an abortion clinic. She found inspiration from feminist thinkers such as Audre Lorde who says, “When I dare to be powerful to use my strengths in the service of my vision; it becomes less and less important whether I’m afraid.” But fear in coming out is never far away. She waited until age 19 to come out to family but coming out is never over and done with. “Every time I get a new job, a new doctor, a new vet, a new coffee shop, I have to out myself,” she sighs as she explains. But this 23-year-old appears blessed with enough energy and vivacity, well…to organize a community. And while coming out gets old, she says, “I’m done wondering how they’ll take me.” So are activists born or made? “My mother says I was born like this,” says Arielle. There is “no divide between what I believe and what I do.” It was a surprise, in a way, to realize not everyone is like this, she continues. “For most people, there is a space between belief and action…for me, once something becomes real, I become an advocate.” While older generations gripe plenty about younger generations escaping from the world with shabby work habits and social media, there are young women like Arielle leading the way to an authentic life, acting on what they believe. And there’s a lesson for all of us.


Meg Douglas Her Voice Editor

WINTER 2012 | her voice


la w e nf o r c e m e n t


Women who work in a jail have to be strong. It is essential they present an air of authority. They can do pat downs and take downs. But talk to a few of these women and you will also find kind hearts and a keen desire to change people’s lives. Theresa Stange, Miranda Neuwirth, Vickie Hamilton and Tina Theisen represent some of the female corrections officers who staff the Crow Wing County Jail. Theresa Stange began her corrections work at the juvenile detention center. “I was so naïve when I started that it was a shock to me that kids even committed such serious crimes.” Now, with a little more experience under her uniform belt, she works at the Crow Wing County Jail in the booking area and the inmate housing units. She no longer finds the day-to-day contact with inmates intimidating. “Sometimes during booking, people are not themselves and can be difficult. I try not to judge them and treat everyone the same,” she said. “I feel that if you give respect, you will get it back. We all have our own ways of handling ourselves around the inmates and this has worked for me.” Revealing a softer side, she talked about her concern for the 18

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children of repeat offenders, “I always wonder about the children. Who is taking care of them? What effect does it have on the children to see their parents come back to jail over and over again?” Miranda Neuwirth, program coordinator, is responsible for scheduling the many programs offered at the jail, seeing that inmates get to the programs and coordinating the sentence-to-serve and work-release programs. She likes the varied nature of her job, “There’s always a lot going on. Even when I have some free time, there’s always some project that I’ve put off that needs attention.” She believes the programs at the jail are key to inmates’ success once their sentences are over. The jail offers Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Bible study, General Education Development (GED), parenting classes, book groups, writing groups and many more. “We need to help the inmates while they’re here, so they don’t go back to what got them here in the first place,” she said. Vickie Hamilton, corrections officer, believes her life experience gives her an advantage in her work. “My upbringing, my

by Karen Ogdahl photos by Joey Halvorson

background in counseling and my religious beliefs help me see the inmates as people who have made some really bad choices, but also as people who can change,” she said. “Some are needy people. I believe that education can help them with their confidence so that they don’t come back. Sometimes it takes awhile, and it’s frustrating to see some come back more than once. On the other hand, I may run into someone at the grocery store who will come up to me and say, ‘Look at me. I’m doing great!’” Vickie spoke highly of her co-workers, “The staff here has a genuine spirit of caring. We want to see the inmates succeed, be responsible for themselves and their families. We are always looking for ways to promote that success.” Tina Theisen, sergeant in charge of programs, is an enthusiastic advocate for meaningful activities in the jail. “First, it makes the time spent here more productive,” she said. “If inmates are just sitting, they think too much about all the negative aspects of their lives, but in the programs, they are able to focus on the positives and on the skills they do have. For example, in the book group and the writers’ workshop, they have the oppor-

Women corrections officers staffing the Crow Wing County Jail include: (left to right): Miranda Neuwirth, Program Coordinator; Theresa Stange, Correctional Officer; Vickie Hamilton, Correctional Officer; and Tina Theisen, Sergeant.

tunity to communicate their thoughts and feelings. The religious programs help them with their spirituality. Arts and crafts show them that there are alternatives for how they spend their free time. Circle of Parents helps them improve their parenting skills. GED helps them get their high school diplomas. Programs give them the opportunity to learn and grow.” Tina is always recruiting new volunteers. “We’re very open to volunteers’ ideas, and we’re excited to begin new programs. Whatever ideas volunteers might have, we

can usually figure out ways to make a program work,” she said. She stresses that the jail is a safe place to volunteer. “New volunteers always come in with apprehension, but once they see what a secure and controlled environment it is, they relax. They learn that the inmates are not very different from the rest of us, and volunteers always tell me that they receive incredible rewards from their time here.” Theresa, Miranda, Vickie and Tina are indeed strong women, and a good deal of that strength is focused on their mission – to

help the inmates of the Crow Wing County Jail find ways to be successful, productive members of society.


Karen Ogdahl

Karen Ogdahl is a retired teacher and volunteer with the writing groups at the Crow Wing County Jail.

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by Jenny Holmes


‘Twas two months before Christmas and all through the house; not a creature was stirring. Well, except for about 10 sheep grazing in the backyard. Dave and Kris Peterson’s home off Wise Road in Brainerd is one to behold. Throughout the 9,000-plus square feet of living space are rooms filled with reclaimed lumber, repurposed antiques and unadulterated, thoughtful creativity. And those who attended the 2012 Zonta Christmas House tour were fortunate enough to see it for themselves. The Petersons were selected to host this year’s second annual event held Nov. 9-10. The home tour is the primary fundraiser for Zonta, a local and international organization aimed at advancing the status of women. Bonnie Kriha is co-president of the local Zonta club and said approximately 24 decorators, including florists, decorators, food spe-

cialists and other small businesses from around the lakes area, participated in the 2012 event. This was up significantly from the 18 who participated in the inaugural event, held at the home of Bob and Jeanne Larson in east Brainerd last year. Participating vendors are invited in days before the event and assigned a specific section of the home to decorate as they wish, while keeping with the Christmas theme. What results is a home completely transformed for the holidays, opened to the general public for viewing and a jumpstart on sparking holiday spirit. “This year’s vendors were such differing businesses, including a few small businesses owned by women,” said Bonnie. “We are pretty excited how it turned out, especially since Zonta helps promote women’s issues throughout this area and the world.” It isn’t sheer coincidence that placed the Christmas House Tour around deer hunting. It also was purposely planned to coincide with

photos by Joey Halvorson

Kris and Dave Peterson opened their home of reclaimed lumber and repurposed antiques for the 2012 Zonta fundraiser. The home tour is the primary fundraiser for Zonta, an organization that works to advance the status of women. 20

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many other lakes area events, to give hunting widows and others a weekend filled with opportunities. Like many service organizations, Zonta relies on fundraising to further their cause. In the past, the club sponsored a fashion show; but quickly learned they needed to reform their focus and take their event to a different level. Enter the Christmas Home Tour. Seventeen women of the local Zonta organization help to coordinate the home tour – a two-day event that, for a nominal fee, allows the public to tour an already magnificent home transformed into a winter wonderland, even if the outdoor conditions don’t necessarily mimic December. Kris and Dave Peterson, owners of Diversified Property Rentals and Diversified Construction, are no strangers to the public home tour circuit. In fact, their home was one of the featured constructions in the 2008 Mid-Minnesota Builders Association tour of homes.

The Peterson home was featured in 2008 on the Mid-Minnesota Builders Association tour of homes.

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Completed in 2008, the home is nearly 10,000 square feet. Kris calls the décor, “Santa Fe meets Aspen.” Beams are made of reclaimed timbers which are also used in floors and furniture, while old log siding becomes a ceiling. In one bathroom an old wine barrel holds a sink.

Dave built their home in 18 short weeks with the help of his crew. Ground was initially broken for the home in late November 2007, and a nearly 10,000 square foot marvel in home building was completed in April 2008. Kris, a part-time fitness instructor at the Brainerd Family YMCA, said she was first approached by a Zonta club member, inquiring if she and her husband would consider hosting the 2012 Christmas House Tour. “When they asked,” Kris recalls, “I thought, sure. I’d be happy to let our home be a part of something to benefit an organization that stands for what I also believe in.” Proceeds from the event go to help support local projects including the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center, PORT Girls Home, high school scholarships for girls, as well as international projects in partnership with the United Nations. Twenty rooms were decorated for the November event, in a home where its owner calls the décor “Santa Fe meets Aspen.” Reclaimed timber makes up the beams, flooring and much of the furniture throughout the Peterson’s home. Secondhand light fixtures were given new life, as were old vent covers, now transformed into light sconces. Old log siding has been repurposed as ceilings in many rooms. Sinks aren’t even spared attention – from one bathroom utilizing an old wine barrel, to the laundry room sink giving an old copper bucket a new lease on life. “Dave has always been frugal,” Kris noted of her husband and their consistent theme of reuse and recycle. “He grew up on a farm where they had to reuse materials to make, fix and repair various things around the farm. They didn’t waste a thing. Dave’s background definitely impacted how we approached what went into our home.” And while marveling at the extensive woodwork, attention to detail and richness of the home, one can’t help but notice a friendly flock of sheep looking back at you through the home’s back windows. It’s a sight you can’t help but chuckle at considering the inspirational and serene interior surroundings. But Kris also laughs it off noting the sheep are her husband’s pets that continually jump the fence of 22

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their provided area and enjoy paying a visit to the house to help keep the lawn manicured. While much of the home gives off a rich and cozy southwest meets northwoods flare, kitschy themes abound in the kids’ rooms, including a baseball motif in middle son McCale’s room. A simulated dugout with a cedar shake overhang adorns the bedpost and baseballs are creatively used as closet door handles. “I think we were able to incorporate everything we came across,” Kris said of the unique touches. “We also had to be extremely budget-conscious. That forced us to figure out ways to reuse materials in creative ways. We found wood, light fixtures, and accessories at auctions, second-hand stores and antique shops. It got to be a challenge to look at potential pieces differently. What could we use it for, other than what it was intended.” Regardless if you’re in one of the four kids’ rooms, the master suite, indoor pool space, kitchen, great room, mudroom, or upper level bonus room, each room provides a great view of surrounding open fields and provides a sense of seclusion and privacy while only being a few short minutes from town. “I’ve been here three times,” Bonnie marveled,” and every time I walk through, I see something different.” By her own admission, Kris said she isn’t typically much of a Christmas decorator. “My mom is usually the one who gets into decorating around the holidays,” she noted. “But after this year, that might change.”


Jenny Holmes

Jenny Holmes is a former reporter with the Brainerd Dispatch and currently owns a public relations and communication firms. She lives in Nisswa with husband, Tim and their two schoolaged children.


by Diane Peterson

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photos by Diane Peterson and Marian Segersten WINTER 2012 | her voice



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Pictures reflect a fact of life and that fact will live forever. This is the dedication of Marian Segersten of Crosby, a retired media specialist who can now totally focus on her creative photography. “I love taking photos and have a camera with me most times. Sometimes I feel like the camera is part of me!” she smiled. Growing up near Blackduck, Minn., Marian’s first photo as a child was taken of the real “Blackduck.” One of her best memories was developing a 4-H photography project. Back then one of her favorite cameras was a black and white Polaroid. Remember those? For 28 years Crosby-Ironton media specialist Marian taught students a wide variety of projects and really enjoyed learning online to teach them how to creatively edit digital photos. Digital photos armed Marian with a new technique which incorporates a


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Once a media specialist in the Crosby-Ironton schools, Marian Segersten is now a photographer in her own right. A photo of the Crosby serpent (top left) sent to the Brainerd Dispatch was the start of her business.

vast variety of styles. Nature and landscape photos became her favorite category but she says, “Yes, there is a toss up between general outdoor photos, flowers, arboretum gardens and people.” The Brainerd Northland Arboretum is one of her favorite photo locations. Now that she was not in a classroom, Marian is everywhere taking photos during each season. (Yes, she appreciates spring: “It’s fresh and new, a rebirth of life.”) Walking up the Pennington location outside of Ironton provides many photo options. “Being on the Overlook recently I saw the huge mess from the rain but it was also awesome to see the nature, trees just hanging off the side of the hill.” Photographer Marian has been scheduled to take pictures at many events including the Mountain Bike Festivals, Spring Chamber Dinner and this year’s C-I Pageant. Over the past four winters she also took

Christmas in the Park festival pictures in Crosby. (Enjoying that event, she reminds us that camera batteries drain faster in cold weather.) Now Marian is our teacher: “Cloudy days can be one of the best times to take outdoor pictures. But I also like seeing the sun reflections in the water (especially on the clear mine lakes). Misty pictures are fun because they cause a muted background!” “After downloading photos on your computer, name and date each picture for your future use, crop and delete pictures you don’t like to save room for more photos,” she continued. “Edit for correct lighting (Marian uses Adobe Photoshop Elements) and color tones…and always remove red eyes which I told my students was so fixable!” Certainly we can often print photos on our own printer, send it in to local businesses



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The Northland Arboretum in Brainerd is a favorite location for her nature and landscape shots. Marian sells greeting cards, calendars and photo books at Gifts Galore in Crosby and the Pinecone Antique & Arts Gallery in Deerwood.

or print online. Marian’s favorite online printer is which she believes is very good quality and reasonably priced. OK. After reading these paragraphs, we will all receive an A! And, if we want an A+, we can attend the Focal Point Brainerd camera club every month on the third Tuesday evening at the Arboretum. “We all learn from other people who attend, show critique photos and questions about cameras are answered by members…they are all experts,” Marian smiled. Marian’s photo business has totally increased. In 2005 Marian sent a photo of the Crosby serpent with a beautiful red sunrise in the background to the Brainerd Dispatch. “When that was printed it actually started my new business!” Photo cards, calendars and Cuyuna Range photo books were developed and the public purchased them again and again and again. More beau-

tiful items are now sold at Gifts Galore in Crosby and Pinecone Antique & Arts Gallery in Deerwood: greeting cards, note cards, coasters, area photo books, calendars, mouse pads and new canvas designs. Her creative water lily photo became a runnerup in the Central Lakes College contest in 2011. Marian’s photography business moved forward after her retirement. Pictures are taken of area festivals, photos for Chamber of Commerce and CI School online formats. This year Marian has become a photographer for senior high school pictures and family photos. After cropping and editing photos, Marian places the pictures on a disc for the owner so they can enjoy so many and decide what they’d like to print, place online, etc. Photography is obviously the beauty of life captured and enjoyed by everyone. As

we view Marian’s variety of photo categories, our eyes will definitely open enjoying the interesting and engaging subject matters. Contact Marian Segersten by her business email to secure an event or family photo:


Diane Peterson

A former Brainerd and Crosby resident, Diane Peterson enjoys gathering with area women and creating an article for Her Voice. Because of her involvement with HV, Diane has been the editor of “In Good Company,” a women’s magazine in the Fergus Falls area for four years. WINTER 2012 | her voice


vo l u n t e e r s

by Elsie Husom photos by Joey Halvorson

Volunteers Doris, Sara, Betty and Elsie collect books for their reading group.


Volunteers in a writing and reading group for women in the Crow Wing County Jail are front row (left to right): Doris Anderson, Marcia Mans, Betty Vosberg, and Elsie Husom. Back row (left to right): Sara Egan, Karen Ogdahl and Nancy Palmer.

I must confess! I did time in the Crow Wing County Jail this past year. No steel bracelets circled my wrists. No arrest warrant was served; however, each steel door I entered (six in all) slammed and locked behind me before the next one clicked open. Further confession: I continue to return each week and enjoy each time. I am not the only one. Seven women make that weekly trek through the same steel doors to conduct book discussions, lead writing sessions or help inmates choose ageappropriate books to read and record for their children. This program started two years ago as part of the Inside Out Connection Program. The idea for reading and writing groups originated with a volunteer who had been working with inmates in the FRED (Fathers Reading Every Day) Program. Seeing how much the fathers appreciated the opportu26

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nity to learn what and how to read to their children, he wanted “to create more positive literacy experiences” with inmates. In 2010, the program began in two lowsecurity housing units. Says volunteer, Karen Ogdahl, “I’m sure all first-time volunteers at the jail are apprehensive and it was the same for me. Hearing the door lock loudly behind me was a little unnerving the first time.” Early volunteers were so enthusiastic about their experience, they inspired six other women; and the program expanded to both reading and writing components in men’s and women’s units. It is designed to help inmates improve their reading, speaking, listening and writing skills and find positive ways to express ideas and feelings. Discussions range from intellectual and ethical to hilarious, sometimes sharing feelings that often bring tears, says Karen.

To the women who volunteer, it is much more than reading and writing. “The setting is unique, the people come and go, the glimpse into someone’s life is fleeting; but, in the end, it is an experience that expands my view of the world and of myself,” says Nancy Palmer. Betty Vosberg agrees, “I discovered that my world experience has been expanded by the many discussions focused not only on the book contents but also the group’s life experiences. “Another volunteer, Doris Anderson, feels she’s “gained an appreciation for other points of view and also a new appreciation for the advantages I’ve had during my life.” Volunteering has encouraged these women to rethink stereotypes. “I am struck with how much the inmates are like “other” people,” Marcia Mans comments. “Most entered the system because of problems related to alcohol or drug abuse. I realized there are those on the ‘outside’ who have such problems also, but maybe have a good support system or can afford to go for treatment.” The women emphasize that they are not leaders but rather facilitators. With a few thought-provoking questions, they elicit ideas and feelings from inmates who are willing to share. Betty explains, “As a facilitator, I am constantly reminded that everyone has gifts and talents which can enlarge oth-

Volunteers Karen, Nancy and Marcia find the inmates enjoy the reading and writing sessions as much as the volunteers.

ers’ lives.” Sara Egan adds, “Respecting each person’s dignity and value is an important part of the program just as it is in the ‘outside.’” At the beginning, all of the women had some misgivings as to their role. Might they inadvertently say something that could offend? Might they be looked upon as judgmental or “preachy?” What would the inmates be like? Would they say anything at all or just sit in silence? Now, however, all feel comfortable just being themselves. The respect and the gratitude shown by the inmates make each session pleasurable. Inmates have evaluated the programs very favorably, and almost all would like more time for both discussion and writing. The volunteer women find some comments

especially meaningful. One inmate wrote, “The writing is a great way to express things that are otherwise tough to talk about.” Another added he “appreciated the opportunity to communicate and debate multiple views and opinions in a nonhostile environment.” From a third, “These women are amazing!” The piece de resistance: in both writing and book discussion groups, some inmates expressed the desire “to find a similar group ‘on the outside.’” Before volunteering, the jail had been just a building; I hadn’t thought much about the inmates other than that they must have problems either of their own doing or from

circumstances. Now they have touched my life; they are real people, with hopes and dreams, struggling to overcome difficulties. With such positive feedback and experiences, how can we not return through those six steel doors each week?

HV This article focuses on two volunteer opportunities; there are many others including quilt making, parenting skills, Bible study, GED and money management. For more information, go to: index.aspx?NID=435

Elsie Husom

Elsie Husom is a retired educator who lives west of Brainerd. She enjoys reading, golfing, making art and volunteering in the Center for Lifelong Learning, the Crossing Arts Alliance and other community endeavors.

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by Carolyn Corbett

A Story of




WINTER 2012 | her voice

photo by Joey Halvorson

In 1998 Kathy Carlson received Christ as her Lord and Savior. Up until then she’d made a mess of her life and was a very bitter woman, bitter with specific circumstances and bitter with life in general. She had believed in God because she could do that in a very general kind of way. But believing in Jesus required something very specific. Her sticking point was forgiveness. She believed she was the one to pay the price for the mistakes she’d made. She hadn’t accepted that Jesus had paid the price for her sins and forgiven her. But that changed. Her grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease and was dying. This grandmother had consistently shown her the kind of love associated with the love of God through Christ. She had been dying for five or six days and the last night Kathy stayed beside her all night, thanking her grandma in spirit for all the kind things she had done, telling her it was OK for her to go. Kathy was 33 years old when her grandmother passed. Soon after, she began attending Lakewood Free Church, sobbing through the first four weeks of sermons on grace. She joined a small group Bible study. When she started to tell the three women about her past, they didn’t judge her. They prayed with her. On Sept. 23, 1998, she opened the door of her heart to the Lord. She hit the floor on her hands and knees in reverence and had a personal encounter with Jesus. In those moments of surrender, she had an actual physical feeling of having more room to breathe. She gave over her life – past, present and future – to Jesus Christ. From that day forward her life changed radically. She loved and lived the Word of God. She began to serve as a small group leader for

youth at Lakewood. She worked with young women in need. Two years later a team was being assembled to go to Matamoros, Mexico, on a mission. They needed one more woman to join the group. Kathy felt a “tap on her shoulder” and God’s voice saying, “Why not you?” She could think of a dozen reasons. But she kept thinking and praying about it. She went and her 14-year-old daughter Claire accompanied her. That trip was a turning point. She knew she was meant to serve Latinos and to be on a mission field. “God, I believe, had given me a gift of mercy. I wanted to live out serving the poor.” She spoke to Pastor Randy and her father, and both gave her their blessings. The youth pastor at Lakewood had a connection with Costa Rica and asked Kathy to join a five-day mission trip. She said, “Yes! Yes!” then got out her map to see where Costa Rica was. While there, they visited an impoverished community called La Carpio. After she heard a local woman speak about her work with young girls in the community, she knew Costa Rica was the right place for her. Kathy went to the director of the base in Costa Rica and asked for an application to be a full-time missionary. Then she went home and waited for a year to hear if she had been accepted. She wasn’t frustrated with the time lapse. She concentrated on growing in faith and trust in the Lord. Her daughter didn’t want her to leave for Costa Rica. The cost was too great emotionally. So Kathy chose to wait until Claire graduated from high school and began college, and her daughter, too, gave Kathy her blessing.

“I am in a place of purposeful pause right now, resting and trusting in Him.”

found a message from her brother. Her 72-year-old mother had had a massive coronary and stroke and passed away 11 days later. Then her father became ill. Whatever doubt she’d had about the timing of leaving the field was erased. The following months represented a season of great loss, but also a time to deepen her relationship with Christ. After 14 years of a busy life on the mission field she’d inadvertently let her love for the Lord grow cold. Now would be a time to renew her vows. Throughout her life Kathy has found markers of Jesus’ faithfulness. She knows she has been granted a very rare season to rest and recover. Although uncertain of the timing to return to ministry work or a social services job, Kathy knows with confidence that when the time comes, God will provide. “I am in a place of purposeful pause right now,” she says, “resting and trusting in Him.”


Carolyn Corbett

Prior to her passion for playing with words, Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years. Today, as a freelance writer/editor, she has over 200 articles published in cruising, parenting, and general interest magazines.

In November of 2004 the final confirmation was in place. Kathy set a departure date for mid-March. Claire was in her second year at the University of North Dakota. It was excruciating to say goodbye, knowing her commitment of three years minimum would separate them except for the two visits a year which Kathy had promised her daughter. On Mother’s Day the following year, Claire called and said the distance was just too hard on her, that she was going to have to stop talking with Kathy for awhile. While friends and other family were eager to visit Kathy in Costa Rica, it would be four years before Claire came. During the six months that her daughter remained silent, Kathy continued to communicate her love for her daughter. She held faith in the restoration of the relationship, knowing God wouldn’t call her to the mission field and allow her family to be destroyed. At Christmas 2009, Claire and her boyfriend finally came to visit and loved the country. Claire ended up getting married in Costa Rica in a beach ceremony and she has, Kathy says, “deeper ties to Costa Rica than I do because of that.” Kathy dedicated herself to serving young women in Costa Rica and grew to love the country and its people deeply. Wisdom in missionary circles suggests that a person take a furlough every five years to avoid burnout. Kathy waited too long. After seven years in the field, she admitted to people that she was struggling and asked God for permission to come home. After God answered her prayer, she sold everything she owned in Costa Rica in three days. Returning to Brainerd in April 2012, she WINTER 2012 | her voice



go o d w o r k s

story and photos by Marlene Chabot

Volunteers create the giving spirit at The Mustard Seed, a project of Salem Lutheran Church in Deerwood. Left to right: Deb Selk, Manager; Kristy Tesdahl; Greg Meyer, Director of Salem Lutheran Church’s Care and Outreach; Vi Klungness and Judy Herrly.


During the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season, one frequently returns to shops discovered in previous years that offer warmth, charm and miles and miles of good cheer. The Mustard Seed, located in the heart of the Deerwood community, is one such unique place. Begun as a seed of an idea in 2009, it swiftly blossomed into the thriving thrift and gift shop it is today. At Christmas time, every square inch of this special store is filled with Christmas related items for decorating, wearing and gift giving. You’ll find wreaths, trees, ornaments, stuffed animals, statues, jewelry, clothing, books, toys, dishes, knick-knacks and so much more. “Our Taste of Christmas, the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving, kicks the Christmas season off at the store,” said volunteer Vi Klungness. There are wonders there are for all the senses: live musical entertainment, homemade crafts, gifts for everyone on your list and of course, Salem Lutheran Church’s traditional yummy baked goods that permeate the air. Items available for purchase during Christmas and throughout the year are donated by people of the community and surrounding areas, however the store isn’t a drop off center. The Mustard Seed relies on Salem WEST, a block away, for most of its salable goods. Salem WEST, the area’s donation collection center since 1993, was also created by Salem Lutheran Church. Manager Pat Bauer said, “All clothing donations are washed, sorted and placed in bins according to size. Furniture is restored as needed.” As soon as Social Services refers someone to Salem WEST, items are pulled and readied for delivery. There is no cost to the person in need.


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The Mustard Seed connection has helped tremendously with donation overflow at Salem WEST. “We only have two rooms for storage,” Pat shared. Occasionally items handed off to the Mustard Seed are returned to the donation center for a referral. Referral needs always come first. We’ve all heard the saying, “God works in mysterious ways.” Well, he certainly did with the Mustard Seed. It all started with Greg Meyer, Director of Salem Lutheran Church’s Care and Outreach, who received the inspiration for the venture and then shared it with Vi Klungness, Kristy Tesdahl and Judy Herrly, members of his church with the exact talents he was looking for. The Mustard Seed three liked what they heard and quickly volunteered their services. The next step was to locate a building for the store. God’s intervention took care of that too. “A member of our church shared that his mother owned a rental building on Forest Road and it was available to rent,” Meyer said. In April 2011 Salem Lutheran Church bought the building. When the Mustard Seed first opened its doors, it required about 70 volunteers from Salem Lutheran Church to keep it humming. Today the shop has over 200 non-denominational volunteers, depending on the season and ongoing activities, and is comprised of people of all ages and walks of life. In order for the store to run smoothly, two shifts of four people each every Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., take on cashiering, sorting and clerking duties. Vi Klungness says she enjoys being in charge of organizing the back room where donation overflow is brought. Boxes are unpacked and shelves are labeled. Items are classified and priced. She also

Seeing all the people stopping in to shop gives me such joy

delegates tasks and trains volunteers. “Training volunteers during their shift helps familiarize them with their duties and makes them feel more comfortable about what’s expected of them.” Like Vi, Judy Herrly’s involved with unpacking and pricing too, but her main job is making sure items are ready to move into the store as space becomes available. At Christmas Judy’s artistic side shines through. Known as the wreath lady, she creates a wide variety from donated holiday items. “Seeing all the people stopping in to shop gives me such joy,” she said. Kristy Tesdahl is in charge of the Mustard Seed’s ongoing store design and the large clothing area. “We provide a dressing room for trying on clothes and carry everything from shoes, boots, baby clothing to adult wear.” A hundred percent of profits go back to the community not the church. Money raised helps approximately 100 people per month.

Pat Bauer, Collection Center Manager of Salem WEST with stacks of clothing sized and ready to go.

Thanks to the generous donations from the community and the three women at the helm since its inception, the Mustard Seed keeps evolving, including the introduction of Fair Trade items: coffee, tea, nuts and art objects. This year the women have also gained additional support with new manager Deb Selk. Deb recently moved to the area from Benson, Minn., and is looking forward to working at the Mustard Seed for a long time. “We’re a small store,” Kristy stated seriously, “in a small town doing a big job for the Lord.”


Marlene Chabot

Marlene Chabot is a member of Sisters in Crime and Great River Writers and is currently working on her fourth Minnesota based mystery novel. She and her husband reside in Fort Ripley. When not writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, gardening and traveling.

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story and photo by Joan Hasskamp


Tucked in the east wing of the Care Center on the campus of the Cuyuna Range Medical Center in Crosby is a bustling beauty shop. Inside, Nancy Johnson welcomes a steady string of customers to her licensed shop with a warm smile, a caring touch and a hearty laugh. Nancy has been giving perms, sets and haircuts to residents of the Care Center for 38 years. It was her mother, Peggy Kangas, an occupational therapist at the Care Center, who convinced Nancy to set up shop in 1974. Nearly four decades later, Nancy is still there on Mondays providing a much-appreciated service to the residents. While the shop has moved around the Care Center over the years, it has been in the current location for 15 years. The Crosby native has been fixing hair since 1962. After five years honing her craft at the Nu Look in Crosby Nancy spent the next 30 years at the Stylon Chateau in Deerwood until her retirement from there in 2006. While Nancy was ready to slow down, she wasn’t ready to retire from her job at the Care Center. Nancy says the shop serves about 30 regular customers a week. One customer so enjoys her weekly visit that she skips breakfast so she can be first in line. While Nancy tries to limit her schedule to one day a week, she’s sometimes spotted in the shop on her days off. Sandy Karle works the days Nancy doesn’t. The Care Center staff schedules Nancy’s appointments. While most of her customers are from the Center, she also serves extended stay hospital patients. Because many of the shop visitors are in wheelchairs, Nancy has to make some adjustments. For example, she uses a plastic funnel that allows her to rinse hair when the customer is in an upright position. According to Nancy, the best part of her job is seeing how happy her customers are after


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having their hair done. “When other resident tell them how lovely their hair looks, it makes me feel good knowing I’ve brought some happiness into their lives,” Nancy says. “I love to make someone look and feel better.” Nancy enjoys listening to the stories of days gone by. “I learn so much from the residents,” she adds. On the day of my visit, Nancy was fixing Margaret Newstrom’s hair. When the Deerwood resident fell and ended up in the Care Center for rehabilitation, she was happy to reunite with Nancy. She had been Nancy’s customer in Deerwood for many years. “I like to visit the shop,” Margaret says. “It’s homey and I enjoy it.” Bernice Buck, another long time customer echoes a similar sentiment, “I like coming here,” she says. While the majority of Nancy’s customers are female, she also cuts hair for the male residents. For some of the men a visit to her beauty shop is quite a culture shock. Most had never visited one before their stay in the Care Center. Nancy says the men enjoy kidding around with her. One of her bald customers likes to say “no perm today” or “just a little trim around the ears.” Many of Nancy’s regulars at the Care Center were also her customers at the Stylon Chateau or Nu Look. In 1962, Nancy’s first customer was Gert Aulie. Gert followed Nancy to the Stylon Chateau and stayed with her for 30 years. Eventually Gert ended up in the Care Center where Nancy continued to fix her hair. When Gert died, Nancy’s relationship with Gert came full circle when she styled her hair for her funeral. Nancy finds that fixing the hair of a friend or loved one for their funeral is therapeutic. “It’s the last thing I can do for someone,” Nancy says. Over the years, many family members of her customers have asked the funeral director if Nancy could style their deceased loved ones hair. Nancy is happy to do it. When her own mother died, Nancy and her younger brother and sister all went to the funeral home together. The two siblings polished their

he l p i n g h a n d s

For nearly four decades, Nancy Johnson (left) has styled hair at the Care Center of the Cuyuna Range Medical Center in Crosby. Margaret Newstrom has been a customer of Nancy’s in Deerwood for many years.

mother’s nails while Nancy lovingly styled her hair. In remembrance of her mother, Nancy has adorned the walls of her shop with several of the decorated hats that her mother made. “It adds a little fun to the shop,” she says. The mother of two enjoys taking care of her three grandchildren several days a week. She also bikes, gardens, takes classes at the Hallett Community Center, attends a weekly Bible study class and coordinates the rummage sale part of Salem Lutheran’s annual Summerfest celebration. When biking, Nancy often finds herself detouring to the Care Center to visit the residents. After 30 years, the residents are not just customers, they are family too.


Joan Hasskamp

Joan Hasskamp works at Crow Wing County Community Services. She lives in Crosby.

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story and photos by Jill Anderson

A family affair: Lori Swensen LaBorde (left) and her father, Tom “Scoop” Swensen, co-partners of the Crosby-Ironton Courier.


It would be intimidating to follow in the publishing footsteps of someone whose nickname is “Scoop” and who’s been in the newspaper industry since age 12, even if he’s your father. But for Lori (Swensen) LaBorde, the passing of the Crosby-Ironton Courier torch has been such a gradual process over the last 30 years, it hasn’t fazed her a bit. You won’t find more down-to-earth people than the Swensen family who, through two generations, have worked at or owned and operated the Crosby-Ironton Courier for over half of the century the newspaper has been in business. Lori originally planned a career in the medical field after high school, but found herself staying on at the Courier. “There were always new challenges and different positions for me, and I liked the constant change,” says Lori. Before she knew it, 20-plus years had gone by and her dad was ready to slow down a little. Lori was ready for another challenge, 34

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so it worked well for both of them to have her buy into the business in 2005. Over the years, their roles have reversed. Tom used to be in charge and Lori was the glorified gofer. Now it’s the other way around — and Tom is fine with that. He’s seen many changes over the years. The original building for the Courier was behind Kinney Realty. In 1965 it caught fire and the Brainerd Dispatch (owned by the McCollough family at the time) came to the Courier’s rescue. “They allowed Dad to use their equipment so he didn’t miss an issue. In fact, Dad hasn’t missed an issue in the 50-plus years he’s been at the paper,” Lori says proudly. In 2008 the Dispatch helped them out again. “It was a Monday night and my computer system crashed,” Lori remembers. “We had less than 24 hours to get the (Wednesday publication) paper out, and the Dispatch stepped in to help us complete production and get the Courier in the mail just in time.”

The existing location was built in 1974. Circulation is around 4,000, including their online subscriptions. They still have some of the old equipment: a Chandler & Price Proof Press from the 1920s sits in the Courier’s entryway. A Peerless 30” paper cutter is still in use able to cut through more than 500 sheets at once. The Courier has also donated other printing equipment to the Croft Mine Park and the Crow Wing County Historical Museum in Brainerd. As if the newspaper doesn’t keep Lori busy enough, over 40 years ago, Tom started a sideline business to the Courier, the Highway 6 Vacationland visitors guide, which is still in distribution today. It makes for a very busy spring. “Actually, there really is little down time during the year.” Lori mentions August is usually as busy as the Christmas season for the Courier. “Between Heritage Days and back-to-school information, August is a crazy month,” she says. As with any family business, it takes some

Lori registers runners for the Heritage Days 5k run, one of her many volunteer projects.

juggling. Lori’s husband, Joe, and children, Robert, Jamie, Whitney and Nicole, adjust to Lori’s busy schedule and don’t expect to catch more than a glimpse of her on a Monday, as those are 16-hour-days, if not longer, at the Courier. Lori does manage to get away once in a while, if everything is orchestrated just right. She took nearly a week off during one of their busiest months, strategically placing her vacation between deadlines! Then there is her volunteering. As if she isn’t intertwined with the community enough through the Courier, Lori has her hand in many fundraisers and benefits, from her involvement with getting the Veterans Moving Wall to Crosby, to performing a variety of jobs at the Ironton Legion, making cakes, bartending, washing dishes, whatever they need done. Probably her biggest volunteer responsibility is during Crosby Heritage Days. Since 1982, Lori has helped grow Heritage Days into the successful event it is today. She emcees the Miss C-I Pageant, organizes the arts and crafts booths, helps with the 5k race, runs the frozen T-shirt contest and assists with a hundred other events in between. She was recognized for her volunteer work in 2010 at the Miss C-I pageant. Nominated by her peers, the award reflects Lori’s years of hard work to make the Crosby area a better place to live. Thankfully, it’s not all work and no play for Lori. When football season comes around, you’ll find Lori cheering on the Vikings. An avid football fan, she hates to miss a game. In the summer, she plays in the women’s horseshoe league, in winter she’s on a dart league. When Lori finds time, she crochets, a talent she learned from her mother. Like one of their pieces of fine-oiled equipment, things usually flow smoothly for Lori at the Courier. Tom stays involved by taking care of daily duties and keeping his finger on the pulse of the area by getting the “scoop” every morning at one of the local cafes. “That’s one of the many benefits of owning the Courier,” Lori says, “We usually know what’s going on everywhere.” Tom is still a partner in the business with Lori, and at 38 years is the longest-running publisher in the history of the Courier. Tom started in the newspaper business folding papers for the Swanville News back in 1953. In 1960, he moved to the Crosby area to work at the Courier. Once he became owner, all four of their children worked in some aspect of the business. Through high school, daughters Julee and Lori, along with sons Tom and Bill, ran press, including

jobs like the student handbook, hospital forms, mine inspector booklets, raffle tickets and miscellaneous printing. Lori’s mother, Crosby native Betty (Moe), has been active in the family business, also. “A partnership is a lot like a marriage,” Lori says, repeating what she’s learned from her dad. “It’s important that we keep the lines of communication open between Dad and me, make the other partner aware if a mistake was made in print so they are prepared.” However, when asked the downside to their business, Lori says, “The error of omission. When we aren’t informed of community events it looks like we’ve been negligent.” When asked what her dream job would be, Lori said, “I think I have it. Sure, the hours are long, and it can be stressful at times, but I meet new people every day and get to be a part of community events.” But it’s the community that has been richly blessed over the years, by being well-informed on area activities and services through the Courier, and Lori’s caring involvement in a community she loves calling home.


Jill Anderson

Jill is in the process of trying to get her first women’s fiction novel published, writing her second and sleeping every once in a while.

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he r s a y

by Mary Aalgaard

photo by Laura Radniecki Brainerd High School graduate Bobby Rude, Mary Aalgaard’s eldest son, has left the nest, enrolling in Texas Tech University.

photo by Mary Aalgaard


Parenting is all about nurturing, empowering and letting go. From the moment our children enter the world, they must learn to breathe on their own. We rush to fill their every need until it’s time to wean them from the breast or the bottle and to set them down and let them learn to walk on their own. We keep them tucked under our wing in the safe nest of our homes, until it’s time to push them out the door, onto the school bus, and


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into a world that is separate from us, a world where they need to figure out how to learn, socialize and survive. My first-born left the nest this past fall. He knew exactly what he wanted to major in, had a clear direction and plan for the future. Thank God for that. When so many young people are drifting and unsure, I had a son who knew what he wanted, a degree in electrical and computer engineering. I drove

him right over to NDSU for a tour. He said, “That’s nice, but isn’t there some other place that specializes in engineering?” He thought Fargo was a little too close; too many cousins and other Brainerd grads had gone there. He wanted his own experience. So, we went online to and Texas Tech University came up as a match. “I want to go there,” he said. “You do?” I said. But, it’s so far away. I can only blame myself. I have a strong sense of adventure. I like discovering my own path. I don’t like other people “suggesting” where I should go and what I should do. Who was I to deny my son his own unique experience? If a person wants a big, new adventure, Texas seems like the ideal location. In the end, it really doesn’t matter how far away they go. The change happens no matter what. You now have an adult child. You can’t keep them in the nest forever.

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.

Truthfully, you don’t want to. You want to see them spread their wings and fly. You want to know that you’ve empowered your children to seek adventure, to be strong on their own, and succeed. They’ll leave you behind and your heart will break, but you will also feel their joy. You’ll look at the kids still at home and know that their interactions are different, filling new roles. Gone are the days when they all piled into the biggest one’s room to play video games, eat chips and bug each other until the mom says, “Why don’t you go out and play?” The family dynamic will never be the same again. Other moms said it’s like you’re missing a limb. You look around for it, and it’s not there. You start to busy yourself, first with cleaning the graduate’s room, then joining new clubs or throwing yourself into a hobby. All the while, you’re still feeling ghost pains from the missing limb. Even though I’m divorced, my son’s dad and I shared our growing pains and the responsibility of sending him off to college. I

~ Hodding Carter accompanied him to orientation where I got a feel for the campus and the other kids attending. To my relief, my boy made friends within the first few minutes of orientation. He sat down with some kids from Texas who asked where he was from and he was an instant celebrity. He says he still hangs out with them as well as a few kids he met in his dorm. His dad and grandpa brought him down to Texas to help him settle into his home away from home. His dad sent a photo/text, “Here he is in his dorm room.” I replied, “Did the sheets fit?” His dad said, “Only a mom would respond with a question like that.” We never stop being their parent. At orientation the presenters assured us parents that our kids would be okay away from us. That they were just as concerned about their health and safety as we are and that it was time for us to let go. “Let them know you’re still there for them,” they said. “Send them a text or note now and then, but you don’t need to do it 25 times a day. You

don’t need to check on their grades or contact their professors. They can take care of all that, now.” The last text from his dad read, “It was hard to leave him in his dorm and drive away.” I know he’ll change. I know he’s having all kinds of experiences and forming relationships with people that I’ll never meet. I know he is becoming the man he was born to be. I gave him strong roots, a safe nest to learn and grow in and wings to fly. I just hope that part of him is a homing pigeon.


Mary Aalgaard

Mary Aalgaard is a freelance writer in the Brainerd lakes area. She writes for area publications, an inspirational blog,, and entertainment reviews on her blogspot on the website of the Brainerd Dispatch.

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tr a v e l


Dawn filters through the dangling orchids outside my window where Volcán Agua stoically rises above San Pedro Las Huertas, as it has for centuries. I listen for the cathedral bells that will confirm a new day. Clang! Clang! It’s 6 a.m. The village roosters raise their quiri-qui chorus into the mountains. Fireworks announce somebody’s birthday. Silhouettes leave doorways, some heading down to the town plazuela for early Mass and others heading up to the volcano, where they work the coffee and corn fields. I head along the hallway at Rising

story and photos by Jan Kurtz

Villages main house, passing ten doors labeled with volunteer names, look out on Volcán Fuego, belching a bubble of smoke and continue through the communal kitchen. The aroma of strong Guatemalan coffee follows me out the door and to the gate. Across the street, I will spend my morning with three teachers and 35 students at Alabare Elementary School. Already, students are seated on the wall’s ledge, sucking on mango slices, waiting for Eddie to unlock. Rina, the upper level teacher, revs her motorcycle over the cobblestone and parks in the courtyard. Carol, the lead teacher, rushes in at 7:01, hair still wet, and leads the morning prayer of gratitude and petitions their guardian angels. Monica pours steaming, vitamin-fortified breakfast gruel into mugs and sends it out on trays, followed by a basket of fruit and bread. In this way, Dave and Bina Huebsch, founders of Rising Villages, know the students get breakfast. Dave recommended that I eat with the students to be “part of them.” In the next three weeks, I joined them, but they became “part of me.”

After the first day introductions, I was left facing eight third graders. Their eyes took me in as I held up postcards of the Mississippi River, snow and Paul Bunyan hoping visuals would bridge the culture gap. I believed I had their rapt attention until a lad named Josue jumped out of his desk, threw his arms around my waist, looked at me with a gleam of mischief and sweetly begged: “Seño” (a term of respect), may I have a card?” The chaos that ensued was, I soon discovered, the norm. After each chose a card, they began to share with me. Shy Ingrid patted her hands together, demonstrating how she makes tortillas with her mom. Josue Antonio works weekends as a shoeshine boy. Ana attends the afternoon sewing classes. Ronal, a new student, had transferred in from a public school where his grades were “hurting.” At Alabare, he will get a second chance via sponsorships that help cover education, food, and clothing, dependent on passing grades. This is also an incentive to the parents to keep their children in school instead of dropping out to help support the family. Despite no clocks on the wall, Josue soon

Jan will present a Cultural Thursday on Guatemala at noon Feb. 7 in the Chalberg Theatre at Central Lakes College. 38

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Jan Kurtz spent three weeks teaching in Guatemala, sometimes with children in gym class. Students played basketball, soccer or volleyball in a public facility across the street from the school.

The houses consisted of one to three rooms, masonry block walls, dirt or cement floors, an open cook fire or small gas stove, clothes washed in a scrub board sink and 100-pound bags of corn propped up alongside a wall, by the firewood. Corn tortillas are their staple. Yet, one young girl worked an afternoon on the coffee plantation, so that she could offer us cake. Back at the school, Edgar, the principal, was doing jumping jacks with the sixth graders for gym class. Eddie, Carol and I lined up everyone else for the trek to the town center’s soccer court for relay races. “Do you do any warm-ups” I inquired, as we hiked down the hill. “We figure walking 15 minutes covers that,” Eddie grinned and took the lead. As I stepped behind, Freddy and Gisela came to my side, reaching out to take a hand and… a piece of my heart.

pulled on my sleeve and informed me it was time for the 9 a.m. break. Still unsure of the twinkle in his eye, I looked to Ingris, who nodded in the direction of the women gathering at the door with baskets on their heads. I watched as they lowered their goods, revealing fruits and candies for sale. Class dismissed! After break, the children scrambled to the book shelves and got… toothbrushes. Eddie rationed out the toothpaste as they filed over to the pila (outdoor sink), to scrub away residual treats. Time for some serious studying!? My time was spent doling out glue for their myriad cut and paste projects, reading stories, organizing clothing distributions, art lessons, filling notebooks with copy work and giving talks on Spanishspeaking countries. When introducing Cuba as an island, I noticed quizzical looks. Ah, what was an island? Again, I scrambled to discover their age level and cultural understanding. At 11:15, students went to work scouring bathrooms, erasing whiteboards, mopping all floors and washing the glue off of their desks and themselves! After a plethora of hugs, the call of “Seño” faded down the street, as they skipped home. After lunch, we volunteers were led into their homes for visits.


Jan Kurtz

Jan recently concluded a sabbatical updating her courses at Central Lakes College in Spanish and Latin American studies. She is now writing and doing presentations on her travels.

A little brother of one of Jan’s students stands in front of the family’s wood cook stove. This is a literal “step-up” from the ground bonfires that often result in burning accidents and respiratory problems for the women cooking. WINTER 2012 | her voice


a hero among us

by Cynthia Bachman

BonaeStohr B

Bonae Stohr is a retired hairdresser/manicurist who, for over three years, has volunteered all day every Tuesday and Wednesday at Excelsior Place, an assisted living facility in Baxter. A resident of Excelsior Place, Jesse says, “I called Her Voice because Bonae is such an angel. I want Bonae to be acknowledged for her energy, time and friendship she gives to us all.” Not only does Bonae do nails, she also provides entertaining programs with her friend Nancy Olsen; programs that are full of “spark” with creative costumes. These special events are skits with songs, dancing and jokes. When you enter Excelsior Place you are greeted by an open flowing stair case…you are sure you are not in the right place. As this does not look like any care facility you have ever been in. At the top of these stairs, in a balcony area, Bonae provides manicures and lively conversation. She wants to hear about the client’s week and talks of her children and her grandchildren telling stories of frequent family gathering at their Leech Lake cabin.

photos by Joey Halvorson 40

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Retired hairdresser Bonae Stohr(left) volunteers at Excelsior Place, an assisted living facility in Baxter. Lois Castle appreciates having her nails done.


Bonae and her husband Steve moved from South Dakota to Brainerd years ago for a business opportunity. They purchased a service station, West-Brainerd Auto with three bays, towing and used car sales. Bonae has assisted with the business doing bookkeeping, selling gasoline and working behind the counter. They made their home here and raised a daughter and twin sons. Since her parents still lived in South Dakota she frequently made the trip to visit and as the years passed her visits were to provide care for her aging mother. As her mother needed more and more help, Bonae started to look into care facilities in Brainerd. And that is how she came to be part of Excelsior Place—this is where her mother came to live. Soon Bonae accompanied her mother to the many activities that Excelsior Place offered at the care facility. Not long after, Bonae ran errands, helped with bus trips and volunteered by using her beauty school skills. Bonae attended the Stuart School of Hair Styling in Sioux Falls, S.D. After she was certified she worked in Sisseton, S.D., for 12 years in a salon with four others doing a mix of hair and manicures. When Bonae and her husband moved to Brainerd, she was home

with her young children, and she worked out of her home providing beauty services. When her children were all in school Bonae began assisting at the service station. At Excelsior Place Bonae has a movable cart with her manicure supplies. This cart has been customized by Bill Anderson and her husband, Steve and displays a wonderful array of nail polish colors and tools of her trade. Says Bonae, “I want them to have the best. I purchase the best polish and supplies, which are paid for by donations.” As I interview Bonae for this article, she is working on a manicure, explaining each step. First the base coat which is protein, then color, and then a top coat, drying the nails between each coat. The last is a “magic coat” which sets the oil base and provides hydration to the cuticle. There is also the option of decals which she adds for special holidays at the residents’ request. Bonae spends about a half hour with each client. Others gather around in comfortable upholstered chairs to watch, converse and wait their turn. It is possible to have an appointment or to just drop by. Jesse, who is now getting her manicure, announces she has a standing weekly Wednesday morning appointment. Bonae tells me if there is not anyone in

line for a manicure she goes looking for someone, knocking on apartment doors or looking in activity rooms to find someone in need of a manicure. This is not just about women. Men also benefit from Bonae’s hand care. She trims and files their nails and if desired there is a clear coat of “Nails for men” that gives a polished professional look. Often, these men have had careers as farmers and mechanics and it is a welcome new experience to have their hands look and feel so good. No matter who benefits from the nail service, the manicure always ends with a hug from Bonae. Her embrace is another sharing of her loving, nurturing personality.


Cynthia Bachman

Cynthia Bachman lives in Pillager with her husband, Brian, and commutes to the U of M Hospital in Minneapolis to work as a RN. She is a member of the writer’s group at the Brainerd Senior Center.

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go o d re a d s

by Sheila DeChantal

I photos by Joey Halvorson

Reviewer Sheila DeChantal registers a range of emotions as she reads one of this year’s hot crime thrillers, “Gone Girl.”


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Gone Girl

It’s the cold season in Minnesota, the time of year you look for books that keep you riveted to the pages and warm and cozy under a blanket. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn is just the page-turner you may be looking for… Nick and Amy’s marriage started out just as you would hope, two people deeply in love. Nick was handsome and carefree, Amy beautiful and the “Amy” behind her parents “Amazing Amy” book series, which left her quite a little nest egg…but things are not always as they seem. As years go by, things change for the happy couple. Amy gives the majority of her money back to her parents when they hit financial difficulties, then both she and Nick lose their jobs in New York. Nick’s mom is sick and his dad has Alzheimer’s so the couple moves back to Missouri to be close to his parents and start over. Amy uses the last large chunk of her inheritance to help Nick and his twin sister, Margo, purchase a bar. Now, on their five-year anniversary a very different couple has emerged from where Nick and Amy started. They cannot seem to connect anymore. That morning Nick leaves for his bar, only to receive a call shortly after from a neighbor saying something seems wrong at Nick’s home. The door is wide open; the cat that is never allowed outside is on the front step. Nick comes back to find the living room torn apart, the iron left on and Amy missing. With the help of clues that Amy left for Nick, as she does every year to find his anniversary present, Nick soon becomes the prime suspect. Having his own secrets, Nick works with his sister trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Amy. But things are not always as they seem. As the story unfolds there is more than meets the eye and a very twisted tale unfolds which really shows that you never know what goes on behind white picket fences and closed doors. “Gone Girl” is a mystery. No scratch that… it is a thriller. But not your run-ofthe mill thriller. Add psychological thriller to the mix. Yep… it is a little wacky, a whole lot thrilling and oh so good!

This is one of those books that are hard to review because it is so masterfully put together I do not want to give anything away that is best for the reader (you) to discover on your own. What you think you know… you don’t. What you are sure will happen… will not. When you think you have it all figured out (like I thought I did by page 111), you don’t. You are not even close to the crazy that is happening. When I told a friend how much I loved the book, she asked, “Are you on part two yet?” And I responded, “There’s a part two?” I flipped ahead about 10 pages and sure enough, the book has a part two and as long as I am sharing, also a part three. “Gone Girl” is one of those books you do not want to put down. It’s filled with so many twists and turns that I don’t want to give any of the greatness of this book away. As I read it, my thoughts went something like this: “WHAT?” “Noooooo….” “That can’t be, rig… oh. It is.” “NO WAY!” “That’s crazy!” “That’s brilliant!” “Oh no, he didn’t!” “Oh no, she didn’t!” “Gone Girl” is perhaps the best book I have read in 2012 — so far. It is different than anything I have read before. Let’s just say from this review forward, Gillian Flynn will be known to me as “The Great and Wonderful Gillian Flynn.” Note: There is occasional crude language. Nothing over the top (I hate that), but it is there and I want you to be aware.


Sheila DeChantal

Sheila DeChantal has lived all her life in the Brainerd lakes area. She reviews books of many genres at Besides being a lifelong, crazy, book addict, she also enjoys biking events, roller blading, hiking, traveling and other adventures!



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s t o r y a n d p h o t o s b y Te r r i H e n r i k s o n

Girl Scouts—

More Than Selling Cookies


When I was younger I had a chance to join Girl Scouts as a Brownie. I lasted two months, but don’t remember why I didn’t go back. I had another chance last year to become involved in my niece’s Brownie troop. My sister was the leader; I volunteered to be the “Cookie Mom.” I didn’t realize how much was involved in being a Girl Scout or a Cookie Mom— the trips, the programs, the different badges and so much more. I always thought it was just doing crafts. Don’t get me wrong, now I love doing crafts. As Cookie Mom, I was in charge of ordering cookies for all

of the girls in the troop, having some in stock when they ran out and making sure we collected and submitted all of the money. Good thing I’m an organized person! I also had a friend in Girl Scouts who I turned to when I had questions. I asked a lot of questions and she was always there for me. Girl Scout leader, Terry Swanson, joined scouts as a junior. “My mom must have signed me up,” she says, “I remember meeting in the basement of the Baptist church. Apparently it wasn’t for me (I was a tom boy) as I didn’t continue on.” As an adult, she has been involved in Girl Scouts for 18 years and currently holds the positions of an ambassador leader, community coordinator, council trainer, training committee member, community product manager and cookie cupboard manager. I thought it was tough just being a Cookie Mom! After hearing about Terry, I wanted to

Girl Scout leader, Terry Swanson learned the skills to guide canoe trips in the Boundary Waters from the Girl Scouts. Terry’s dog Lilly is a frequent companion on trips north.

learn more about Girl Scouts. Terry says the best thing about Girl Scouts is “the opportunity to learn new skills and focus my interests on things I enjoy.” She says, “I like spending time with adult volunteer friends and enjoying each other’s company…You can explore new avenues and interests and watch as girls grow and learn new skills too.” For the girls, she said, “there are a lot of opportunities available in Girl Scouts. It’s not just about selling cookies or sitting in a meeting. You can learn skills in areas you have an interest and you can explore new interests.”

Brownie badges earned by Terri Henrikson’s niece. WINTER 2012 | her voice


The t-shirt and teddy bear celebrating the Great Girls Gathering 100th Celebration.

In her personal life, Terry has learned courage and confidence! She says, “I am a shy person by nature. Girl Scouting has given me the strength to do public speaking comfortably. It has also given me the strength to stand on my own and explore new things. Girl Scouts (and my first Girl Scout troop) walked me through the training and experience of my first Boundary Waters canoe trip. This year, I used those skills to guide a personal trip with a group of friends. That’s what Girl Scouting is about!” I’m really glad I got to become a Girl Scout again with my niece. She enjoys the adventures she has at day camp and learning new things like karate. Both of us loved the Great Girls Gathering celebrating the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts with different stations learning how to tie knots, sing songs, and make SWAPS (SpecialWhatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere). My niece even got to give China Anne McClain of Disney’s ANT Farm a SWAP after seeing her in concert. That was her favorite thing about the whole weekend. There are 35 troops in the Brainerd/ Baxter area, which is part of the Girls Scouts


WINTER 2012 | her voice

of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines. Girl Scouts focus on science and technology, financial literacy, healthy living, environmental leadership, and global citizenship – all areas that help girls thrive in an ever changing world. There are several camps, programs and events that help girls grow and develop the philosophy of discover, connect and take action. For me, it’s been fun seeing the girls engage in different activities and learn new things; to expand their horizon. Yeah, corny, I know, but so true. If you ever get a chance to help a troop in your area, give it a try. It really is rewarding! For more information about a Girl Scouts troop in the area, contact Monica Husen at 218-270-4859 or visit www.gslakesandpines. org.


Terri Henrikson

Terri Henrikson lives and works in Brainerd. She volunteers her time with a variety of groups that help young children grow. When she is not working she likes to travel, kayak and spend time with friends and family.




When I was contacted by this research group, I had not been home very long after having open heart surgery. Being able to live in my own home was something very important to me so I agreed to have a nurse come by and explain the program to me. The Good Samaritan Society had received an $8.1 million grant to fund a research project at several locations which included the Brainerd area. Everyone on staff greeted the news eagerly because it would shape the future of senior care, Sensor technology uses non-invasive sensors that are installed in a client’s home to detect movement, sleep quality and other information about daily activities, which is transmitted to a RN at the Good Samaritan office. Daily vitals including weight, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels are also monitored and transmitted. A personal emergency response pendant with fall protection is worn by each client and the system can be activated even if the person is unable to push the button. By joining the study patients not only help themselves but others who want to maintain the best quality of life possible in the golden years. And more importantly it enables patients to stay in their own home as long as possible. Two young nurses came to explain the program and how the technologies used may affect healthcare costs in the future as well as curb the

by Bettie Miller photo by Joey Halvorson

iving Well@Home overall cost of healthcare. By assisting the Good Samaritan Society in its study I am giving this organization the material needed to persuade public and private insurers to pay for theses technologies. In this study, researchers from the University of Minnesota will compare information from those who are using Living Well @Home technology and those who are not. As soon as I agreed to participate sensors and other equipment were installed to get me started. The nurses were very enthusiastic about the project and I was pleased with their explanations as they progressed with the installation. I felt that I understood the technology being used. After they finished I was on my own. The timer was set for daily use of the scale, blood pressure cuff and pulse monitor. An automated voice greeted me and proceeded to give directions on the use of the equipment. It took very little time and if the readings were questionable, I received a call. Results were faxed to my primary care doctor when I was going to see him. “It’s really helping families and care providers become proactive instead of reactive in caring for seniors,” says Hannah Erickson, Good Samaritan Society Nurses Home Care Technology Technician. “And families love knowing there are professionals helping care for their loved ones 24 hours a day, but without disrupting their lives. It gives great peace of mind to everyone.” After seeing personally, the problems a fall in the home can produce convinced me of the importance of this study. One of my friends, as a result of a fall, will never live in her home again and the family is distraught over the problems this news has

caused. And she is heartbroken about not going home. Another friend could not live alone and moved to an assisted living apartment but this will eventually drain all of her assets. And another acquaintance fell and suffered serious injuries which eventually caused her death. Older couples who are fortunate enough to grow old together can benefit from the study as well. Instead of being a caregiver for one or the other you have the benefit of this technology to protect you in your home when one of you is not home or not available to help. The key benefits to this program are obvious. You may live alone but you are in touch with a nursing staff through telecommunication devices at all times. It minimizes the need for caregivers and relatives to travel to visit to make sure you are being taken care of properly. To learn more about Living Well@ Home call Hannah at (218) 963-9452. Information is also available online at www.good-sam. com.


Bettie Miller

Bettie Miller grew up in Chicago and moved to Crosslake in 1978 where she taught continuing education and sold real estate for 10 years. Now she enjoys arts and crafts, reading and writing.

Bettie Miller (right) lives in her own home with the help of people like Hannah Erickson, Good Samaritan Society Nurses Home Care Technology Technician. WINTER 2012 | her voice


Her Voice Service Directory • Winter 2012 Assisted Living



14211 Firewood Drive Baxter, MN (218) 828-4770

416 South 7th Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-0076

Family Planning

St. Joseph’s Hospital 218-829-2861 Brainerd Clinic (218) 828-2880 Baxter Clinic (218) 828-2880

523 North Third Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-2861 ext. 6217

Lakewood Health System

Excelsior Place baxter

Good Neighbor Home Health Care (218) 829-9238 (888) 221-5785


Natural Family Planning

Preferred Hearing



13283 Isle Drive, Baxter MN 56425 218-822-2444

17274 State Hwy 371 Brainerd, MN 56401 1-800-458-0895

Automotives Auto Import

22 Washington Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-3307

Mills Motor

14858 Dellwood Drive Brainerd/Baxter (218) 829-2893

Chiropractors Northern Family Chiropractic

13968 Cypress Dr. Suite 1B Baxter, MN 218-822-3855

Construction Nor-Son

7900 Hastings Rd Baxter, MN (218) 828-1722 (800) 858-1722


Just For Kix

6948 Lake Forest Road Brainerd, MN (218) 829-7107


Music General

WINTER 2012 | her voice

Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union


Anytime Fitness

Baxter, MN 218-454-2000 Brainerd, MN (218) 828-0909 Little Falls, MN (320) 616-4700


15480 Audubon Way Behind Holiday Inn Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 829-6453

Glass/Windows Gull Lake Glass

18441 State Hwy 371 Brainerd, MN (218) 829-2881 1-800-726-8445


Cuyuna Regional Medical Center

320 East Main Street Crosby, MN 56441 (218) 546-7000 (888) 487-6437

Essentia Health

Staples Motley Pillager Eagle Bend Browerville (218) 894-1515 (800) 525-1033


Bankers Life & Casualty Company 3400 1st St. North St. Cloud, MN 56301 (218) 821-9783


Northern Eye Center Great Northern Opticians

Brainerd, Little Falls, Staples 218-829-2020 1-800-872-0005



7447 Clearwater Rd Baxter, Minnesota (218) 824-0642

Rental/Supplies Rohlfing Inc.

923 Wright Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-0303



Northridge Agency

218-829-2811 11266 Pine Beach Peninsula Brainerd, MN 56401

Arlean’s Drapery

123 N 1st St, Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-1166


Lakes Imaging Center 2019 S. 6th Street Brainerd, MN 218-822-OPEN (6736) 877-522-7222


Lakes Area Eyecare

7734 Excelsior Rd N Baxter, MN 56425 218-829-2929 888-540-0202

Midwest Family Eye 7870 Excelsior Rd

Baxter, MN (218) 828-9545 201 1st St NE Staples, MN (218) 894-5480

Window Treatments

4835 County Road 16 Pequot Lakes, MN (218) 568-8280

WINTER 2012 | her voice


Her Voice - Winter 2012  

Swedish Christmas - Judy Kuusisto shares some of her Swedish heritage and holiday traditions. You won’t need to be Swedish to appreciate the...

Her Voice - Winter 2012  

Swedish Christmas - Judy Kuusisto shares some of her Swedish heritage and holiday traditions. You won’t need to be Swedish to appreciate the...