Hearty Minnesotans step out each January to participate in the annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival festivities. This year, for the first time ever, the Carnival named a nonprofit partner of the event, and FamilyMeans was the recipient.
As the nonprofit partner, FamilyMeans’ staff, board and volunteers participated in a number of activities during the 10-day event that included the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade, Royal Coronation, McDonald’s King Boreas Grand Day Parade, Frozen Family Fun Night, Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade and more. In addition, FamilyMeans staffed an information booth in Rice Park where attendees could ask questions about the agency or simply take literature about its programs.
“It was an honor to be a part of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival festivities,” said Arba-Della Beck, president of FamilyMeans. “We were grateful to be able to talk to so many people about FamilyMeans and how they can find the help they need.”
King Boreas LXXXI is Jason Bradshaw. Jason grew up in Stillwater and is president and CEO of Bradshaw, the business his father started where funerals, cremations and celebrations of life take place. Now living in Western Wisconsin with his wife and three children, Jason is also a former member of FamilyMeans Board of Directors and Next Generation Leadership Council.
In its role as the nonprofit partner, FamilyMeans will continue to have a presence at events throughout the year. The Winter Carnival opportunity provided FamilyMeans the stage to unveil its refreshed brand identity, which included a modernized logo, new program names and new messages to best describe all the agency has to offer.
FamilyMeans spent much of fall 2016 meeting with nearly 90 stakeholders to learn their perceptions of the agency. Then the agency’s leadership, along with guidance from a local public relations firm, helped determine how to market FamilyMeans’ programs based on the needs of the community and predicted future growth. Outcomes include a refreshed look and feel of the FamilyMeans’ logo, taglines, key messages and website updates, just to name a few. It continues to be a work in progress.
Check out FamilyMeans’ new look at www.familymeans.org.
FamilyMeans’ Youth Development bike program was the beneficiary of generous support on May 21 at Chilkoot Café and Cyclery in Stillwater. Nearly 50 people turned out to show their support for the kids in Landfall and Cimarron, and specifically for the bike program where kids learn about maintenance and repair. They also receive ample opportunities to ride and earn bikes throughout the summer.
Including a $5,000 matching gift, FamilyMeans exceeded a stretch goal of $13,000 that allows the bike programs in Landfall and Cimarron to be staffed and operate at capacity this summer. About 60 kids are expected to take part in the program this summer between the two locations. Some of the destinations participants will explore this summer are Willow River State Park, the National Sports Center velodrome, Lake Elmo Park Reserve and Carver Lake Park. Advanced riders may bike to Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. And summer wouldn’t be complete without bike rides to Dairy Queen!
“These programs are about much more than simply pedaling a bike. The rides send a message to all participants that they can take on, and achieve, challenges in life. The bike experiences instill confidence and primes them for successes they’re likely to experience regardless of where they were born, where they live or how they look,” said Tom Yuska, director of Youth Development. “We must financially re-seed this program each year to harvest the many experiences and confidences gained by the kids.”
Special thanks goes to Lee Stylos, 53x11 band and the anonymous matching donors. Thanks to Chilkoot Café and Cyclery for hosting the event and donating all of the delicious food and attentive service for this night of information and fun.
The bike program began in Landfall in 1994 and the program’s success led to mirroring the program in Cimarron in 2013. If you are interested to learn more about or support FamilyMeans’ Youth Development bike program, contact Jennifer Snyder at (651) 789-4057 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A sweet face and large eyes are fitting attributes for one of the newest members at the Center for Grief and Loss. But perhaps the most distinctive features are the wagging tail and four legs of Daisy, a beagle and therapy dog who spends time at the Center where she may provide a warm greeting to a client entering the building or calmly be present during a therapy session alongside her owner, Molly Ruggles, who is also the Center’s clinical supervisor and program coordinator.
“Therapy dogs need to have the right personality and need to be friendly, calm and gentle in demeanor,” said Molly, who had Daisy trained through Therapy Dog International. “For clients who have a trauma history or deal with anxiety, petting Daisy or simply being near Daisy when she’s relaxing helps create a sense of calm and can help a person feel more grounded and present.”
Molly noted a lot of research has been done on the benefits of a pet’s physical presence in reducing stress and lengthening a person’s life. These same principles apply to the benefits of Daisy’s role within the Center’s therapeutic environment.
Daisy will turn five in July and while she isn’t at the Center on a full-time basis, she is another welcome face to clients and visitors.
Barb Holland, holding the award, with
previous honorees from left:
Margaret Carasik, Lorie Etter and Bill Wilkening.
Barbara (Barb) Holland was honored with FamilyMeans’ Grace B. Stoltze award in April for her many years of dedicated volunteer service to the agency.
Barb has served FamilyMeans in many capacities since 2005 where she first volunteered her time as a receptionist and office coordinator. Since then, she has donated more than 2,700 hours on many projects from assembling materials, organizing supplies, providing in-home respite care and helping out at FamilyMeans’ Day Out program for seniors who have a chronic illness, disability or frailty.
A Stillwater resident, Barb learned about the FamilyMeans volunteer opportunity after retiring from a local law office where she was a legal assistant and office manager for 19 years.
“Volunteering is an important part of my retirement and I still have enough time to spend with family and friends,” said Barb, who believes she gains a great deal from her volunteer experiences. “I really enjoy making someone’s day a little brighter.”
When Barb isn’t volunteering at FamilyMeans, her church or with other community organizations, she can be found gardening, quilting, reading, baking or playing games.
The Grace B. Stoltze award, the agency’s highest honor given to volunteers for remarkable service, was created in 1990 after its namesake, Grace B. Stoltze, one of FamilyMeans’ founders who herself recognized the importance of volunteerism.
In 2016, FamilyMeans benefited from the time and talent of 236 volunteers who provided 13,136 hours of service.
Mark your calendar for the annual Memorial Walk for Hope & Healing put on by FamilyMeans’ Center for Grief and Loss. This annual event to gather and walk allows friends and family to come together to heal and remember loved ones.
This year’s Memorial Walk takes place on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 9 a.m. at Como Lake at Como Park in St. Paul. Registration can be done online at www.griefloss.org, by calling (651) 641-0177 or the morning of the walk starting at 8 a.m. Advance registration is preferred so event organizers can plan accordingly for those planning to attend.
Mental health affects one in five adults, which is nearly 44 million adults in the United States, each year. Another 20 percent of children ages 13-18 experience a severe mental disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
On March 28, Pat Rogers, clinical director of Counseling and Therapy at FamilyMeans, participated as one of five experts in the panel discussion “Make It Ok” at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis.
“I was fortunate to participate in an event that encourages the discussion about mental health,” said Pat about her involvement on the panel. “Depression and related concerns touch all of our lives either personally or through someone we know, and open dialogue will go a long way to reduce the negative impact mental health issues can have in our lives.”
The community conversation also included Minnesota Public Radio presenter John Moe to address the more than 150 people in attendance, where he talked about his experience with depression. John has hosted nine podcasts earlier in the year that featured comedians talking about their depression and how they managed to laugh along the way. At the March event, John encouraged people to talk more about mental illness to reduce stigma.
“I’m not a doctor – I was a theater major,” he said. “All I’m doing is asking questions and talking about my own experience. What if everyone in this room just started having an honest conversation with their child, spouse or parent about mental health? About struggles you have had and struggles they have had. If people talked as much about mental health as they do about nutrition and exercise, stigma would be over tomorrow.”
In addition to Pat, the other panelists included Dan Van Someren, St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office; Heather Erickson, Amery Hospital & Clinic; Shelly Rock, Lakeview Hospital; and Peter VanDusartz, HealthPartners St. Croix Valley Behavioral Health.
“I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why.” This quote came from Hannah Baker, one of the main characters of Jay Asher’s teen novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” and the new Netflix original series of the same name, which has sparked much debate since it first aired.
“The book, and especially the TV show, have been controversial for the depiction of serious subject matters including underage drinking, sexual assault and suicide,” said Molly Ruggles, clinical supervisor and program coordinator at FamilyMeans’ Center for Grief and Loss. “There is much discussion about how these events were introduced and what is appropriate and portrayed accurately given the intended young audience, yet there seems to be agreement that conversation about these difficult topics is important.”
On April 4, FamilyMeans was part of a larger discussion on myTalk 107.1 FM where Molly provided comment along with another Twin Cities therapist as in-studio experts on the topic of suicide, which resulted in the death of character Hannah Baker in both the book and the show.
Different for students today than even a decade ago is the 24/7 connectedness to others and instantaneous ability to know what is going on at all hours. In earlier years, when school ended, kids went about their day and often had a reprieve from bullying or other difficult behaviors at least until the next day. It provided for a bit of a safe zone and a way to shift focus. Today, kids are connected and not only are messages shared immediately, but there is the ability to share with many people simultaneously as well as decide who to include or exclude.
“Being a teenager is hard enough, adding social media to the mix can create experiences that are painful and anxiety-inducing,” said Molly, who works with many parents at the Center for Grief and Loss who have lost a child or whose child may struggle with these issues. “It’s important that kids feel they have someone to talk to whether a parent or another trusted adult should they have feelings of uncertainty or suicidal thoughts.”
While most schools have counselors, many schools now also provide therapists located onsite that can address students’ needs in the areas of anxiety, depression or other issues. Whether a student is dealing with bullying, friendship conflicts or family hardships, there is a need to have someone who can help them deal with these complex issues. FamilyMeans is among the agencies that collaborate with school counselors to provide school-based mental health. Currently, the agency has therapists in 31 schools in the districts of Stillwater, Mahtomedi and Oakdale/Maplewood/North St. Paul in Minnesota and in New Richmond and Hudson in Wisconsin.
In March, FamilyMeans Caregiving and Aging staff members Beth Wiggins, program director, and Jenny West, educator, presented a session at the American Society on Aging conference in Chicago. Aging services professionals from throughout the country learned about FamilyMeans’ efforts to help communities become dementia-friendly that include the development of Saturday Connections to help link caregivers, care receivers and other community members in ways that strengthen both personal and civic ties.
Saturday Connections is a unique program where caregivers and care receivers come together to enjoy activities and a shared lunch. Allowing the caregiver a break from his or her regular routine, FamilyMeans’ staff and volunteers facilitate the morning that includes something creative whether it’s music, physical movement or a simple craft.
Best of all, it allows for time together and to share a family-style meal and connect with others.
Saturday Connections takes place the second Saturday of each month at FamilyMeans’ new Cimarron Center in Lake Elmo from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Below are the upcoming dates:
WHAT: Saturday Connections
WHEN: July 8
WHERE: Cimarron Center
873 Lake Elmo Avenue North
Lake Elmo, MN 55042
COST: $40 for both participants
Scholarships are available
Call (651) 439-4840 to learn more or register.
Keynote speaker Alisha Perkins presented at the ninth annual FamilyMeans Power of the Purse on March 4. A self-proclaimed author, runner, mother and Major League Baseball wife, Alisha, who is married to Minnesota Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, shared her struggle with anxiety and how she turned to running as her mechanism to cope.
About 250 attendees joined in the fun at this year’s Power of the Purse where they bid on purses, conversed with friends and enjoyed brunch while listening to the speaker.
Alisha’s first book, “Running Home,” was released in May 2016 and goes more in-depth about her struggle with anxiety and how she lives with it.
A number of nonprofits throughout the Twin Cities received unexpected and unwelcome news from a major Minnesota funder within the past couple of months. The funder announced it was discontinuing its financial support of many nonprofit programs effective July 2017 due to a decline in its funding sources. FamilyMeans is one of the nonprofits impacted by this decision.
“It has been difficult news to process as organizations were given little advance notice,” said Arba-Della Beck, president of FamilyMeans. “In our case, we are losing significant funding to both our Youth Development and Caregiving and Aging programs. In fact, we will lose four percent of our overall funding through this cut and while we are actively working to close the funding gaps, we are also finding it necessary to rely on the support of our many donors to accomplish this.”
Your financial gift may help a child to find the courage to ask for homework help in our youth program, with the hope to one day be admitted into college. Gifts may also help someone caring for his mother as she is consumed by Alzheimer’s to also care for himself in the process.
Should you feel moved to support FamilyMeans, especially in the midst of these recent funding cuts, consider making a tax-deductible gift to FamilyMeans by calling (651) 789-4057 or going online at www.familymeans.org.
In Honor of…
Ms. Ellen Erickson
Peggy and Paul Quinn
Atticus, my grandson
Jason and Brea Bradshaw
Deborah and Kent Charpentier
John and Bonnie Crouch
FamilyMeans Staff and Volunteers
Dr. Martha Sanford and Timothy Casey
Brian and Cathy Dyball
Peter and Linda Geare
Mary Jo Jackson
Noel and Lauren Johnson
Kay Koehnen Family
Pat and Harry Pearson
Michael and Dawn Conlan
Paul and Peg Quinn
Timothy Old and Morgan Clifford
Charles and Ute Beuhler
Susannah Torseth Foster
James W. and Cara N. Torseth
Kathleen and Donald Rolf
Carol J. Brumwell
In Memory of…
Norma and Daniel Wilson
Lorie and Thomas Etter
Nanette and John Pederson
Elaine and Curtis Anderson
Paul and Mary Ann Glaser
Michele and James Hermansen
Gary and Lynn Schurrer
Thomas and Margaret Brownson
Norm and Jean Davis
Ms. Jane Dickinson
Gary and Karen Hanson
Don and Dolores Jacobson
Raymond and Georgeane Karnuth
Andrew and Virginia Kass
Mark and Patricia Kraske
David and Evelyn Linner
Delvan and Carol Moulton
Thomas Roberts III
David and Cheryl Smith
Mrs. Lorraine Vollstedt
Ann and Steven Wolff
Gary and Joan Wright
Billy Jean Horne
Norma and David Wilson
Edwin Fierke, Jr.
John and Kathy Gegen
Lowell and Anne Helgason
Hilmer and Carol K. Huber
Kandy and Russ Hildebrandt
Dianne and Glenn Vierling
Jim and Amy Kroening
Kathleen M. Lindahl
Michael and Eileen Lundin
Kathleen M. Lindahl
Kristi and Dean Mattson
George Olson, Jr.
Jim and Marilyn Opp
Kelly and Steve Hansen
Lorie and Thomas Etter
It still amazes me how a single decision can change a person’s life, and how it can often begin so quietly. Even though more than 25 years have passed, I distinctly remember the decision that made my first connection to FamilyMeans. Peg Quinn, a dear friend, former board chair and recipient of the Grace Stoltze Award, one December said to me, ‘Kelly, if you’re thinking about any year-end gifting, consider FamilyMeans (Family Service at the time); they’re a good group and they do good things for the St. Croix Valley.’ And so I did, and the hook was quietly sunk.
Over the years, my involvement increased bit by bit, as did my knowledge of the agency and its mission to help families. So, in 2011, when Executive Director Arba-Della Beck invited me to join the FamilyMeans Board, I agreed without hesitation. And the hook sunk a little deeper. What I have learned, as I look back on my six-year Board term, is what a remarkable organization this is and how truly fortunate we are to have FamilyMeans as an anchor in the Greater St. Croix Valley Community.
The breadth of its programs is impressive, and its scope continues to grow; by no means is this a stagnant group! From its nationally-acclaimed Youth Development programs to Financial Solutions, from its Counseling and Therapy Services, including mental health in the schools, to Caregiving and Aging Services and the renowned Center for Grief and Loss, FamilyMeans has assisted countless individuals and families with the ardent belief that a better life is possible.
Knowing we all need a helping hand at some point in our lives, the resultant FamilyMeans stories are not only heart-warming and sometimes heart-wrenching, but are also often cathartic in giving people the boost they need to move their lives forward in a positive direction. I’ve seen first-hand that FamilyMeans’ services are offered with compassion, thoughtfulness and integrity, and that these strengths guide the entire FamilyMeans culture. From the Executive Director and Management Team, to therapists and volunteers, to how clients are greeted when they call or walk in the door, there are pervasive attitudes of caring, warmth and respect. And there are smiles as well; the Desch Room is frequently alive with conversation and laughter and song. Even dancing!
So, for me, a quarter-century later, the hook is still in pretty deep, and will likely stay that way. And I know I’m not alone. Along with so many others whose connection to FamilyMeans may have begun quietly with an email or phone call my life, too, has been changed for the better by this outstanding group of people. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve on the Board, and I look forward to seeing how FamilyMeans continues to evolve in its mission to strengthen communities by strengthening families.