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  • by Kay Kuehn, Executive Director

Soon we will...

In less than 2 months our summer program schedule kicks into high gear. That means we will soon have groups of adults and kids coming from all around the country to staff our summer Kids' Club program. In 2016, participation in Kids' Club increased by 77.6% over the previous year! We are hoping that trend continues in 2017. Something NEW and EXCITING for the participants this year will be spending a day at Hidden Pines Ranch in Stillwater. I have had the pleasure of planning this day with the owner of the camp. The two of us are overjoyed at what the day will mean for kids who probably would never have this sort of opportunity. Often times the families of children who attend Kids' Club do not have the financial resources to attend summer camp. The biggest blessing is the generosity of the camp owner who is 'gifting' this day of camp to the children from our Kids' Club. This opportunity allows children to experience activities such as horseback riding, canoeing, and archery just to name a few. Together we have chosen Wednesday July 5 as the day this will take place.

In the last couple of months I have had the pleasure of speaking at some of our partner congregations and some potential partner congregations. It has been such a delight to meet new people who had no idea all that happens at Open Hands. Many thought we served a meal each Monday and that was it. When they heard about our food shelf, Kids' Club, additional Wednesday meal, Back to School Carnival and Produce Distribution events they were amazed! Many also thought we were an outreach ministry of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. For those of you who are not aware, Open Hands is a nonprofit organization all our own housed within the church as they are gracious enough to offer us space. Presently I am looking forward to additional speaking engagements that will take me to Preston in June as well as some other places that are still in the early planning stages. Beyond simply sharing what is going on at Open Hands currently, I am able to share our vision of making a second day of weekly meal service a reality in the not so distant future. As we like to say, "Can you imagine the impact of an additional 14,985 meals served in this community!" The only way this will ever become a reality is to have the help of an additional 25-30 volunteers and some generous financial support to cover the costs just sayin'... As I write this newsletter my favorite time of year is upon us. I know you are all thinking HOCKEY PLAYOFF SEASON and yes, I do like that. What I am really talking about is spring. There is nothing more exciting than seeing nature turn from the bleakness of leafless trees, smooshed down brown grass and the absence of all sorts of wildlife to budding leaves, greening grass and hearing birds chirp and ducks quack. People also seem to have more cheery dispositions. Kids are on playgrounds, joggers and bikers are taking to the paths and lawn furniture is emerging on decks and patio's. Soon Open Hands will make the transition outdoors as well. When we get into the 60's on a regular basis we venture forth to set up our weekly meal in the parking lot. There is excitement in that for us because it will be the first time we get to use the NEW chairs we purchased last fall as a result of the fundraiser sponsored by our friends at the St. Paul Sunrise Rotary. On a personal note, I would like to share this great picture of me and my Mom (notice she's eating a cookie). I am not sure if I have ever shared how much she LOVES cookies and I do mean LOVE! Often times when visiting her I say something about cookies and she will get this excited look on her face. If I say, "Do you like cookies" her reply is usually something like "You bet I do" or "I LOVE them." Here we are on Easter as she enjoys her cookies, all is right in the world I guess, just sayin'...

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