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  • by Kay Kuehn, Executive Director

The Busy Summer

It is hard to believe that our summer programming ended on Wednesday September 20. We will now only host our Monday meal and Food Shelf programs. It's been an exciting summer filled with so many exciting things. Here are some highlights.

On Monday June 12, our 8 week summer programming with YouthWorks began. Each week a new group of youth would arrive to assist with our Meal program, Food Rescue program and Kids' Club. These youth logged countless hours of volunteer time. Without their help Kids' Club and our Wednesday meal program would not have been possible. The youth also helped with our Tuesday and Thursday food rescue from Kowalski's. They would unload the trucks that brought the food, weigh it, sort it and help put it away for use in meals or to be given away at the meal programs.

Matthew Hoffman (pictured at right after the kids painted his face one day) from a suburb of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, was our site leader for the summer. Matt and I had a really awesome common like,

hockey. During his time with us the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. The coolest thing for me was cheering for the guys on the team who hail from Minnesota, particularly Jake Guentzel and Matt Cullen. Yes, I am a WILD fan at heart but I also like the Penguins, just sayin'...

On July 5, 6 children from Kids' Club and 2 adult leaders spent the day at Hidden Pines Ranch in Stillwater, a first for Kids' Club. It went so well that the owner already agreed to host us again in 2018.

On Sunday July 30 we held our 2nd Annual Golf and Dinner Fundraiser event. Our event raised $5200.00!

Event sponsors included Luther Westside Volkswagen, Thrivent, Johnson Associates and State Farm - Jan Johnson Insurance Agency. We saw an increase in both the number of people who came out to golf as well as those who came for the dinner. If you had any part in the day I thank you for doing so.

On Friday August 11, we hosted our 1st Annual Back to School Carnival. This FREE event featured backpacks filled with school supplies given away to children entering grades K-12, balloon artists, a picnic meal WITH ice cream, games and prizes for kids and several of our resource referral partners being on hand. The Minnesota United Soccer Club donated 50 tickets to their September 9 match which were given away in a drawing with the Grand Prize being 4 game and pre-game warm-up tickets to one lucky person for any remaining home game.

We wrapped up the summer with our Produce Distribution for 6 weeks in August and September. Each week we would receive between 5,000 and 10,000 pounds of fresh produce from Second Harvest. During these weeks we gave away 42,639 pounds of produce to our guests. On September 13 we received 6,620 pounds that were distributed in 20 minutes! That's a record for sure.

I am also very excited about Open Hands being selected to receive a grant from the Otto Bremer Trust. Sue Davis, our Accountant, worked long hard hours to put this grant together. She deserves the congratulations more than I. My part was to meet with the two Program Officers who came to Open Hands for a site visit and to ask me many questions about what we do. Apparently I did ok because we were considered for the grant AND we received it, just sayin'...

Finally, what would my Blog post be if it didn't include a little something on a personal note. I've talked about the many highlights of summer at Open Hands but I had a highlight of my own. I guess I should say it started more as a low light actually. On June 5 the life of my 2001 Chevy Silverado (with 247,000 miles on it) ended as I do believe the engine blew (no need for all the details, you can ask if you are curious). On June 7 I became the proud owner of a 2017 Chevy Silverado. Compared to my 2001 it is quite the upgrade. I've never had to learn so much technology in my life. My salesman told me to stop by any time if I want to go over anything. Let me tell you that I have had 2 trips back to see Tim and I have one coming up again in the next week. Admittedly I got a good deal because of having a connection to Luther Auto Dealerships. My goal was to buy a new vehicle in 2018 so I was saving toward that. It just so happened that the old 2001 decided to give up the ghost one year sooner than I had thought, just sayin'...

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