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  • Writer's pictureKay Kuehn, Exec. Director

A Profound Loss

On Sunday, February 13 I was attending church when my Pastor began the ‘prayers of the people’ as listed on the screen. We bowed our heads and listened. Then I heard him say something that completely changed my day and the days that have followed. He said, “We hold the family of Marlys Stanga-Haslow in our prayers as they grieve her loss.” My heart sank, my eyes welled with tears and I completely lost focus of what my Pastor was saying. Wait, what? My friend had died? No, not Marlys, she’s not even sick, she’s a picture of health and she’ll just always be here! NO! It is just so hard to believe, just sayin'... Maryls served for many years on the Open Hand Midway Board of Directors. She wrote a little book called, “Surprise me God!” which was the phrase she used every morning when she got up and how she said she ended many of her prayers. Back in 2010 she, Pastor Joy, Pastor Steve and Mary Amdahl got together and figured out what was the biggest need for Open Hands Midway at the time. With money she raised from what we at our church called a Kingdom Assignment (Marlys and I went to the same church) she helped Open Hands Midway purchase 2 commercial freezers, 2 commercial refrigerators and a meat slicer (which is a story unto itself). Marlys was instrumental in me being in my role as Executive Director. The story, from her point of view, was that Open Hands Midway was looking for someone to come and work as Mary was going to step aside. She says she wrote my name on a piece of paper and told Pastor Joy and other members of the board 'I have just the person'. In June of 2014 I came to Open Hands Midway as what we called 'Operations Manager' and in January of 2015 began serving as the Executive Director. So yes, my heart aches as I think about my friend and all the time she would give to Open Hands Midway and to me personally. I attended her memorial service on Saturday, February 19 and was honored that she had asked her family to announce all memorials would be directed to Open Hands Midway. What an honor! All I can say is I miss my friend and simply saying so makes me realize I still have not fully come to the understanding that she is really gone, just sayin'... As for what is going on presently at Open Hands Midway let me share a few things. In mid February the Open Hands Midway board met and determined it is in the best interest of all to continue serving our meals as take out only. We also decided we will continue requiring our staff, volunteers and guests to wear masks when attending any meal or food shelf program. While nobody likes wearing masks it is one of the best defenses we have which we are able to control. We do not require staff, volunteers or guests to get a COVID-19 vacination, or show proof of such, but we do strongly encourage it. If you have been exposed to the virus in any way we ask that you do not attend our meal or food programs until you have tested negative. Thank you for helping us keep our community safe, just sayin'... Open Hands Midway continues to see an increase in the number of NEW guests making use of our meal and food shelf program. In the month of January alone we saw 173 new people at our meal program and 59 new people use our food shelf program. The food shelf is always accepting non-perishable food items and personal care products. For a list of our most current needs please click here. March is Minnesota Food Share month. It is our hope that you will not only think about how you can support us but that you will share this with your friends and neighbors looking for a great way to make a difference in the lives of people who are struggling to feed themselves or their families, just sayin'... As I write my first blog of 2022, I want you to know that Open Hands Midway is celebrating our 13th year as a nonprofit organization. As we say, "Since 2009 we have been here for our neighbors in need, we are here for our neighbors in need and we will be here for our neighbors in need." In 2021 Open Hands Midway took our second leap of faith in two years as we opened our new food shelf space. Our first came in 2020 when we added a second day of weekly meal service every Wednesday. We did these things because we believe in listening to the needs of our community. We are saying we will do what we can to make our community just a little bit better...and I am just sayin'...

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