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  • Writer's pictureKay Kuehn, Exec. Director

What has been, What will be

Each year is like a book, when it is over we close it and move on to the next chapter. 2019 was a mixture of experiences both good and not so good at Open Hands, just sayin'...

In 2019 we said goodbye to people, welcomed people, served people, and were blessed by people. We received grants we applied for, were denied grants we applied for and received some financial contributions we had not even planned for! Now we close that chapter and open 2020. For us it has already been a year we are excited to ring in with many things to look forward to. We know we will be the recipients of the Minnesota United FC's online auction proceeds, and the February 2020 Positive Change recipients at Mississippi Market (see article above). We will start serving our weekly meals from our brand new steam table each week which was made possible by a grant from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, and money from Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Stillwater - Mission and Outreach fund, and Redeemer Lutheran Church - Trust Fund, White Bear Lake. We welcome a new member to our Board of Directors, Pastor Kirsten Fryer of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Our partnership with YouthWorks will renew for a 13th summer starting on June 8. There will be more to come, just sayin'...

I will personally look back on 2019 for reasons both good and not so good. When it came to the good things of 2019, I found renewed joy in being an avid bike rider, something I have continued even into the winter months! I bought a Saris Fluid2 Trainer and I can convert my outdoor bike to an indoor bike.

I was blessed to be a part of the committee that called a new Pastor to my home church. I volunteered at many events through Special Olympics Minnesota which is an amazing organization to be associated with. As a diehard hockey fan, I enjoyed that the Stanley Cup went to a game 7 (something only true hockey fans will understand) and concluded on, of all days, June 12th which just so happens to be my birthday. I attended a Twins game at Target Field for the very first time, yes it's true, I had never been there until I went this fall.

When it came to those things that were not so good in 2019, I experienced the worst. My wonderful, beautiful mother died in November after living the last 19+ years with Alzheimer's. I am navigating grief and finding it to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I have realized until you lose a parent you really do not understand profound and deep loss (provided you were close to them as I was to her). Though I am happy my mother no longer has to live with this debilitating disease, I miss her more than I can express in words. Finding myself saying, "I'm fine" when in reality I am not has been a challenge. I tell people, "I may be smiling on the outside but I am a mess on the inside." As one who does a lot of laughing and having fun in life, I am not so prone to show my emotions. So let me just say to smile through grief is not easy. I still welcome the hugs of many, as I told you in a previous newsletter I am a hugger so the more I can receive the better off I am, just sayin'...

As I finish up sharing with you I want to say how blessed I have been for the past 5 years to be the Executive Director of Open Hands. On January 1, 2020 I began my 6th year in this position which is very hard for me to believe. I still recall the day Pastor Steve Slostad asked me to sit down so he could tell me something and ask me something. That was he was going to retire and wanted me to take his place. Talk about a WOW moment. I look back on where Open Hands was when I started and we sure have taken some incredible leaps of faith and served an incredible amount of guests. We are grateful for the ever welcoming and caring people of Bethlehem Lutheran Church who so graciously allows us to remain housed in their facility. I would not be able to do this job without the help of my incredible Board of Directors, Steve our cook/kitchen manager, and most importantly our awesome VOLUNTEERS!

Thank you everyone for making Open Hands Midway such a great organization to be associated with. We hope 2020 be a year we open our eyes, ears and hearts to the excitement and surprises coming our way, just sayin'...

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