Meet Our Community Heroes

Meet Our Community Heroes

Meet Our Community Heroes

Most recent will be displayed first

Bob St. Mane

Minneapolis
Bob owns St. Mane Sporting Goods in Minneapolis, a business that earns most of its money from youth sports apparel. With sports on hold and without government aid to assist his small business, Bob decided to make Minnesota Strong T-shirts to sell as a means to save his company.

Thinking of other small businesses, like his own, Bob is donating $5 from every T-shirt sold to help another small business stay afloat during these difficult times.

And, Bob has said that if the government does offer him aid in the second round of funding, he will help other Mom and Pop businesses as much as he can.

Melissa Behrens

Champlin
Melissa recently created a Facebook group called Blessings Box of Champlin, providing a blessing, whether it be in the form of personal hygiene items, food, or even words of encouragement to those in need.

Melissa learns of families or individuals in need and creates campaigns to benefit them. Some recent campaigns were to collect food for a family in need, hygiene items for the homeless shelter, and new beds and linens to benefit My Very Own Bed, a local non-profit that provides new beds and linens to children in families that have recently moved into stable housing. Melissa is a stay-at-home mom and her husband has been out of work without unemployment income. Despite their own hardships, Melissa still thinks of how she can help others.

Laurie Olesen

Andover
Laurie and her daughter have been doing inspirational chalk drawings in their community to bring happiness to others.

They have chalked to celebrate kids’ birthdays. And, another recent drawing was for a girl who had just finished her last round of chemotherapy. The Andover community appreciates the joy these pictures have brought them!

Tim Holen

St. Francis
Tim co-owns a hardware store in the St. Francis area and has served the St. Francis community for the past 45 years, contributing his time, labor and supplies to area churches, schools and fire station.

Tim’s store has remained open as an essential business during the COVID-19 crisis and Tim has supplied and donated much needed face masks and sanitizer to area workers and businesses.

Sam Lawrence

Otsego
Because Sam’s job doesn’t currently have work for him and his college classes are all online right now, Sam volunteered to move in with his 87-year-old grandma and help care for her.

Sam’s grandmother recently battled cancer and now has debilitating back pain, so Sam cooks, cleans, gets her in & out of bed and helps out with anything else that needs to be done.

Although Sam is just 19-years-old, he does not meet up with friends or go to the grocery store. He puts her safety above his own wants and is extremely patient and kind.

Jody Stay

Princeton
Jody Stay is the owner of Pizza Barn in Princeton and has been providing free meals to the elderly who are homebound. Jody personally delivers the meals to their front doors. Recently, on Easter, staff were given the day off but Jody and her family still cooked and delivered meals to those that needed them.

Pete & Calvin of Kurth Auto

New Hope
The owners of Kurth Auto, Pete and Calvin, have a history of helping others. They have previously given a car to someone in need and spent a year in half in Haiti to teach small and large engine repairs.

Recently, Pete and Calvin began running errands for those in the community with compromised immune systems, are giving lunches to kids in need, and are providing free oil changes to frontline emergency workers and to those that had been laid off or furloughed due to Covid-19.

They recently created a partnership with Maple Grove Chick-Fil-A to provide meals for families impacted by COVID-19 and are delivering food to them twice a week!

Mark Aho

Inver Grove Heights
Mark Aho is the owner of Taho Sports, a local screen-printing and apparel shop, and has a history of helping others. In 2001, Mark created United We Stand and began selling patriotic T-shirts to raise money for various Nine Eleven (9/11) charities. They raised over $93,000 to donate! In 2004, they raised over $15,000 in relief funds to help those affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Because of the current pandemic, Mark recently resurrected United We Stand merchandise.

The clothing items are printed with the words Respect, Kindness, and Tolerance under the American flag. Mark asks those wearing the shirts to greet others with a wave, a peace sign or a nod to help spread kindness to others.

Matthew Spencer

Elk River
Matthew, a second grader, has been picking up lunch from his school to maintain a bit of normalcy during all of this. He told his Mom that he wanted to do something for all of those packing school lunches for kids like him. So, Matthew made cards for them and asked his mom if they could take care of lunch for the workers. They came up with plan to order pizzas and have them delivered. Matthew’s mom said she’s so proud of the way her son wants to spread kindness to others.

Kenny Tietz

Elk River
Kenny is not only an essential worker by day, waking up at 5:00 AM and coming home at 5:00 PM, but he is also a firefighter, and responds to calls once he’s home. Despite busy days and nights, Kenny’s nominator says he has the best attitude and is such a positive person.

Lewis Dumer

North St. Paul
Lewis is currently a paramedic for Hennepin County and has been in the fire/emergency medical field for 15 years. Lewis has not only had to perform CPR on and provide medical care to family members, but he faces trauma and death on the job too. He currently comes home and showers immediately to help protect his family from exposure to COVID-19. And, although the current conditions add to the stress of the job, Lewis goes to work every day ready to help others.

Kelsey Swenson

St. Paul
Kelsey has been serving for six years as an ICU nurse at United Hospital. She recently trained to be able to care for patients in the COVID-19 ICU unit. Although Kelsey and staff are exposed to the virus… and others have actually gotten ill, she continues to go to work with grace and courage.

Laura Ludwig

Plymouth
Laura served in the Army for 30 years. And, although now retired from the Army, Laura is still a full-time nurse on the frontlines. Laura’s family nominated her and said she is the epitome of a hero!

Dee Richards

Minneapolis
Dee wakes up and sews masks for 12 to 16 hours every day so that she can donate them to local hospitals and healthcare workers. She has currently sewn over 1,000 masks! Dee does not charge for the masks…only asks for shipping costs to be paid for… and all donations go back into purchasing additional materials so that she can make more masks. Despite chapped hands and sore fingers, she sews again each day. Dee shows us all the difference that just one person can make.

Kennedy Johnson

Rosemount
Kennedy is a 20-year-old nursing student at St. Kate’s and currently works at a care facility that provides hospice, memory care and assisted living to over 400 residents.  Kennedy previously worked night shifts to be able to study during quiet times during the night. Now, there are no quiet times. Many co-workers have quit or failed to show up so Kennedy has not only covered her shifts but she has filled in for others.  In addition, Kennedy rounded up her grandma and her friends to make cotton masks and donated them to the ICU / ER staff at Fairview Southdale, along with more than 70 handwritten thank you notes.  Kennedy knows duty beyond her years.

Irondale Knight Krawlers

New Brighton
This group of innovative high school students are using their robotics lab to produce and donate much needed PPE, in the form of face shields, to the community. Because of this group of kids, we on the frontlines have added protection that was in short supply! We are grateful for their hard work and the support they are giving back during this crisis.

Rachel Thompson

North St. Paul
Rachel started a food shelf at the end of her driveway and it has continued to grow, with neighbors dropping donations off and Bread Art delivering fresh bread! The items are free to anyone that needs them and include paper and canned goods, hygiene products, games, etc. The day before Easter, Rachel also organized an Easter Bunny drive by. You could drive by and each kid was given a treat. Although Rachel’s nominator doesn’t personally know her, only knows of her from the Facebook Group, North St Paul Friends, she said that she believes Rachel has gone above and beyond for her neighborhood.

Shelbi Klossner

Stacy, MN
Shelbi works full time at the U of M Medical Center making IV medications for ICU and COVID patients. Recently, she also organized and led a group of people, putting Easter baskets together for children whose parents are currently unemployed.

David Cole

Brooklyn Park
David works in a warehouse that provides services for hospitals and grocery stores. He been working 10-hour days to support those on the frontline. In his free time, he sews masks for healthcare workers. When David first heard about coronavirus, the first words out of his mouth were, “We need to go donate blood! They probably really need it right now.” David’s family said he constantly puts others before himself.

Chris Kolstad

Brooklyn Park
Chris owns a pizza place in Columbia Heights called Pizza Man and has given away over 120 free meals and steep discounts to first responders during the COVID-19 outbreak… He’s a single father and has been working a ton of hours to be able to provide this to police and fire departments near by.

Vicki Johanneck & MN COVID Mask Sewists

Vicki Johanneck created and manages a Facebook group known as the Minnesota COVID Mask Sewists. Vicki Johanneck and her group donate all of the supplies and time to the cause. Together, the group has made and donated homemade masks to thousands of health care workers, care facilities, families and individuals.

Shirley Patraw

Lake Elmo
Shirley is a home health aide, who cares for others in their homes, from bathing them to cooking and cleaning for them. And, she goes to work each day with a smile, knowing she is helping others. At home, Shirley also cares for her 93-year-old mother. Shirley’s family and friends said she is the most devoted and loving daughter, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, who treats everyone like family and that she is always helping others!

Amanda Folwick

Coon Rapids
Amanda works tirelessly as a kitchen manager at an Assisted Living facility, keeping residents safe and well-fed all year long. Amanda is also a single mom who is also juggling distance learning with her children while working 8-hour days. Her nominee said that Amanda goes above and beyond to keep her staff happy, safe and employed during these trying times and is the best boss that any company would be lucky to have!”

Linda Jahoda-Golden

Columbia Heights
Linda has been in education for over 40 years and currently works as a preschool teacher in Northeast MPLS. Linda’s school is currently open during the pandemic to provide care and education to children of those working on the frontline. Linda resides in Columbia Heights and was nominated by several friends and family for her selflessness. And, they told us that she goes to work each day with a smile on her face.