Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Practical ways to serve others in the new year January 3, 2020

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Several years ago, family friends planted shamrocks in our yard on St. Patrick’s Day. What a joyful gift. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO that will bring joy to others? How can you help others? How can you make a difference in your family, your neighborhood, your community?

Those are all questions I expect many of you contemplate, especially at the beginning of a new year. I brainstormed the topic for a post that published earlier this week on the Warner Press blog. I work as the blog coordinator for this Indiana-based Christian publisher and lead a team of three other writers.

In crafting this piece, I created a month-by-month list of specific ways to serve others. I used examples from my own life. I have been blessed by so much kindness and by many opportunities to serve.

Just yesterday, for example, a small package arrived from a friend. Inside I found a lovely gratitude journal that encourages me to make note of daily gratitudes. I’m not surprised Beth Ann (also a blogger) gifted me with this. She is one of the most positive people I know and has always encouraged and supported me.

And last week a blogger from Pittsburgh sent me an Instant Pot after reading an earlier blog post that included my crossed-out Christmas wish list. I’ve never met Ruth. But I follow her blog and know her to be a kind and caring soul.

Days prior I received a cash gift from an equally kind and caring soul who remains anonymous to me.

For me, serving others on a daily basis comes primarily in listening and offering words of encouragement. I also give of my time to volunteer whenever such opportunities arise. It’s not only the right thing to do, but an honor.

As 2020 begins, we have 366 days to connect with others, to offer support and encouragement, bring joy, help in hands-on ways. I’d love to hear how you are making a positive difference in your world or beyond.

CLICK HERE to read my Warner Press post, “A Year of Serving Others.”

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating Faribault’s holiday generosity December 12, 2019

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I’VE WRITTEN THIS BEFORE, but I’ll repeat it. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

Example: Randy and I visited some older folks last Sunday afternoon, delivering poinsettias as part of a shut-in outreach at our church, Trinity Lutheran. We talked everything from art to farming. We remembered, laughed, delighted in the conversations which took two hours out of our day. Two hours. Time is a gift. We gave it and experienced the joy that comes in connecting with those who can’t get out and about like they once did.

This coming Sunday afternoon we’ll gather with friends to wrap a whole lot of gifts for individuals and families in need through Trinity’s Angel Tree Project. My friend Mike heads that annual endeavor and tells us we have more gifts than ever to wrap. The need is great. But so is the generosity of those who each December amaze us with the items they purchase for Angel Tree gift recipients. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

 

A Community Christmas Dinner sign banners the front of Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church, Faribault.

 

Another Faribault church, Fourth Avenue United Methodist, is also giving back to the community this Sunday with its annual free Community Christmas Dinner. We’ve attended numerous times, delighting in the company of other guests and of this friendly congregation. A dinner of chicken breast, meatballs, King Hawaiian stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, candied carrots, dinner rolls and cupcakes will be served from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the church basement.

 

Another giving and embracing message posted outside Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church. Love this.

 

But Fourth Avenue United Methodist is doing more than serving food. A free-will offering at the dinner will go toward Believet Canine Service Partners, a Northfield-based nonprofit which provides service dogs to disabled veterans at no charge. Since 2015, Believet has paired 12 dogs with vets. Cost to train and place a single service dog is approximately $28,000, according to the Believet website. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

 

Inside the historic Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Also this weekend, the Faribault-based choral ensemble Beau Chant (French for “Beautiful Singing”) presents two holiday concerts in Faribault. They will perform “Tis the Season” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 14, in Newhall Auditorium at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour. Cost is $12. When I consider the time these singers commit to practicing and then performing during the busy holiday season, I realize that this, too, is a gift. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

 

A streetscape shot along Central Avenue shows the restored marquee at the historic Paradise Center for the Arts. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2019.

 

And, finally, the Faribault Area Community Band gives a free hour-long holiday concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at the Paradise Center for the Arts. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me how you, or others in your community, are giving back this holiday season.

 

NOTE: I have highlighted here only a few of the many ways individuals and organizations in my community are giving to others during this holiday season.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Lul & her family need our help October 20, 2017

We each have the power to make a positive difference in the lives of others via our words, our actions, our gifts. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

MY DEAR READERS,

I know you to be kind, caring and compassionate. So I am asking, if you wish and are able, to help a family in my Minnesota community.

Lul Ahmed and her family need your assistance as the 13-year-old recovers from injuries sustained after she was struck by a Lincoln Navigator on the way to her bus stop Tuesday morning. As of Thursday afternoon, she remained in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

As you might expect, the Ahmeds face financial challenges now with missed work, travel and other expenses.

I don’t know the family. But that doesn’t matter. They are in need and I can relate, in a small way, to their experience. Eleven years ago a car struck my then 12-year-old son as he crossed the street on the way to his bus stop. Unlike Lul, he received only minor injuries.

The Faribault Diversity Coalition, a remarkable group in my community fostering acceptance and working with local immigrants, is accepting donations of cash and gas or grocery cards for the Ahmeds.

Donations may be dropped off or mailed to:

 

Faribault Diversity Coalition
324 Central Avenue N.
Faribault, MN. 55021

 

Mark gifts for “Lul’s Family.”

I’d like to take this a step further and ask that you also include a get well or other card of support for the Faribault Middle School eighth grader and/or her family. I so appreciated encouraging words and cards after my son was struck in 2006. I expect the Ahmeds would feel the same.

Thank you, dear readers, for considering my request. We have the power, through gifts and words, to comfort, help and support a family, to show them compassion and kindness.

Audrey

 

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Jackie makes three August 23, 2013

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THRICE NOW I’VE MET, in person, Midwest bloggers with whom I initially formed online friendships. And they—Gretchen at A Fine Day for an Epiphany, Beth Ann at It’s Just Life and Jackie at Who Will Make Me Laugh—are as genuine in person as they are in their postings.

There are no pretenses. All three of these women are kind, generous and caring individuals who are the real deal.

I first met Beth Ann last December when she and her husband, Chris, drove up from Mason City, Iowa, to hear me read and present on poetry at the local library. Beth Ann didn’t tell me she was coming; she simply showed up. I recognized her from her online photo. We instantly connected and she has since visited me.

As an example of Beth Ann’s caring ways, she uses her blog to raise awareness of and donate monies to worthy causes via her “Comments for a Cause.” For each comment made, Beth Ann and Chris donate 50 cents to the selected cause. Fifty cents per comment adds up.

In the Worthington area, Gretchen is an active volunteer with many organizations and the entire family has participated in community theatre. A theatrical performance brought Gretchen, her husband and three children to Faribault last summer to see a play directed by a friend. Before the show, they dined at our house. This summer my husband and I dined at Gretchen’s home. It’s as if we’ve known them forever instead of just a year. They are that kind of warm and welcoming family.

Me, left, with Jackie

Me, left, with Jackie

Ditto goes for Jackie and her husband, Rick, whom we met on Sunday afternoon after moving our son’s belongings from his apartment in Rochester. It was our boy’s move three months ago that truly connected me, on a personal level, with Jackie. I asked her for suggestions on apartments and she presented me with a list. Later, when I was looking for thrift stores in town, she gave me another list. How nice was that?

But I wasn’t at all surprised at Jackie’s kind spirit. I’ve followed her blog for quite some time and knew we shared similar values and interests. Think driving down a country gravel road; appreciating barns, country churches, old country schools and cemeteries; photography; the importance of faith and family in our lives. Meeting Jackie in person on Sunday was like reuniting with a long-time friend.

As a bonus to our visit with Jackie and Rick, my husband and I met their son, Gavin, and their sweet granddaughter, Audrey. Upon our arrival, Audrey was playing with a tin of jewelry. She’s quite the diva, and I mean that in the most fashionable and nicest way. By the time I left, I was wearing a beautiful stone and bead bracelet in my favorite hues—green and purple—gifted by the darling little girl with the big brown eyes.

The bracelet Audrey gave me. My one regret is that I didn't have a photo taken of me and Audrey together.

The bracelet Audrey gave me. My one regret is that I didn’t have a photo taken of me and Audrey together.

Jackie has often written about Audrey’s giving spirit, so evident in her gift to me. I was deeply touched. I expect the spirit of generosity has been passed through the generations.

Now whenever I wear that bracelet, I’ll think of Jackie and Audrey and how individual writers and photographers, threaded through blogging, can form an unbroken circle of friendship.

FYI:

To read Jackie’s blog, Who Will Make Me Laugh, click here. Jackie, a nurse by professions, is an especially talented photographer who claims she could spend all day editing images.

To read Beth Ann’s blog, It’s Just Life, click here. Threads of compassion and care run through Beth Ann’s blog posts. I am trying to convince her to write a book of devotionals.

To read Gretchen’s blog, It’s a Fine Day for an Epiphany, click here. Gretchen is an incredibly talented writer, evident in her postings. She’s written a children’s book manuscript, which I fully expect to be accepted for publication someday soon.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling