Gratitude & Giving Back

Members of Our Lake Minnetonka Community Share What They're Thankful For and How They Give Back.

What do we have to be thankful for?  It’s a question that is often posed this time of year, and this year in particular, can tell us a lot about gratitude.  2021 has put so many simple pleasures that went unnoticed into stark relief.  For some, it might simply be the ability to go out into the world, going back out to malls and concerts and restaurants.  For others, it is finally seeing our friends and co-workers off a Zoom call.  We all, however, can be thankful for the simple pleasure of gathering with family in a way that, I for one, had taken for granted my entire life. So in this time of giving thanks, I posed this question to members of the Lake Minnetonka Community.  Here’s what they had to say:

Meredith Howell
“I am very thankful for my two incredibly accomplished children who are selflessly giving back to a world in need. They have their values in perspective.  And, of course, I am thankful for my grandchildren who all give me great happiness.  But most of all, I am thankful for this great country we live in. For all the challenges we face, we are so fortunate to live in America. Let us all strive to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.”

Kari Haanstad
“Our daughter, Lena, was born in 2013 with an unexpected, life-threatening heart condition.  During our darkest days and weeks living in the hospital with her, it never ceased to amaze me and give me hope that countless strangers had donated their time and blood to give people like our daughter a chance at survival.  Whenever a 2 a.m. emergency call went out for platelets or whole blood for her, it was always answered.  While I had been a periodic blood donor before, Lena’s experience really shined a spotlight on the desperate need.  Ever since and forevermore, I’ve been on the 8-week donation schedule, paying it forward to strangers who need the assistance.”

Rod Provart
“I have a passion for young people. I love their energy, their potential, and their wonderful sense of adventure. I pay it forward by doing what I can to pour into youth in hopes to positively influence the trajectory of their lives. As a Children’s Leader for the Minnetonka BSF class, I have the privilege of meeting weekly with local students for in-depth Bible study. I am also a mentor / discipleship-group leader for young men at Southwest Christian High School; we meet weekly throughout the school year to connect and share as we experience life together. Additionally, I serve as the Executive Director for Open Hands Foundation, a local nonprofit that supports teens in crisis in our community.”

Danielle Anderson
“How do I pay it forward? Personally, if I stop at Starbucks, I always buy for the person behind me. We both win. I have 6 children, so each night we talk about who we blessed and who blessed us. The little stuff is the big stuff. We pay it forward by sharing gratitude and focusing on the small ways that we love the humans in front of us.”

Chris Dennis
“I am very thankful to be a board member on the Excelsior Chamber of Commerce.  Most people do not realize that the Chamber is a non-profit organization, and they coordinate and support many of the events in Excelsior. Next time you visit Excelsior, notice how MANY businesses are locally owned and operated.  There are very few national brands in Excelsior – and that is amazing.  Now that I am involved in the Chamber on a deeper basis, I can truly see how much the chamber does for those local businesses in Excelsior as well as the city itself. ”

Johanna McCarthy
"I am thankful for the amazing colleagues and city of Wayzata staff that support me every day as I perform my duties. I am also thankful for the phenomenal work our local American Legion post #118 does to support veterans in our community."

Andy Fazendin
“Fazendin Realtors is grateful for those that keep our community safe which is why we developed the Housing for Heroes program. This program is designed for those that publicly serve our community which includes military (active and veterans), police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. We pay it forward by giving back a portion of the proceeds when those serving the community purchase or sell a home.”

Judy Shoulak
“I have so much to be thankful for: Being a ten-year breast cancer survivor, I am especially thankful for my health and I give thanks to God every single day. I am very grateful for my amazing family: my husband Jim and our three children, Jake, Sarah, and Joe.  I am so proud of the people they have become, exhibiting great values and integrity every day, and always wanting to give back to others.  I am just thankful for the many wonderful relationships I have with people: friends, employees, fellow survivors”

Becky Pierson
“Aside from the cliched pay for someone in line behind me, or the use of a Caribou number of someone near me instead of my own, I do my best to interact with kindness and a smile for those I meet and see, recognizing I don't know what they bring with them in their life and that a caring interaction might be just what they need.”

Rhoda Brooks
“I am thankful for my wonderful husband.  He has been gone for thirty years now, but when we were first married, we joined the Peace Corps together and served in Ecuador for two years from 1962 to 1964, only a year after the Peace Corps was established in 1961.  I am thankful so for the opportunity to have served together during that time.”

Businesses Featured in this Article

Related Businesses

Related Articles