Uff-da! The Sons of Norway Cherishing the Past While Looking to the Future

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Written by Renee Thoreson Photography by Jorrie Johnson

Many who were raised in Scandinavian-settled areas of the country, such as the upper Midwest, are or have relatives who are, members of the Sons of Norway. The organization is not just for Norwegians; it’s for all who enjoy the Scandinavian culture.  


In January 1895, a small group of Norwegian immigrants living in Minneapolis formed a mutual assistance organization much like what they had known in Norway. Members paid a weekly fee and received support when need, illness or death made personal resources inadequate. The program became known as the Independent Order of the Sons of Norway. To qualify for membership, “One had to be male, either Norwegian or of Norwegian descent, give proof of being morally upright, in good health, capable of supporting a family, at least 20 years old and no more than 50.” 


When we arrive at Forager Brewing Company, Trivia Night is well underway. The Kutzky Market room is filled with small groups bellied up to tables, pens and answer sheets ready. The wait staff is bustling back and forth with drinks and food. A second room has opened up to handle the overage of trivia enthusiasts waiting to find a seat. The air is awaft with anticipation as our trivia master hurries between rooms announcing each question.

“What is a monophobe fear?” he asks. I smile at my teammates and grab the pen. I know the answer to this one. 


The idea of hosting a trivia night at brew pubs and bars began in 2006 in Minneapolis. It originally took place on Sunday nights, and the event enticed so many participants that it grew into the largest bar trivia company in the Midwest. 



Spreading Light and Joy: B'nai Israel Synagogue Hanukkah Celebration

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Written by Gina Dewink Photography by Alex Lupu

Traditional songs, community gathered together, candlelight—these are some of the major elements of the annual Hanukkah celebration at B'nai Israel Synagogue (BIS), Dan Abraham Jewish Cultural Center In Rochester.

Rabbi Michelle Werner defines Hanukkah as a “minor holiday in the cycle of the Jewish year.” So, why all the fanfare and festivities? Congregation member Ana Folpe explains, “Hanukkah falls into the time of other solstice and 'light holidays' and has become popular as a result.” This year the annual Festival of Lights celebration runs from December 24 to January 1, the eight days and nights of Hanukkah.


Hanukkah, which means “rededication” in Hebrew, is a celebration of the Maccabees regaining control of Jerusalem and rededicating the Second Temple. Despite having only enough altar oil for one day, the Temple's flame continued to burn for eight days. 


Since its formation 126 years ago, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has admitted nearly one million members through its state, local and international chapters. DAR describes itself as “a womEn’s organization dedicated to promoting historical preservation, education and patriotism and honoring the patriots of the Revolutionary War.” The Rochester Chapter of DAR has strived to emulate this mission since its creation in 1903.


The Rochester Chapter sponsors American history and good citizen essay contests in local schools, organizes Rochester’s Memorial Day program, publishes an award-winning Veteran Day publication filled with veterans’ personal stories, participates in Olmsted County’s naturalization ceremony, collects books for local literacy programs, hosts public educational programs and maintains the History Center of Olmsted County’s historic William Dee Log Cabin. The group also sponsors the Pipestone Society of the Children of the American Revolution (CAR). Members of CAR, all under age 22, learn about American history and participate in community events, including dressing in patriotic costumes (made by DAR members) for local parades. 


Let’s just say times are a-changin’ for the Rochester Rotary clubs. It was only in 1987 when women were admitted into Rotary, based on a Supreme Court ruling, and since then, they’ve all but taken over local leadership and membership.

Each of Rochester’s three Rotary clubs has or will soon have a female president. In addition, membership in Rotary’s largest local club is 38 percent women, says Stacey Vanden Heuvel, the current and seventh female president of Rochester’s largest Rotary club, named The Rotary Club of Rochester, which meets Thursdays at noon. The Rotary Club of Rochester will have had three female presidents in a row, starting with Vanden Heuvel. The other two Rotary clubs operating locally are Greater Rochester Rotary, which meets Wednesdays at noon, and the Rotary Risers Club, which meets Tuesdays at 7 a.m. Combined, they have 275 members.

“The real impact of Rotary comes from our local clubs,” Vanden Heuvel says, “and collectively we make a difference. In teaming up with other clubs, we are able to leverage support for big projects from Rotary International globally. We do a lot locally, and we do a great deal globally.”


An estimated two-thirds of inmates released from jail or prison are arrested for a new crime within three years. Next Chapter Ministries focuses on reducing recidivism rates by helping inmates transform during their time in prison, after their release into the community and within their families and neighborhoods. The ministry addresses the spiritual needs of women, men, youth and families and works to change statistics—and life stories—for the better.


Kelly is a resident at Next Chapter Ministries’ Fellowship Home in Rochester. Her story is one of triumph over adversity. She is grateful to God for helping her overcome the struggles she faced for many years and for the opportunity to live a life much different from her past. The Fellowship Home is a safe and comfortable place that provides resources and assistance to help Kelly find work in the community, build life skills and grow in faith.



Haley Comfort Systems and Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems Team up to Honor a Community Hero

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Written by Julie Eggenberger, Marketing & Office Manager, Haley Comfort Systems, Inc.

Haley Comfort Systems, a heating and cooling contractor, and Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems teamed up to honor a local Community Hero who does “whatever it takes” to make a positive impact in their community. This hero demonstrates how a person with passion and determination can use their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of others.


We are pleased to announce that Danielle Teal from Rochester has been named the 2015 Bryant Community Hero winner from our area. To show our appreciation, Danielle received a new Bryant high efficiency gas furnace for her home, which was installed by Haley Comfort Systems on Friday, December 11, 2015.



Believe in the Magic of Kindness

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Written by Danielle Teal

Never expecting a ‘boomerang of kindness’ in return, I was the recipient of an incredibly massive Random Act of Kindness in December 2015 when my friend Rebecca Dombrovski (Scott) nominated me as a Community Hero. The Community Hero campaign recognizes positive contributions to the community and is sponsored by Haley Comfort Systems and Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems. 


The award could not have come at a better time because the previous year my furnace failed to start. A mechanic came out to repair it and told me I would probably need to replace it in the next couple of years. It was a Christmas miracle watching them install the new furnace. Not only did this kind act warm my heart and make our home toasty—it inspired me to continue to spread kindness.



Back-to-School Supplies Needed: Pencils, Notebooks, and Interpreters–Their First Ears and Their Voice

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Written by Renee Berg Photos by Dawn Sanborn Photography

If there's anyone who understands the needs of non-English speakers living in Rochester, it's Susana Boggs, a local interpreter and immigrant. Boggs was born in Argentina to Laos-born parents, who had moved continents for a better life. Their new life in Argentina wasn't without its challenges, Boggs recalls.

"Growing up, we didn't have interpreters," Boggs says. "I've come to think, how was my mom able to communicate with people?"

Boggs grew up speaking Spanish and Laotian, but upon moving to Rochester at age 18 at the behest of her parents, she was thrust into a world where she didn't know the language. Gradually, by taking classes, Boggs learned English. She watched her uncle's kids, met her husband, Michael, and had three daughters.



Hijab for a Day: Fostering Dialogue Through Perspective

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Written by Grace Murray Photos by Dawn Sanborn Photography

For one day, four Rochester women volunteered to wear a hijab—the headscarf traditionally worn by Muslim women—to work, school, Even Starbucks, all while being filmed for Community Interfaith Dialogue in Islam’s (CIDI) newest documentary, “Hijab for a Day.” 

CIDI was founded by Regina Mustafa in 2014 to meet a need and provide an opportunity for a reliable resource on Islam and interfaith conversation. The organization is grounded in information being mutually shared, so doing the hijab project was a natural next step.

“This kind of thing has been done in other cities,” Mustafa remarks, “but I hadn’t heard of it being done in Rochester, especially one that was well-documented.” With the help of a Rochester Downtown Alliance grant, the documentary will now be a full-fledged community event, hosted by the Rochester Civic Theatre.


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