Rochester author Harriet Hodgson recently released her newest edition to the four-part “Family Caretaker” series. Her new release, “The Family Caregiver’s Cookbook: Easy-Fix Recipes for Busy Family Caregivers,” hit bookshelves on October 11. Like its predecessors (see Rochester Women magazine November/December 2015 issue, page 47), this newest book focuses on helpful strategies for family members as they navigate their new world as caregivers.


Hodgson is no stranger to the role of caregiver. In 2013, her husband, John, suffered a spinal cord injury while undergoing surgery to repair a dissected aorta. The injury left John’s legs paralyzed, leaving Harriet to manage not only John’s daily care, but an entire lifestyle adjustment for both of them. 

“During this time I moved us out of the three-level home we had lived in for more than 20 years, built a wheelchair-friendly townhome for us, visited him three times a day (at the hospital) and maintained my writing career,” she explains. “I was stressed to the max and ‘dinner’ became a bowl of cereal or a dish of ice cream, which I often ate standing.”


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.


Did you really turn off the TV set after the last show ended late last night? Will insulation alone stop air leaks in your attic? Is your water heater set too hot or too cold? Why does your home feel drafty?


The Neighborhood Energy Challenge—a free energy workshop—offers a good look at ways to reduce waste and save energy costs around the house. The next NEC workshop is coming up from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, November 19, in the Community Room at Rochester Public Utilities, 4000 East River Road N.E. The class is free, although prior registration is requested. Additional classes are being planned for 2017.



Tessa Leen's Weight Loss Journey: 40,000 Instagram Followers and 6,500 Facebook Fans

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Written by Emily Watkins Photography by Mike Hardwick Photography

According to the CDC, over 70 percent of American adults are considered overweight or obese. These conditions correspond with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, especially osteoarthritis, as well as some cancers. Taking the steps to lose weight is not as easy as we wish.

Tessa Leen lost weight in a smart and safe way. Exercise and healthy eating led her to lose 185 pounds in 4 years. 


Tessa says that she was always the “chubby kid.” She was teased, and that led to unhealthy methods of losing weight in high school and college. After getting married, she and her husband had two children in quick succession. Throughout both pregnancies, Tessa gained weight, getting to her heaviest known weight of 331 pounds in the summer of 2012.  



The Twin Cities: Insider's Guide

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Written by Cindy Mennenga

Pssst! Wanna rock the Twin Cities like a local? There are a multitude of unique and awesome things to do in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. There are hidden gems, places the locals enjoy, but protect, much like a fisherman never reveals the exact location where he’s reeling in the keepers.

I lived in the Twin Cities for 25 years and have some insights to share, so you can truly expand your horizons as you visit the Twin Cities for a day trip or a weekend getaway. There are oodles of things to do, and these suggestions are in no way all-encompassing.

What you do, of course, depends on your interests and how you like to spend your time. Here is just the tip of the iceberg of ideas for exploring and enjoying your visit to the Twin Cities. 



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.



Proud of My Life

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Written by Jorrie Johnson

I recently saw a Facebook post from a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who said, “My friends went off to college or to their chosen job while I went off to serve in the U.S.M.C. When we both look back on our respective lives, they'll like theirs, but I am DAMN proud of mine.” I honor and respect our veterans for giving their time and lives to serve our country. 

I, too, am DARN proud of the choices I have made. I got married when I was 19 years old. Earned a bachelor’s degree by the time I was 25 years old while supporting myself and living far away from home. I am proud that I became a mom at 26 years old and had two more children. Being a mom comes with demanding hours and little gratitude, especially when it comes to preparing healthy meals that young palettes don’t appreciate. I started RochesterWomen magazine as a home-based business when I was 30 years old, so that I could work from home and be the kind of mom I wanted to be (present). I earned a Master of Business Administration and have had the opportunities to pursue further leadership and project management education. I have completed three sprint triathlons and continue to live a healthy lifestyle. I chose to get divorced when I was 41 years old. At 46 years old, I don’t regret not climbing the corporate ladder, making it to every before and after hours meeting or social event with friends. When I am 90 years old, I want to be proud of my life and my decisions too. In the end, I hope I give my children enough and myself enough time to enjoy life.



Bringing the Community into Rochester Public Schools

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Written by Trish Amundson Photography by Fagan Studios

Academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement are integrated at community school, which is “both a place and set of partnerships between the school and other community resources,” according to “Community schools offer a personalized curriculum that emphasizes real-world learning and community problem solving. Schools become centers of the community.”

Community schools are catching on across the country. In Rochester, Riverside Central Elementary School and Gage Elementary School are taking part in a two-year pilot partnership to become full-service community schools. They offer a range of services and opportunities for children and their families that promote school readiness, consistent attendance, student health and family engagement. Assessments—and lessons learned—provide valuable insights to identify and address needs and deliver educational excellence that will stand the test of time.



Walking School Bus: Healthy, Safe and Social

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Written by Gina Dewink

Only 16 percent of our nation’s children walk or bike to school, down from 42 percent a generation ago. Other countries, such as Australia and England, have been coordinating groups of children to walk to school together for a decade or more. these days, Rochester is receiving state recognition for its very own Walking School Bus.

Simplicity of Walking

A Walking School Bus is a group of neighborhood children walking together to school. The group is supervised by volunteer parents, referred to as “drivers.” JoAnne Judge-Dietz works for the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which strives to help Minnesotans lead longer, healthier lives. Judge-Dietz says a Walking School Bus is “a simple concept, but one we have lost over time. We forget how simple and smart it is to walk.”


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