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When its time to write our quarterly newsletter, I labor to find the words to express the gratitude I have for all the ways you share your time, talent, and treasure for our non-profit. I benefit immensely by seeing first-hand the mystery of healing that takes place when others care for the common good and concern for others.
Annie’s Place provided five $300 scholarships for the August, 2017 five-day Grief to Grace retreat. What follows are two testimonies from scholarship recipients at this August retreat. These scholarships were provided by a generous benefactor to Annie’s Place for this specific need.
Dear Annie’s Place,
I am writing to thank you for the partial scholarship for the Grief to Grace retreat. I can’t tell you how helpful the retreat has been to me.
In the five days, I spent on the retreat, I made more progress in healing than I had in five years of counseling. I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. My husband is very grateful too to have a happier, energetic wife.
On the retreat, I was able to clear out the trauma that had been with me for years. Margaret can testify to the anger that I poured out on the cardboard box: My back hurt for two days afterward. Most important though, through it all I was able to connect with myself and God in a new way. I loved the meditations on the retreat. I loved being able to pray again.
I cannot thank you enough for your support to me in attending this retreat. I cannot thank you enough for caring enough about my healing and others on the retreat so as to pledge such concrete, helpful support. You are truly carrying on Christ’s ministry of healing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of Christ’s healing love in His Church.
Grief to Grace Retreat,
Abuse happens: physical; mental; emotional; sexual. What do you do with those episodes, those experiences, woven into the fabric of your life? You hide it, bury it, or refuse to believe it happened to you. You move on with your life not realizing the damaging effects of abuse are coloring and sabotaging your behavior and relationships. Eventually, you look back and see a trail of brokenness and destruction. Unconsciously, I became my own abuser by being highly critical of myself and unable to receive love from other people or God. I struggled with depression and suicide.
The Grief to Grace retreat gave me a safe place, a loving healing place, to process and bring out of the darkness my pain, grief, and shame that resulted from being treated in such an unloving and degrading way. Together with Jesus, fellow retreatants, and our companion guides, who also knew the tragedy of abuse, we walked through the memories of our abuse. We received healing, comfort, and validation. We were no longer powerless victims of abuse but deeply loved and valued children of God restored to our original purity. We explored how the trauma of abuse can form patterns of behavior that are unhealthy ways of coping and how to form healthy ways of living free. We worked through the anger and emotional by products of abuse. We walked with Jesus through the suffering and death joining our suffering with His and nailing it to the cross. We also rose with Him on the third day to a new life.
I feel like a dark veil has been lifted off of me and I can now see and experience the light and love God has always had for me. Each day I must choose to believe in my God given dignity and worth and embrace the love God continually offers to me. I am deeply grateful.
The residents at Annie’s Place who represent the Working Poor and Homeless in our community are often recovering from various levels of trauma and abuse. These residents continue to need your prayers and support as they move forward with their lives.
We’re excited to let you know that our tradition of the Turkey Trot will take place again this year on Thanksgiving Day!! This is our only fundraiser throughout the year. We have outgrown the use of the Sitzer Park shelter in Shoreview. This year’s Turkey Trot will take place at the Jaycee shelter located on Lexington avenue in Roseville’s Central Park. We’re able to carve out a 5K and a one-mile path for runners and walkers. Hopefully, we’ll have good weather during this year’s event (Although we hold the event rain, snow or shine). Anyone can participate in the 5K or one-mile walk/run. There is no registration fee. Families or individuals are welcome. Attached is the flyer with the details about this event. If you are not able to attend the event on Thanksgiving Day and wish to contribute to this ministry, donations (Which are tax deductible) can be made on-line thru our website (www.Annies-place.org) or sent to the address referenced below. All donations and/or gift cards we receive help offset the operating costs of Annie’s Place as well as other programs run thru this ministry. We are an all-volunteer organization that relies solely on the generosity of private donations to sustain our programs.
Margaret and Dwight Ganje
Co-Founder for To Bear Witness at Annie’s Place
764 Gramsie Road
Shoreview, Mn 55126
Dear family and friends of Annie’s Place,
The other day I was musing…do our choices determine our investments or do our investments determine our choices?
8 years ago, in 2009, Dwight and I decided to invest in people who needed affordable housing when they transitioned out of the Catholic Worker House in Little Canada, a place with which we had been involved. This was at the height of the Great Recession and housing vacancies were low. Our vision for “To Bear Witness at Annie’s Place” to provide affordable housing was greatly challenged because our 501c3 status from the IRS was not granted until 2012.
Looking back, we knew it was a risk financially to start this non-profit but also entwined was a spiritual and emotional element of investment. In fact, Dorothy Day, the founder of Catholic Worker Houses of Hospitality says “Love in Action is harsh and dreadful compared to love in dreams” and there is nothing romantic about starting and operating a House of Hospitality. As I said, we made an investment. I don’t remember for sure what I thought the return would yield. The Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 13 verse 8 references the parable of the Sower and the Seeds: “But some fell on good soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as he had planted.” Jesus spoke in parables to help illustrate a point. What started with 2 people has been cultivated into a group of over 300 people that help us with this work. We’re thankful for those of you who volunteer your time, talent and treasure to this ministry.
In previous newsletters I have referenced an emerging initiative of our non-profit that needs resources to grow: Grief to Grace www.grieftograce.org. Grief to Grace is a 5-day retreat fully centered upon the healing love of Jesus Christ. It is for anyone who has suffered physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual abuse. This effective model of care provides a powerful therapy for the soul. The Minnesota chapter of Grief to Grace invited me to be part of their team. First, I needed to attend their 5-day retreat as a participant, which I did in October, 2016. What I experienced was a rediscovery of the very heart of the Gospel. And what’s the heart of the Gospel ? The Catechism says its “The revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners”. What happened to me a year ago was not the beginning of a recovery program from trauma: it was a call to share with others that a Christian walk takes place over a lifetime. “It is the Good News that God doesn’t love us because we’re so good but because He’s so good, that He loves us not because we deserve it but because we desperately need it” (From 33 Days to Merciful Love by Michael Gaitley).
As a practicing Catholic, I am ashamed of the sexual abuse scandal in the Church. I believe that Grief to Grace can be a grass roots renewal to help heal the trauma of abuse. I’ve made a choice to invest of my time, talent and treasure to say “Yes” to training and partnering with Grief to Grace, an international ministry. I made that choice after personally experiencing the retreat last October. Freda Emmons writes the following in The Flame of Healing: “Your love for God has led you to follow His direction for your life. You have learned to receive His tremendous love, soaking in its warmth and tenderness. By affirming your identity in your Savior and Healer, Jesus, you are placing your entire life in the Lord’s hands. He has a new promise of love and grace that will fulfill your life. It is a promise beyond comprehension. He has prepared for you for new experiences, new fellowship in His family, as well as new opportunities to be blessed and to bless others. The only thing you need to do is rest in the Lord, trusting Him with all your heart and soul.” If you read this and are at all interested in knowing more about the upcoming retreat on August 20-25, 2017, please call me at the phone number below.
The residents at Annie’s Place who represent the Working Poor and Homeless in our community are recovering from various levels of trauma and abuse. These residents continue to need your prayers and support as they move forward with their lives. Your generous gifts, whether they be your time, talent or treasure, help these residents reach their goals. Any financial gifts you make will be used to offset the cost of running Annie’s Place or they can be earmarked specifically for “Grief to Grace” to support partial scholarships for those referred to us who will be attending Grief to Grace Retreats. We continue to rely on the generosity of private donors like yourselves to support this ministry.
On the lighter, sweeter side, I’m enclosing a recipe that Mrs. Jefferies would always treat us Kavanaugh kids to when we visited them at their cabin on Chub lake. Enjoy.
In Christ’s Love,
Co-Founder of To Bear Witness at Annie’s Place
Margaret’s cell phone – 612-443-0631
Mrs Jefferies Chocolate Chip Date Cake
Dates: Chocolate Chip Topping
1¼ cups boiling water ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped dates ½ cup chopped nuts
1 tsp baking soda ¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp butter or margarine softened
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1. In large bowl, pour boiling water on dates. Stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda. Cool about 15 minutes or until lukewarm.
2. In small bowl, mix all topping ingredients; set aside
3. Heat oven to 350°F. Stir all cake ingredients into date mixture. Pour into ungreased 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle with topping.
4. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
Prep Time – 20 minutes
Prep and Cook time – 3 hrs 30 minutes
Serves 12 people
You may be aware our non-profit is in a transition after selling our House of Hospitality in Roseville. The house was the face of the organization to the public for the past 10 years…… When we started this ministry a decade ago, we must confess we were clueless about what would unfold in running a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality based on the work that Dorothy Day did years ago. At the heart of our desire was basically a sense of trust in God’s providence. The ministry has grown beyond what we expected when we first began the journey. The house used 2/3 of our time and over 75% of our budget. So our workload has become lighter with the sale of the house. What remains is what we started with: To Bear Witness which supports our mission: To provide people with the opportunity to live out the Gospel by serving others in our local community in the Catholic Worker tradition built on the foundations of the Works of Mercy.
Along with ourselves, each of our board members are involved in serving the needs of our community thru our ministry or other meaningful organizations. Below are some examples of the services our board members are involved with and/or the nature of the serving done within the community.
Provide Life Coaching support with the young women at Philomena House in East St Paul who are taking steps to move forward with their lives as single mothers. The volunteers at Philomena are also provided with skill building techniques in their work of interfacing directly with clients.
Provide support to the client base at Joseph’s Coat on West Seventh street for individuals and families who need clothing and household items.
Provide support for elementary school children who are in need of individual tutoring and mentoring
Provide Life Coaching support for individuals who are often seen as part of the fringes of our community
Provide support for individuals struggling with mental health issues in our community who wish to become contributing members of our society
Provide core team support to the attendees of Grief to Grace retreats for those who wish to overcome the impacts of trauma and abuse in their lives.
Provide support as a retreat facilitator for those who wish to enhance their faith life
Provide support to individuals desiring to become better at managing their monthly income and expenses according to biblical principles
As referenced above, one of the services we provide is financial literacy training (Developing good disciplines in money management) on an individual basis based on referrals we get from the community. Clients not only become familiar with how to budget their monthly monies based on biblical principles but also the importance of having an emergency fund, how much debt they have and the impact of their debt load in their day to day living. The referrals come to us from a variety of sources including local service agencies who work with at risk populations as well as friends of this ministry who know someone that needs help. We meet in public places such as the library or a local coffee shop reviewing videos and reviewing the work the client does to help them become better stewards of their finances. Some clients have steady employment and need modeling of how to manage their money and make good financial decisions. Other clients would be considered the working poor of our community who need modeling of how to manage their money and are eligible to receive temporary supplemental awards (Gift cards, etc) based on their intentional progress in becoming better at managing their money. In one such instance, the client is a college student who recently got married and is expecting their first child in the coming weeks (The spouse is awaiting their Visa approval for entry into this country). This individual has learned to create a budget of their monthly income and expenses, tracks expenses against the budget, and balances school work with a part time job. The client is very conscious of living beneath their means. The money is tight each month. Each client is given instruction on how to develop good discipline in managing their finances. As with any training, some clients find it easier to apply the instruction than others…..
This ministry relies entirely on private donations. Benefactors can optionally earmark donations to three areas of our ministry which include:
Partial Scholarships to Grief to Grace 5 day retreats for those who would not otherwise afford this and for the aftercare of retreat clients
Client supplement awards for those meeting eligibility requirements of one of our programs
Responding to the needs of community members who come to our door in need of basic personal care, household and hygiene needs
We received a note recently from a benefactor who donated monies to the partial Grief to Grace scholarships. The note read “Once again, Thank You for all the work you do on behalf of so many”. Desmond Tutu once wrote: Do your little bit of good where you are; It is those little bits of good put all together that overwhelm the world….. Thanks to everyone for the hospitality in your time, talent and treasure.
Dwight and Margaret Ganje
Co-Founders of To Bear Witness (Annie’s Place)
Fall Newsletter November 19, 2018
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
2018 is a year of transition for our non-profit primarily as a result of selling our House of Hospitality in Roseville. We are re-defining ourselves thru the programs we have in service to the local community. Our organization continues to be run by volunteers, relies solely on private donations, and sees developing client relationships as an important ingredient in the work we do. Below are examples of how we are using you donations to invest in individuals in our local community.
One of the programs we run is a Client Supplement Program where we provide financial literacy training (Budgeting training) based on biblical principles to individuals (Or couples) referred to us by a select agencies. As the client reaches pre-defined goals, they become eligible for gift cards or a supplemental payment on their rent made directly to their landlord. One such client was referred to us from Abria Pregnancy Resources. A generous landlord is providing this new mother many months of significantly discounted rent for her one-bedroom apartment. Abria provided educational classes to help adjust to the life of a new baby. We worked with this client helping her develop budgeting disciplines. As she demonstrated proficiency in applying budgeting disciplines, our organization provided gift cards to assist this new mother as she adjusts to the demands of her first baby. We’re assisting this client now so later on she can become self-sufficient. In this case resources from multiple organizations worked together to provide hope for a new mother….
Our organization also provides partial scholarships for Grief to Grace retreat participants to those needing financial assistance. Grief to Grace runs an intense 5-day retreat for those recovering from the effects of trauma and abuse in their lives. We are also involved with the monthly After Care meetings in which retreat participants can continue to move forward in their recovery process.
One of the clients we provide monthly groceries to is on a fixed income and without a car. Without our assistance, clients like this can feel very isolated particularly in the cold weather months. We are working with this same client to provide the clothing essentials of surviving another winter in Minnesota.
This Thursday (November 22) is Thanksgiving. Our annual Turkey Trot (5K and 1 mile walk/run) will take place at Central Park in Roseville. See the attached for the details of this event. Even if you are not a runner, this is a fun event to participate in before you start your Thanksgiving Day traditions. The work we do can only take place thru the generosity of people like yourselves. Your continued donations help to bring a level of dignity to those in need. Please consider a donation to this ministry so our work can continue. Donations are accepted on-line at our website or via check at the mailing address on our website. We are a 501c3 so all donations are tax deductible.
God Bless your holiday season.
Dwight and Margaret Ganje
Spring Newsletter April 30, 2018
Spring has finally arrived in the northern plains and hopefully across the country. The absence of the seasonal change to Spring in early April left everyone more anxious for greater warmth. From a personal standpoint, we have used the last months to get ready to sell Annie’s Place, our House of Hospitality after almost 10 years of supporting many women and children who were often in transition….. The last resident of Annie’s Place moved out on 3-31-2018. We wanted to provide more context on this decision and the program that will replace the House of Hospitality…..
The demands of maintaining the house and the clientele living there became a huge commitment for us. As a small non-profit who relies heavily on volunteers, we found the energy to keep the house going along with the other programs we run put a greater time demand on us than we wanted to continue with during these early retirement years. From a financial standpoint, the physical structure of Annie’s Place is by far the largest monthly fixed expense of our non-profit. The alternative model we are putting in place (Temporary rental supplements to pre-qualified clients referred to us from select agencies) will allow the non-profit to replace the monthly fixed cost of the house with a more variable expense (rental supplements to our Working Poor clients) which will afford us greater control over our costs. A successful client in this program will take part in financial literacy training that hopefully moves them toward greater self-sufficiency. The temporary rental supplements are awarded to clients based on the satisfaction of pre-defined goals we work side by side with them on over a 6-8 month period.
The budgeting training we provide helps the client live within their means leveraging Christian faith-based principles. The client’s overall progress is tracked using a single page scorecard. This scorecard is a key document used when we meet with the client and when we provide progress reports to the agency who referred the client to us. The client also needs to be open to Life Coaching sessions either thru the referring agency or our non-profit.
Food is one of the larger monthly costs to households. For budgeting purposes, one tool we use with the clients is a single page chart (click on link below) that is updated monthly by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) based on the consumer price index. The chart allows a household (Whether that’s a single person or family) to figure out a weekly or monthly food budget using one of 4 cost plans. This tool provides an objective view of family food costs unique to the ages of children and adults in a household. If you’d like a further explanation of the chart, please call Dwight.
We will continue our commitment to the Grief to Grace organization providing partial scholarships to those who participate in their 5-day retreat and are in need of financial assistance. Grief to Grace provides participants with the tools to overcome the effects of trauma in their lives whether that be physical, sexual or emotional. Our organization sponsors after care support to help the retreat participants with the healing process.
Additionally, we continue to provide the monthly 3rd Wednesday retreats for those who wish to learn about the Ignatius spirituality.
Dwight’s mother (Lydia Ganje) died at the age of 93 in Mid-March. For the past 7 years, she had been declining in health and well-being because of Dementia. At the funeral there were picture boards and memories of better times when Lydia was at her best. Dwight communicated after the funeral how he had forgotten her true essence and how the pictures and memory boards helped raise a consciousness about her former self…..
Attached is a 7-page hand-written memoir that Lydia wrote many years ago entitled “Rags to Riches”. It will give you a glimpse into the values a person develops over a lifetime: Values that we live out and pass onto family and friends. We each have the capacity to influence others. Lydia’s influence was love of God, family and fun. I know first hand the influence Dwight received. Lydia had a heart to help mothers and children in need. Please consider honoring Lydia for the work we do thru our Annie’s Place non-profit. Know that your generosity is appreciated as we continue to rely on private donations to keep the sustain the organization.
In closing, below are a couple quotes from St Francis of Assisi who served the poor during his adult life. Blessings to everyone.
Dwight and Margaret Ganje
4th Quarter Newsletter Dec 21, 2017
When the quarterly newsletter deadline approaches, I get my notebook and palomino blackwing (I only write with a pencil) out. Then I count on Dwight to type and edit the conversation I’ve had on paper………
What’s been on my mind is gratitude which is the antidote to despair. Gratitude plants in us the seeds of joy. Annie’s Place was the recipient of in-kind donations made by parishioners of the Church of St John the Evangelist of Little Canada thru their “Giving Tree” Program. We were asked to provide a list of needs for Annie’s Place. On Sunday, December 10, Dwight picked up the bounty at the church. It filled his car twice!! It filled the dining room at Annie’s Place. Never have we had such abundance. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. There was laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, stove top cleaner, personal hygiene items, etc that would last a year. I filled a storage cabinet and shelves that have always been bare. We thank all the generous people that took an ornament from the Giving Tree. What we received far exceeded our expectations. We have counted on St John’s not only for the Giving Tree program but also for a Christian Service grant funded thru their parishioners.
Last week I interviewed a young mother referred to us from the Little Canada Life Care center about a possible stay at Annie’s Place. After the interview on my way home, the prayer on my mind was “God, please give me a sign about continuing this work as the needs of the women are substantial…. When I got home, there was a check in the mail from a very generous donor. We count on God’s providence. We are dependent on the generosity of others to continue this work.
Tax exempt non-profits are required to have a board of directors. We have an 9 member board including our voting and advisory members. They include: Deb Carpenter; Rich Tvedten; Annmarie Becker; Kay Toivonen; Sue Laddusire; Morgan Kavanaugh; Tom Lehmann; Dwight and myself. Our board is a working board. They volunteer their time, talent and treasure. Dwight and I count on their expertise, commitment and faith. We all show up at board meetings to help set direction and to acknowledge and support the vision of To Bear Witness at Annie’s Place.
In the Christian walk we have learned how to ask, how to receive, and how to count on one another: In order to serve, to be open to build a just society, we support each person in becoming their best selves.
To Bear Witness at Annie’s Place is about giving ordinary people an opportunity to live out the Gospel. As Dorothy Day would say “So as to make it easier to be good.”.
We’re thankful to all who support our organization with their time, talent, and treasure. Most recently at our annual Turkey Trot, we wish to thank those of you who participated and made this event a success at Central Park in Roseville. Your generous financial support keeps us motivated to do the work we do for the working poor and homeless.
We’re hoping you are able to spend time with friends and family during this Christmas season when we celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. Blessings to everyone.
The recipe below is devoid of calories. See if it might satisfy your best self. We received this from one of our board members who is associated with Guild, Inc.
Co-Founder of To Bear Witness at Annie’s Place
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